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Replacing JavaScript: How eBay Made a Web App 50x Faster With WebAssembly

“Online marketplace eBay has revealed how it boosted performance of a demanding web app by 50x using WebAssembly,” reports TechRepublic:

The “astonishing” speed-up after switching from a JavaScript-based to a largely WebAssembly-based web app was detailed by the eBay engineering team, who say the performance boost helped make it possible to build a highly-accurate barcode scanner as a web app… a feature it offers in its Android and iOS apps to allow sellers to scan items they are auctioning. “WebAssembly was different. It has tremendous potential, we just did not have the right use case. Well, that changed recently,” write the eBay software engineering team.

One of the advantages of WebAssembly (Wasm) is that it offers code portability for a variety of languages, allowing developers to take code they’ve written for other platforms and compile to WebAssembly so it can run in major web browsers. Consequently eBay was able to take the existing version of its barcode scanner written in C++ and compile that to Wasm using Emscripten, adopting the Docker and Node.js-based approach outlined here. After a few minor teething problems, the eBay team were able to run the barcode scanner in the browser, using a Worker thread and JavaScript glue code.
The Wasm-based scanner was able to process images of the barcode at 50 Frames per Second (FPS), compared to about 1FPS in an earlier JavaScript-based scanner eBay had tested, a speed-up the team described as “astonishing”.

Unfortunately, the Wasm code only successfully completed scans 60% of the time, because it wasn’t using the inbuilt APIs available for the C++ code to either autofocus or provide user tap focus for the center of the scanned object. eBay’s team ultimately ended up implementing three separate worker threads running the Wasm code, the open-source barcode reader ZBar, and their original JavaScript-based scanner code.

“The winning response (i.e. the first one to send a valid barcode) is sent to the main thread, and all workers are terminated… With three threads racing against each other, the success rate was indeed close to 100%.”

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Source:: Slashdot

Why the iPhone 11 successor could be the phone to get – CNET

Apple’s most recent patent filing reveals plans to beef up Touch ID and bring it back to the iPhone in 2020, plus the most important updated to Apple’s new MacBooks. …read more

Source:: CNet

NASA Announces First Commercial Partner For A Space Station Orbiting The Moon

“NASA has chosen its first commercial partner for a proposed space station, known as the Lunar Gateway, to be built near the Moon,” reports Ars Technica:

On Thursday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Maxar Technologies would build the first component of the Gateway — the power and propulsion element. Like the name suggests, it will provide electricity to the Gateway and help move it around. “This time when we go to the Moon, we’re actually going to stay,” Bridenstine said in making the announcement… Under NASA’s current plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, this is where astronauts will launch to from Earth before climbing aboard pre-positioned landers to take them down to the lunar surface….

The contract announced Thursday is worth a maximum of $375 million. Intriguingly, Maxar said Blue Origin and Draper will join the team in designing, building, and operating the spacecraft. Such a partnership raises the possibility that the power and propulsion element, which will weigh about 5 tons fully fueled, could be launched on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket. During a teleconference with media, Maxar’s Mike Gold said the company would choose a commercial rocket for the power and propulsion element launch in the next 12 to 18 months…

The station will use solar electric propulsion to maintain its orbit and have the ability to maneuver into other orbits around the Moon. Before humans visit the Gateway in 2024, the space agency plans to add a small “habitat” module.

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Build A Sheet Metal Brake With No Welding Required

Sometimes, there’s a job to be done and the required tools don’t fall easily to hand. [Bob] found himself in just such a position, needing to get some window flashing made up despite lacking a sheet metal break. After waiting far too long for someone else to do the job, [Bob] elected to simply make the tools and do it himself instead (Youtube link, embedded below).

The project came about simply because [Bob] needed to bend 42″ sections of flashing, and couldn’t find a decent deal on a sheet metal brake above 36″ wide. The build starts with some angle iron and simple hinges, bolted together to form a basic brake design. With some rectangular hollow section bolted on for handles, the brake is then clamped to the bench and is ready for action.

It’s a build that any experienced hacker could whip up in an afternoon and be pumping out basic sheet metal parts by sundown, and requires no welding to boot. To learn more about bending sheet metal, check out our primer on the subject. Video after the break.

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Source:: Hackaday

Artificial intelligence, cybersecurity talent top list of hard-to-find skills

A majority of IT managers say they are expected to deliver more applications than a year ago. In most cases, they are working with the same number of developers. …read more

Source:: ZDNet

High-end sound without breaking the bank: Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones – CNET

The Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX, a bona fide audiophile headphone, for a very affordable price. …read more

Source:: CNet

This high-end amplifier sounds equally great with speakers and headphones – CNET

The Linear Tube Audio Z10: It doesn’t look or sound like your father’s tube amp! …read more

Source:: CNet

Father’s Day tech gifts and accessories for under $100

Special gifts for Father’s Day in 2019 do not have to break the bank. …read more

Source:: ZDNet

An RV Camp Sprang Up Outside Google’s HQ. Now Mountain View Wants To Ban It

schwit1 shares an excerpt from a report via Bloomberg: In a quiet neighborhood near Google’s headquarters last month, rusty, oleaginous sewage was seeping from a parked RV onto the otherwise pristine street. Sergeant Wahed Magee, of the Mountain View Police Department, was furious. Mountain View is a wealthy town that’s home to Alphabet, the world’s fourth-most valuable public corporation and Google’s owner. Magee spends a lot of his time knocking on the doors of RVs parked on the city’s streets, logging license plates and marking rigs that haven’t moved for several days. This is the epicenter of a Silicon Valley tech boom that is minting millionaires but also fueling a homelessness crisis that the United Nations recently deemed a human rights violation. Thousands of people live in RVs across San Francisco and the broader Bay Area because they can’t afford to rent or buy homes. In December, Mountain View police logged almost 300 RVs that appeared to be used as primary residences. Palo Alto, Berkeley and other Bay Area towns have similar numbers.

Some Silicon Valley towns have cracked down in recent months, creating an even more uncertain future for RV residents. At a March city council meeting, Mountain View voted to ban RVs from parking overnight on public streets. The ban hasn’t taken effect yet, but soon, the town’s van dwellers will need to go elsewhere. The city council also declared a shelter crisis and passed a new ordinance to ticket vehicles that “discharge domestic sewage on the public right of way.” At the meeting, some people opposing the ban blamed Google for the housing crisis. When asked whether the RV situation will ultimately be resolved, Magee looked tired as he thought about the answer. After a 12-hour day, he had a long drive ahead to get home — he can’t afford to live in Mountain View. “The way things are going, I don’t see how it’s all gonna disappear,” he said. “Where are we gonna put everyone?” The Bay Area wants to enjoy wealth concentration like Manhattan, but also the population spread of the suburbs. Something’s gotta give.

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Best cheap true wireless headphones: The 6 top AirPods alternatives for $80 or less – CNET

Looking for an AirPods alternative that costs a lot less? Here are some top budget true-wireless models worth considering. …read more

Source:: CNet

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