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Error checks? Eh? What could go wrong, really? (DoSing a US govt site)

Line Break It's time for your dose of Line Break, our Wednesday column of coding nightmares that have haunted Register readers at one time or another. This also means we're already halfway to Friday. Judging by some of these following tales, we can only assume one too many developers out there are already half cut by this point in the …
Chris Williams, 23 Mar 2016

What was all that about a scary iMessage flaw? Your three-minute guide

Watercooler – On Sunday, we were warned that hackers could read our iMessages texts, photos and videos. Should I be worried? As it turns out: no. If you're even a little curious about cryptography and secure programming, though, it should interest and amuse you. On Sunday, the Washington Post learned that Apple had fixed a flaw in the …
Chris Williams, 23 Mar 2016

How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript

Updated Programmers were left staring at broken builds and failed installations on Tuesday after someone toppled the Jenga tower of JavaScript. A couple of hours ago, Azer Koçulu unpublished more than 250 of his modules from NPM, which is a popular package manager used by JavaScript projects to install dependencies. Koçulu yanked his …
Chris Williams, 23 Mar 2016
Bang by Guian Bolisay

Google debuts Node.js beta on its App Engine

In Brief Google has added support for Node.js on its marmitey App Engine on a managed VM beta basis. JavaScript devs have been offered the chance to use the Chocolate Factory's cloud service to tend to their web and mobile apps. The far-from-universally adored App Engine intends to offer an easy service for developers to "build, …
Adobe announced cross-device user tracking at its Summit event in Las Vegas

Adobe will track you across all your devices with new co-op project

Adobe has announced what it calls "cross-device co-operation" at its Summit digital marketing event under way in Las Vegas. The goal, said Adobe Target Director Kevin Lindsay, is to "provide the ability, through all our marketing solutions, for marketers to be able to market to their consumers as people rather than as separate …
Tim Anderson, 22 Mar 2016
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Gov to take axe to big IT contracts soon, will hand chunks to SMEs

Chief executive of the civil service, John Manzoni, has promised the government will start chopping up its big IT contracts in the next year and kick its dependency on just a handful of suppliers. Amyas Morse, auditor general at the National Audit Office, told the Public Accounts Committee yesterday that 51 per cent of …
Kat Hall, 22 Mar 2016
Cash in brown paper envelope CC 2.0 attribution StockMonkeys.com

New York senator proposes tax credit for open-source developers

A New York state senator says open-source programmers should be able to claim back part of their costs for writing free software. NY senate bill S161, proposed by Senator Daniel Squadron (D) and co-sponsored by Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D), would allow developers to claim for 20 per cent of the out-of-pocket costs of …
Iain Thomson, 18 Mar 2016
Apple's new Cupertino campus - rendering

Apple engineers rebel, refuse to work on iOS amid FBI iPhone battle

Apple's refusal to build a crippled iOS that will help the FBI unlock a killer's iPhone goes far beyond the executive suite. Some of Cupertino's own engineers are refusing to work on the operating system in case they are forced to aid the US government. Register sources familiar with the matter told us that, since the start of …
Shaun Nichols, 18 Mar 2016

HERE: We're still, er... HERE

HERE has provided the best, and some say only real mobile competition to Google Maps, but this week it dumped its biggest fans: people who own a Windows Phone. So we were keen to hear more about HERE’s strategy - to find out whether we have any part in its future thinking. HERE says Microsoft’s impending shift to Windows 10 …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Mar 2016
Stevie Graham shows off his successfully reverse engineered mobile banking app at QCon

Stevie Graham: Why I hack mobile banking apps

QCon One of the highlights of the QCon software development conference in London last week was Stevie Graham's presentation on reverse-engineering mobile banking apps. "Who's ever wanted a banking API?" Graham asked his audience, mainly developers and including numerous attendees with the names of well-known banks on their badges. …
Tim Anderson, 18 Mar 2016

