All posts on July, 2017


Marketing

InsideView Launches Expert Consulting Service for B2B Marketers

InsideView has announced a consulting service to help B2B marketers implement account-based marketing. Expert Service, the first in the firm’s planned series of InsideView Expert Services, delivers target market analytics and helps customers build a view of their total addressable market using a data visualization console. InsideView’s TAM service is a blend of consulting, technology and data.

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Tech Buzz

Why Facebook’s Willow Beats Apple’s Saucer

Facebook knocked it out of the park with its financials last week, and a lot of its success comes from Zuckerberg’s unique focus. Unlike other firms that jump from project to project, ranging widely from what makes them money — like Google — Facebook stays close to what made it successful. There is no stronger evidence than when you compare the two office projects from Apple and Facebook.

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All your streaming data are belong to Kafka

Apache Kafka is on a roll. Last year it registered a 260 percent jump in developer popularity, as Redmonk’s Fintan Ryan highlights, a number that has only ballooned since then as IoT and other enterprise demands for real-time, streaming data become common. Hatched at LinkedIn, Kafka’s founding engineering team spun out to form Confluent, which has been a primary developer of the Apache project ever since.

But not the only one. Indeed, given the rising importance of Kafka, more companies than ever are committing code, including Eventador, started by Kenny Gorman and Erik Beebe, both co-founders of ObjectRocket (acquired by Rackspace). Whereas ObjectRocket provides the MongoDB database as a service, Eventador offers a fully managed Kafka service, further lowering the barriers to streaming data.

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E-Commerce

Amazon’s B2B Business Blows Past 1M Customer Mark

Amazon Business, launched in April 2015, this week announced that it had reached the 1 million customer milestone. “This is rapid growth,” said Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research. It’s attributable in part to a crossover effect from the large number of B2C customers Amazon has, he said. Amazon Business offers business-only pricing on millions of products, and access to more than 85,000 business sellers.

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Tech Blog

The Elusive Total Linux Convergence Dream

Regular readers know that I usually stick to the well-charted territory of essential terminal commands and practical overviews of Linux history, since they are immediately useful to newcomers. Thankfully for beginners, the basics don’t change very quickly — but that’s not to say that Linux is a stagnant ecosystem. Far from it. Linux can be found at the very frontier of emerging computer trends.

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New project taps Node.js for microservices API gateway

Looking to take some complexity out of microservices deployments, LunchBadger has built an open source API gateway to secure microservices and expose them via APIs. Built on the Express web application framework for Node.js, the Express Gateway routes requests to services using Node.js and Express middleware. 

Express Gateway offers centralized configuration, API consumer and credentials management, and a plug-in framework. An API gateway is the heart of microservices, LunchBadger CEO Al Tsang said. “It’s a key piece of infrastructure that you must have,” enabling microservices to work with infrastructure such as Kubernetes container orchestration, Tsang said. LunchBadger offers an API and microservices platform. Joyent also is sponsoring the gateway.

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Tech Buzz

Amazon’s Secret 1492 Health Team Sets Sail

A secret Amazon team, dubbed “1492,” reportedly has been working on a skunkworks project devoted entirely to healthcare. The unit has been developing hardware devices and software applications related to electronic medical records, telemedicine and other health-related issues. Amazon’s aim is to cover the bases in the healthcare arena, likely a bid to cash in on its massive profit potential.

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Cybercrime

Russian Head of $4B Bitcoin Exchange Charged in Massive Money Laundering Scheme

A grand jury in the Northern District of California indicted a Russian man for running a massive money laundering operation through the BTC-e bitcoin exchange, a group of federal officials announced Wednesday. The exchange allegedly received up to $4 billion in proceeds from various criminal activities, including the 2014 hack of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange.

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Microsoft explores ‘safe’ manual memory management in .Net

Microsoft Research has been experimenting with integrating safe manual memory management with garbage collection (GC) in the .Net runtime. The goal is to give developers both the convenience and safety of automated memory management and the opportunity to improve performance by freeing objects from memory manually.

The effort, called Project Snowflake, is the subject of a paper published this week by Microsoft Research and co-authors from the University of Cambridge and Princeton University. With Snowflake, programmers could choose between allocating objects in the GC heap or the manual heap. Snowflake combines the open source .Net runtime with a facility to manage memory manually without compromising performance or safety. Existing applications run unmodified using the GC heap, with no performance degradation.

