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Microsoft Blames Layoffs For Drop In Female Employees ( 164

itwbennett writes: This year, women made up 26.8 percent of Microsoft's total workforce, down from 29 percent in 2014, the company reported Monday. In a blog post discussing the numbers, Gwen Houston, Microsoft's general manager of diversity and inclusion, pointed the finger at the thousands of layoffs the company made to restructure its phone hardware business: 'The workforce reductions resulting from the restructure of our phone hardware business ... impacted factory and production facilities outside the U.S. that produce handsets and hardware, and a higher percentage of those jobs were held by women,' she said.

Stack Overflow and the Zeitgeist of Computer Programming ( 166

An anonymous reader writes: Stack Overflow remains one of the most widely-used resources in the developer community. Around 400,000 questions are posted there every month. The Priceonomics blog is using statistical analysis to ask, "What does the nature of these questions tell us about the state of programming?" They see tremendous growth in questions about Android Studio, as well as more generic growth in work relating to data analysis and cloud services. Topics on a significant decline include Silverlight, Joomla, Clojure, and Flash (not to mention emacs, for some reason). The article also takes a brief look at the site's megausers, who receive a lot of credit for keeping the signal-to-noise ratio as high as it is, while also taking flack for how the Stack Overflow culture has progressed. "Others are worried about how Stack Overflow has impacted programming fundamentals. Some critics believe that rather than truly struggling with a problem, developers can now just ask Stack Overflow users to solve it for them. The questioner may receive and use an answer with code they do not truly understand; they just know it fixes their problem. This can lead to issues in the long run when adjustments are needed."

And the Pulitzer Prize For SQL Reporting Goes To... ( 27

theodp writes: Over at the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab, Dan Nguyen's Exploring the Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer-Winning Medicare Investigation with SQL is a pretty epic post on how one can use SQL to learn about Medicare data and controversial practices in Medicare billing, giving the reader a better appreciation for what was involved in the WSJ's Medicare Unmasked data investigation. So, how long until a journalist wins a Pulitzer for SQL reporting? And for all you amateur and professional Data Scientists, what data would you want to SELECT if you were a Pulitzer-seeking reporter?
Open Source

WordPress Now Powers 25% of the Web 143

An anonymous reader writes: According to data from W3Techs one in four websites is now powered by WordPress. According to the report: "WordPress is used by 58.7% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 25.0% of all websites.” Venturebeat reports: "Today is a big day for the free and open-source content management system (CMS). To be perfectly clear, the milestone figure doesn't represent a fraction of all websites that have a CMS: WordPress now powers 25 percent of the Web.

Canada Reinstates Mandatory Census, To Delight of Social Scientists ( 284

Eloking writes with news that the government of Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be reinstating the mandatory long-form census that the outgoing government had ended. Science reports: "The new Canadian government today announced it would restore the country's mandatory long-form census. 'Our plan for open and fair government starts today with restoring the long-form census,' said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, speaking in Ottawa alongside Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of families, children and social development. 'We're focused on good evidence-based policies.' Bains said that Statistics Canada would be able to meet the 2 May deadline to roll out the 2016 census, which is conducted every 5 years, and that there would be no additional costs to making it mandatory. He confirmed that residents who fail to fill out the census could face criminal prosecution, an issue that contributed to the decision by the Harper government to make the 2011 census voluntary."

Despite $30M Tech Push, Half of US States Had Fewer Than 300 AP CS Test Takers 152

theodp writes: As President Obama was 'taught to code' last December, Politico reported that the $30 million tech-financed campaign to promote computer science education was a smash success. And indeed it has been, at least from a PR standpoint. But and its backers have long spun AP Computer Science test metrics as a true barometer of CS education success, and from that standpoint, things don't look quite so rosy. The College Board raved about "massive gains in AP Computer Science participation (25% growth) AND scores" in a June tweetstorm and at its July conference, where AP CS was declared the '2015 AP Subject of the Year.' But a look at the recently-released detail on 2015 AP CS scores shows wide differences in adoption and success along gender and ethnicity lines (Asian boys and girls, in particular, set themselves apart from other groups with 70%+ pass rates). And, for all the praise the NSF lavished on for 'its amazing marketing prowess', half of the states still had fewer than 300 AP CS test takers in 2015, and ten states actually saw year-over-year declines in the number of test takers (if my math is correct — scraped data, VBA code here).

