You Are Still Watching a Staggering Amount Of TV Every Day
Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:
TV! It's cooked! Toast! Doneso. Ready for the fork. Except not yet, because Americans are still watching a ton of TV, every day. For some of them, it's the equivalent of a full-time job. The average American watches an astonishing 4.5 hours of TV a day, according to a new report from Nielsen. Add in DVR time, and that number gets up to 5 hours a day. That usage is shrinking over time -- a couple of years ago, Americans were averaging five hours and twenty-three minutes a day.Nielsen's data also shows that people are now consuming more content on their smartphone devices than ever. Compared to just 47 minutes usage in 2014, it is now up to one hour and 39 minutes.
.NET Core 1.0 Released, Now Officially Supported By Red Hat
Microsoft on Monday announced the
release of .NET Core, the open source .NET runtime platform. Finally! (It was first announced in 2014). The company also released ASP.NET Core 1.0, the open-source version of Microsoft's Web development stack. ArsTechnica reports:
Microsoft picked an unusual venue to announce the release: the Red Hat Summit. One of the purposes of .NET Core was to make Linux and OS X into first-class supported platforms, with .NET developers able to reach Windows, OS X, Linux, and (with Xamarin) iOS and Android, too. At the summit today, Red Hat announced that this release would be actively supported by the company on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai's Quora Account Hacked
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is the latest high-profile victim of a hacking group called OurMine. Earlier today, the group
managed to get hold of Pichai's Quota account, which in turn, gave them access to his Twitter feed as well. In a statement to The Next Web, the group said that their intention is to just test people's security, and that they never change the victim's passwords. Looking at the comments they left after hacking Pichai's account, it is also clear that OurMine is promoting its security services. The same group recently also
hacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter and Pinterest accounts.
Sergey Brin: Don't Come To Silicon Valley To Start a Business
An anonymous reader shares a Business Insider report:
If you're itching to start a company out of a garage, then you shouldn't pick up and move to Silicon Valley, according to Google cofounder Sergey Brin. It's easier to start a company outside the Valley than in it, he said onstage at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. "I know that sort of contradicts what everyone here has been saying," he said with a laugh. "During the boom cycles, the expectations around the costs -- real estate, salaries -- the expectations people and employees have ... it can be hard to make a scrappy initial business that's self-sustaining," he said. "Whereas in other parts of the world you might have an easier time for that."But he adds that Silicon Valley is good for scaling that opportunity.
Google To Step Up Smartphone Wars With Release Of Own Handset
According to a report by
The Telegraph, Google is
working on its first Google-branded smartphone, and plans to release it by the end of 2016. Unlike the Nexus program, in which Google mandates the design and specifications of the phone, but leaves the manufacturing aspect to its handpicked OEM, the new supposed phone will be built from the scratch by Google. From the report:
The technology giant is in discussions with mobile operators about releasing a Google-branded phone that will extend the company's move into hardware, sources familiar with the discussions told The Telegraph. [...] The new device, which will be released by the end of the year according to a senior source, will see Google take more control over design, manufacturing and software.NYMag
questions company's reported move:
It's an unsurprising rumor to hear: Google CEO Sundar Pichai has publicly commented on the company's emphasis on phones, and Motorola's Rick Osterloh was hired earlier this year to head up a new hardware division. And there's also the much discussed Google Ara, a modular phone which lets you swap out pieces like a camera or speakers and is slated for release in 2017. But Google is already working with hardware companies like LG and Huawei on the Nexus line of phones, which are made to the company's exact design specifications but are manufactured by third parties. It's hard to see how Google could take more control over design or software than it already does with Nexus, and while the company is likely eager to move into the manufacturing space, the timeline for Ara hasn't changed, and it seems unlikely that this new mystery Google phone is going to jump in front and actually become available to the public by year's end.
