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All posts for the month March, 2017

How to access 375,000 beautiful, copyright-free images from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen

Metropolitan Museum of Art collage

The sumptuous lips of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian queen’s face, and the plump belly of a 9th-century Mexican baby, are now at your disposal.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has released 375,000 images of works from its collection, with no restrictions on what you can do with them. The images, all of art in the US public domain, were previously available online, but with some stipulations about commercial use. You can find them at the digital collection, with “Public Domain Artworks” checked in the left-hand column.

“[The collection] represents 5,000 years of human endeavor, culture, and thought,” says Lauren Nemroff, head of digital content at the Met. She hopes people will create new works of their own, perhaps like these.

Inca face beaker

The images that are free to use cover 200,000 individual works of art, and new images are added each day. This is about half of the images represented online or about 13% of the museum’s permanent collection of 1.5 million artworks.

Fragment of a Queen's Face, Egypt New Kingdom,

Seated Figure, Olmec

Works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas are all available, but the real treasures are the Met’s photographs of objects and relics from ages past. A frowning silver face from the Incas or a blue glazed ancient Egyptian hippopotamus, for example, will always come in handy. As will photos of old British gentlemen.

Standing Hippopotamus Middle Kingdom Egypt

Two Gentlemen, One in Cart,

Netsuke of Qilin on a Pedestal, Japan

If that’s not enough of a rabbit hole, take a look at the 1 million images from the British Library, or 180,000 from the New York Public Library.

What’s new in Rails 5.1: Better JavaScript, for one

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen
What’s new in Rails 5.1: Better JavaScript, for one

Rails 5.1 allows developers to manage JavaScript dependencies with Facebook’s Yarn package manager

Ruby on Rails, the veteran server-side web framework, is playing nice with JavaScript in an upgrade that has recently moved to a first beta release.

Rails 5.1 offers multiple improvements, including encryption, system tests, and managing JavaScript dependencies from NPM via Facebook’s new Yarn package manager.

By managing JavaScript dependencies through Yarn, users can depend on libraries like React via NPM. Assets are made available in a pipeline, and the binstub bin/yarn is used to add these dependencies. Developers working with version 5.1 also can compile JavaScript using the Webpack module bundler, via a Webpacker gem. But Rails 5.1 drops jQuery as a default dependency. With the rewrite of rails-ujs unobtrusive scripting adapter to use vanilla JavaScript, this dependency is no longer needed.

Rails 5.1 also features an encrypted secrets management capability. An encrypted secrets file is set up by using the bin/rails secrets:setup capability, which generates a master key to store outside the repository while enabling developers to commit production secrets.

For system tests, Rails 5.1 includes a wrapping of the Capybara Ruby library for application testing. It comes preconfigured for the Chrome browser and enhanced with failure screenshots. The parameterized mailers feature offers the option to call mailers with parameters available before an action is invoked. Rails 5.1 simplifies form creation by unifying two hierarchies, form_for and form_tag, with form_with. A directed routes function, meanwhile, enables declaration of programmatic routes that can use Ruby to perform functions depending on parameters.

“We’ve had a stormy, perhaps even contentious, relationship with JavaScript over the years. But that time is past,” said a bulletin on the 5.1.0 release authored by dhh, who is presumably Rails founder David Heinemeier Hansson. JavaScript, the bulletin emphasizes, has “improved immensely” in recent years with the advent of ECMAScript 6 and tools like Yarn and Webpack.

Source: Infoworld.com

SAP sets March 30 as launch date for its Cloud Platform SDK for iOS

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen
SAP sets March 30 as launch date for its Cloud Platform SDK for iOS

SAP will charge iOS developers for classroom-based courses, but offer free online training materials for the SDK.

Almost a year after SAP teamed with Apple to develop business applications for smartphones and tablets, the German enterprise software developer is ready to unveil the first fruits of their partnership.

On March 30, it plans to release the first version of SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS, a tool to enable businesses to integrate Apple’s handheld devices with their back-end information systems. And at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week it opened enrollment for SAP Academy for iOS, a mix of paid and free training services to help develop apps with that tool.

It may have looked as though Apple were retreating from the enterprise when it axed its Xserve rack-mounted server line in 2011, it, but since then it has multiplied its partnerships with enterprise hardware, software and service vendors, most notably IBM in 2014, Cisco Systems in 2015 and, last year, SAP.

