Feed aggregator

Skype 8.0 Launches on Desktop With Full-HD Video; To Soon Get Encryption and Call Recording Features

Slashdot -

Skype's redesign launched last year was met with mixed reviews, but the company is forging ahead by rolling out a number of its new features to other platforms, including the desktop. From a report: Microsoft today is launching Skype version 8.0 that will replace version 7.0 (aka Skype classic), the latter which will no longer function after September 1, 2018. The new release introduces a variety of features, including HD video and screen-sharing in calls, support for @mentions in chats, a chat media gallery, file and media sharing up to 300 MB, and more. It will also add several more features this summer, including most notably, supported for encrypted audio calls, texts, and file sharing as well as built-in call recording. The 8.0 release follows on the update to Skype desktop that rolled out last fall, largely focusing on upgrading the visual elements of new design, like the color-coding in chat messages and "reaction" emojis. This release also included the chat media gallery and file sharing support, which are touted as new today, but may have already hit your desktop.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft's Panos Panay Says Company is Exploring Several New Form Factors in Surface Category, But a Phone Isn't One of Them

Slashdot -

Speaking on the sidelines of the Surface Go launch, Microsoft's Panos Panay, who heads the Surface division, once again very much reiterated that the company has moved past its smartphone ambitions. From a report: In an interview with Wired, Microsoft's Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that the company is working on new form factors. When questioned about whether this would include a new Surface Phone, Panay stated that the Surface Phone was not one that they are thinking about at this time. "I wouldn't say that it includes a Surface Phone," Panos answered in the interview. "I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you're thinking about your product road-map," he replied. "Of course, we're always inventing, of course, we're thinking about new form factors," Panos added. "The way people will communicate in the future will change. The form factors will wrap around that. And so when you say the phone form factor changes, I would flip it a little bit and say that communication changes."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Instapaper is Going Independent

Slashdot -

Popular bookmarking and read-it-later app, Instapaper made the following announcement in a blog post: Today, we're announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who've been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information. We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who've been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lights Slowly Come On for Puerto Ricans in Rural Areas

Slashdot -

Almost a year after two hurricanes ravaged the US territory, repair crews are working to energize the more than 950 homes and businesses that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Puerto Ricans remain fearful that their newly returned normality could be short lived. An anonymous reader shares a report: Lights are slowly coming on for the more than 950 homes and businesses across Puerto Rico that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Repair crews sometimes have to dig holes by hand and scale down steep mountainsides to reach damaged light posts. Electrical poles have to be ferried in one-by-one via helicopter. It is slow work, and it has stretched nearly two months past the date when officials had promised that everyone in Puerto Rico would be energized. And even as TVs glow into the night and people like delivery man Steven Vilella once again savor favorite foods like shrimp and Rocky Road ice cream, many fear their newly returned normality could be short-lived. Turmoil at the island's power company and recent winds and rains that knocked out electricity to tens of thousands of people at the start of the new hurricane season have them worried.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Drupal core announcements: Drupal 8.6.0 will be released September 5; alpha begins week of July 16

Drupal Planet -

Drupal 8.6.0-alpha1 will be released the week of July 16

In preparation for the minor release, Drupal 8.6.x will enter the alpha phase the week of July 16, 2018. Core developers should plan to complete changes that are only allowed in minor releases prior to the alpha release. (More information on alpha and beta releases.)

  • Developers and site owners can begin testing the alpha next week.

  • The 8.7.x branch of core has been created, and future feature and API additions will be targeted against that branch instead of 8.6.x. All outstanding issues filed against 8.6.x will be automatically migrated to 8.7.

  • All issues filed against 8.5.x will then be migrated to 8.6.x, and subsequent bug reports should be targeted against the 8.6.x branch.

  • During the alpha phase, core issues will be committed according to the following policy:

    1. Most issues that are allowed for patch releases will be committed to 8.6.x and 8.7.x.

    2. Drupal 8.5.x will receive only critical bugfixes in preparation for its final patch release window on August 1. (Drupal 8.4.x and older versions are not supported anymore and changes are not made to those branches.)

    3. Most issues that are only allowed in minor releases will be committed to 8.7.x only. A few strategic issues may be backported to 8.7.x, but only at committer discretion after the issue is fixed in 8.7.x (so leave them set to 8.7.x unless you are a committer), and only up until the beta deadline.

Drupal 8.6.0-beta1 will be released the week of July 29

Roughly two weeks after the alpha release, the first beta release will be created. All the restrictions of the alpha release apply to beta releases as well. The release of the first beta is a firm deadline for all feature and API additions. Even if an issue is pending in the Reviewed & Tested by the Community (RTBC) queue when the commit freeze for the beta begins, it will be committed to the next minor release only.

The release candidate phase will begin the week of August 13, and we will post further details at that time. See the summarized key dates in the release cycle, allowed changes during the Drupal 8 release cycle, and Drupal 8 backwards compatibility and internal API policy for more information.