Amazon Unveils Inspire Online Education Service For Teachers and Schools
Amazon on Monday launched a new site called
Amazon Inspire where K-12 teachers and schools can upload and
access unlimited education and classroom resources such as videos, tests, projects, games, lesson plans with their peers across the country for free of charge. In a statement, the company said, "Our ultimate goal is for every teacher in every single subject to benefit from Amazon Inspire. When they walk into a classroom, we want every teacher to benefit from the collective knowledge, the collective insights and the experience of every single one of their peers." GeekWire reports:
It's the latest in a series of moves by Amazon in the education technology market. The company acquired the TenMarks online math startup in 2014, and separately markets e-books and tablets for teachers and school districts. The company describes the project as an outgrowth of its involvement in the U.S. Department of Education's GoOpen initiative. Amazon also provides technical resources and support for the department's Learning Registry open database.
Google Ponders About a Chromebook Pro
Google is currently surveying people about what a
Chromebook Pro should be like. VentureBeat's report cites two people who recently shared the development on a forum. One user was asked the question, "
How would you think a Chromebook Pro is different than a Chromebook?" whereas the other user was asked, "what a Chromebook Pro should be like in [his/her] opinion and what type of people would want to use it." From the report:
The word "Pro" would imply a high-end laptop running Chrome OS, just like, say, the MacBook Pro or the Surface Pro 4. But there are many other companies -- Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung, among others -- that make Chromebooks, along with Google. It isn't clear from these survey questions if Google is thinking about making a Chromebook Pro itself, just as it has made high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops, or if Google is just wondering how consumers would perceive a Chromebook Pro made by a third party. Meanwhile, Google last month published a job posting entitled "Quality Engineer, Chromebook Pixel," suggesting that a third generation of that device could be on the way.Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. They
outsold Mac for the first time in the United States earlier this year. The majority of the Chromebooks available today, however, pack in entry-level specifications, giving users very limited choice. Though we have seen devices like Chromebook Pixel, a range of high-end Chromebooks could entice even more customers.
Woman Wins $10,000 Lawsuit Against Microsoft Over Windows 10 Upgrades
An anonymous reader shares this story from the Seattle Times:
A few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public last year, Teri Goldstein's computer started trying to download and install the new operating system. The update, which she says she didn't authorize, failed. Instead, the computer she uses to run her Sausalito, California, travel-agency business slowed to a crawl. It would crash, she says, and be unusable for days at a time. "I had never heard of Windows 10," Goldstein said. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update."
When outreach to Microsoft's customer support didn't fix the issue, Goldstein took the software giant to court, seeking compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer. She won. Last month, Microsoft dropped an appeal and Goldstein collected a $10,000 judgment from the company.
Microsoft denies any wrongdoing, and says they only halted their appeal to avoid the cost of further litigation.
New 'Civilization' Game Will Be Sold To Schools As An Educational Tool
An anonymous reader writes:
In the fall of 2017, a special version of Civilization V will be made available for schools to use as an educational tool. "CivilizationEDU will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal/correlative relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development," announced Take-Two Interactive Software.
"We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry's most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further..." said the company's CEO. "I can't think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow's leaders."
Special lesson plans will be created around the game, and as an alternative to standardized tests teachers will have access to a dashboard showing each student's progress. Of course, this begs an important question: Are educational videogames a good idea?
Wisconsin's Prison-Sentencing Algorithm Challenged in Court
"Do you want a computer to help decide a convict's fate?" asks Engadget, telling the story of a Wisconsin convict who "claims that the justice system relied too heavily on its COMPAS algorithm to determine the likelihood of repeat offenses and sentenced him to six years in prison." Sentencing algorithms have apparently been in use for 10 years.
His attorneys claim that the code is "full of holes," including secret criteria and generic decisions that aren't as individually tailored as they have to be. For instance, they'll skew predictions based on your gender or age -- how does that reflect the actual offender...?
[T]he court challenge could force Wisconsin and other states to think about the weight they give to algorithms. While they do hold the promise of both preventing repeat offenses and avoiding excessive sentences for low-threat criminals, the American Civil Liberties Union is worried that they can amplify biases or make mistakes based on imperfect law enforcement data.
The biggest issue seems to be a lack of transparency, which makes it impossible to determine whether convicts actually are receiving fair sentences.