The partnership with IBM has led to the creation of over 100 industry-specific apps for iOS, while that with Cisco allows enterprises to prioritize iOS app traffic and route iPhone calls over their networks.

As for Apple’s work with SAP, it’s all about simplifying access to business data from smartphones and tablets.

The SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS will allow enterprises to develop native apps drawing on data held in SAP Cloud Platform and S/4HANA, a business suite built on SAP’s in-memory database platform. While developers could also have delivered a lot of functionality through a web interface, being able to build native apps using Apple’s Swift programming language and SAP’s Fiori interface design language give developers access to iOS functions such as Touch ID, location services and notifications.

Business software has a poor reputation for design and usability compared to a lot of consumer hardware, perhaps because the people choosing it are not the same people that have to figure it out and live with it. Companies like Apple, though, place a lot of importance on the way users experience their products.

That was one of the key reasons SAP wanted to partner with Apple, according to Rick Knowles, an SAP senior vice president and general manager for its Apple partnership.

“If you are going to have empathy with your user, who better to do that with than Apple?” he asked.

Although SAP wrote the code for the SDK, the company reviewed it frequently with Apple engineers.

“We would do line by line code scrubs to make sure we were using the features of the Swift language the right way,” Knowles said.

SAP needs to build a new community of app developers at the intersection of two existing ones: the 13 million iOS app developers and the 2.5 million developers of SAP business applications.

To do that, the company is offering a variety of training courses through the SAP Academy for iOS. Enrollment starts now, and the courses will begin in May or June, after the release of the SDK.

Developers will be able to choose different classes depending on their existing expertise. SAP will offer courses in core Swift 3 programming for those who have never developed for iOS before, in the core of its SDK for iOS, and in integrating its Fiori user interface to iOS.

Those courses will all be charged for according to SAP’s traditional educational model. But the company also plans to release around 40 videos focusing on particular aspects of using the SDK. Access to these videos, each around 10 to 15 minutes in length, will be free, Knowles said.

“If you know the platform well, you will be able to take advantage of free e-learning,” he said.

Around a year from now, the company expects to be dispensing around one-third of its iOS SDK training online for free, and around two-thirds through traditional classroom courses.

“We are also building design classes because we believe design is lacking in the enterprise,” said Knowles.

NTT DoCoMo demos VR control of robots over 5G

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen
NTT DoCoMo demos VR control of robots over 5G

A prototype 5G radio link hit speeds of 15Gbps during the demo

While next-generation 5G cellular will bring faster downloads for consumers, the new networking technology is poised to bring big benefits to business users enabling new uses for cellular networks.

At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo is demonstrating one such use: remote control of robots via a wireless virtual reality system.

In one corner of the company’s booth was a simulated factory floor with three robots. The area was surrounded by four depth-sensing 3D cameras that together provide enough video for an immersive, all-around virtual reality image.

That 3D video, totaling roughly 700Mbps of data, was sent across a 5G radio link to a receiver where it was processed and fed to a VR headset. The radio link was running across a few meters on the crowded expo floor but it was hitting a top speed of around 15Gbps — that’s many times faster than is possible with the fastest of today’s 4G networks.

170227 docomo 5g 2 Martyn Williams
A pair of Ericsson 5G radio antennas used in a demonstration by NTT DoCoMo at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 27, 2017.

If virtual reality control of robots seems like a far-fetched use dreamed up by a cellular operator, consider that Japan is currently wrestling with the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Radiation levels inside the three reactors that suffered meltdowns are so high that only robots can enter, but the work is slow because engineers are still trying to figure out the exact conditions inside and need to carefully control robots around debris. A wireless VR system could possibly help in such situations.

The demo at Mobile World Congress used Ericsson 5G gear and NTT DoCoMo is carrying out real-world tests in Japan with the same equipment and that from other companies.

170227 nttdocomo 5g Martyn Williams
A screen shows the data rate achieved during a 5G demonstration by NTT DoCoMo at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 27, 2017.

In one test with Samsung, the companies managed to send a 2.6Gbps 5G signal to a car on the Fuji Speedway traveling at 150kmph. That test used a special antenna that can direct the wireless signal towards the car.

