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Genetic engineering allows changing some characteristics of various organisms. It is particularly important in food production, because we can improve yields, make crops more resistant and less reliant on pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful for the environment. Now an international team of scientists showed that a genetic tool known as CRISPR could be used to improve the quality of barley grain very rapidly.

Scientists used CRISPR to improve the quality of barley

Barley is a very important food crop globally and CRISPR would allow fine-tuning characteristics of this crop. Image credit: Rastrojo via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Barley is quite an important food crop for us. It is used in production of various food products, such as beer and bread. One of the more beneficial substances in barley is beta-glucan, which is a source of fermentable dietary fibre that protects against various human health conditions.  However, for brewing and distilling barley with lower levels of beta-glucan is preferred.

CRISPR is a very effective gene-editing tool. Some call it “gene scissors”, because it allows cutting out undesirable pieces of the organism’s genome and replacing them with something more useful. CRISPR can be used in a variety of fields – from medicine to production of food crops. Scientists believe that plant breeders will be able to use CRISPR to deliver new plant varieties with fine-tuned characteristics for different markets.

Now scientists used CRISPR to change beta-glucan levels in barley. Essentially, this could result in crops that are still rich in beta-glucan, but also suitable for brewing and distilling. Scientists used a reverse genetics approach to generate changes in members of the gene superfamily responsible for making beta-glucan. Not only this approach allows improving grain quality, scientists can also introduce some specific changes that would be desirable for specific industries that use barley. In other words, plant breeders will be able to make specialized barley for beer, bread and other uses. 

More than anything, this study shows the value of genetic engineering in food production. Matthew Tucker, joint senior author of the study, explained: “This study has brought real immediate benefit in terms of understanding how gene editing can help improve the quality of barley crops. And it’s part of our overall ongoing efforts to apply the latest genetic techniques to deliver improvements for the food and feed industries.”

The world is growing hungrier. We need to increase food production, but at the same time we need to reduce the environmental impact of farming. This can only be done through genetic engineering. Improving the quality of crops will create more and better food. And, hopefully, we can reduce chemical pollution at the same time.

 

Source: University of Adelaide




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Linux Foundation: Latest trends and most-needed skills for open source jobs

opensourcejobs102020

The Linux Foundation jobs report shares what recruiters are looking for and which technologies are in demand.

Hiring managers said in a recent survey by the Linux Foundation that cloud skills are what they need most.

Image: The Linux Foundation

Open source is still the leading software development environment for SMBs and the enterprise despite the current economic downturn and pandemic, according to the latest jobs report from The Linux Foundation. 

“2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, but it’s encouraging to see that open source continues to provide abundant opportunities,” said The Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin in a press release. “The Linux Foundation and our members will continue to work to provide technological advancements that benefit everyone while striving to make open source educational opportunities more accessible.”

SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Open source software is continuing to gain ground in the enterprise. A recent Red Hat survey revealed that 86% of IT leaders say  the most innovative companies are using open source software. In that same survey, 77% of respondents said they plan to increase their use of open source software in the next 12 months. 

This is the eighth year The Linux Foundation has produced the open source jobs report, and this is the first time the foundation worked with edX to produce it. The last report was completed in 2018. The 2020 Open Source Jobs Report found, “a shift of priorities for hiring organizations towards cloud-native technologies and increasing use of open source solutions despite the severe challenges currently facing businesses and IT pros.”

Desired skill sets

Linux, DevOps, cloud and security are the top skill sets wanted from potential employees. Among hiring managers, 74% say that Linux is the most in-demand skill they’re seeking in new hires.

According to the report, 69% of employers want employees with cloud and containers experience, up from 64% in 2018. And 65% of companies want to hire more DevOps talent, up from 59% in 2018. The report shows that 63% percent of hiring managers want employees who can architect solutions based on open source software. Security is also important with 48% of companies wanting this skill set in potential employees. Other desirable skills are knowledge of new tools, experience using open source development tools like Git, experience running projects already in production, and people who have previously worked on open source projects. 

Most in-demand jobs

In 2018, 72% of companies were seeking to hire developers. In 2020, this has dropped to 59%. The most in-demand job is DevOps, with 65% of companies wanting to hire for this role, an increase from 59% in 2018. Engineers rank third, at 56%, and architects are at 41%. SysAdmins dropped to 35% in 2020, from 49% in 2018. The report theorizes this is because many SysAdmin roles evolved into DevOp ones. 

