AI

Ask Slashdot: What Types of Jobs Are Opening Up In the New Field of AI? 133

Qbertino writes: I'm about to move on in my career after having a "short rethink and regroup break" and was for quite some time now thinking about getting into perhaps a new programming language and technology, like NodeJS or Java/Kotlin or something. But I have the seriously growing suspicion that artificial intelligence is coming for us programmers and IT experts faster than we might want to admit. Just last weekend I heard myself saying to a friend who was a pioneer on the web, "AI is today what the web was in 1993" -- I think that to be very true. So just 20 minutes ago I started thinking and wondering about what types of jobs there are in AI. Is anything popping up in the industry from the AI hype and what are these positions called, what do they precisely do and what are the skills needed to do them? I suspect something like an "AI Architect" for planning AI setups and clearly defining the boundaries of what the AI is supposed to do and explore. Then I presume the requirements for something like an "AI Maintainer" and/or "AI Trainer," which would probably resemble something like an admin of a big data storage, looking at statistics and making educated decisions on which "AI Training Paths" the AI should continue to explore to gain the skill required and deciding when the "AI" is ready to be let go on to the task. You're seeing we -- AFAIK -- don't even have names for these positions yet, but I suspect, just as in the internet/web boom 20 years ago, that is about to change *very* fast.

And what about Tensor Flow? Should I toy around with it or are we past that stage already and will others do AI setup and installation better than me before I know how this thing really works? Because I also suspect most of the AI work for humans will closely be tied to services and providers such as Google. You know, renting "AI" as you rent webspace or subscribe to bandwidth today. Any services and industry vendors I should look into -- besides the obvious Google that is? In a nutshell, what work is there in the field of AI that can be done and how do I move into that? Like now. And what should I maybe get a degree in if I want to be on top of this AI thing? And how would you go about gaining skill and knowledge on AI today, and I mean literally, today. I know, tons of questions but insightful advice is requested from an educated slashdot crowd. And I bet I'm not the only one interested in this topic. Thanks.
Data Storage

Why Does Microsoft Still Offer a 32-bit OS? (backblaze.com) 367

Brian Wilson, a founder of cloud storage service BackBlaze, writes in a blog post: Moving over to a 64-bit OS allows your laptop to run BOTH the old compatible 32-bit processes and also the new 64-bit processes. In other words, there is zero downside (and there are gigantic upsides). Because there is zero downside, the first time it could, Apple shipped with 64-bit OS support. Apple did not give customers the option of "turning off all 64-bit programs." Apple first shipped 64-bit support in OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in 2009. This was so successful that Apple shipped all future Operating Systems configured to support both 64-bit and 32-bit processes. All of them. But let's contrast the Apple approach with that of Microsoft. Microsoft offers a 64-bit OS in Windows 10 that runs all 64-bit and all 32-bit programs. This is a valid choice of an Operating System. The problem is Microsoft ALSO gives customers the option to install 32-bit Windows 10 which will not run 64-bit programs. That's crazy. Another advantage of the 64-bit version of Windows is security. There are a variety of security features such as ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) that work best in 64-bits. The 32-bit version is inherently less secure. By choosing 32-bit Windows 10 a customer is literally choosing a lower performance, LOWER SECURITY, Operating System that is artificially hobbled to not run all software. My problem is this: Backblaze, like any good technology vendor, wants to be easy to use and friendly. In this case, that means we need to quietly, invisibly, continue to support BOTH the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions of every Microsoft OS they release. And we'll probably need to do this for at least 5 years AFTER Microsoft officially retires the 32-bit only version of their operating system.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On Sloot Compression? (youtube.com) 418