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Data is eating the software that is eating the world

No one doubts that software engineering shapes every last facet of our 21st century existence. Given his vested interest in companies whose fortunes were built on software engineering, it was no surprise when Marc Andreessen declared that “software is eating the world.”

But what does that actually mean, and, just as important, does it still apply, if it ever did? These questions came to me recently when I reread Andreessen’s op-ed piece and noticed that he equated “software” with “programming.” Just as significant, he equated “eating” with industry takeovers by “Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies” and then rattled through the usual honor roll of Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Google, and the like. What they, and others cited by Andreessen, have in common is that they built global-scale business models on the backs of programmers who bang out the code that drives web, mobile, social, cloud, and other 24/7 online channels.

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Web Apps

Flash Flames Out – but It Will Smolder for a While

Adobe has decided to pull the plug on its much maligned Flash format, citing the growing use of HTML5, WebGL and Web Assembly open standards. Helper apps have evolved over time to become plugins, which then further evolved to become open Web standards, Adobe noted. However, because gaming, education and video have come to depend heavily on Flash over the years, its phaseout will be gradual.

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Petition asks Adobe to open-source Flash

With Adobe having just announced its end-of-life schedule for the Flash rich Internet plug-in, a petition has been posted on GitHub encouraging the company to make the Flash source code available under an open source license.

The petition, posted on web developer Juha Lindstedt’s GitHub account, says open-sourcing Flash would be a good solution for keeping Flash content alive for archival purposes. “Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past. Games, experiments, and websites would be forgotten.” The petition adds that the idea was “not to save Flash Player but to open source Flash!”

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Where are the best software developers? Not Silicon Valley

When it comes to determining which state has the best developers, California, the home of Silicon Valley, might immediately come to mind. But according to technical recruiter HackerRank, the top state is Washington.

HackerRank, which offers coding skills tests, examined its own data and found Washington had the most skilled developers on the company’s platform. Right on Washington’s heels, albeit with a smaller concentration of developers, was Wyoming. Developers in these two states dominated in algorithms, the domain with the largest share of challenges solved on the company’s platform. California placed third overall and ranked in the top 10 across multiple domains.

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OWL: A ‘better’ PHP for single-server apps

PHP has been a staple of server-side web development for years. Now, a developer from Netflix is building a variation on the language that offers “the good parts” while purporting to be easier to use and more secure.

Called OWL, for OWL Web Language, the language features a JavaScript-like syntax and compiles to PHP. In a beta stage of development, OWL is best suited for single-server applications and is not intended to displace PHP. “It’s more of a new, secure interface on top of the same engine underneath,” developer Joe Lesko said. “But I could see more developers choosing OWL over raw PHP over time, especially for single-developer projects.” Ideas in OWL might even become incorporated into PHP, he said. Lesko has published instructions on getting started with OWL.

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Architect has a better blueprint for AWS Lambda deployments

The JS Foundation is taking jurisdiction over Architect, an open source software project for provisioning and maintaining cloud infrastructure from a simple text file, with a focus on AWS Lambda and eventually other serverless computing implementations.

The Architect project proposes a file format referred to as .arc. It is intended to be a simpler way of setting up and maintaining Lambda cloud functions than deploying them manually or using infrastructure administration tools such as TerraForm. The .arc format is “easier to read and runs faster,” as well as being easier to author, said Brian LeRoux, CTO at Slack bot provider Small Wins, which developed Architect and is contributing it to the JS Foundation.

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Adobe: Flash Player to reach end-of-life in 2020

In a move that should come as no surprise given the declining need for proprietary rich Internet plug-ins, Adobe on Tuesday said it will cease updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020.

Content creators will instead be encouraged to migrate existing content to new, “open” formats such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly. Adobe cited the advent of these standards as having matured enough to provide capabilities pioneered by Flash. “Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plug-ins directly into browsers and deprecating plug-ins,” the company said.

Adobe said it will continue with development of new web standards including HTML5 while participating in the WebAssembly Community Group. Indeed, seeing the writing on the wall, Adobe has been making accommodations for HTML5 for several years now. The company’s Animate CC tool, for designing animations, supports both HTML5 and WebGL. Apple’s refusal to support Flash on its wildly popular iOS mobile platform was perhaps the watershed moment for the technology. Flash also has had its share of security issues. YouTube backed away from Flash in 2015, defaulting to HTML5.