Jump aboard our load balancing Maglev, Google tells devs

Google will open-source its super-duper load balancing Maglev tool to developers – a move that will also bolster its own infrastructure developments. In a blog post Google said it has a history of building its own networking gear, "and perhaps unsurprisingly, we build our own network load balancers as well, which have been …
Kat Hall, 17 Mar 2016
Hipster with laptop photo via Shutterstock

Slack smackback: There's no IRC in team (software), say open-sourcers

Open-source software is not possible without collaboration and collaboration is not possible without communication. Collaborative communication in open source projects typically means some form of distributed chat. In the past, and indeed the present for most projects, that has meant IRC. IRC has some disadvantages, though, …
Croteam's Talos Principle is among the first games to support Vulkan

Intel slips out Vulkan driver beta for Windows

Chipzilla has decided Vulkan, the replacement technology for the ancient OpenGL, is worth supporting and has announced a bunch of beta drivers that implement the API. Vulkan 1.0 landed last month, with Intel joining AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Google in promising to support it. AMD announced its beta drivers in synch with the …
The dashboard in Back to the Future showing the date 21 October 2015

'Just give me any old date and I'll make it work' ... said the VB script to the coder

Link Break Is it that time of the week again already? You've reached Line Break, our weekly roundup of terrible code you've seen in the wild. Today, we're going to delve into submissions from reader comments rather than the usual postbag. Line Break article comments are such a rich seam of snippets and anecdotes, it would remiss to not …
Chris Williams, 16 Mar 2016

Get ready to patch Git servers, clients – nasty-looking bugs surface

Updated A chap who found two serious security bugs in Git servers and clients has urged people to patch their software. The flaws are present in Git including the 2.x, 1.9 and 1.7 branches, meaning the vulnerabilities have been lurking in the open-source version control tool for years. It is possible these two programming blunders …
Chris Williams, 16 Mar 2016

Mozilla will emit 'first version' of Servo-based Rust browser in June

Mozilla is planning an initial release of its new Servo-based new web browser engine in June, according to a post on the developer mailing list by research engineer Paul Rouget. Communication diagram for Mozilla How Servo's parts link up inside "Release" in this context does not suggest a production-ready download, but …
Tim Anderson, 15 Mar 2016

Here's what an Intel Broadwell Xeon with a built-in FPGA looks like

Pic At the OCP Summit last week in San Jose, California, Intel quickly mentioned it will later this year ship Xeon processors with built-in FPGAs. Chipzilla will also release open-source software libraries allowing people to program these customizable gate arrays to take workloads off the CPUs and perform them in hardware. Intel …
Chris Williams, 14 Mar 2016

Microsoft traps and tortures poor little AI in soulless Minecraft world

Microsoft's boffins in its New York research lab are encouraging a Minecraft character to teach itself how to climb a hill. Their work, described here, is an advertisement for AIX. No, not the Unix – Redmond's platform, due to be open-sourced this summer, that helps computer scientists test their machine-learning algorithms in …
AI Robot viewed from the back against an arty landscape. Pic via SHuttertock

GNU want (another) free AI package release? Yes. But we should train this puppy

The GNU free software project has launched version 0.0.1 of its Gneural Network package in response to the “outstanding and truly inspiring” results achieved of late in proprietary artificial intelligence. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) describes Gneural Network as a GNU package for a programmable neural network, which as …
This Damn War image via Shutterstock

Computer says: Stop using MacWrite II, human!

This Damn War My first proper job was at the university at which I'd been studying; when I graduated in Computing Science there were a couple of tech support jobs going and I managed to bag one of them. I started as the Unix guy (these were the days when SunOS was still SunOS – the Solaris name was yet to come) but later on I gravitated into …
Dave Cartwright, 14 Mar 2016

Code.org hole gave access to volunteers' email addresses

Code.org, the not-for-profit attempting to teach the world to code in perfect harmony, has 'fessed up to a flaw on its site that exposed volunteers' email addresses. “On Friday night we discovered and fixed an error in the Code.org site that allowed access to our volunteer email addresses,” writes CEO Hadi Partovi. “This wasn …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Mar 2016
SQL Linux