Trends in hiring for open source jobs

Additional findings from the report:

  • Among hiring managers, 81% said hiring open source talent is a priority for 2020, and they are more likely than ever to seek out pros with certifications. 
  • 56% of hiring managers plan to hire more open source professionals in the next six months compared to the last six months.
  • 57% of hiring managers said hiring certified professionals is a priority, which is a significant increase from 47% in 2018.
  • Finding sufficient talent with open source skills is difficult for 93% of hiring managers, up from 87% in 2018. 
  • Among employers, 57% say that training existing employees to gain necessary skills is the top tactic used in 2020. 
  • 70% of hiring managers say that employees have requested more open source training this year, compared to 64% in 2018.
  • 60% of professionals surveyed would like for employers to cover the cost of certifications, up from 47% in 2018.
  • 74% of hiring managers are willing to pay for certifications, up from 55% two years ago.
  • 88% of employers say their company proactivity encourages diversity, up from 79% two years ago. Among employees, 70% feel their companies are making an effort to encourage diversity, an increase from 60% in 2018.
  • 52% of companies surveyed say they activity recruit underrepresented individuals, an increase from 46% in 2018. 

Why open source is so crucial

Adam Medros, edX president and co-CEO, said open source professionals are key to tech advancements around the world. 

“We hope that the information in this report gives open source professionals a clear picture of the industry to inform their decisions around joining and creating teams, and informs organizations’ decisions around training and investing in their workers,” Medros said in a press release.

As with the last three Linux Foundation reports, the focus is on all aspects of open source software; the first four reports focused more specifically on Linux professionals.  

Survey methodology

edX and The Linux Foundation surveyed hiring managers and open source professionals from July 28 to Sept. 3, 2020. Hiring managers from corporations, SMBs, government organizations and staffing agencies were surveyed. More than 175 hiring managers responded. More than 900 open source professionals responded to a survey, with 74% indicating they’ve been working as an open source professional for three years or more. 

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Deep Unsupervised Drum Transcription | Technology Org

98eb066b1f9e26d3abc28b783398 1566055 drums

Deep learning-based models help to improve transcription systems. In this task, the score is estimated from the input audio. However, most of the current systems rely on supervised learning and require a large-scale annotated dataset.

A recent paper on arXiv.org suggests an unsupervised drum transcription system. It can test the estimation, measure the error, and correct itself, similarly to musicians learning to transcribe.

Deep Unsupervised Drum Transcription Technology Org

Drums. Image credit: floriansteffen via pxhere,com, CC0 Public Domain

During the experiments, the system achieved strong performance compared to current supervised and unsupervised approaches. It can be generalized to different datasets while maintaining high performance if the distribution of tracks by style is warranted. Thus, it can be used for real-life drum transcription tasks. Also, the system could be extended to other instruments and combined with instrument recognition.

We introduce DrummerNet, a drum transcription system that is trained in an unsupervised manner. DrummerNet does not require any ground-truth transcription and, with the data-scalability of deep neural networks, learns from a large unlabeled dataset. In DrummerNet, the target drum signal is first passed to a (trainable) transcriber, then reconstructed in a (fixed) synthesizer according to the transcription estimate. By training the system to minimize the distance between the input and the output audio signals, the transcriber learns to transcribe without ground truth transcription. Our experiment shows that DrummerNet performs favorably compared to many other recent drum transcription systems, both supervised and unsupervised.

Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.03697




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Apple Confirms MagSafe Charger Could Leave Impression on iPhone 12 Cases

magsafe charger apple website 1603724440183

Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging feature launched along with iPhone 12 series earlier this month is expected to have far-reaching benefits that the likes of Moto Mods could not deliver. MagSafe is touted to be a game-changer for accessory makers, and a colourful array of magnetic cases, wallets, and chargers are already in the market. Apple has naturally created a new support page to inform users about how to best use their new gadgets and its cool magnetic charger. And among its few caveats is that the charger can leave a circular impression on some iPhone 12 cases and accessories.

The fact that the charger can leave its impression on iPhone 12 accessories gets a fine print mention on the Apple support page. It is especially irksome because Apple had glorified MagSafe’s capability of charging the phones with their covers on. And although the support page says that the potential issue is only with leather cases, a user had also shared a picture on MacRumors claiming that the MagSafe charger had left its circular impressions on a silicon case in just one day of use. It’s just been three days since the iPhone 12 was made available.

Apple has also warned users against placing things such as credit cards, security badges, passport, etc., between their phones and the MagSafe charger. It says this could damage the magnetic strips and RFID chips on the cards. The page also says that the new snap-on chargers might get warm and that the software might limit charging to 80 percent in case of overheating.

In another particularly damaging news for the iPhone 12 series launched on October 14, a report published by TechSina cites a blogger to claim that some iPhone 12 units on display at a store in China had their paints peeled off. The report featured pictures by the blogger to support the claim. Although, the launch of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro had a rush of people at stores in China on Friday, October 23, and the report speculated frequent touches to be the reason for the phone’s terrible condition.

Separately, tipster Max Weinbach said his new iPhone 12 Pro’s glass back had cracked for no apparent reason, though he received a replacement from Apple. In a more recent tweet, he noted scratches seen on demo units at a T-Mobile store.


Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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