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Canonical’s Ubuntu distribution for Linux has earned a reputation for being user-friendly, with editions aimed at desktop, server, cloud, and IoT users. This changelog tracks updates to Ubuntu across its release cycle, including its LTS (long term support) releases. 

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(Insider Story)
text Devops is mandatory for multicloud deployments
Fri, 19 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

A survey of 1,106 business and technology executives published by the IBM Institute for Business Value, finds that 85 percent of companies are already operating in multicloud environments. Moreover, 98 percent are forecasting they will be using multicloud within three years. These findings should surprise nobody who reads this blog.

However, the survey finds that only 39 percent of the respondents have implemented devops processes and tool chains. From a devops perspective, 51 percent of respondents use multicloud to cultivate a flexible infrastructure that supports agile application deployments.

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Graphics processing units (GPUs) are far more than graphics chips. They have been the heart of the artificial intelligence revolution for many years. This is due in great part to the fact that the computational substrate for high-fidelity 3D image processing lends itself beautifully to the mathematics that underpin the neural networks powering today’s most sophisticated AI applications.

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text Atlassian retools Jira project management tool
Thu, 18 Oct 2018 17:00:00 -0700

Atlassian has upgraded its cloud-based Jira software project management tool for small development teams and more-iterative development.

Autonomy is key in the upgrade, with developers able to build their own boards to customize workflows, issue types, and fields—no longer requiring administrators to do so.

The weak Jira mobile app has been improved, with developers able to create and move boards as well as stop and start sprints. Jira integrations also are visible in the mobile app.

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The production release of Version 7 of Angular, Google’s popular JavaScript framework for building mobile and desktop applications, is now here.

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text RegEx tutorial: Matching sets of characters
Thu, 18 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use RegEx (regular expressions) to work with sets of characters. Unlike the ., which matches any single character , sets enable you to match specific characters and character ranges.

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Intel’s support of Accelerated Python continues to make it the logical choice for any performance-sensitive Python users (plus it’s free!). Intel’s distribution is a tuned version of the open source Python we all normally use. It’s been prebuilt to deliver much higher performance by a variety of methods, but most importantly by relying on the Intel Performance Libraries to accelerate x86 and x86-64 performance. This means that performance improvements can come without changing our Python code.

When using the Intel Distribution for Python, it’s not unusual to see substantial speed-ups for numerically intensive Python codes such as those that utilize the Numpy and SciPy stack. I wrote about a 20X speed-up in a prior article, and a blog from Google showed speed-ups of up to 23X.

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Through a new community process, the Eclipse Foundation seeks an open source, lightweight, code-first approach to evolving enterprise Java. The specification process and future revisions have to approved by the Eclipse board of directors.

If approved, a draft of the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process would be used for Jakarta EE, Eclipse’s implementation of enterprise Java as a new "open" specification process. The proposal would replace the Java Community Process (JCP), which has been used for amending the predecessor Java EE (Enterprise Edition) platform.

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Most of us ought to know the acronym LAMP, used to describe web services stacks made with Linux, the Apache web server, the MySQL database server, and either PHP, Perl, or Python.

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GitHub has introduced a workflow tool called GitHub Actions to its popular code-sharing site, to allow continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) right from GitHub itself.

Using the tool, which is now in limited beta, developers can build, deploy, and update software projects on either GitHub or an external system without having to run code themselves. Workflows and infrastructure deployments can be expressed as code.

Actions adds customizable workflow capabilities to GitHub.com, so developers build and share code containers to run a software development workflow, even across multiple clouds. Other examples of tasks that can be done with actions include packaging an NPM module or sending an SMS alert.

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text Steel yourself for the cloud hangover
Tue, 16 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

A poll of 250 IT decision makers across North America conducted by managed services provider Softchoice that polled found preparation for cloud initiatives is on track. 83 percent of those polled said they had assessed existing applications to determine if they were ready for the cloud, and 82 percent had modernized their data centers in preparation for cloud. Moreover, 72 percent internally communicated the business impact of a cloud strategy.

But there were some surprises in what companies discovered once they move to cloud:

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text How to secure your Azure network
Tue, 16 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

Cloud services like Azure offer a lot of security features straight out of the box, especially if you’re using their platform services. But virtual infrastructures are much like physical infrastructures, connecting virtual machines with software-defined virtual networks. Thus, they need the same security and network management tools as your own data center and your own application infrastructures.

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Whether you’re just getting your small business off the ground or growing an already successful venture, onboarding and maintaining your employees’ tech gadgets are important steps. Unfortunately, IT can be expensive — and out of the question for many small businesses. Even if you can afford to purchase reliable Apple devices for your growing staff, it can be hard to find the time to keep them updated without a specialist. That’s where Jamf Now comes into play: it’s a cloud-based solution that delivers Apple management and security with just a few minutes of setup.

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Mozilla’s latest beta version of the Firefox browser, Firefox Nightly, makes calls between the WebAssembly binary format and JavaScript faster, so it is easier to combine the two languages.

WebAssembly can serve as a companion to JavaScript in web development, taking on performance-intensive tasks. But thus far, combining the two has been hindered by slow function calls between the two languages, Mozilla says.

The Firefox Nightly beta makes these calls run faster than non-in-lined JavaScript-to-JavaScript function calls. Calls have been optimized from JavaScript to WebAssembly and vice versa. Mozilla also has improved the speed of calls from WebAssembly to built-ins, which are functions given by the browser such as Math.random.

