Artificial Sweeteners Associated With Weight Gain, Heart Problems In Analysis of Data From 37 Studies
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR:
The theory behind artificial sweeteners is simple: If you use them instead of sugar, you get the joy of sweet-tasting beverages and foods without the downer of extra calories, potential weight gain and related health issues. In practice, it's not so simple, as a review of the scientific evidence on non-nutritive sweeteners published Monday shows. After looking at two types of scientific research, the authors conclude that there is no solid evidence that sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose help people manage their weight. And observational data suggest that the people who regularly consume these sweeteners are also more likely to develop future health problems, though those studies can't say those problems are caused by the sweeteners.
The review, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at 37 studies. Seven of them were randomized trials, covering about 1,000 people, and the rest were observational studies that tracked the health and habits of almost 406,000 people over time.
$12 Billion In Private Student Loan Debt May Be Wiped Away By Missing Paperwork
cdreimer shares a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled;
Tens of thousands of people who took out private loans to pay for college but have not been able to keep up payments may get their debts wiped away because critical paperwork is missing. The troubled loans, which total at least $5 billion, are at the center of a protracted legal dispute between the student borrowers and a group of creditors who have aggressively pursued them in court after they fell behind on payments. Judges have already dismissed dozens of lawsuits against former students, essentially wiping out their debt, because documents proving who owns the loans are missing. A review of court records by The New York Times shows that many other collection cases are deeply flawed, with incomplete ownership records and mass-produced documentation. Some of the problems playing out now in the $108 billion private student loan market are reminiscent of those that arose from the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, when billions of dollars in subprime mortgage loans were ruled uncollectable by courts because of missing or fake documentation. And like those troubled mortgages, private student loans -- which come with higher interest rates and fewer consumer protections than federal loans -- are often targeted at the most vulnerable borrowers, like those attending for-profit schools.
At the center of the storm is one of the nation's largest owners of private student loans, the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts. It is struggling to prove in court that it has the legal paperwork showing ownership of its loans, which were originally made by banks and then sold to investors. National Collegiate is an umbrella name for 15 trusts that hold 800,000 private student loans, totaling $12 billion. More than $5 billion of that debt is in default, according to court filings.
Windows 10 Creators Upgrade Cuts Support For Some Intel PCs Early
Windows PCs with Intel's Clover Trail Atom chips
will not upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update, which could wind up being trouble in the future. PCWorld reports:
Owners of some Windows 10 laptops and tablets are crashing into a worrying roadblock when they try to install the Windows 10 Creators Update. Windows Update initially says the notebooks are compatible with the upgrade, but fails to install it after downloading the setup files, instead displaying the following message: "Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC. Uninstall this app now because it isn't compatible with Windows 10." That sounds ominous, but you don't need to uninstall your existing version of Windows 10, and there's no app to uninstall. Instead, the message means your PC's hardware isn't compatible with the Creators Update.
A recent ZDNet article thrust this issue into the spotlight, but Microsoft laid out details about the error in an April forum post. Microsoft won't let affected hardware install the Creators Update because "Icons and/or text throughout the Windows interface may not appear at all, or may appear as solid color blocks on some devices." Can I install the Windows 10 Creators Update? Nope. But you might be able to in the future, according to the April forum post. "Microsoft is working with our partners to provide compatible drivers for these processors. Until then, Windows Update will prevent devices containing one of the processors listed above from installing the Creators Update." [Devices with these Intel "Clover Trail" processors are impacted: Atom Z2760; Atom Z2520; Atom Z2560; Atom Z2580.]
Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Developer Secrets That Could Sink Your Business?
In today's tech world, the developer is king -- and we know it. But if you're letting us reign over your app dev strategy, you might be in for some surprises, thanks to what we aren't saying, writes an anonymous developer in a roundup of developer secrets that could sink the business. "The truth is, we developers aren't always straight with you. We have a few secrets we like to keep for ourselves. The fact that we don't tell you everything is understandable. You're the boss, after all. Do you tell your boss everything? If you're the CEO, do you loop in the board on every decision? So don't be so surprised when we do it." What possible damaging programming dirt are you keeping the lid on? Some of the points the developer mentions in his/her report include: "Your technical debt is a lot bigger than you think," "We're infatuated with our own code," and "We'd rather build than maintain." If you can think of any others not mentioned in the report, we're all ears! This may be a good time to check the "Post Anonymously" box before you submit your comment.
Comcast Says Should Be Able To Create Internet Fast Lanes For Self-Driving Cars
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:
Comcast filed comments in support of the FCC's plan to kill the 2015 net neutrality rules today. And while pretty much everything in them is expected -- Comcast thinks the rules are burdensome and hurt investment, yet it says it generally supports the principles of net neutrality -- there's one telling new quirk that stands out in its phrasing: Comcast now says it's in support of a ban on "anticompetitive paid prioritization," which is really a way of saying paid prioritization should be allowed. "The commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public," Comcast says in its filing. The key qualification is "anticompetitive," which is a term that could be interpreted in a lot of different ways depending on who's defining it.