A Student Was Rejected By A College Because Of China's 'Social Credit System'

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares a report: A prestigious college in Beijing that reportedly tried to bar a student because his father was on a government blacklist is causing huge controversy in China. According to state media reports, a high school student with the surname Rao in the eastern city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, was accepted on the back of his score in China's fiendishly difficult and incredibly competitive national college entrance exam. But before his family could enjoy Rao's accomplishments, the college notified them he may not be able to attend because of his father's poor credit standing -- the father owed 200,000 RMB (about $30,000) to a local bank, and had been put on a blacklist dubbed the "lost trust list" for individuals with bad social standing, state media reported. Blacklists are a key feature of China's controversial "social credit system" -- a set of government programs that sets up both incentives and disincentives to encourage people to behave in socially desirable ways. Social credit in today's China involves government programs that collect and analyze data from different parts of people's lives, including their education history, compliance with traffic rules, criminal history and debt. It has raised serious concerns over individual privacy rights.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Security updates for Monday

LWN Headlines -

Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox, gnupg2, kernel, python, and qemu-kvm), Debian (389-ds-base, cups, imagemagick, kernel, mailman, ruby2.1, sssd, thunderbird, and znc), Fedora (glpi, hadoop, kernel, rubygem-sprockets, singularity, thunderbird, wordpress, xapian-core, and xen), Mageia (cantata and flash-player-plugin), openSUSE (exiv2, libvorbis, nodejs6, nodejs8, openslp, singularity, slurm, and tiff), and SUSE (kernel-azure and openssl).

The EU Would Very Much Like Airbnb To Know That the Rules Are Different in Europe

Slashdot -

Airbnb is facing fresh regulatory pressure in Europe. But this time it's not about the short-term home rental platform's core business model -- it's about its terms and conditions, and the way the company presents pricing to consumers. From a report: On Monday, the European Commission and a number of EU consumer watchdogs accused Airbnb of breaking consumer law. If the company does not change the way it operates by the end of August, then it could face legal action. Specifically, the regulators said Airbnb must show people total prices up-front that include all charges and fees, and it must clearly tell customers whether a property is being offered by a private host or a professional. The American company's terms and conditions are illegal under EU law for a variety of reasons, the regulators added. For example, the company tells people in the EU that they cannot sue a host in cases of personal harm or other damages, and it claims it can unilaterally change its terms and conditions without giving customers a warning and the option of cancelling their contracts. These sorts of terms might fly in the U.S., but they're banned in Europe.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Admits Prime Day Deals Not Necessarily the Cheapest

Slashdot -

Shoppers taking part in internet giant Amazon's Prime Day are being told that the deals on offer may not be the cheapest available. From a report: Amazon said it has never claimed that Prime Day is necessarily the cheapest time to shop on its site. It comes after consumer group Which? warned customers that apparent bargains are not always as good as they seem. It said some goods can actually be cheaper at other times of the year, and advised shoppers to do their research. The 36 hour sale -- aimed at subscribers to the Prime shopping service -- offers discounts on a range of goods. The deals are time-limited, with shoppers being told that some items are only available while stocks last.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dropsolid: Our Dropsolid CTO featured on the Modern CTO Podcast

Drupal Planet -

16 Jul Our Dropsolid CTO featured on the Modern CTO Podcast Nick Veenhof Drupal Drupal conferenties

Recently, I was invited to go on the Modern CTO podcast as a guest. We talked about developer culture, how to measure efficiency and velocity and, more importantly, how you can make the teams as independent as possible without losing that team and company feeling.

Modern CTO is the place where CTOs hang out. Listen in on our weekly podcast while we hang out with interesting Fortune 500 CTO’s in Aerospace, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics + Many more industries. As of 2018: 72k listeners we are incredibly grateful to each and everyone one of you.

It was a real honour to talk to Joel Beasley and have this back-and-forth conversation about how we transformed Dropsolid into a great place to work, but measurable and technically innovative!

 

 

Some of the topics that we talked about in the podcast were also seen at the presentation I gave at Drupal Developer Days in Lisbon.  Feel free to scroll through the slides to get more context out of the podcast!

 

Drupal Developer Days - One Flew Over The Developers Nest 2018 by Nick Veenhof

Classic WTF: The Virtudyne Saga

The Daily WTF -

As we usually do around this time of year, it's summer break season for TDWTF. This week, we're going to rerun some old classics, starting with this legend from 2006, compiled into a single article. --Remy

The Virtudyne saga (published 2006-Oct-10 through 2006-Oct-13) is my all time favorite. It tells the story of the rise and fall of Virtudyne, one of the largest privately-financed ($200M) disasters in our industry. Like most articles published here, all names have been changed to protect the guilty, and I've worked very closely with Rob Graves (the submitter) to ensure that this presentation is as close to how it happened as possible.

Part I - The Founding

By most people's standard, The Founder was very wealthy. A successful entrepreneur since age seventeen, he built several multi-million dollar companies and amassed a fortune larger than that of most A-list Hollywood celebrities. He prided himself on having one of the largest private collections of Egyptian artifacts in the world and prominently displayed many of them in his Great Room. And it truly was a great room: having been to The Founder's mansion several times, Rob recalls that his two-story, four-bedroom home could easily fit inside the Great Room.

The Founder was at home one day, doing whatever retired rich people did in 1999, and became extremely aggravated with how slow his brand-new, top-of-the-line computer was running. While cursing Microsoft Office, he had an "ah-ha" moment: he could build a better Microsoft Office.

Recalling his days as a Digital PDP-11 programmer, he knew that he could write financial software that would support fifty users, perform great, and run in 256-bytes of memory. Given the monumental advances in the twenty-years since he coded, he was elated just to think what would be possible with a bunch of top-notch programmers such as himself. He wondered just how many people it would take to build a Microsoft Office killer.

One thing led to another and Virtudyne was born. Its goal was modest: become the next Microsoft Office killer. The Founder hired his long-time colleague as the Chief Information Officer and together, they would create The Plan. It was simple: develop an internet/intranet based Office/Collaboration system that would deliver "90% of functionality that 90% of [Microsoft Office] users use."