More Tech, STEM Workers Voluntarily Quitting Their Jobs ( 167

Nerval's Lobster writes: New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that more tech professionals are voluntarily quitting their jobs. In August, some 507,000 people in Professional and Business Services (which encompasses tech and STEM positions) quit their positions, up from 493,000 in July. It's also a significant increase over August 2014, when 456,000 professionals quit. Voluntary quits could be taken as a sign of a good economy (Dice link), hinting that people feel confident enough about the market to jump to a new position (likely with better pay and benefits), if not strike out on their own as an independent. For tech pros, things are particularly rosy at the moment; according to the BLS, the national unemployment rate among tech pros has hovered at under 3 percent for the past year, although not all segments have equally benefitted from that trend: Programmers, for example, saw their unemployment rate dip precipitously between the first and second quarters of this year, even as joblessness among Web developers, computer support specialists, and network and systems engineers ticked upwards during the same period. If there's one tech segment that hasn't enjoyed economic buoyancy, it's manufacturing, which has suffered from layoffs and steady declines in open positions over the past several quarters.

Microsoft Claims 110M Devices Now Run Windows 10 ( 171

New submitter enterpriseITrocks writes: Computerworld reports that Windows 10 is running on 110 million devices, citing stats provided by Panos Panay, the chief of the Surface team. It's the first time since late August that Microsoft has provided usage stats for Win10 at a time when the new OS was running on 75 million machines. From the article: "Microsoft's 110 million described those running Windows 10, not downloads, the company confirmed. A spokeswoman declined to describe how the company tracks uptake, but presumably it does via Windows 10 activations, which it could easily tally from its logs."

B612 Foundation Loses Partnership With NASA; Asteroids Not a Significant Risk 182

StartsWithABang writes: Yes, asteroids might be humanity's undoing in the worst-case scenario. It's how the dinosaurs went down, and it could happen to us, too. The B612 foundation has been working to protect us by mapping and then learning to deflect potential threats to our planet, but their proposed mission needed $450 million, a goal they've fallen well short of. As a result, NASA has severed their partnership, which is a good thing for humanity: the risk assessment figures show that worrying about killer asteroids is largely a waste.

Houston's Gifted Education Program Biased Against Blacks and Latinos 445

tiberus sends an NPR report investigating the fairness of gifted and talented programs in Houston schools. Analysts believe black and hispanic students are at put at a disadvantage because of the way in which the program is run. Quoting: Donna Ford, at Vanderbilt University, thinks that put Isaac at a disadvantage. She's been researching gifted education for decades, and when it comes to Houston's program she says, "I think it's a clear case of segregation, gifted education being segregated by race and income." Houston school leaders asked Ford to take a close look at their enrollment in the program, and she gave it a failing grade. "Racial bias has to be operating, inequities are rampant. Discrimination does exist whether intentional or unintentional," she told the school board in May of this year. Ford found that both Hispanic and black students are underrepresented in gifted programs and that black students are missing out the most. She also found that about half the seats in those programs go to higher-income students, even though the majority of the district is poor.
Open Source

Linux Foundation Puts the Cost of Replacing Its Open Source Projects At $5 Billion 146

chicksdaddy writes: Everybody recognizes that open source software incredibly valuable, by providing a way to streamline the creation of new applications and services. But how valuable, exactly? The Linux Foundation has released a new research paper that tries to put a price tag on the value of the open source projects it comprises, and the price they've come up with is eye-popping: $5 billion. That's how much the Foundation believes it would cost for companies to have to rebuild or develop from scratch the software residing in its collaborative projects.

To arrive at that figure, the Foundation analyzed the code repositories of each one of its projects using the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) to estimate the total effort required to create these projects. With 115,013,302 total lines of source code, LF estimated the total amount of effort required to retrace the steps of collaborative development to be 41,192.25 person-years — or 1,356 developers 30 years to recreate the code base present in The Linux Foundation's current collaborative projects listed above.

(Over-)Measuring the Working Man 165 writes: Tyler Cowen writes in MIT Technology Review that the improved measurement of worker performance through information technology is beginning to allow employers to measure value fairly precisely and as we get better at measuring who produces what, the pay gap between those who make more and those who make less grows. Insofar as workers type at a computer, everything they do is logged, recorded, and measured. Surveillance of workers continues to increase, and statistical analysis of large data sets makes it increasingly easy to evaluate individual productivity, even if the employer has a fairly noisy data set about what is going on in the workplace. Consider journalism. In the "good old days," no one knew how many people were reading an article, or an individual columnist. Today a digital media company knows exactly how many people are reading which articles for how long, and also whether they click through to other links. The result is that many journalists turn out to be not so valuable at all. Their wages fall or they lose their jobs, while the superstar journalists attract more Web traffic and become their own global brands.