In Yokohama, near Tokyo, the company has been conducting tests with Huawei that involving serving 5G data to 23 simultaneous users with a total bandwidth of 10Gbps and a test with Nokia involved sending live 8K video, which is equivalent to 16 high-definition video streams.

And a test near the company’s R&D center with Fujitsu is successfully switching a 1Gbps cellular signal between base stations as a receiver moves from cell to cell.

5G technology isn’t yet standardized, so it’s going to take a few more years before much of the equipment becomes available. The tests are crucial steps towards development of the systems.

Fortinet provides universal access to network security courses

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen

Fortinet will offer Network Security Expert program level 1 courses to the public. Fortinet will follow with NSE program levels 2 and 3 in the second quarter of 2017.

Fortinet has announced that they are providing universal access to their Network Security Expert (NSE) training and certification program making it broadly available and free of charge. With the public availability of the NSE program, Fortinet is taking a massive step to engage a new generation of aspiring cybersecurity professionals by providing a gateway to attain the highly desirable and lucrative skills in the growing field of IT security. Starting today, Fortinet will offer NSE program level 1 courses to the public. Fortinet will follow with NSE program levels 2 and 3 in the second quarter of 2017.
“Facing an increasingly hostile threat landscape, businesses are expanding investments in infrastructure security but struggling to source the increasingly rare talent needed to implement and operate their solutions,” said Ken Xie, founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer at Fortinet. “As an industry-leader, Fortinet believes it is our responsibility to foster the development and continuing education of cybersecurity talent and close the cybersecurity skills gap. Opening Fortinet’s Network Security Expert program to the public increases access to educational resources and creates new opportunities for current and future IT security professionals whose skills will be critical to ensure the continued growth of the digital economy.”
Closing the cybersecurity skills gap
Recent reports highlight a massive shortage of professionals with the cybersecurity skills needed to combat the expanding volume and complexity of today’s threat landscape. This cybersecurity skills gap poses challenges for enterprises who are unable to fill roles needed to defend their employees, data, investments, and bottom-line against increasing risks from cyber-attacks.
Fortinet has long championed the cause to increase awareness, understanding, and knowledge within the global cybersecurity landscape. Launched in 2015, Fortinet’s NSE program has quickly become an industry-standard in cybersecurity training and certification that fosters the continuing education of IT security professionals worldwide and helps close the cybersecurity skills gap.
Proven curriculum for aspiring cybersecurity professionals
As the primary program used to develop and maintain the skillsets of Fortinet employees, partners, and end users, Fortinet’s NSE program utilizes a multi-level curriculum that progresses from cybersecurity fundamentals and overall context, up to advanced security implementation strategies and technical concepts. This program design has resulted in Fortinet issuing over 50,000 NSE certifications globally.
Public demand for Fortinet’s NSE program also drove the creation of Fortinet’s Network Security Academy for public, primary, and post-secondary education institutions. These institutions partner with Fortinet and leverage the NSE curriculum to develop cybersecurity courses currently offered at schools in 46 unique countries.
NSE 1 covers network security fundamentals and provides a historical context of the cybersecurity market. NSE 2 details the core security solutions used to address the challenges outlined in NSE 1. NSE 3 provides a deeper dive into advanced security products and capabilities used to defend against specific threats and vectors of attack.
“Oregon Tech’s IT and Cybersecurity degree programs are proud to partner with Fortinet as members of the Fortinet Network Security Academy,” said Professor Kris Rosenberg, Program Director, Information Technology and Cybersecurity at Oregon Institute of Technology. “Working together, we are able to offer our students courses that combine cybersecurity theory and concepts with hands-on lab experience and advanced security solutions that prepare them to enter the workforce as skilled IT and cybersecurity professionals

Facebook releases ‘Prophet’ — its free forecasting tools — for Python and R

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen
Facebook releases 'Prophet' -- its free forecasting tools -- for Python and R

The code is available on GitHub

Facebook has open-sourced its Prophet forecasting tool, designed “to make it easier for experts and non-experts to make high-quality forecasts,” according to a blog post by Sean J. Taylor and Ben Letham in the company’s research team. “Forecasts are customizable in ways that are intuitive to non-experts,” they wrote.