An avid programmer himself, the CIO knew exactly how they could accomplish this. He convinced The Founder that, with a handful of programmers helping him, he could develop a client/server Microsoft Office Killer using Visual Basic 6. And with the latest hardware available, their application could easily scale to support twenty million users using one, maybe two servers. And best of all, it would all take only six months to create.

It was the perfect opportunity to jump on the .com bandwagon. They just could feel the IPO beckoning them. The Founder invested a few million of his own dollars and the CIO started hiring.

One of the first people the CIO approached was Rob Graves. He wanted Rob to become the database administrator, telling him only that Virtudyne was a pre-IPO startup bankrolled by The Founder. As tempting as it was, Rob had a second kid on the way and declined the offer. The CIO would have to find another DBA for the project.

What better place to find a DBA than the same place he turned for the rest of the initial hiring: the local Visual Basic special interest group. In fact, not only did he find a DBA at the SIG, he found one that proclaimed to be one of the greatest DBA in the world. And not because he possessed extensive database administration skills, but because he was willing to admit to The Truth: with the GUI-tools and automagic processes that modern databases offer, all those extensive database administration skills are meaningless.

Sadly, the DBA was one of the more talented members of the initial Virtudyne team.

Part II - The Gathering

The Founder had little trouble convincing his millionaire friends to invest in Virtudyne. It wasn't so much the idea of a Microsoft Office Killer, but that fact that it was 1999 and just about anyone with an internet company could go public and become an overnight billionaire. Within one month of The Founder's grandiose idea, he had secured an impressive eleven million in funding.

While The Founder solicited investors, the Chief Information Officer solicited employees. The CIO knew it would take "only a handful of strong programmers" to develop the Microsoft Office Killer and hired ten of the best programmers he could find. He promised a high salary, good stock options, and the chance to beat the market leader at their own game. Though his team's competence was minimal, their confidence was as strong as ever. They were all eager to build the Microsoft Office Killer.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime handed to the CIO on a silver platter: millions in capital and a dedicated team of developers. It was up to him to get busy with a clear vision, detailed requirements, a throughout market analysis, an extensive design, and solid architecture. Instead, he discovered something much more important: Magic: The Gathering.

The CIO dedicated his "lunch break" to his Magic card collection. This, of course, meant that he'd spend much of his day thinking up new deck concepts, building them, and testing them out. He even got some of his developers hooked: they'd all get together during their "lunch break" and play, trade, and chat about the latest happenings in the world of Magic: The Gathering.

Don't get me wrong, Magic wasn't the Chief Information Officer's only focus. With his new job title, he was eligible to receive executive-level trade publications for free. In fact, one of his first acts as CIO was to purchase a top-of-the-line solid ink printer. In addition to producing sharp full-color graphs for presentation packets, it printed up some wicked high-quality "proxy cards" for everyone's Magic decks.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and next thing they knew, six months had passed and not a single line of code had been written. What made this especially bad was the fact that the investors were flying in to town to check on everyone's progress. They were all eager to see just how their Microsoft Office Killer was coming along.

Thank goodness that the Chief Information Officer chose Visual Basic 6 as their platform. Real magic ensued when the following were combined: a handful of developers, a caffeine-filled all-nighter, and VB6's wonderful ability to drag & drop controls onto Windows form and "hard code" what shows in the labels, text boxes, drop downs, etc.

The investors were not impressed. They were astonished. In fact, the demonstration convinced them that, not only the project was on track, but that Virtudyne was poised to take on Microsoft and its ubiquitous office suite. Word spread fast and even more investors signed up. Tens of millions of dollars started pouring into Virtudyne.

The new investment might have been the CIO's motivation to finally get cracking on the project. Or it could have been the fact that the .com bubble was starting to burst and that meant they'd have to make a real attempt at making a product. He immediately started hiring again. And I mean hiring. A massive recruiting campaign was initiated and developers from all over the country were brought in. Within a year, the Virtudyne CIO commanded an army of I.T. professionals whose skill levels ranged between complete ineptitude and moderate competence.

The Chief Information Officer also purchased the best server he could find advertised in his executive trade publications: the Unisys ES7000. It was a thirty-two processor beast with sixty-four gigabytes of RAM and an attached EMC CLARiiON storage server. This $1.3M machine would be the single production server for their anticipated 20,000,000 users.

With all the new talent and the fancy new hardware, development of the Microsoft Office Killer finally began. The biggest hurdle that faced the developers was the new requirements. You see, one of the major selling points to investors was that Virtudyne's office suite already had every feature they asked for: it ran on Windows, Linux, and even Palm OS. All the developers had to do was make it actually do that.

Rob Graves joined Virtudyne around its second-year anniversary. He had been contacting part-time, off-and-on since day one, and they finally made him an offer he could not refuse: lead role in a company of 100+ developers, top-of-the-line development hardware, a dedicated QA team, and most of all, a $50,000 raise with five weeks paid vacation. No one could top that in the post .com-bubble.

In the year that followed, Rob found himself in the middle of quite a few political battles between the "do it right" and the "do it now" developers. Nothing too spectacular, especially in the context of this entire Virtudyne saga, but Rob did note who won the argument over whether or not to use the special coding techniques recommended by Unisys and Microsoft to utilize the server's full potential. I'll let you guess which side that was.

Despite all this, Virtudyne lacked one thing: customers. Allow me to clarify that because saying that they lacked "customers" might imply they had "a" customer. They didn't. The sales department of eight was unable to find a single organization willing to license their product.