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.Net Core 2.0 to extend coding optimizations to Linux

The next version of Microsoft’s open source, cross-platform version of the .Net software platform, .Net Core 2.0, will bring profile-guided optimization (PGO) to Linux x64. PGO is native compilation technology used by the C++ compiler to generate faster-running code. 

PGO features a two-step process, including a training run that records information about execution and a build step that uses the results of the training run to generate better optimized code, Microsoft’s Bertrand Le Roy and Daniel Podder explained in a blog post. The .Net Core 2.0 upgrade will add PGO optimizations to .Net Core on both the Windows x86 and Linux x64 platforms. PGO began working with Windows x64 in the .Net Core 1.1 release and it has been used in the Windows-based .Net Framework for years.

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Microcosm simplifies state management for React apps

Viget Labs has published a data layer for Facebook’s popular React JavaScript UI library. Called Microcosm, the open source tool manages state and data flow for React applications, keeping track of user actions even when users switch context or lose connectivity. 

Formally introduced to the public this month, Microcosm reduces the need for boilerplate code and keeps React apps organized. The company has described Microcosm as being an evolution of Facebook’s Flux application architecture for client-side web applications. Viget has been running Microcosm in production itself for two years.

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Survey says Python is tops with developers

Python, which was already surging in popularity among developers, has received another endorsement, getting the nod as the most popular tool in IT service provider Packt’s just-released developer survey.

The language is used by nearly 20 percent of respondents, giving it the top spot. The report echoes Python’s high rankings in language popularity indexes from Tiobe, PyPL, and RedMonk, which all have the language finishing in their recent top five rankings.

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Mozilla brings Python-style project documentation to JavaScript

Wanting a more full-featured documentation tool for large JavaScript projects, Mozilla has unveiled Sphinx-js, a plug-in that pulls JSDoc-formatted JavaScript documentation into the Sphinx documentation tool used in the Python world.  

Sphinx-js consumes documents and tags from the JSDoc markup language used to document JavaScript APIs and libraries. Sphinx-js delegates the parsing to JSDoc itself. The Sphinx tool, meanwhile, is used to initialize a docs folder in the root folder of your project, whereupon the plug-in is activated and you document your code using the reStructuredText plain text markup syntax and parser system.

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Go language soars to new heights in popularity

Go, Google’s open source, concurrency-friendly programming language, has soared to new heights with developers, cracking the top 10 in the Tiobe index of language popularity for the first time.

With an all-time high rating of 2.363 percent, Go ranks as the 10th most popular programming language in this month’s index, ahead of languages such as Perl, Swift, Ruby, and Visual Basic. The Tiobe Programming Community index assesses language popularity using a formula based on frequency of searches for the languages in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Baidu, and Wikipedia.

Tiobe called Go’s latest rise an important landmark and pondered what was next. “Is Go really able to join the big stars in the programming language world and leave languages such as JavaScript and Python behind? We will see.” The language was ranked in 55th place in the index a year ago. Go’s previous high score was a 2.325 percent rating in January, when it placed 13th.

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Apache Spark 2.2 gets streaming, R language boosts

With version 2.2 of Apache Spark, a long-awaited feature for the multipurpose in-memory data processing framework is now available for production use.

Structured Streaming, as that feature is called, allows Spark to process streams of data in ways that are native to Spark’s batch-based data-handling metaphors. It’s part of Spark’s long-term push to become, if not all things to all people in data science, then at least the best thing for most of them.

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Luna brings visual development to functional programming

Described by the creators as a developer’s whiteboard “on steroids,” the Luna functional language promises to enable application assembly by clicking and dragging visual elements together.

Expected to be released as open source when Luna reaches beta, its compiler will produce native code for the developer’s choice of Linux, MacOS, Windows, or JavaScript. The team behind Luna is seeking candidates for a private alpha release.

Luna’s creators argue that because developers typically start sketching components and dependencies on a whiteboard before coding, it doesn’t make sense to then implement that logic only in text. Software can have thousands of lines of code distributed in hundreds of files, which can trip up the implementation of that visual data flow and application architecture. Tools such as UML architecture diagrams only deal with the symptoms and not the problem’s source, Luna’s creators argue.

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