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text 7 cloud services to ease machine learning
Mon, 15 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

One of the last computing chores to be sucked into the cloud is data analysis. Perhaps it’s because scientists are naturally good at programming and so they enjoy having a machine on their desks. Or maybe it’s because the lab equipment is hooked up directly to the computer to record the data. Or perhaps it’s because the data sets can be so large that it’s time-consuming to move them. 

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Microsoft is perhaps the most impressive company on the planet right now. While it doesn’t (currently) dominate markets like it used to, Microsoft has managed something dramatically more difficult, something that portends future success as a platform behemoth: profound cultural change.

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Microsoft’s Entity Framework is an open-source object-relational mapper, or ORM, for ADO.Net that helps you isolate the object model of your application from the data model. Entity Framework simplifies data access in your application by allowing you to write code to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) operations without having to know how the data is persisted in the underlying database.

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text Multicloud does not eliminate vendor lockin
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

Not to name names, but I’ve been reading in several publications that one of the main reasons to go to multicloud is to avoid vendor lockin. While I can see the logic behind this assumption—that having more cloud providers means you can be more independent—the reality is much different.

For example, if you have an application in the cloud, and you’re using a multicloud architecture, you’ll have two or three choices where to place that application workload and associated data: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and/or Google Cloud Platform.

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text Do more with R: drag-and-drop ggplot
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

Some R users become leery of graphical user interfaces. Pointing and clicking and dragging may be convenient, but it can be harder to save, check, or rerun an analysis.

But I think even most hardcore command-line junkies would agree that a drag-and-drop interface can be helpful for some exploratory data visualization.

That’s what the new R package esquisse brings to ggplot2. It gives the best of both worlds: drag-and-drop, plus generating basic ggplot code for the graphs you create. And, it’s pretty cool! esquisse was created by two people at a French R consulting firm, DreamRs. The name esquisse is French for sketch.

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Puppet is developing applications to provide operational insights and vulnerability assessments for devops.

Devops insights tool

The Puppet Insights tool, which arose from Puppet’s June 2018 acquisition of data visualization company Reflect, is intended to measure the impacts of devops investments by aggregating and analyzing data across the tool chain, with visibility into the software delivery pipeline. Dashboards help identify the velocity, quality, and impact of software delivery teams and processes. Aspects such as software defect rates are measured in evaluating a software delivery project.

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text How to build resilient microservices
Thu, 11 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

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The new Powered Services from Huawei will be of tremendous benefit to our partners and their customers. Partners play an essential role in helping customers maximize the value of their Huawei ICT solutions. Huawei works together with partners in every aspect of the business, such as R&D, manufacturing, distribution, sales, promotion, and service.

The number of service partners worldwide now exceeds 3000 and the number of Huawei certified partner engineers exceeds 30.000. This clearly illustrates the great importance that Huawei attaches to its partners. Services, policies and collaboration models are continuously improved to provide greater benefit to our partners. The new Huawei Powered Services involve the whole service lifecycle, and leverages the Huawei technology platform and service partner experience to help customers succeed.

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text Why you should use Docker and containers
Wed, 10 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

A book published in 1981, called Nailing Jelly to a Tree, describes software as "nebulous and difficult to get a firm grip on." That was true in 1981, and it is no less true nearly four decades since. Software, whether it is an application you bought or one that you built yourself, remains hard to deploy, hard to manage, and hard to run.

Docker containers provide a way to get a grip on software. You can use Docker to wrap up an application in such a way that its deployment and runtime issues—how to expose it on a network, how to manage its use of storage and memory and I/O, how to control access permissions—are handled outside of the application itself, and in a way that is consistent across all "containerized" apps. You can run your Docker container on any OS-compatible host (Linux or Windows) that has the Docker runtime installed.

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text 6 ways to make machine learning fail
Wed, 10 Oct 2018 03:00:00 -0700

The process of learning in general often means making mistakes and taking the wrong paths, and then figuring out how to avoid these pitfalls in the future. Machine learning is no different.

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Microsoft has released through open source its Infer.Net cross-platform framework for model-based machine learning.

Infer.Net will become part of the ML.Net machine learning framework for .Net developers, with Infer.Net extending ML.Net for statistical modeling and online learning. Several steps toward integration already have been taken, including the setting up of a repo under the .Net Foundation.

Microsoft cited the applicability of Infer.Net to three use cases:

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Microsoft has released the 0.6 version of its ML.Net machine learning framework, aimed at .Net developers. The update adds a new and more useful model-building API set, the ability to use more existing models to provide predictions, and better performance overall.

The original ML.Net API limited the kinds of pipelines you could build and had some clumsy restrictions on labeling and scoring data. The new API more flexibly allows training and prediction processes to be made up of multiple components that can be joined together in a variety of combinations, instead of requiring a single linear pipeline. The goal is to emulate the design of APIs used to drive other frameworks like Apache Spark.

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I would have titled this post, "How to be a rainmaker in the cloud," except the term rainmaker often refers to the selling process, which is already succeeding, and that success is a key contributing factor to why so many cloud initiatives are all wet. If nothing else, the popularity of cloud services has made the use of metaphors in technical articles much easier!

In this post, I write about some of the slipperier aspects of cloud services, how to reap the most benefits, and ways to identity potential pitfalls before a sinking feeling sets in.

AI, big data, and the cloud

A great expression going around about AI and big data is that they are "like teenage sex: Everyone talks about it; nobody really knows how to do it; everyone thinks everyone else is doing it; so everyone claims they are doing it." I want to add to that that "and most of those that are doing are not having nearly as much fun as they could be." The same can be said for the cloud, even though it has been around a lot longer and is relatively more mature. And many people actually already have it, though they might not know it, so maybe it is more like insanity.

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