This was especially problematic because their initial $94M war chest had dwindled to less than $10M. Investors were starting to wonder about their "six-months-to-develop Microsoft Office Killer" and stopped pouring money into Virtudyne. Something needed to be done.

Part III - The Savior Cometh

Virtudyne's first three years are best summed up with a single word: disastrous. Nearly $90M had been spent developing a product that was barley functional and completely unsalable. Most would call that "miserable failure" and encourage all involved to salvage what they could, abandon ship, scuttle the remains, and never look back. But one person saw it as the golden opportunity; he was known as The Savior

The Savior was a self-made billionaire who struck it rich doing the type of business that makes unregulated industries regulated. He heard about Virtudyne's struggles and wanted to help out. He contacted the powers that be and offered some very reasonable terms. In exchange for investing $100M, he would take over operations and sit as chairman on the board of directors. It seemed to be a a win-win for everyone.

Even the Virtudyne employees were excited. They welcomed their new overlord with open arms and truly believed that The Savior would turn the company around with his "new management team of highly-qualified executives with a proven track record." Such statements tend to be very convincing when accompanied with a hundred million dollar investment.

Unfortunately, employee confidence wore off almost immediately. It wasn't so much that the fact that the superstar executives consisted primarily of The Savior's immediate family, but more the fact that they managed to set the bar of incompetence even higher. I suspect that, given yesterday's article, this might seem impossible, so I'll share my favorite three people that The Savior brought in.

First and foremost, there was the new chief of operations, heralded as a "brilliant innovator" and "technological wizard." He was also The Savior's eldest son. Junior's grasp on technology is best illustrated with this simple anecdote: one day, Junior was walking past Rob Graves' office and saw a graph actively moving around on the screen. He got incredibly exited and wanted to know how he could get the cool looking monitoring software Rob was using to watch their World Wide Server. Rob just didn't have the heart to tell him it was the "Bars and Waves" visulization from Windows Media Player.

One of Junior's first acts as operations chief was to partner up with a major hardware vendor peddling another completely unsalable product. It was a massively-parallel server that featured a proprietary operating system with an integrated database. The sales rep told them that "reliability, not speed, is our primary concern" and they meant it. The $350,000 development server had the same processing power as a 600MHz Pentium II that even a charity organization would refuse as a donation.

Perhaps Junior's logic was that anyone stupid enough to buy the hardware would be stupid enough to buy their Microsoft Office Killer. Unfortunately, Virtudyne seemed to hold a monopoly on the world's supply of stupidity. The expensive hardware and vast amount of effort to port the software resulted in only a single sale, and it was a sale for the hardware vendo to Virtudyner.

The next person on the list was known as The VP of Nothing. I don't that's a very fair title because he actually did two things. First and foremost, despite having no direct reports or job responsibilities, he collected a six-figure paycheck. And secondly, he was allowed to bypass the proxy filter to surf the web; it was no secret why. A curious network administrator looked in the logs and discovered that The VP of Nothing spent a lot of time looking at pictures of large Amazonian women wrestling with little men. Seriously.

My personal favorite that The Savior brought in was The Janitor. Now it may seem odd that the chairman of the board would insist upon changing cleaning companies, but it's even stranger what the new "cleaning company" consisted of: The Savior's youngest son. The Janitor was a trust-fund baby and wealthier than most of us will ever be. It became pretty apparent why he couldn't keep a job anywhere else: after a few months of his cleaning service, ants and cockroaches were everywhere, the VB team had a gnat infestation, and the restrooms became so dirty that most managers allowed their employees to go home if they needed to use the facilities.

Amazingly, this new team was able to find a paying customer. It was The City. Virtudyne's office suite was to be installed at all libraries and made available for download by city residents. All it took was some lobbying at city council, a few calls to the local media, and a sizable march on city hall with "unemployed" protestors demanding the city provide free office software. Although the majority of the protesters were Virtudyne employees, the city finally agreed and signed an $8,500,000 three-year contract, collectable upon timely delivery of the software specified in the contract.

The main problem (well, aside from the fact that Virtudyne's Office Killer was a joke compared to any office suite) was that the contract called for a product that would replace Microsoft Access. In fact, it was a major selling point: the sales VP gave a demo of a product that didn't exist.

It fell on Rob Graves and a handful of other developers to create an application in two weeks that would "allow users with no database and minimal computer knowledge to: build applications; add users and groups to access the application; set security at the form-, record-, and field- level;" and so on. Rob is embarrassed to report that they actually managed to deliver a completely useless application that met every word in the ambiguous requirements to technically fulfill the contract.

None of tha mattered, though. Employee morale was at an all time high and things were finally starting to look good. It only took three and half years and nearly $150M dollars, but they finally made eight and half million dollars. Unfortunately, the sale also brought something else to the Virtudyne: paranoia.

Junior held a company-wide meeting to discuss a very serious issue: Microsoft was onto them. They were shaking in their boots and saw Virtudyne as a major threat. They would stop at nothing to get their grubby hands on the product and might even try to steal the source code. Of course, at that point, about half the people at Virtudyne realized that all one would have to do to "get their grubby hands" on their Microsoft Office Killer was to go into any of The City's public libraries and ask for an installation disk. Obviously, Junior wasn't in that half.

