June 28, 2016

A Letter to the Manager: Release the Power of Your Agile Teams

In knowledge work, like software development, there is an almost infinite amount of new stuff to learn and therefore an infinite potential to get more productive. Just using some of this potential will get you far. A team getting together every week or two in a safe space to discuss what works or not will find the most productive ways to work together. A product developed through exploring different possible solutions, will more likely be the one that's even better than you thought in the beginning. One way you can start is to make sure there is slack in the process. By slack we mean time that is not dedicated to specific work and what the time is used for can be decided by either the team or a team-member when the slack time occurs. 

Microsoft-backed Langauge Server Protocol strives for language, tools interoperability

"We developed the protocol based on many learnings and contributions from teams across Microsoft and partners," Microsoft said in a statement. "Visual Studio Code is the first Microsoft product to take advantage of this protocol but in the future other Microsoft products may adopt it as well, including Visual Studio and Xamarin." ... Driving the protocol has been a shift to micro-services and developers writing business logic in any language, Jewell said. Previously, companies such as Microsoft or Red Hat were wedded to a particular language and provided proprietary tooling. "They protected that stack and made it proprietary and guarded it with zealotry that was very intense. All that has changed."

Little Bits of Security – Micro-Segmentation in Clouds

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could create a hardened shell around each one of my applications or services within my datacenter? Opening access to the applications through firewalls and segmented networks that would make your security even more robust? If my outer datacenter security walls were breached, hackers would uncover a set of additional security walls—one for each service/application in your IT infrastructure. The best way to envision this is to think about a bank that has safety deposit boxes in the safe. Even if you broke into the safe there is nothing to take—just a set of secure boxes that also need to be cracked. One of the benefits of this approach is when someone hacks into your datacenter, they only get access to at most one application.

Microsoft’s open source .NET Core and ASP.NET Core hit 1.0

While the 1.0 release of .NET Core is definitely the most important launch today, Microsoft also made a number of other announcements at the Red Hat Summit. The company, for example, is working with Red Hat and CodeEnvy to bring to other tool and language providers the protocol that allows its free Visual Studio Code editor to support more than 100 programming languages already. “This means that any developer can have a consistent, productive editing experience for their favorite programming language on any tool — even if that tool isn’t Visual Studio Code,” Microsoft’s corporate VP for its Data Group Joseph Sirosh explains in today’s announcement. The company is also showcasing a few more of its open-source technologies today, though the demo that will likely draw the most attention is SQL Server 2016 running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Artificial Intelligence Has a ‘Sea of Dudes’ Problem

That's not so surprising, given how few women there are in the field, said Fei-Fei Li, who runs the computer vision lab at Stanford University. Among the Stanford AI lab's 15 researchers, Li is the only woman. She's also one of only five women professors of computer science at the university. "If you were a computer and read all the AI articles and extracted out the names that are quoted, I guarantee you that women rarely show up," Li said. "For every woman who has been quoted about AI technology, there are a hundred more times men were quoted." Much has been made of the tech industry's lack of women engineers and executives. But there's a unique problem with homogeneity in AI. To teach computers about the world, researchers have to gather massive data sets of almost everything.

What the JIT!? Anatomy of the OpenJDK HotSpot VM

OpenJDK HotSpot VM converts bytecode into machine executable code by “mixed-mode” execution. With “mixed-mode”, the first step is interpretation, which converts bytecode into assembly code using a description table. This pre-defined table, also known as the “template table”, has assembly code for each bytecode instruction. Interpretation begins at JVM startup, and is the slowest form of bytecode execution. Java bytecode is platform independent, but interpretation and compilation into machine executable code are definitely dependent on the platform. In-order to get faster, efficient (and adaptive to the underlying platform) machine code generation, the runtime kicks off just-in-time compilation, i.e. JIT compilation. JIT compilation is an adaptive optimization for methods that are proven to be performance critical.

Y Combinator wants to build a tech city, too

More to the point, perhaps, is that a true city is more like an organic entity, growing on its own when conditions are right, than a planned, organized, intentional creation. To date, most attempts to plan and create new cities have turned out to be sterile failures instead of vibrant communities. Cities aren’t companies, where you can hire and fire your way into making sure everyone is on board with the plan. They’re messy, disorganized, contentious places where multiple ideas and goals and cultures ebb and flow according to the needs and desires of the cities’ citizens and would-be citizens. Trying to carefully orchestrate all of that spontaneous confusion and complex energy isn’t just impossible, it’s not a very good idea. Careful command and control in the service of over-arching principles or goals tends to founder on the shoals of residents’ own goals and ambitions. And that’s how most people like it.

Yahoo Wants to Sell Its ‘Chicken Coop’ Data Center Designs

Yahoo plans to structure the potential transaction in a way that will allow it to continue using innovations in the portfolio, including its data center designs, by licensing them from the future buyer. The Yahoo Computing Coop has been a key part of the company’s data center strategy in the US, and it plans to continue using it and iterating on it in the future. “We’ll continue to have access to the Chicken Coop design through our license-back and will look for opportunities to continue to leverage that incredibly efficient design going forward,” the spokesperson said. “Equally, we see value in sharing our data center cooling technology patents as part of the portfolio that we’re divesting, so architectural design and construction firms can leverage that patented technology.”

Fed Agencies Look to Encourage Use of Ethical Hacking In Healthcare

Given the need to improve cybersecurity, Savage revealed to the group that ONC is studying the issue of how the agency can accelerate the rate at which ethical hacking occurs in healthcare. “We are all in this together, and we have to figure it out,” Savage added. “I have no idea at the end of the day if we facilitate more ethical hacking in healthcare whether it will be happening at hospitals or in some lab where the data’s not live. I don’t really have an answer for that today. That’s exactly the kind of thing we’re thinking about.” Dale Nordenberg, MD, a member of the Health IT Standards Committee and CEO of Novasano Health and Science, said that it was exciting to hear that ethical hacking is being considered in healthcare.

McAfee Labs reveals new mobile apps collusion threats

Mobile app collusion requires at least one app with permission to access the restricted information or service, one app without that permission but with access outside the device, and the capability to communicate with each other. Either app could be collaborating on purpose or unintentionally due to accidental data leakage or inclusion of a malicious library or software development kit. ... “Improved detection drives greater efforts at deception,” said Vincent Weafer, vice president of Intel Security’s McAfee Labs group. “It should not come as a surprise that adversaries have responded to mobile security efforts with new threats that attempt to hide in plain sight. Our goal is to make it increasingly harder for malicious apps to gain a foothold on our personal devices, developing smarter tools and techniques to detect colluding mobile apps.”

Quote for the day:

"People often seek and find complexity where there is none" -- Gordon Tredgold

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