Behold, Microsoft SQL Server on Linux – and a firm screw-you to Oracle

Pic In an aggressive move, Microsoft has told Oracle customers: migrate to SQL Server 2016 and Redmond with give you free licensing for the lifetime of the product plus technical support. Microsoft made the offer at a special Data Driven day in New York City on Thursday, and has taken out full page advertisements in the national …
Iain Thomson, 10 Mar 2016

Google emits Android N developer preview early to smoke out bugs

Developers usually have to wait for the Google I/O conference in May before getting their paws on the latest Android builds, but this year the Chocolate Factory has let its version 7.0, or N, build out of the bag well before the show. "We're doing something a little different this year by releasing the preview early ... really …
Iain Thomson, 9 Mar 2016
Acorn's BBC Micro schematics

So you wanna build whopping pools of PCIe flash? Say no more, whisper Intel, Facebook

OCP Summit Intel will reveal a bunch of tech today at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit in San Jose, California – from NVMe storage blueprints and new Xeon D system-on-chips to processors with builtin FPGAs. The OCP, launched by Facebook in 2011, encourages hardware manufacturers to produce generic gear to the project's open …
Red Hat

Qualcomm ARM server chips try on Red Hat Enterprise Linux for size

Qualcomm and Red Hat are busy porting the latter's enterprise-friendly flavor of Linux to Qualy's upcoming 64-bit ARM server processors, we learned today. Specifically, the pair are "collaborating" to bring Red Hat's Enterprise Linux Server for ARM Development Preview to Qualcomm's 24-core ARMv8-A silicon shown off in October …

'Microsoft Office has been the bane of my life, while simultaneously keeping me employed'

Line Break Welcome back to Line Break, our weekly roundup of terrible code you've seen in the wild. Over the past six weeks, we've featured all sorts of broken or ugly source – from insecure web apps to write-once-read-never-again scientific programs. Now we turn to ... the monthly report. The sort of thing you automate ASAP with a handy …

SQL Server for Linux: A sign of Microsoft's weakness. Sort of

Analysis Microsoft is porting SQL Server to Linux, with a private preview available now and full availability “in mid-2017”. This is a big strategic move for the company. Microsoft’s server applications, including Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server and Dynamics CRM, and the various components of System Center, have …
Tim Anderson, 9 Mar 2016

Sexism isn't getting better in Silicon Valley, it's getting worse

Analysis In the technology field, many people like to think that they are at the forefront of human development, but it is becoming clear that the industry is failing when it comes to dealing with sexism against women. In January, a survey from Stanford University of women who'd spent at least ten years in the tech industry found that …
Iain Thomson, 9 Mar 2016
Red's Java house by https://www.flickr.com/photos/enerva/ CC 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Java evangelist leaves Oracle to save Java

Java evangelist Reza Rahman has left Oracle, to help save Java. Rahman writes, on an Oracle blog, that he is “... certain that this is the way I personally can best help continue to advance the Java and Java EE communities.” On his personal blog he's more candid, saying he joined Oracle in part because he'd have the chance to …
Microsoft is joining the Eclipse Foundation as a Solutions member

Microsoft joins Eclipse Foundation. Odd thing for a competitor to do

Microsoft is joining the Eclipse Foundation as a Solutions Member, according to an announcement today at the EclipseCon event in Reston, Virginia. The Eclipse Foundation is the non-profit organisation responsible for the Java-based Eclipse IDE and tools platform. Solutions membership is the second level behind the top-tier …
Tim Anderson, 8 Mar 2016

Oracle gives apps a ticket to ride on Sparc M7's SQL warp drives

Oracle will today release, in its words, "a free and open API and developer kit" for the hardware-accelerated SQL-crunching engines in its Sparc M7 processors. You can register to grab the goodies, here. "We're opening up the interfaces to enable programmers using C/C++, Java and Python to effectively use these accelerators," …
William Hill's R&D Engineering Lead Gavin Stevenson

Software dev 101: 'The best time to understand how your system works is when it is dying'