Within days, Junior ordered cameras to cover every square inch of the Virtudyne facility. Fingerprint scanners were installed at every door, both inside and out, and full-time security guards were placed at key locations throughout the building. All exterior windows were covered with a translucent film to prevent Microsoft from peeping in and, just to be safe, computer monitors could no longer face outside windows. Key employees were issued with special pagers that allowed them to discretely press a button to alert the private investigator if they found themselves being followed by Microsoft's white vans.

The draconian security measures didn't help the recent boost in employee morale. In fact, over the next year, employee morale sunk to an all-time low, leading to a mass exodus from the company. Key employees were dropping like flies and all Junior would do to maintain headcount was to hire more employees.

Eventually, Junior struck a good balance between tight security and employee indifference and managed to stabilize the loss. Unfortunately, that didn't help business much. Almost two years had passed since the single sale to The City and Virtudyne couldn't even give away their product. It's hard to say whether it was the terrible product itself or the fact that the Virtydune's contract with The City sparked a state-wide scandal with accusations of impropriety going all around.

What Virtudyne needed was a new market. A market that hadn't heard of Virtudyne before. And preferably, one that wouldn't do any research before spending millions to license their product.

Part IV - The Digital Donkey

After three years of full-time employment at Virtudyne, Rob Graves finally decided to call it quits. Most of Rob's friends and family thought he was insane to leave a cushy job where he was making 30% more than he could anywhere else in town. But then again, most of his current and former coworkers thought he was insane for staying so long.

Virtudyne had blown through nearly $200,000,000 of investor capital over five years to develop their Microsoft Office Killer. All they had to show for it was a barely functional product with a small subset of Microsoft Office's features and a single $8.5M sale. And technically, they only collected $5.8M on the sale because their customer withdrew the contract.

The sales and marketing department were desperate for ideas. They literally couldn't give their software away; anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Google could find out how well Virtudyne's first customer worked out. No one wanted to be their second.

But just then, it dawned on the sales team. They needed to find a market where the Internet had not yet reached. In such a market, their office suite would develop interest and that interest would lead right in to sales. One of the executives knew exactly how to find and penetrate such a market. They would use The Digital Donkey.

The CEO was a bit skeptical at first, but eventually realized how great of an idea it was. It was the perfect plan to sell their product to a market that no one else has ever tapped before. He signed off on the project.

Virtudyne engineers were tasked with figuring out a way to attach a satellite dish, laptops, and solar cells to a donkey. This Digital Donkey would then take Virtudyne's software along with a satellite internet connection to disenfranchised villagers living in the rural parts of India. The villagers would then be able to surf the 'net and use Virtudyne's software suite to create documents and communicate with "God knows who."

Everything would go through Virtudyne's server and they would eventually start billing the local governments for usage. I think it goes without saying that, like virtually every idea coming from Virtudyne's management team, the Digital Donkey was a miserable failure.

Virtudyne's offices are still open to this day, but no one's sure for how long. They've slightly improved their product over the years and tried to sell it under many different names to many different people. But still, nothing seems to work. Rob keeps in touch with a programmer at Virtudyne and confirmed that, as of two or three months ago to this day, there has yet to be a second sale.

Addendum

Several readers had a hard time believing that Virtudyne actually tried to create a Digital Donkey. It's important to note how ubiquitous donkeys/mules/camels/etc are in everyday tasks and transportation in the third world. So much so that the idea of a "Digital Donkey" did not even originate at Virtudyne. Consider this successful experiment from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions:

"The mobile units are Donkey Drawn Electro-Communication Library Carts. Besides functioning as a mobile library with a collection of books and other printed works, it works as a centre for electric and electronic communication: radio, telephone, fax, e-mail, Internet."
-- http://www.ifla.org/V/press/pr0225-02.htm (with pictures, thanks to Antitorgo for finding)

Obviously the Digital Donkey illustration is hyperbolized for fun. What should strike you as unbelievable is not the digital donkey, but the fact that Virtudyne actually considered trying to profiting from such a market. But then again, looking at their track record, that part is not so hard to believe ...

Happy New Year, All! I'll be back on Tuesday, January 2nd with some fresh, new content =-)

[Advertisement] Forget logs. Next time you're struggling to replicate error, crash and performance issues in your apps - Think Raygun! Installs in minutes. Learn more.

Judge Jails Defendent For Failing To Unlock Phones

Slashdot -

devoid42 writes: In a Tampa courtroom, Judge Gregory Holder held William Montanez in contempt of court for failure to unlock a mobile device. What led to this was a frightening slippery slope that threatens our Fourth Amendment rights to the core. Montanez was stopped for failing to yield properly. After being pulled over, the officer asked to search his car; Montanez refused, so the officer held him until a drug dog was brought in to give the officer enough probable cause to search the vehicle. They found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, which they used to arrest Montenez, but they asked to search his two cellphones, which he also refused. They were able to secure a warrant for those as well, but Montenez claimed he had forgotten his password. The result: Montanez is being held in contempt of court and is serving a six-month jail sentence.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

OpenSense Labs: Use Elasticsearch to Indexing in Drupal

Drupal Planet -

Use Elasticsearch to Indexing in Drupal Raman Mon, 07/16/2018 - 14:29

Modern applications are expected to be equipped with powerful search engines. Drupal provides a core search module that is capable of doing a basic keyword search by querying the database. When it comes to storing and retrieving data, databases are very efficient and reliable. They can be also used for basic filtering and aggregating of data. However, they are not very efficient when it comes to searching for specific terms and phrases.


Performing inefficient queries on large sets of data can result in a poor performance. Moreover, what if we want to sort the search results according to their relevance, implement advanced searching techniques like autocompletion, full-text, fuzzy search or integrate search with RESTful APIs to build a decoupled application?