An anonymous reader writes: A Dutch electronics engineer named Jan Sloot spent 20 years of his life trying to compress broadcast quality video down to kilobytes -- not megabytes or gigabytes (the link in this story contains an 11 minute mini-documentary on Sloot). His CODEC, finalized in the late 1990s, consisted of a massive 370Mb decoder engine that likely contained some kind of clever system for procedurally generating just about any video frame or audio sample desired -- fractals or other generative approaches may have been used by Sloot. The "instruction files" that told this decoder what kind of video frames, video motion and audio samples to generate were supposedly only kilobytes in size -- kind of like small MIDI files being able to generate hugely complex orchestral scores when they instruct a DAW software what to play. Jan Sloot died of a heart attack two days before he was due to sign a technology licensing deal with a major electronics company. The Sloot Video Compression system source code went missing after his death and was never recovered, prompting some to speculate that Jan Sloot was killed because his ultra-efficient video compression and transmission scheme threatened everyone profiting from storing, distributing and transmitting large amounts of digital video data. I found out about Sloot Compression only after watching some internet videos on "invention suppression." So the question is: is it technically possible that Sloot Compression, with its huge decoder file and tiny instruction files, actually worked? According to Reddit user PinGUY, the Sloot Digital Coding System may have been the inspiration for Pied Piper, a fictional data compression algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley. Here's some more information about the Sloot Digital Coding System for those who are interested.
Movies

What Are Some Documentaries and TV Shows That You Recommend To Others? 278

Reader joshtops writes: Wow thanks for the overwhelming response on my previous post. I'm taking notes and intend to give all of the suggested books a go in the near future. If I may, and I hope the editors approve of this, could you also list some of your favorite TV shows and documentaries? Also, is there any show or documentary you think that changed or influenced your life, or at least your perception on any particular subject?
Government

Slashdot Asks: Is Trump's Blocking of Some Twitter Users Unconstitutional? (usatoday.com) 390

An anonymous reader shares an article: Some Twitter users say President Trump should not be able to block them on the social network. The president makes unprecedented use of Twitter, having posted more than 24,000 times on his @realDonaldTrump account to 31.7 million followers. His tweets about domestic and foreign policy -- and media coverage of him and his administration -- has transformed Twitter into a public forum with free speech protections. That's the opinion of two Twitter users, who have the backing of the Knight First Amendment Institute. They are sending a letter today to the White House asking Trump to unblock them on his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. Both users say they were blocked recently after tweeting messages critical of the President. Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan), whose Twitter account identifies her as a March for Truth organizer, said she was blocked on May 23 after posting a GIF of Pope Francis looking and frowning at Trump captioned "this is pretty much how the whole world sees you." In the letter to Trump and the White House, the Knight First Amendment Institute's attorneys argue that Trump's Twitter account "operates as a 'designated public forum' for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional." In some other news, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today "@realDonaldTrump's tweets are official White House statements."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Does Your Team Track And Manage Bugs In Your Software? 189

Slashdot reader jb373 is a senior software engineer whose team's bug-tracking methodology is making it hard to track bugs. My team uses agile software methodologies, specifically scrum with a Kanban board, and adds all bugs we find to our Kanban board. Our Kanban board is digital and similar to Trello in many regards and we have a single list for bugs... We end up with duplicates and now have a long list to try and scroll through... Has anyone run into a similar situation or do things differently that work well for their team?
The original submission ends with one idea -- "I'm thinking about pushing for a separate bug tracking system that we pull bugs from during refinement and create Kanban cards for." But is there a better way? Leave your own experiences in the comments. How does your team track and manage bugs in your software?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Way To Write Working Code By Drawing Flow Charts? 264

Slashdot reader dryriver writes: There appear to be two main ways to write code today. One is with text-based languages ranging from BASIC to Python to C++. The other is to use a flow-based or dataflow programming-based visual programming language where you connect boxes or nodes with lines. What I have never (personally) come across is a way to program by drawing classical vertical (top to bottom) flow charts. Is there a programming environment that lets you do this...?

There are software tools that can turn, say, C code into a visual flow chart representation of said C code. Is there any way to do the opposite -- draw a flowchart, and have that flowchart turn into working C code?

