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People Like Netflix's Original Content More Than Its Other Content: AllFlicks ( 76

According to a study by IHS Markit this month, in the last two years Netflix's spending on original content rose from $2.38 billion to $4.91 billion. The company has invested big in original programming -- and it looks to be paying off. The folks over at AllFlicks have found that Netflix's subscriber base prefers Netflix's original content to that of its syndicated content. AllFlicks reports: Netflix user ratings show that Netflix's subscriber base prefers Netflix's original content to its syndicated content. Netflix originals sport an average rating of 3.85 stars out of five; all other content averages 3.47 stars. That means that user ratings for Netflix originals are 11% higher, on average, than user ratings for syndicated content. Netflix does best in the documentaries category, where users rate non-original content, on average, at 3.54. Netflix's documentaries average 4.07 stars, a pretty impressive showing. Netflix's TV shows do the worst, but still edge their other TV show content by 5.7%. It's possible that the frequent reviewers among Netflix's user base differ from the user base as a whole, but there's not a lot of reason to doubt the raw data here. The Netflix originals and non-originals were both reviewed on the same service and using the same rating system, yet originals consistently outperformed the rest of the content.

'Picat' Programming Language Creators Surprised With A $10,000 Prize ( 61

An anonymous reader writes: "I didn't even know they gave out prizes," said a Brooklyn College CS professor, remembering how he'd learned that a demo of the Picat programming language won a $10,000 grand prize last month at the NYC Media Lab Summit. Professor Neng-Fa Zhou created Picat with programmer Jonathan Fruhman, and along with graduate student Jie Mei they'd created a demo titled "The Picat Language and its Application to Games and AI Problems" to showcase the language's ability to solve combinatorial search problems, "including a common interface with CP, SAT, and MIP solvers."

Mie tells the Brooklyn College newspaper that Picat "is a multi-paradigm programming language aimed for general-purpose applications, which means theoretically it can be used for everything in life," and Zhou says he wants to continue making the language more useful in a variety of settings. "I want this to be successful, but not only academically... When you build something, you want people to use it. And this language has become a sensation in our community; other people have started using it."

United States

American 'Vigilante Hacker' Defaces Russian Ministry's Website ( 205

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes CNN Money: An American vigilante hacker -- who calls himself "The Jester" -- has defaced the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in retaliation for attacks on American targets... "Comrades! We interrupt regular scheduled Russian Foreign Affairs Website programming to bring you the following important message," he wrote. "Knock it off. You may be able to push around nations around you, but this is America. Nobody is impressed."
In early 2015, CNN Money profiled The Jester as "the vigilante who hacks jihadists," noting he's a former U.S. soldier who now "single-handedly taken down dozens of websites that, he deems, support jihadist propaganda and recruitment efforts. He stopped counting at 179." That article argues that "the fact that he hasn't yet been hunted down and arrested says a lot about federal prosecutors and the FBI. Several cybersecurity experts see it as tacit approval."

"In an exclusive interview with CNNMoney this weekend, Jester said he chose to attack Russia out of frustration for the massive DNS cyberattack that knocked out a portion of the internet in the United States on Friday... 'I'm not gonna sit around watching these f----rs laughing at us.'"

Rust Implements An IDE Protocol From Red Hat's Collaboration With Microsoft and Codenvy ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Developers of Mozilla's Rust language, devised for fast and safe system-level programming, have unveiled the first release of the Rust Language Service, a project that provides IDEs and editors with live, contextual information about Rust code. RLS is one of the first implementations of the Language Server Protocol, co-developed by Microsoft, Codenvy, and Red Hat to standardize communications between IDEs and language runtimes.

It's another sign of Rust's effort to be an A-list language across the board -- not only by providing better solutions to common programming problems, but also cultivating first-class, cutting-edge tooling support from beyond its ecosystem...

The Rust Language Service is "pre-alpha", and the whole Language Service Protocol is only currently supported by two IDEs -- Eclipse and Microsoft's Visual Studio Code. Earlier InfoWorld described it as "a JSON-based data exchange protocol for providing language services consistently across different code editors and IDEs," and one of the Rust developers has already developed a sample RLS client for Visual Studio Code.