This is where dedicated search servers come into the picture. They provide a robust solution to all these problems. There are a few popular open-source search engines to choose from, such as Apache Solr, Elasticsearch, and Sphinx. When to use which one depends on your needs and situation, and is a discussion for another day. In this article, we are going to explore how we can use Elasticsearch for indexing in Drupal.

What is Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch is a highly scalable open-source full-text search and analytics engine. It allows you to store, search, and analyze big volumes of data quickly and in near real time.” – elastic.co 

It is a search server built using Apache Lucene, a Java library, that can be used to implement advanced searching techniques and perform analytics on large sets of data without compromising on performance.

“You Know, for Search”

It is a document-oriented search engine, that is, it stores and queries data in JSON format. It also provides a RESTful interface to interact with the Lucene engine. 

Many popular communities including Github, StackOverflow, and Wikipedia benefit from Elasticsearch due to its speed, distributed architecture, and scalability.

Downloading and Running Elasticsearch server

Before integrating Elasticsearch with Drupal, we need to install it on our machine. Since it needs Java, make sure you have Java 8 or later installed on the system. Also, the Drupal module currently supports the version 5 of Elasticsearch, so download the same.

  • Download the archive from its website and extract it
$ wget https://artifacts.elastic.co/downloads/elasticsearch/elasticsearch-5.6.10.tar.gz $ tar -zxvf elasticsearch-5.6.10.tar.gz
  • Execute the “elasticsearch” bash script located inside the bin directory. If you are on Windows, execute the “elasticsearch.bat” batch file
$ elasticsearch-5.6.10/bin/elasticsearch

The search server should start running on port 9200 port of localhost by default. To make sure it has been set up correctly, make a request at http://localhost:9200/ 

$ curl http://localhost:9200

If you receive the following response, you are good to go

{   "name" : "hzBUZA1",   "cluster_name" : "elasticsearch",   "cluster_uuid" : "5RMhDoOHSfyI4a9s78qJtQ",   "version" : {     "number" : "5.6.10",     "build_hash" : "b727a60",     "build_date" : "2018-06-06T15:48:34.860Z",     "build_snapshot" : false,     "lucene_version" : "6.6.1"   },   "tagline" : "You Know, for Search" }

Since Elasticsearch does not do any access control out of the box, you must take care of it while deploying it.

Integrating Elasticsearch with Drupal

Now that we have the search server up and running, we can proceed with integrating it with Drupal. In D8, it can be done in two ways (unless you build your own custom solution, of course).

  1. Using Search API and Elasticsearch Connector
  2. Using Elastic Search module
Method 1: Using Search API and Elasticsearch Connector

We will need the following modules.

However, we also need two PHP libraries for it to work – des-connector and php-lucene. Let us download them using composer as it will take care of the dependencies.

$ composer require 'drupal/elasticsearch_connector:^5.0' $ composer require 'drupal/search_api:^1.8'

Now, enable the modules either using drupal console, drush or by admin UI.

$ drupal module:install elasticsearch_connector search_api

or

$ drush en elasticsearch_connector search_api -y

You can verify that the library has been correctly installed from Status reports available under admin/reports/status.

Viewing the status of the library under Status ReportsConfiguring Elasticsearch Connector

Now, we need to create a cluster (collection of node servers) where all the data will get stored or indexed.

  1. Navigate to Manage → Configuration → Search and metadata → Elasticsearch Connector and click on “Add cluster” button
  2. Fill in the details of the cluster. Give an admin title, enter the server URL, optionally make it the default cluster and make sure to keep the status as Active.Adding an Elasticsearch Cluster
  3. Click on “Save” button to add the cluster
Adding a Search API server

In Drupal, Search API is responsible for providing the interface to a search server. In our case, it is the Elasticsearch. We need to make the Search API server to point to the recently created cluster.

  1. Navigate to Manage → Configuration → Search and metadata → Search API and click on “Add server” button
  2. Give the server a suitable name and description. Select “Elasticsearch” as the backend and optionally adjust the fuzzinessAdding a Search API server
  3. Click on “Save” to add the serverViewing the status of the newly added server
Creating a Search API Index and adding fields to it

Next, we need to create a Search API index. The terminologies used here can be a bit confusing. The Search API index is basically an Elasticsearch Type (and not Elasticsearch index). 

  1. On the same configuration page, click on “Add Index” button
  2. Give an administrative name to the index. Select the entities in the data sources which you need to indexAdding the data sources of the search index
  3. Select the bundles and language to be indexed while configuring the data source, and also select the indexing order.Configuring the added data sources
  4. Next, select the search API server, check enabled. You may want to disable the immediate indexing. Then, click on “Save and add fields”Configuring the search index options
  5. Now, we need to add the fields to be indexed. These fields will become the fields of the documents in our Elasticsearch index. Click on the “Add field” button.
  6. Click on “Add” button next to the field you wish to add. Let’s add the title and click on “Done”Adding the required fields to the index
  7. Now, configure the type of the field. This can vary with your application. If you are implementing a search functionality, you may want to select “Full-text”Customizing the fields of the index
  8. Finally, click on “Save Changes”
Processing of Data

This is an important concept of how a search engine works. We need to perform certain operations on data before indexing it into the search server. For example, consider an implementation of a simple full-text search bar in a view or a decoupled application. 

