Daily Tech Digest - December 17, 2019

Microsoft’s C# 9.0 begins to take shape

Microsoft’s C# 9.0 begins to take shape
Among the capabilities eyed for C# 9.0 thus far include: Simplified parameter null validation code, allowing for standard null validation on parameters to be simplified using a small annotation on parameters; Support for a switch expression as a statement expression when every arm’s expression is also a statement expression. No common type among the arms is needed when used as a statement expression; Records, a simplified declaration form for C# class and struct types combining benefits of similar features. Records provide a mechanism for declaring a datatype by describing members of the aggregate as well as additional code or deviations from the usual boilerplate, if any; CallerArgumentExpression, enabling developers to capture the expression passed to a method, to allow better error messages in diagnostic/testing APIs and reduce keystrokes; Relaxing of ordering constraints around “ref” and “partial” modifiers on type declarations; Primary constructors, to reduce programming overhead by putting constructor arguments directly in scope throughout a class, obviating the need to explicitly declare a backing field.

Why the gig economy is in danger

The new California law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, will require companies to reclassify contract, freelance and contingent workers as full-time employees eligible for benefits, a guaranteed $12 to $13 state minimum wage and protections under the state's employment law. The employer must deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes from the freelancer's fees, and contribute to worker's comp and unemployment insurance. It will put a damper on what freelancers can use as tax deductions. And this is not a one-industry issue, despite the initial response as being all about freelance writers. While there are some 20 jobs that will be exempt from the law, including "creatives" (artists), travel agents, fishermen, stockbrokers, accountants, architects, doctors, insurance agents, lawyers, grant writers, real estate agents, tutors, truck drivers, and manicurists, many people who gig are going to find their income seriously curtailed. ... Previously, California had applied a 10-factor test, often distilled down to one core factor, the "right to control," explained Danielle Lackey.

What we can learn from five recent IT outages

British Airways came under fire in 2019.
The year 2019 was remarkable for the sheer volume and diversity of IT outages that organizations experienced. It seemed like no one was immune from performance degradations, including major airlines, hospitals, commercial banks, stock exchanges, and even cloud providers. ... Salesforce faced its biggest service disruption in May 2019 when the deployment of a database script to its Pardot Marketing Cloud ended up granting elevated permissions to regular users. Salesforce had to block access to Pardot users to prevent employees from stealing sensitive corporate data. However, when this fix didn’t work, Salesforce had to then block network access to other Salesforce services like Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. Customers were unable to access the Pardot Marketing Cloud for 20 hours as Salesforce engineers took affected systems offline to resolve user access permissions. While Salesforce was able to restore data permissions for most customers within a day, it took an additional 12 days to roll out fixes for other Salesforce services.

Augmented Reality with the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS

Augmented Reality (AR) experiences are designed to "augment" the physical world with virtual content. That means showing virtual content on top of a device's camera feed. As the device is moved around, that virtual content respects the real-world scale, position, and orientation of the camera's view. The ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS and the ArcGIS Runtime Toolkit for iOS from Esri together provide a simplified approach to developing AR solutions that overlay maps and geographic data on top of a live camera feed. Users can feel like they are viewing digital mapping content in the real world. In this article, we'll learn how to give users that AR map experience. But first, some terminology: in Runtime parlance, a Scene is a description of a 3D "Map" containing potentially many types of 3D geographic data. A Runtime SceneView is a UI component used to display that Scene to the user. When used in conjunction with the ArcGIS Toolkit, a SceneView can quickly and easily be turned into an AR experience to display 3D geographic data as virtual content on top of a camera feed.

Microsoft: We never encourage a ransomware victim to pay

"We never encourage a ransomware victim to pay any form of ransom demand," said Ola Peters, Senior Cybersecurity Consultant for Microsoft Detection and Response Team (DART), the OS maker's official incident response team. "Paying a ransom is often expensive, dangerous, and only refuels the attackers' capacity to continue their operations," Peters added. However, Microsoft understands that in many cases, organizations are sometimes left with only one option on the table -- paying the ransom -- as they don't have access to recent backups, or the ransomware encrypted the backups as well. But even if victims choose to pay the ransom, Microsoft warns that "paying cybercriminals to get a ransomware decryption key provides no guarantee that your encrypted data will be restored." .... Instead, Microsoft would want companies to take a pro-active approach and treat ransomware or any form of cyber-attack "as a matter of when" and not "whether." Companies, Microsoft says, should invest in minimizing the attack surface and in creating a solid backup strategy so they can recover from any attack.