AT&T Considers Buying Time Warner ( 60

In what would likely be one of the largest telecommunications takeovers in American history, Bloomberg is reporting that ATT has discussed the idea of a possible merger or other partnership with Time Warner Inc (may be paywalled; alternate source). Bloomberg reports: The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Neither side has yet hired a financial adviser, the people said. Acquiring Time Warner would give ATT, one of the biggest providers of pay-TV and of wireless and home internet service in the U.S., a collection of popular programming to offer to subscribers, from HBO to NBA basketball to the Cartoon Network. ATT CEO Randall Stephenson has been looking to add more content and original programming as part of his plan to transform the Dallas-based telecommunications company into a media and entertainment giant. Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes is a willing seller if he gets an offer he thinks is fair, said one of the people. Bewkes and his board rejected an $85-a-share approach in 2014 from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc., which valued Time Warner at more than $75 billion. Last year, ATT paid $48.5 billion to acquire satellite-TV provider DirecTV, its biggest deal in at least 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ATT has been developing an internet-based version of the pay-TV service, called DirecTV now.
The Almighty Buck

Plaintiffs From Seven States Sue Comcast For Misleading, Hidden Fees ( 81

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Back in 2013 Comcast began charging customers what it called the "Broadcast TV Fee." The fee, which began at $1.25 per month, has jumped to $6.50 (depending on your market) in just three years. As consumers began to complain about yet another glorified rate hike, the company in 2014 issued a statement proclaiming it was simply being "transparent," and passing on the cost of soaring programmer retransmission fees on to consumers. There's several problems with Comcast's explanation. One, however pricey broadcaster retransmission fees have become (and keep in mind Comcast is a broadcaster), programming costs are simply the cost of doing business for a cable company, and should be included in the overall price. Comcast doesn't include this fee in the overall price because sticking it below the line let's the company falsely advertise a lower rate. Inspired by the banking sector, this misleading practice has now become commonplace in the broadband and cable industry. Whether it's CenturyLink's $2 per month "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" or Fairpoint's $3 per month "Broadband Cost Recovery Fee," these fees are utterly nonsensical, and inarguably false advertising. And while the FCC can't be bothered to take aim at such misleading business practices, Federal class action lawsuit filed this week in California is trying to hold Comcast accountable for the practice. Plaintiffs from seven states -- including New Jersey, Illinois, California, Washington, Colorado, Florida and Ohio -- have sued Comcast alleging consumer fraud, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and breach of contract. What's more, the fee has consistently skyrocketed, notes the lawsuit. Comcast initially charged $1.50 when the fee first appeared back in 2013, but now charges upwards of $6.50 more per month in many markets -- a 333% increase in just three years.

Google's Go Language Surges In Popularity ( 252

2016 saw a big spike in the popularity of Go, attributed to the rising importance of Docker and Kubernetes. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes InfoWorld: Ranked 65th a year ago in the Tiobe Index of language popularity, it has climbed to 16th this month and is on track to become Tiobe's Programming Language of the Year, a designation awarded to the language with the biggest jump in the index...which gauges popularity based on a formula assessing searches on languages in popular search engines...

Elsewhere in the index, Java again came in first place, with an 18.799 rating while C, still in second place, nonetheless continued its precipitous drop, to 9.835% (it had been 16.185% a year ago). In third was C++ (5.797%) followed by C# (4.367%), Python (3.775%), JavaScript (2.751%), PHP (2.741%), Visual Basic .Net (2.66%), and Perl (2.495%).

The article also cites an alternate set of rankings. "In the PyPL index, the top 10 were: Java, with a share of 23.4%, followed by Python (13.6%), PHP (9.9%), C# (8.8%), JavaScript (7.6%), C++ (6.9%), C (6.9%), Objective-C (4.5%), R (3.3%), and Swift (3.1%)."

Inventor of C Dennis Ritchie Honored With Second Death ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: Dennis Ritchie invented the "C" programming language, so a second round of honors comes as no surprise. Although five years ago he passed away, some confusion over a tweet started the social media avalanche known as "second death syndrome". The problem, especially if you look at it from Ritchie's perspective, is that he's been dead for five years -- exactly five years. That time gap seems to have escaped some of the biggest names in tech, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who late Wednesday tweeted out Wired's five-year-old obituary on Ritchie, thanking him for his "immense contributions." Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and the founder of tech site GigaOm, retweeted Pichai's tribute before soon recognizing his mistake and tweeting an apology for "adding to the confusion and noise." Craig Newmark, founder of the popular online bulletin board Craigslist, also paid his respects, saying, "this guy made a huge contribution to the world."

O'Reilly Gives Away Free Programming Ebooks ( 87

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: There's now a section on offering free ebooks about computer programming. There's four free Java ebooks and seven about Python, as well as an "Other" section which contains ebooks like C++ Today, Swift Pocket Reference, and Why Rust? But there's also some broader categories for Open Source and Software Architecture ebooks, as well as separate sections for their free ebooks about Data, Security, Web Development, and the Internet of Things.

Melinda Gates Was Encouraged To Use an Apple and BASIC. Her Daughters Were Not. ( 370

Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: In August, Melinda Gates penned Computers Are For Girls, Too, in which she lamented that her daughters "are half as likely to major in computer science as I was 30 years ago." So, what's changed in the last 30 years? Well, at last week's DreamForce Conference, Gates credited access to Apple computers at school and home for sparking her own interest in computer science [YouTube], leading to a career at Microsoft.