  1. To implement this, click on the “Processors” tab. Enable the following and arrange them in this order.
    1. Tokenization: Split the text into tokens or words
    2. Lower Casing: Change the case of all the tokens into lower
    3. Removing stopwords: Remove the noise words like ‘is’, ‘the’, ‘was’, etc
    4. Stemming: Chop off or modify the end of words like  ‘–-ing’, ‘–uous’, etc

      Along with these steps, you may enable checks on Content access, publishing status of the entity and enable Result Highlighting
  2. Scroll down to the bottom, arrange the order and enable all the processes from their individual vertical tabs.Arranging the order of Processors
  3. Click on “Save” to save the configuration.

Note that the processes that need to be applied can vary on your application. For example, you shouldn’t remove the stopwords if you want to implement Autocompletion.

Indexing the content items

By default, Drupal cron will do the job of indexing whenever it executes. But for the time being, let’s index the items manually from the “View” tab.

Indexing the content items

Optionally alter the batch size and click on “Index now” button to start indexing.

Wait for the indexing to finish

Now, you can view or browse the created index using the REST interface or a client like Elasticsearch Head or Kibana. 

$ curl http://localhost:9200/elasticsearch_drupal_content_index/_search?pretty=true&q=*:* Creating a view with full-text search

You may create a view with the search index or use the REST interface of Elasticsearch to build a decoupled application.

Example of a full-text search using Drupal viewMethod 2: Using Elastic Search module

As you may notice, there is a lot of terminology mismatch between Search API and Elasticsearch’s core concepts. Hence, we can alternatively use this method.

For this, we will need the Elastic Search module and 3 PHP libraries – elasticsearch, elasticsearch-dsl, and twlib. Let’s download the module using composer.

$ composer require 'drupal/elastic_search:^1.2'

Now, enable it either using drupal console, drush or by admin UI.

$ drupal module:install elastic_search

or

$ drush en elastic_search -y Connecting to Elasticsearch Server

First, we need to connect the module with the search server, similar to the previous method.

  1. Navigate to Configuration → Search and metadata → Elastic Server
  2. Select HTTP protocol, add the elastic search host and port number, and optionally add the Kibana host. You may also add a prefix for indices. Rest of the configurations can be left at defaults.Adding the Elasticsearch server
  3. Click on “Save configurations” to add the server
Generating mappings and configuring them

A mapping is essentially a schema that will define the fields of the documents in an index. All the bundles of entities in Drupal can be mapped into indices.

  1. Click on “Generate mappings”
  2. Select the entity type, let’s say node. Then select its bundles. Optionally allow mapping of its childrenAdding the entity and selecting its bundles to be mapped
  3. Click on “Submit” button. It will automatically add all the fields, you may want to keep only the desired fields and configure them correctly. Their mapping DSL can also be exported.Configuring the fields of a bundle
Generating index and pushing the documents

Now, we can push the indices and the required documents to the search server.

  1. For that, move on to the indices tab, click on “Generate New Elastic Search Indices” and then click on “Push Server Indices and Mappings”. This will create all the indices on the server.
  2. Now index all the nodes using “Push All Documents”. You may also push the nodes for a specific index. Wait for the indexing to finish.Managing the indices using the admin UI
Conclusion

Drupal entities can be indexed into the Elasticsearch documents, which can be used to create an advanced search system using Drupal views or can be used to build a decoupled application using the REST interface of Elasticsearch. 
While Search API provides an abstract approach, the Elastic Search module follows the conventions and principles of the search engine itself to index the documents. Either way, you can relish the flexibility, power, and speed of Elasticsearch to build your desired solution.

blog banner blog image Blog Type Tech Is it a good read ? On

Lockheed Martin Creates Its Largest 3D-Printed Space Part To Date

Slashdot -

Lockheed Martin has finished quality control tests for its largest 3D-printed space part to date: an enormous titanium dome meant to serve as caps for satellite fuel tanks. The component measures four feet in diameter. Engadget reports: Its previous largest qualified space part is an electronics enclosure that's around the size of a toaster. This dome is large enough to seal fuel tanks bigger than humans and, according to Lockheed Martin, big enough to hold 74.4 gallons of coffee or 530 donuts. Glazed, of course. Titanium is an ideal material for the industry, because it's lightweight and can withstand the harsh conditions of space travel. However, manufacturers end up wasting 80 percent of the material using traditional manufacturing techniques -- plus, each component could take years to build. Rick Ambrose, the company's executive VP, said they were able to cut down the total delivery timeline for a titanium fuel tank dome from two years to an incredibly impressive three months. "Our largest 3D-printed parts to date show we're committed to a future where we produce satellites twice as fast and at half the cost."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Book Paints Different Picture of Workplace Behavior At Google and Facebook

Slashdot -

Longtime Slashdot reader theodp writes: In Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), Adam Fisher paints quite a different picture of life at now-workforce behavior preachers Google and Facebook, revealing that the tech giants' formative days were filled with the kind of antics that run afoul of HR protocols. Google was not a normal place, begins an excerpt in Vanity Fair that includes some juicy quotes attributed to Google executive chef Charlie Ayers about Google's founders ("Sergey's the Google playboy. He was known for getting his fingers caught in the cookie jar with employees that worked for the company in the masseuse room. He got around.") And in Sex, Beer, and Coding, Wired runs an excerpt about Facebook's wild early days, which even extended to the artwork gracing its office ("The office was on the second floor, so as you walk in you immediately have to walk up some stairs, and on the big 10-foot-high wall facing you is just this huge buxom woman with enormous breasts wearing this Mad Max-style costume riding a bulldog. It's the most intimidating, totally inappropriate thing. [...] That set a tone for us. A huge-breasted warrior woman riding a bulldog is the first thing you see as you come in the office, so like, get ready for that!" So, what changed? "When Sheryl Sandberg joined the company is when I saw a vast shift in everything in the company," said Ayers about Google. Sandberg later became Facebook's grown-up face.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Passwords For Tens of Thousands of Dahua Devices Cached In IoT Search Engine