QCon London At the QCon Developer conference underway in London, William Hill's R&D Engineering Lead Gavin Stevenson told attendees that they should celebrate IT failures. "The best time to understand how your system works is when it is dying," he said. QCon is a vendor-neutral event focused on large-scale software development and …
Tim Anderson, 8 Mar 2016

Microsoft wants to lock everyone into its store via universal Windows apps, says game kingpin

The founder of Epic Games says that Microsoft is trying to lock Windows developers into using its app store for all their products. Tim Sweeney reckons the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is a power-grab from Redmond to force software companies into selling their work applications solely through the Windows Store. "Here, …
Shaun Nichols, 5 Mar 2016
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)

'Boss, I've got a bug fix: Nuke the whole thing from orbit, rewrite it all'

Line Break Hello, world. Welcome back to Line Break, our weekly column of terrible code readers have spotted in the wild – think of it as a group therapy session. Let's skip to the main() course. Beauty or the beast Since SSL/TLS is in the news again, let's start with some weird code spotted by Georgi in OpenSSL and LibreSSL, a fork of …

Oracle's JET flies into open source skies

Oracle has published the code for its long-awaited open source JavaScript Extension Toolkit (JET) version 2.0.0. If you're interested in looking over the code at GitHub, here's what Big Red says is in the box: a full JS development toolkit, SPA template-based lifecycle management, two-way binding with a common model layer, …

HTTPS DROWN flaw: Security bods' hearts sink as tatty protocols wash away web crypto

The discovery of a HTTPS encryption vulnerability, dubbed DROWN, again proves that supporting tired old protocols weakens modern crypto systems. DROWN (aka Decrypting RSA with Obsolete and Weakened eNcryption) is a serious design flaw that affects HTTPS websites and other network services that rely on SSL and TLS – which are …
John Leyden, 1 Mar 2016

Wakey wakey, app developers. Mobile ad blocking will kill you all

Two weeks ago we disclosed that CK Hutchison Holdings’s network-level ad blocking can not only block ads on websites, but it is capable of blocking ads served to mobile apps, too. The move is hugely significant. If Hutch sets a precedent (operators are keen to introduce similar technology) with in-app ad blocking, and it is …
Hololens

Microsoft's Hololens is up for pre-order, here's hoping you can expense it

Microsoft has opened up its Hololens augmented reality hardware for pre-order with a shipping date of March 30. The Redmond giant said it would begin sending invitations to developers who pre-applied for the preview edition of the hardware. Those who get invites from Microsoft will now be able to fork over the $3,000 price tag …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Feb 2016
Developer in a rage

Windows Phone devs earn double what poor Android devs pocket

Windows mobile developers need every crumb of comfort they can muster – so mobile ad network InMobi has offered a few. InMobi’s annual developer survey suggests that Windows Phone devs pocket twice the monthly revenue of Android developers. There might be far fewer users of the platform, but there is less competition in the …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Feb 2016
Project Islandwood lets you target Windows 10 with applications written in Objective C for iOS

Microsoft scraps Android Windows 10 bridge, but says yes to Objective-C compiler

Microsoft has officially scrapped its Android to Windows 10 bridge, codenamed Astoria, but is forging ahead with its Objective C Windows compiler and tools for porting iOS applications. The Android announcement was expected, as the project was apparently abandoned some months back, but the new post from Windows Developer …
Tim Anderson, 26 Feb 2016
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These Chicago teens can't graduate until they learn some compsci

The Chicago Public Schools district has become the first in the nation to make computer science training a requirement for high school graduation. The district, the third-largest in the US, says that starting with next year's freshman class (graduating in 2020), all students will be required to complete one credit in a …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Feb 2016

Awoogah – brown alert: OpenSSL preps 'high severity' security fixes

Developers behind the widely used OpenSSL encryption library have warned that they will issue fixes for a mix of bugs next Tuesday (1 March). The patches will land right in the middle of the RSA Conference, infosec marketing's version of the Superbowl. It's understood the bugs are significant (as in, patch as soon as you can …
John Leyden, 25 Feb 2016