Drivers Prefer Autonomous Cars That Don't Kill Them
"A new study shows that most people prefer that self-driving cars be programmed to save the most people in the event of an accident, even if it kills the driver," reports Information Week. "
Unless they are the drivers." Slashdot reader
MojoKid quotes an article from Hot Hardware about the new study, which was published by Science magazine.
So if there is just one passenger aboard a car, and the lives of 10 pedestrians are at stake, the survey participants were perfectly fine with a self-driving car "killing" its passenger to save many more lives in return. But on the flip side, these same participants said that if they were shopping for a car to purchase or were a passenger, they would prefer to be within a vehicle that would protect their lives by any means necessary. Participants also balked at the notion of the government stepping in to regulate the "morality brain" of self-driving cars.
The article warns about a future where "a harsh AI reality may whittle the worth of our very existence down to simple, unemotional percentages in a computer's brain." MIT's Media Lab is now letting users judge for themselves, in
a free online game called "Moral Machine" simulating the difficult decisions that might someday have to be made by an autonomous self-driving car.
Religious Hacker Defaces 111 Escort Sites
An anonymous reader shares this article from Softpedia:
A religiously-motivated Moroccan hacker has defaced 111 different web sites promoting escort services since last summer as part of an ongoing protest against the industry. "In January, the hacker defaced 79 escort websites," writes Softpedia. "His actions didn't go unnoticed, and on some online forums where escorts and webmasters of these websites met, his name was brought up in discussions and used to drive each other in implementing better Web security. While some webmasters did their job, some didn't. During the past days, the hacker has been busy defacing a new set of escort websites... Most of these websites bare ElSurveillance's defacement message even today... Most of the websites are from the UK."
His newest round of attacks replace the sites with a pro-Palestine message and a quote from the quran, though in January Softpedia reported the attacker was also stealing data from some of the sites about their users' accounts.
Google and Facebook May Be Suppressing 'Extremist' Speech With Copyright Scanners
An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Verge:
The systems that automatically enforce copyright laws on the internet may be expanding to block unfavorable speech. Reuters reports that Facebook, Google, and other companies are exploring automated removal of extremist content, and could be repurposing copyright takedown methods to identify and suppress it. It's unclear where the lines have been drawn, but the systems are likely targeted at radical messages on social networks from enemies of European powers and the United States. Leaders in the US and Europe have increasingly decried radical extremism on the internet and have attempted to enlist internet companies in a fight to suppress it.
Many of those companies have been receptive to the idea and already have procedures to block violent and hateful content. Neither Facebook and Google would confirm automation of these efforts to Reuters, which relied on two anonymous sources who are "familiar with the process"... The secret identification and automated blocking of extremist speech would raise new, serious questions about the cooperation of private corporations with censorious governmental interests.
Reuters calls it "a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites and are under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate, from Syria to Belgium and the United States." They also report that the move follows pressure from an anti-extremism group "founded by, among others, Frances Townsend, who advised former president George W. Bush on homeland security, and Mark Wallace, who was deputy campaign manager for the Bush 2004 re-election campaign."
Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward?
The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down,
to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader
HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article:
You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote.
According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."
Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?
As It Searches For Suspects, The FBI May Be Looking At You
schwit1 quotes the MIT Technology Review:
The FBI has access to nearly 412 million photos in its facial recognition system—perhaps including the one on your driver's license. But according to a new government watchdog report, the bureau doesn't know how error-prone the system is, or whether it enhances or hinders investigations.
Since 2011, the bureau has quietly been using this system to compare new images, such as those taken from surveillance cameras, against a large set of photos to look for a match. That set of existing images is not limited to the FBI's own database, which includes some 30 million photos. The bureau also has access to face recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies in 16 different states, and it can tap into databases from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. And it is in negotiations with 18 other states to be able to search their databases, too...
Adding to the privacy concerns is another finding in the GAO report: that the FBI has not properly determined how often its system makes errors and has not "taken steps to determine whether face recognition systems used by external partners, such as states and federal agencies, are sufficiently accurate" to support investigations.