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: "Login passwords for tens of thousands of Dahua devices have been cached inside search results returned by ZoomEye, a search engine for discovering Internet-connected devices (also called an IoT search engine)," reports Bleeping Computer. A security researcher has recently discovered that instead of just indexing IoT devices, ZoomEye is also sending an exploitation package to devices and caching the results, which also include cleartext DDNS passwords that allow an attacker remote access to these devices. Searching for the devices is trivial and simple queries can unearth tens of thousands of vulnerable Dahua DVRs. According to the security researcher who spotted these devices, the trick has been used in the past year by the author of the BrickerBot IoT malware, the one who was on a crusade last year, bricking unsecured devices in an attempt to have them go offline instead of being added to IoT botnets.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Digital Ads Are Starting To Feel Psychic

Slashdot -

It seems like everyone these days has had a paranoiac moment where a website advertises something to you that you recently purchased or was gifted without a digital trail. According to a new website called New Organs, which collects first-hand accounts of these moments, "the feeling of being listened to is among the most common experiences, along with seeing the same ads on different websites, and being tracked via geo-location," reports The Outline. The website was created by Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, two Brooklyn-based artists whose work explores the intersections of technology and society. From the report: "We are stuck in this 20th century idea of spying, of wiretapping and hidden microphones," said Brain. "But really there is this whole new sensory apparatus, a complicated entanglement of online trackers and algorithms that are watching over us." It is this new sensory apparatus that Brain and Lavigne metaphorically refer to as "new organs," as if the online surveillance framework used by social media platforms like Facebook has somehow transfigured into a semi-living organism. "These new organs don't actually need to listen to your voice to know that you like Japanese knives," Lavigne told me. "They actually have ways of coming to know things about you that we don't fully understand yet." In other words, these new methods of data collection have become so uncannily accurate in their knowledge of you as to occasionally feel indistinguishable from actual ears listening in on and understanding intimate conversations. There are a few things that we do already know about these new "organs" of data processing, as defined by Brain and Lavigne. We know, for instance, that they have an insatiable appetite for personal data. They gather this by first tracking online activity, which is enough to tell them what people like, what they search for, what they listen to, what they read, where they're walking for dinner, and also, worryingly, who their friends are and what they like, read, purchase -- data that is gathered without their awareness. But, then, the organs also gather information purchased from commercial data brokers about people's offline lives, like how many credit cards they own, what their income is, and what they purchase when they go grocery shopping. And all of this information is triangulated with friends' data, because if they know what those dear to you are buying -- a Japanese knife, for instance -- there is a good chance that that person will be interested in that very same thing. The new organs process this enormous amount of information to break you down into categories, which are sometimes innocuous like, "Listens to Spotify" or "Trendy Moms," but can also be more sensitive, identifying ethnicity and religious affiliation, or invasively personal, like "Lives away from family." More than this, the new organs are being integrated with increasingly sophisticated algorithms, so they can generate predictive portraits of you, which they then sell to advertisers who can target products that you don't even know you want yet.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Agiledrop.com Blog: AGILEDROP: Drupal community interview - Renato Goncalves de Araújo

Drupal Planet -

Agiledrop is highlighting active Drupal community members through a series of interviews. Learn who are the people behind Drupal projects. This week we talked with Renato Goncalves de Araújo. Read about what are the two things he loves about Drupal, what he thinks the future will bring for Drupal, and what are projects he is involved into.    1. Please tell us a little about yourself. How do you participate in the Drupal community and what do you do professionally? About me: I have been a software developer for eleven years now. I studied Computer Science at the University of Campinas (… READ MORE

Kernel prepatch 4.18-rc5

LWN Headlines -

The 4.18-rc5 kernel prepatch has been released. "For some reason this week actually felt very busy, but the rc5 numbers show otherwise. It's all small and calm, and things are progressing nicely."

Unlike Most Millennials, Norway's Are Rich

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Best known for its Viking history, snow sports and jaw-dropping fjords, Norway is making a new name for itself as the only major economy in Europe where young people are getting markedly richer. People in their early thirties in Norway have an average annual disposable household income of around 460,000 kroner (around $56,200). Young Norwegians have enjoyed a 13% rise in disposable household income in real terms compared to Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1980) when they were the same age. These startling figures come from the largest comparative wealth data set in the world, the Luxembourg Income Database, and were analyzed in a recent report on generational incomes for the UK Think Tank The Resolution Foundation. Compare this with young people in other strong economies: U.S. millennials have experienced a 5% dip, in Germany it's a 9% drop. For those living in southern Europe (the southern Eurozone suffered the brunt of the global economic crisis in 2008), disposable incomes have plunged by as much as 30%. Norway's youth unemployment rate (among 15- to 29-year-olds) is also relatively low at 9.4% compared to an OECD average of 13.9%. According to the BBC, this can be attributed to the country's rapid economic growth, thanks largely to their huge oil and gas sectors. "After seeing the biggest increase in average earnings of any large high-income economy between 1980 and 2013, it now leads multiple global rankings for wealth and wellbeing."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pages

Subscribe to Heydon Consulting aggregator