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Original author: 
Jon Brodkin

Niall Kennedy

Todd Kuehnl has been a developer for nearly 20 years and says he's tried "pretty much every language under the sun."

But it was only recently that Kuehnl discovered Go, a programming language unveiled by Google almost four years ago. Go is still a new kid on the block, but for Kuehnl, the conversion was quick. Now he says "Go is definitely by far my favorite programming language to work in." Kuehnl admitted he is "kind of a fanboy."

I'm no expert in programming, but I talked to Kuehnl because I was curious what might draw experienced coders to switch from proven languages to a brand new one (albeit one co-invented by the famous Ken Thompson, creator of Unix and the B programming language). Google itself runs some of its back-end systems on Go, no surprise for a company that designs its own servers and much of the software (right down to the operating systems) that its employees use. But why would non-Google engineers go with Go?

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Original author: 
Peter Bright

Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock

In a bid to make JavaScript run ever faster, Mozilla has developed asm.js. It's a limited, stripped down subset of JavaScript that the company claims will offer performance that's within a factor of two of native—good enough to use the browser for almost any application. Can JavaScript really start to rival native code performance? We've been taking a closer look.

The quest for faster JavaScript

JavaScript performance became a big deal in 2008. Prior to this, the JavaScript engines found in common Web browsers tended to be pretty slow. These were good enough for the basic scripting that the Web used at the time, but it was largely inadequate for those wanting to use the Web as a rich application platform.

In 2008, however, Google released Chrome with its V8 JavaScript engine. Around the same time, Apple brought out Safari 4 with its Nitro (née Squirrelfish Extreme) engine. These engines brought something new to the world of JavaScript: high performance achieved through just-in-time (JIT) compilation. V8 and Nitro would convert JavaScript into pieces of executable code that the CPU could run directly, improving performance by a factor of three or more.

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Imagine installing a service on your cellphone that lets you see all the data – from location to address book info – transmitted by your phone. Or a simple website where you and your friends could have private chats that couldn’t be read by the most aggressive spying agencies. Or a service that lets you know how many tracking codes are on a site before you clicked on it.

Lam Thuy Vo
One of the coders at the Data Transparency Weekend models the official T-shirt from the event.

Over the weekend, more than 100 computer programmers built those tools and many more at the Wall Street Journal’s first-ever Data Transparency Weekend in New York.

The event was an outgrowth of the Journal’s extensive reporting about how companies and government’s are increasingly using technology to collect personal data. The event was designed to promote the creation of tools that let people see and control their personal data.

After a weekend of coding, nearly 20 projects were submitted for judging on Sunday. The entries were judged by Alessandro Acquisti, professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, Sid Stamm, Web security and privacy strategist at Mozilla and Andrew McLaughlin, former deputy chief technologist at the White House and vice president at Tumblr.

Danny Weitzner, the deputy chief technologist at the White House, handed out the certificates to the winning teams. The winners were:

Outstanding Scanning Project: TOSBack2 – a project to scan the Web to build a “living archive” of all privacy policies online.

Outstanding Education Project: PrivacyBucket – software that lets users of the Chrome Web browser view the type of demographic estimates that Web tracking companies make about them based on their Web browsing history.

Outstanding Control Project: Cryptocat – an instant messaging service that lets people engage in encrypted chats inside their Web browsers or on their phones. Extra bonus: the program lets people generate random numbers (which are needed for encryption) by shaking their phone – allowing the creators to say that their program is powered by dance moves.

Judge’s Choice Award: Site Scoper – a website that scans for tracking files and sensitive content on websites before you visit it.

“Ready for Primetime” Award: MobileScope – a service that lets people see what data is being transmitted without their knowledge by their cellphone. It also offers ad-blocking and do-not-track services for cellphones.

The judges also dreamed up their own three award categories:

The Zuckerberg/Systrom Memorial Award for Opportunistic Optimism Award: Pestagram, for its blatantly commercial mashup of hot Web technologies Instagram and Pinterest.

Best Listener Award: The Price of Free, for the fact that the project was generated by Professor Acquisti’s speech kicking off the weekend, in which he challenged participants to find ways to quantify how much people are paying with their data for free services.

And, finally, The Soup Cans and String Winner: Ostel, for its work on technology that allows people to make encrypted cellphone calls using voice-over-the-Internet technology.

For more photos and news from the weekend, check out the Storify coverage:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

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