According to Cowen, the upside is that measuring value tends to boost productivity, as has been the case since the very beginning of management science. We're simply able to do it much better now, and so employers can assign the most productive workers to the most suitable tasks. The downsides are several. Individuals don't in fact enjoy being evaluated all the time, especially when the results are not always stellar: for most people, one piece of negative feedback outweighs five pieces of positive feedback.

Fable Legends DX12 Benchmark Stressing High End GPUs 51

Vigile writes: In preparation for the release of the free-to-play Fable Legends game on both Xbox One and PC this winter, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios released a benchmark today that allows users to test performance of their PC hardware configuration with a DirectX 12 based game engine that pushes the boundaries of render quality. Based on a modified UE4 engine, Fable Legends includes support for asynchronous compute shaders, manual resource barrier tracking and explicit memory management, all new to the DX12 API. Unlike the previous DX12 benchmark, Ashes of the Singularity, which focused mainly on high draw call counts and mass quantities of on-screen units, Fable Legends takes a more standard approach, attempting to improve image quality and shadow reproduction with the new API. PC Perspective has done some performance analysis with the new benchmark and a range of graphics cards, finding that while NVIDIA still holds the lead at the top spot (GTX 980 Ti vs Fury X), the AMD Radeon mid-range products offer better performance (and better value) than the comparable GeForce parts.

Researcher Trying To Teach Computer What Women He's Attracted To 181

jfruh writes: Harm de Vries, a post-doctoral researcher at the Université de Montréal, is trying to build an algorithm that will sort through pictures on Tinder and OKCupid and pick out women he'll find attractive. "Tinder kept giving me pictures of girls I wasn't attracted to," he said in a phone interview. "So I wondered if I could use deep learning." His program, built using deep learning techniques, has about a 68 percent success rate, which isn't that bad. (A human friend to whom de Vries described his preferences managed 76 percent.)

Congressional Testimony: A Surprising Consensus On Climate 370

Lasrick writes: Many legislators regularly deny that there is a scientific consensus, or even broad scientific support, for government action to address climate change. Researchers recently assessed the content of congressional testimony related to either global warming or climate change from 1969 to 2007. For each piece of testimony, they recorded several characteristics about how the testimony discussed climate. For instance, noting whether the testimony indicated that global warming or climate change was happening and whether any climate change was attributable (in part) to anthropogenic sources. The results: Testimony to Congress—even under Republican reign—reflects the scientific consensus that humans are changing our planet's climate.

Survey: More Women Are Going Into Programming 280

itwbennett writes: We've previously discussed the dearth of women in computing. Indeed, according to U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics estimates, in 2014 four out of five programmers and software developers in the U.S. were men. But according to a survey conducted this spring by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC, that may be changing. The survey of 855 developers worldwide found that women make up 42% of developers with less than 1 year of experience and 30% of those with between 1 and 5 years of experience. Of course, getting women into programming is one thing; keeping them is the next big challenge.

Windows 10 Grabs 5.21% Market Share, Passing Windows Vista and Windows 8 246

An anonymous reader writes: The effects of a free upgrade to Windows 10 are starting to trickle in. Available for just over a month, Windows 10 has now captured more than 5 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications. In just four weeks, Windows 10 has already been installed on over 75 million PCs. Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 "in two to three years," though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices as well.

Ubuntu Is the Dominant Cloud OS 167

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new report by Cloud Market, Ubuntu is more than twice as popular on Amazon EC2 as all other operating systems combined. Given that Amazon Web Services has 57% of the public cloud market, Ubuntu is clearly the most popular OS for cloud systems. This is further bolstered by a recent OpenStack survey, which found that more than half of respondents used Ubuntu for cloud-based production environments. Centos was a distant second at 29%, and RHEL came in third at 11%. "In addition to AWS, Ubuntu has been available on HP Cloud, and Microsoft Azure since 2013. It's also now available on Google Cloud Platform, Fujitsu, and Joyent." The article concludes, "People still see Ubuntu as primarily a desktop operating system. It's not — and hasn't been for some time."

Scientific Papers With Shorter Titles Get More Citations 87

sciencehabit writes: Articles with shorter titles tend to get cited more often than those with longer headers, concludes a study published today, which examined 140,000 papers published between 2007 and 2013. It appears in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Citations are a key currency in the academic world. The number of times other researchers cite a scientist’s work is often an important metric in hiring and workplace evaluations. Citations also play a role in determining a journal’s place in the scholarly pecking order, with journals that publish more highly cited papers earning a higher “impact factor” (although many critics challenge that measure).