Leave your best answers in the comments.
News

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Choose a News Source? (csmonitor.com) 275

Obfiscator writes: Journalism has long had potential to change the world. The latest elections in the United States demonstrated new dimensions of this, with the rise of "fake news" and "echo chambers," as well as a president who has few reservations in expressing his thoughts of the media. The Christian Science Monitor has been a favorite news site of mine for years, due to their objective and balanced reporting, as well as their tendency to avoid "breaking news" and provide detailed analysis a few days later. Very few stories are going to impact my world to the point where waiting a couple days to read about them will make a difference. Despite the name, the vast majority of articles have no religious context (they address this in their FAQ). CSM has recently switched to be completely behind a paywall, as well. In their words, "We hope the Monitor Daily addresses both those trends. It is pushed to where our readers are and offers this pact: We will deliver our distinctive view of the world and you support financially our ability to produce that news." Is this the next trend: moving away from advertising revenues? Will this create more balanced journalism, as there is no need to attract clicks? Or will it deepen "echo chambers?" How do Slashdotters choose their news sites?
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Is There A Screen-Less, Keyboard-Less, Battery-Powered Computer? 181

Long-time Slashdot reader Wycliffe writes: So I have a travel keyboard that I love. I can carry my OS on a USB flash drive. There are several options for portable battery powered monitors. The only thing I'm missing to have a completely modular laptop is the CPU/MB/RAM... I can get a laptop but it seems silly to carry around a laptop with a keyboard when I never use the keyboard. I don't need a long battery life, if I need more than an hour then I can find somewhere to plug it in...

I've thought about buying a small box like a Zotac and trying to replace the hard drive with a battery -- but does anything like this already exist...? Also, are there any systems like this with decent specs? Most stuff I see like the Intel Compute Stick are horribly underpowered compared to a decent laptop.

The original submission drew some interesting discussion. Another option is "a good x86/x64 tablet that I can install Linux on" -- especially with a decent processor -- or "laptop-like systems that got rid of the screen entirely... I just need the travel CPU part without the added weight of a second keyboard and monitor." So leave your best suggestions in the comments. Is there a good, lightweight computer that's battery-powered without a screen or a keyboard?
News

Can You Copyright a Joke? (npr.org) 230

Reader AnalogDiehard writes: Writer Alex Kaseburg has filed a lawsuit against TBS and Time Warner alleging that jokes recited on the Conan O'Brien show were stolen from his blog shortly after they were published. The case gets heard in August and could create new protections in a legal forum in which there is little precedent or clear definition in what defines a joke as "original" and subject to legal protection, especially in an industry where theft of humor occurs on a regular basis. But the outcome of any judicial decision opens a big can of worms and raises serious questions: Will YouTube videos get shut down from DMCA notices citing copyrighted jokes? Will compliance staff have to be retained to ensure that their magazine or news article, TV show, movie, or broadway act is not infringing on copyrighted jokes? Will copyrights on jokes get near-perpetual protection like the controversial Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act? Will people be able to recite limericks without fear of infringing? Will tyrannical politicians copyright critical jokes to oppress freedom of speech? Will legal cases be filed arguing that a comedian's joke(s) bears too much similarity to a copyrighted joke recited decades ago? Will girl scouts be free to tell copyright jokes around the campfire?
Android

Slashdot Asks: In the Wake Of Ransomware Attacks, Should Tech Companies Change Policies To Support Older OSs Indefinitely? 360

In the aftermath of ransomware spread over the weekend, Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, writes an opinion piece for The New York Times: At a minimum, Microsoft clearly should have provided the critical update in March to all its users, not just those paying extra. Indeed, "pay extra money to us or we will withhold critical security updates" can be seen as its own form of ransomware. In its defense, Microsoft probably could point out that its operating systems have come a long way in security since Windows XP, and it has spent a lot of money updating old software, even above industry norms. However, industry norms are lousy to horrible, and it is reasonable to expect a company with a dominant market position, that made so much money selling software that runs critical infrastructure, to do more. Microsoft supported Windows XP for over a decade before finally putting it to sleep. In the wake of ransomware attacks, it stepped forward to release a patch -- a move that has been lauded by columnists. That said, do you folks think it should continue to push security updates to older operating systems as well?
Businesses

