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September 02, 2014
By vulrich

A Swift change of pace

Powerful and elegant. High performance and highly interactive. The new language for iOS that was previewed at the beginning of the month at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is slated to be released later this year, and it has people excited. It reportedly took four years for Apple to create Swift, which offers developers several valuable changes over Objective-C, its predecessor. David Gewirtz on ZDnet wrote, “Swift has the potential to both revolutionize professional app development, while at the same time opening the door to more recreational and educational programming.”

For those already up to speed on iOS and Mac apps tools, Swift is touted as straightforward to learn. (One programmer was able to use Swift to build a copy of the infamous Flappy Bird game in a mere nine hours). Described by Apple as “Objective C without the C”—which I take in context to mean ‘more streamlined and user-friendly’—Swift seems like it will be a great skill to acquire. It’s essential to continue learning new programming languages, especially if you’re looking for a competitive edge in the job market. If you haven’t decided which one to tackle next, check out this blog post on why developers should embrace Swift.

The New York Code + Design Academy in New York City is offering the first opportunity for programmers to learn the new language, with their inaugural 16-week course beginning on July 7th.

Chriss Lattner, director of Apple’s Developer Tools department, said, “I hope that by making programming more approachable and fun, we’ll appeal to the next generation of programmers and help redefine how Computer Science is taught.”

Hmm. Approachable and fun? Maybe even an old technophobe like me could design an app someday.

Net neutrality grossly misunderstood

The widely criticized FCC ruling on net neutrality plans to allow Internet “fast lanes,” where content providers can pay for their data to reach consumers more quickly. However, it seems that the widespread understanding of the Internet acting as an overarching backbone is outdated. Companies like Google have had their own fast lanes for years, using peering to send information directly to ISPs. Any company with enough money to develop the infrastructure can set up their own content delivery networks to send data faster and more directly.

In the first of three articles on net neutrality by Robert McMillan in Wired last month, he wrote, “The real issue is that the Comcasts and Verizons are becoming too big and too powerful. Because every web company has no choice but to go through these ISPs, the Comcasts and the Verizons may eventually have too much freedom to decide how much companies must pay for fast speeds.”

Add to that the question of who should oversee Internet regulation—the Federal Communications Commission or the Federal Trade Commission. That’s the issue that came up during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust law last month, when a former FCC Commissioner as well as an FTC member argued that antitrust laws would do a better job of promoting net neutrality than the FCC.

However, Tim Wu, the Columbia professor who created the term “net neutrality,” posited that it has broader implications than non-competition, and that oversight by antitrust laws would not be adequate to protect other values like that of free speech.

Tech at the #WorldCup

Viva Fútbol! Who doesn’t enjoy the drama of ghost goals, flopping and creative hair styles only soccer players can pull off? However, this World Cup I’m especially interested in the new technology coming together on the soccer pitch—after all, this is a sport that shies away from the same advancements American football thrives on. (For example, if the refs had been using instant replay when Suarez chomped down on Chiellini’s shoulder during the Uruguay vs. Italy game, he would have surely been given a red card and been booted from the match before Uruguay scored their winning goal!)

The argument against using such technology for soccer is admirable. Noted Ricardo Geromel in Forbes, “FIFA wants the beautiful game to be played in the exact same way everywhere: both in the multibillionaire stadiums at the World Cup as well as in the poor African leagues.”

But this year’s world cup could “go down in history as the most tech-friendly one to date,” wrote Dennis McCafferty in a recent Baseline article. He cited the new goal-line technology that uses high-speed video to take up to 500 images per second as one of the most key pieces of tech being implemented. Also noteworthy is an Italian analytics system called Matrics that turns each player’s every move into data to be tracked and analyzed. It works via HD cameras and can uniquely identify all 22 players, three referees and the soccer ball. Information is relayed to both on- and off-site analytics teams.

It’s also worth mentioning the explosion in use of technology around the world to watch and comment on the action. There were 12.2 million tweets from the opening game alone. And let’s not forget Cristiano Ronaldo’s 1.5 Twitter mentions during the U.S. vs. Portugal match. All told, this year’s World Cup is generating more on social media than any other sporting event ever. But that’s not even the heaviest Internet traffic the event is driving—the number of live content streams at any one time is estimated to reach up to 2.5 million. Just keep in mind that if you’re streaming at work, you’re hogging bandwidth from your colleagues. Everyone is excited about the World Cup, probably even your boss—so do the right thing and get permission to go watch crucial matches off-site.

As part of TEKsystems’ public relations team, Vanessa Ulrich reads everything she can about the technology industry and emerging trends. Vanessa blogs about where technology and society collide, giving context and commentary to top news stories.

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