12 programming mistakes to avoid

caution tape avoid mistake mistakes be careful crime scene by christian storto fotografia getty
Failing to shore up the basics is the easiest way to undercut your code. Often this means overlooking how arbitrary user behavior will affect your program. Will the input of a zero find its way into a division operation? Will submitted text be the right length? Have date formats been vetted? Is the username verified against the database? Mistakes in the smallest places cause software to fail. Some developers exploit the error catching features of the code to cover up these failures. They wrap their entire stack with one big catch for all possible exceptions. They dump the error to a log file, return an error code, and let someone else deal with the issue. ... On the flip side, overly buttoned-up software can slow to a crawl. Checking a few null pointers may not make much difference, but some software is written to be like an obsessive-compulsive who must check that the doors are locked again and again so that sleep never comes. Relentless devotion to detail can even lock up software if the obsessive checking requires communicating with a distant website over the network.

A decade of smart city projects: What worked and what didn't

American cities faced unintended consequence as a result of one data-driven idea. To improve public transportation in low-income communities, cities started building apartments and condos near transit stops to accomplish this. Instead of expanding educational and employment opportunities, these developments encouraged gentrification and pushed out the same people the project was designed to help. These new developments often raised rents in poor neighborhoods and priced out the people the transit expansions were meant to serve. The San Diego Union Tribune studied the developments in four California cities where about 400 multifamily buildings were completed or under construction within a half mile of a transit stop.  In neighborhoods where most families made less than $64,000 a year, the newspaper analysis found that monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment was more than $3,500. In some areas where median household income was less than $30,000, the average rent on a two-bedroom apartment is still more than $3,300.

Credit: The Open Group
Most people are going into EA because they want to have a holistic view of the problem at hand. I do think that EA is a mindset that you can use to apply to any type of issue or problem you have. You look at an issue from many different perspectives and try to understand the fit between the issue or the problem and potential solutions. That’s human nature to want to do, to look at things from a holistic point of view. It’s such an interesting area to be in, because you can apply it to just about everything. Particularly, a general EA application, where you look at the business, how it works, and how that will affect the IT part of it. So looking at that holistic view I think is the important part -- and that’s the motivation. ... But to become agile doing EA, means adopting the agile mindset, too. We talked earlier about EA being the mindset.

The future of intelligence analysis

The intelligence cycle
Intelligence leaders know that AI can help cope with this data deluge but they may also wonder what impact AI will have on their work and workforce. According to surveys of private sector companies, there is a significant gap between the introduction of AI and understanding its impact. Nearly 20 percent of workers report experiencing a change in roles, tasks, or ways of working as a result of implementing AI, yet nearly 50 percent of companies have not measured how workers are being impacted by AI implementation.3 This article begins to tackle those questions, offering a tasks-level look at how AI may change work for intel analysts. It will also offer ideas for organizations seeking to speed adoption rates and move from pilots to full scale. AI is already here; let’s see how it will shape the future of intelligence analysis. ... Intelligence flows through a five-step “cycle” carried out by specialists, analysts, and management across the IC: planning and direction; collection; processing; analysis and production; and dissemination. The value of outputs throughout the cycle, including the finished intelligence that analysts put into the hands of decision-makers, is shaped to an important degree by the technology and processes used, including those that leverage AI.

5 Top Cybersecurity and DevOps Trends for 2020

“The case for why companies should protect consumer data is clear: companies lose less money and consumer information is safe from predators,” said Simon Marchand, chief fraud prevention officer for Nuance Communications. “But in the event of a data breach, what many people don’t consider is that, once their data is stolen, it is often made available for the highest bidder on the dark web. And, in some cases, this personal data is used to fund some of the most heinous of crimes—from terrorist organizations to drug and human trafficking.” Companies have a responsibility to stop the broader implications of fraud that go beyond their bottom line and their brand perception, Marchand added: “It’s not only about preventing customer information from being stolen, it’s preventing fraudsters from getting in organizations with information stolen elsewhere.” To that, Munya Kanaventi, senior director of information security at Everbridge, added: “A gap exists in the current Chief Security Officer and Chief Information Security Officer job descriptions, which is the ability to add strategic value to the company. There’s a lot of highly technical people in this role, but when you advance to the C-suite title, there’s a need for business vision alongside technical prowess.”

Quote for the day:

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." -- Abraham Lincoln

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