Slashdot Asks: Should Businesses Switch To Biometric Passwords? (hbr.org) 204

This question was inspired by a recent article in Harvard Business Review: It's become abundantly clear that passwords are an untenable way to secure our data online. And asking your customers to keep track of complicated log-in information is a terrible user experience... The threat to security when relying on passwords is one reason businesses are increasingly migrating to biometric systems. Identity verification through biometrics can ensure greater security for personal information, while also providing customers with a more seamless experience in the digital environment of smartphones, tablets, sensors, and other devices... the idea is to verify someone's identity with a high degree of assurance by tying it to multiple mechanisms at once, known as biometric modalities [which] when used in concert, can provide a significantly safer environment for the customer, and are much easier to use... [I]f an app simultaneously requires a thumbprint, a retina scan, and a vocal recognition signature, it would be close to impossible for a bad actor to replicate that in the seconds needed to open the app.
This got me curious -- are Slashdot's readers already seeing biometric verification systems in their own lives? Share your experiences in the comments, as well as your informed opinion. Do you think businesses should be switching to biometric passwords?
Google

Slashdot Asks: Which Tech Giant You Can't Live Without? 269

In this week's column of NYTimes, Farhad Manjoo writes about the five largest technology companies in the world: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google. As he notes, these companies have become the most powerful firms of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. This brings us to two questions:
1. Of the five aforementioned companies, tell us one whose services you don't need for work and for personal use. (In short, the company that doesn't matter to you.) Here's a poll where you can cast your vote.
2. On the same note, which company's services and products you can't ditch (for work / personal use)?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To Improve At Work When You're Not Getting Feedback? 222

An anonymous reader writes: Too many managers avoid giving any kind of feedback, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. If you work for a boss who doesn't provide feedback, it's easy to feel rudderless. It can be especially disorienting if you're new in the role, new to the company, or a recent graduate new to the workforce. In the absence of specific guidance, is there any way to know what the average boss would want you to work on? What would you advise someone who works in IT, engineering, coding, designing or any similar industry?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Should Be the Attributes of an Ideal Programming Language If Computers Were Infinitely Fast? 326

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, asked his Twitter followers an interesting question: "What are the attributes of an ideal programming language if computers were infinitely fast, and we designed for coding productivity only?" I could think of several things, the chief of which would be getting rid of the garbage collection. I was wondering what other things you folks would suggest?
Businesses

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Handle Interruptions At Work? 224

This question was inspired by this anonymous submission: Analysis of programming sessions and surveys note that programmers take 10-15 minutes to resume editing code after being interrupted. Computer scientists and researchers from University of Zurich and ABB Inc. have designed the 'FlowLight' system which automatically determines a worker's interruptibility using a combination of keyboard/mouse usage, calendar information, and login state, and makes interruptibility visible to other employees using a red/yellow/green LED indicator placed near the desk... Knowledge workers in various locations found that interruptions were significantly reduced by 46%. [PDF]
NBC reports these researchers "also tested a more advanced version that uses biometric sensors to detect heart rate variability, pupil dilation, eye blinks or even brainwave activity," and of course one of the researchers tells the New Yorker that a commercial version "is 'in the works.'" But it'd be interesting to hear from Slashdot's readers about their own solutions -- and how interruptions affect their own productivity at work. So share your best answers in the comments. How do you feel about interrupt
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Is ReactOS A Serious Alternative To Windows? (reactos.org) 236

dryriver writes: So I just discovered the ReactOS 0.4.4 Alpha... It seems like this is basically a free, open source Windows replacement in the making. Does anyone have serious experience with ReactOS?

Do you think that ReactOS will ever reach the point where you can basically say "bye bye" to Microsoft Windows, but keep using all your favorite Windows software under ReactOS? Will this be able to run Windows Games and DCC software that taps into the processing power of the GPU? Or will ReactOS wind up being "mildly compatible" with Windows software -- e.g. basic Office productivity type software works, but professional-grade 3D software like Maya/CATIA does not?

Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Is the 'Special Appeal' of Apple Products? 757

Reader dryriver writes: As someone who comes from MS-DOS/Windows PCs background, I've never quite understood the appeal of Apple's products. I don't think Apple's products are terrible or anything, but I just fail to see what is so special and different about Apple's electronics that many Apple users would never dream of switching to a non-Apple product. Where does the 'special appeal' of Apple products reside? And why are Apple users so very loyal to Apple products, even though with Apple's pricing policy, you rarely get the best bang-for-the-buck in a product?

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