The code is available on GitHub in both Python and R.

Prophet is aimed specifically at business problems such as computer infrastructure capacity planning that have at least several months of data (preferably a year or more) and issues such as seasonality, “holidays” that can affect trends (such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday for retailers), and events that can have significant impacts (such as launching a new website when trying to forecast site traffic). Prophet can also handle some missing values and outliers, the blog post said.

Facebook suggests taking Prophet for a spin using page views from a Wikipedia page, data which is currently available on tools.wmflabs.org/pageviews. In R, data needs to be set up so it has two columns: one named ds containing dates, and the other with numerical data. The sample — forecasting pageviews for Peyton Manning’s Wikipedia page – changed the numerical data to a log scale with R’s log() function. Basic Prophet forecasting steps:

  • A command such as my_model <- prophet(mydata) fits a model;
  • my_future <- make_future_dataframe(my_model, periods = 365) starts a data frame with an appropriate date column for both past and to-be-predicted dates;
  • my_forecast <- predict(my_model, my_future_df) generates the forecast;
  • plot(my_model, my_forecast) visualizes the forecast; and
  • prophet_plot_components(my_model, my_forecast) graphs trend and seasonal components of the forecast.
Sample plot of trends and seasonality Screenshot of graphic created by Facebook’s Prophet tool
Sample plot of trends and seasonality using Facebook’s Prophet in R.

To include holidays and other special events, you’d create a new data frame with a ds column for dates and a holiday column with the name of the holiday. That information can be included in the initial model with my_model <- Prophet(my_data, holidays = my_holidays). There’s more about holidays in Prophet in the documentation.

Prophet was built using Stan, a probability programming language that connects with several popular analytics platforms such as MATLAB and Stata in addition to Python and R.

Source: Computerworld.com

MediaTek will sit out the ARM race for Windows 10 PCs

Published March 1, 2017 by lagmen
MediaTek will sit out the ARM race for Windows 10 PCs

MediaTek doesn’t see an opportunity in the Windows 10 ARM PC market, especially with x86 dominance

Despite a turbulent past, Windows PCs with ARM are making a grand return later this year, but only with Qualcomm chips.

Another big ARM chipmaker, MediaTek, is sitting out the opportunity to put its ARM-based chips in Windows PCs because the company sees it as a limited opportunity.

MediaTek’s chips are already used in Chromebooks, but ARM has had a turbulent history with Windows. That’s another reason for the company to stay out.

ARM getting into PCs is like Intel trying to get into smartphones — it’s a risky proposition, said Finbarr Moynihan, general manager of sales at MediaTek.

PCs are dominated by x86 chips from companies like Intel and AMD. But Intel failed in its attempt to unseat a dominant ARM in smartphones, and ultimately quit making chips for handsets.

“We’ve been down this path before, and we’ll see,” Moynihan said.

ARM’s last attempt to get into Windows PCs was a flop. Microsoft designed the Windows RT OS, which was a version of Windows 8, for tablets with ARM chips. Dell, Asus, and Microsoft were among a handful of companies that made Windows RT tablets but later pulled their devices off the market. Windows RT failed due to incompatibility with x86 applications and user confusion.

Even PC makers are cautious about Windows 10 on ARM and want to test it on devices before committing to make a product. But Dell, which was burned by Windows RT, is receptive to the idea of an ARM-based Windows 10 PC and considers it an interesting idea.

But Microsoft seems to have learned from the issues and is readying Windows 10 for ARM via emulation. Microsoft has demonstrated regular x86 applications running on ARM-based Windows 10 PCs.

These ARM-based super thin and light laptops will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip and are designed in the vein of smartphones, with the ability to stay on and connected for extended periods of time. The Snapdragon 835 chip is designed for smartphones and has features like Bluetooth 5, 4K graphics, and an integrated LTE modem.

MediaTek on Monday announced a new top-line chip called Helio X30, which has 10 cores. It’s designed for smartphones but boasts features that could also make it feasible for low-end PCs. It has blazing fast CPUs, integrated LTE, and high-end graphics, enough for a PC.

While the chip could be used in Chromebooks, MediaTek is mainly targeting Helio X30 at mid-range Android smartphones priced between $300 and $500.