So, as she seeks ways to encourage more women to get into tech, Melinda may want to consider the effects of denying her own children access to Apple products [2010 interview] and of Microsoft [in 1984] stopping computers from shipping with a beginner's programming language (a 14-year-old Melinda reportedly cut her coding teeth on BASIC).

Melinda can raise her kids however she wants -- maybe her kids will just start programming with the Ubuntu that's shipping with Windows 10. But is it a problem that there's no beginner's programming language currently shipping with Macs? Over the years Macs have shipped with Perl, Python, Ruby, tcl, and a Unix shell. Do you think Apple could encourage young programmers more by also shipping their Macs with BASIC?

Linux Foundation Shares LinuxCon Highlights ( 50

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The Linux Foundation held its "LinuxCon Europe" this week, "where developers, sys admins, architects and all types and levels of technical talent gather together under one roof for education, collaboration and problem-solving to further the Linux platform." They've now updated their web site with photos and slide presentations.

The 44 presentations included a talk about Linux kernel security subsystem by kernel developer James Morris and an interesting talk by GitHub's Carol Smith arguing that mandatory math requirements can create a "steep barrier to entry" for people trying to launch programming careers. Karsten Gerloff also described how Siemens is making "strategic" use of free software.


Are Flawed Languages Creating Bad Software? ( 531

"Most software, even critical system software, is insecure Swiss cheese held together with duct tape, bubble wrap, and bobby pins..." writes TechCrunch. An anonymous reader quotes their article: Everything is terrible because the fundamental tools we use are, still, so flawed that when used they inevitably craft terrible things... Almost all software has been bug-ridden and insecure for so long that we have grown to think that this is the natural state of code. This learned helplessness is not correct. Everything does not have to be terrible...

Vast experience has shown us that it is unrealistic to expect programmers to write secure code in memory-unsafe an industry, let's at least set a trajectory. Let's move towards writing system code in better languages, first of all -- this should improve security and speed. Let's move towards formal specifications and verification of mission-critical code.

Their article calls for LangSec testing, and applauds the use of languages like Go and Rust over memory-unsafe languages like C. "Itâ(TM)s not just systemd, not just Linux, not just software; the whole industry is at fault."

Oracle Formally Proposes That Java Adopt Ahead-of-Time Compilation ( 104

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes InfoWorld: Java applications will get faster startup times thanks to a formal proposal to include ahead-of-time compilation in the platform. The draft Java Development Kit proposal, authored by Vladimir Kozlov, principal technical staff member at Oracle, is targeted for inclusion in Java 9, which is expected to be available next summer. "We would love to see this make it into JDK 9, but that will of course depend on the outcome of the OpenJDK process for this JDK Enhancement Proposal," said Georges Saab, vice president of software development in the Java platform group at Oracle, on Thursday. Ahead-of-time compilation has been a stated goal for Java 9 to address the issue of slow startup...

The proposal summary notes that Java classes would be compiled to native code prior to launching the virtual machine. The ultimate goal is to improve the startup time of small or large Java applications while having "at most" a limited impact on peak performance and minimizing changes to the user workflow.

Tests indicates some applications perform better while some actually perform worse, so it's being proposed as an opt-in feature where dissatisfied users "can just rebuild a new JDK without ahead-of-time libraries."

Which Programming Language Is Most Popular - The Final Answer? ( 401

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Following a common technique among political pollsters, a technology columnist combined the results from various measures of programming language popularity for a more definitive answer about the most important languages to study. He used IEEE Spectrum's interactive list of the top programming languages, which lets you adjust the weight given to the number of job listings and number or open source projects, then combined it with the TIOBE Index (which is based on search engine results), and the PYPL Index, which checks the number of tutorials for each programming language on Google.

The results? "The top cluster contains Java, C, Python, and C++. Without a doubt, you should attain familiarity with these four languages." He points out they're not tied to a specific programming platform, unlike languages in the second cluster -- JavaScript, C#, PHP, and Swift -- while the last two languages in the top 10 were Objective-C and R. "The C-family of languages still dominates. Java, C++, C, C#, and even Objective-C are all C-based languages. If you're only going to learn one language, you should pick one of those." But his ultimate advice is to "learn multiple languages and multiple frameworks... Programming is not just an intellectual exercise. You have to actually make stuff."


A New Programming Language Expands on Google's Go ( 173

"One sure sign your language is successful: When people build other languages that transpile into it." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from InfoWorld: The Have project uses Go's toolchain, but sports a different syntax and makes key additions to the language... Previously, a language named Oden worked with Go's toolchain to add features that Go didn't support. Now Polish developer Marcin Wrochniak has introduced Have, a language that transpiles to and expands on Go.

In the blog post that introduces the project to Go developers, Wrochniak describes Have as a hobby project, with the goal of becoming a "companion" to Go that addresses some of its common "landmines"... Go uses curly braces in the manner of C/C++, while Have uses block indents, like Python... The way that variable declaration, structs, and interfaces work have all been modified in Have to be more consistent with each other and to avoid internal inconsistencies that Wrochniak feels are a common source of bugs.


TypeScript 2.0 Released ( 89

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Since its introduction, TypeScript has included new features to improve performance, enhance JavaScript compatibility, and extend the range of error checking that the TypeScript compiler performs. TypeScript 2.0 introduces a big step forward here by giving developers greater control over null values. null, used to denote (in some broad, hand-waving sense) that a variable holds no value at all, has been called the billion dollar mistake. Time and time again, programs trip up by not properly checking to see if a variable is null, and for good or ill, every mainstream programming language continues to support the null concept. TypeScript 2.0 brings a range of new features, but the biggest is control over these null values. With TypeScript 2.0, programmers can opt into a new behavior that by default prevents values from being null. With this option enabled, variables by default will be required to have a value and can't be set to null accidentally. This in turn allows the compiler to find other errors such as variables that are never initialized.

Charter Fights FCC's Attempt To Uncover 'Hidden' Cable Modem Fees ( 65

Charter is trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission to backtrack on a plan that would force cable providers to charge a separate fee for cable modems, an anonymous writes, citing an ArsTechnica report. From the article: Charter is unusual compared to other cable companies in that it doesn't tack on a cable modem rental fee when offering Internet service. But FCC officials don't think that's good for consumers, because the price of Charter Internet service is the same whether a customer uses a Charter modem or buys their own. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's latest proposal for new cable box rules would require companies to list fees for equipment used to access video. The FCC is clearly hoping that Charter will create a separate fee for cable modems and lower the base price of Internet service by a corresponding amount, thus letting customers save money in the long run by purchasing their own modems. (Separately from modems, Charter already charges monthly fees for the use of its TV set-top boxes.) "As part of the proposal, all pay-TV providers are required to be fully transparent about the cost consumers pay for leased equipment used to access video programming," an FCC spokesperson told Ars. "The goal is to uncover hidden fees and give consumers the ability to make informed choices. If a consumer chooses to purchase their own equipment at retail, our rules would require they no long have to pay for the built-in cost on their bill. We look forward to input from the Commissioners on this aspect of the proposal."

TV Manufacturers Accused of Gaming Energy Usage Tests ( 86

The Natural Resources Defense Council has issued a new report accusing Samsung, LG and Vizio of "misleading consumers and regulators about how much energy high-definition screens devour, alleging that the televisions were designed to perform more efficiently during government testing than in ordinary use." The report "estimates that the collective electricity bills during a decade of watching the high-definition TVs will be $1.2 billion higher than the energy ratings imply," and that "the higher energy usage generates an additional 5 million metric tons of carbon pollution." CBS Local reports: The findings are based on an analysis of high-definition TVs with screens spanning at least 55 inches made in 2015 and 2016. The estimates on electricity costs are based on high definition TVs with screens 32 inches and larger. The study concluded that Samsung and LG have gamed the system during government testing in an effort to get better scores on the "Energy Star" yellow labels that appear on the sets in stores. Those scores often influence the buying decisions of consumers looking to save money on their utility bills. The report said Samsung and LG did not break any laws in their manipulation of the tests, but rather exploited weaknesses in the Department of Energy's system to measure electricity usage. The Samsung and LG sets have a dimming feature that turns off the screens' backlight during part of the 10-minute video clip used in government tests. But that does not typically happen when the sets are being used in homes to watch sports, comedies, dramas and news programming. The analysis also found that Samsung, LG and Vizio disable energy-saving features in their TVs when consumers change the factory setting on the picture, a common practice. The energy-saving feature is turned off, with little or no warning on the screen, sometimes doubling the amount of electricity consumed, according to the NRDC report.

Netflix Wants 50% Of Its Library To Be Original Content ( 187

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix is looking to shift its content mix even further towards original TV and movies, with a goal of achieving a 50 percent mix between its own programming and stuff licensed for its use by outside studios. The 50-50 target was revealed by Netflix CFO David Wells at the Goldman Sach's Communacopia conference on Tuesday, and Wells added that they'd like to hit that mix sometime over the course of the next few years. As for its progress so far, Wells said Netflix is already about "one-third to halfway" to that ratio, having launched 2015 hours of original programming in 2015, and with the intend of achieving a further 600 hours by the end of 2016. The benefit for Netflix with a shift to self-generated content is that the licensing situation is much simpler, and the investment made represents a cost that continues to deliver value long after the initial spend. Licensing arrangements with outside TV and film distributors have a fixed term, and thus represent a recurring cost if you want to continue offering their content in your library.

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