Comcast doesn't just see paid fast lanes being useful for medicine, however. It also thinks they might be fair to sell to automakers for use in autonomous vehicles. "Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it," the filing says. This makes Comcast's position pretty confusing. Comcast says it opposes prioritizing one website over another. It even suggests the commission adopt a "strong presumption against" agreements that benefit an ISP's own content over competitors' work, but it's not clear how benefiting one car company or telemedicine company over another is any different.
Trademarks Shows Amazon Has Sights On Meal-Kits, 'Single Cow Burgers' and Other Fast Food Options
The latest business Amazon may expand into is the business of meal-kits. According to TechCrunch, Amazon recently filed a trademark (serial number 87517760) for "We do the prep. You be the chef," which
relates to a meal-kit service similar to the kind offered by Blue Apron and others. From the report:
Amazon describes the service simply: "Prepared food kits composed of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or and vegetables and also including sauces or seasonings, ready for cooking and assembly as a meal; Frozen, prepared, and packaged meals consisting of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or vegetables; fruit salads and vegetable salads; soups and preparations for making soups." It turns out that, in fact, company in the last seven months had registered at least two other trademarks for slightly shorter versions of the same meal kit concept. Respectively, serial numbers 87418923 and 87256976 for "We prep. You cook" and "No-line meal kits," also relate to food-kit services along with marketing related to them. Amazon also has been quietly developing its own lines of pre-made food aimed at people searching for more quality ingredients. The company has, for example, around 10 trademarks filed related to the phrase "single cow burger."
Man Blames Tesla Autopilot System For Rollover Crash, Then Recants
According to AutoGuide, the driver of a Tesla is
blaming the Autopilot system for a recent crash in Minnesota. "58-year old David Clark was approaching an intersection when he turned the Autopilot system on, causing the car to accelerate suddenly and veer off the road," reports AutoGuide. "The vehicle ended up on its roof in a marsh with all five occupants sustaining minor injuries." From the report:
Tesla's Autopilot function is considered an SAE Level 2 autonomous system, meaning the car will accelerate and steer on its own, but the driver is expected to remain alert and intervene if necessary. In an emailed statement to Electrek, Tesla said it has yet to establish whether or not the Autopilot function was actually turned on at the time of the accident. The company also noted it is still the driver's responsibility to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle when Autopilot is engaged. AutoGuide's report was based off the information Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office received and reported. Now, it appears the Tesla driver is claiming the self-driving Autopilot system wasn't responsible for the crash, despite what he initially told investigators.
According to ABC News, Clark said he was confused in the moments after the crash. After discussing the crash with his fellow passengers, he now believes that he disengaged Autopilot by stepping on the accelerator before the crash. "I then remember looking up and seeing the sharp left turn which I was accelerating into. I believe we started to make the turn but then felt the car give way and lose its footing like we hit loose gravel," Clark wrote in the email.
US To Create the Independent US Cyber Command, Split Off From NSA
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PBS:
After months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp the nation's military command for defensive and offensive cyber operations in hopes of intensifying America's ability to wage cyberwar against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S. officials. Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National Security Agency. The goal, they said, is to give U.S. Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that stem from working alongside the NSA, which is responsible for monitoring and collecting telephone, internet and other intelligence data from around the world -- a responsibility that can sometimes clash with military operations against enemy forces. Making cyber an independent military command will put the fight in digital space on the same footing as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea and in space. The move reflects the escalating threat of cyberattacks and intrusions from other nation states, terrorist groups and hackers, and comes as the U.S. faces ever-widening fears about Russian hacking following Moscow's efforts to meddle in the 2016 American election.
Hacker Allegedly Steals $7.4 Million In Ethereum After Hijacking ICO
An anonymous reader writes:
An unknown hacker allegedly took over the website of an ethereum startup called Coindash, directing investors to send money to his or her own ethereum digital wallet, instead of the one controlled by Coindash. While Coindash noticed the hack almost immediately, the damage was done, and the hacker amassed more than $7 million in stolen cryptocurrency.
Here's Elon Musk's Plan To Power the US on Solar Energy
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from Musk's keynote speech:
Tesla CEO Elon Musk -- whose company makes electric cars and has a new solar roof panel division -- reminded more than 30 state governors at the National Governors Association meeting this weekend exactly how much real-estate is needed to make sure America can run totally on solar energy. "If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States," Musk said during his keynote conversation on Saturday at the event in Rhode Island. "The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile." It's "a little square on the U.S. map, and then there's a little pixel inside there, and that's the size of the battery park that you need to support that. Real tiny."
US Appeals Court Upholds Nondisclosure Rules For Surveillance Orders
An anonymous reader shares a report:
A U.S. federal appeals court on Monday upheld nondisclosure rules that allow the FBI to secretly issue surveillance orders for customer data to communications firms, a ruling that dealt a blow to privacy advocates. A unanimous three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sided with a lower court ruling in finding that rules permitting the FBI to send national security letters under gag orders are appropriate and do not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's free speech protections. Content distribution firm CloudFlare and phone network operator CREDO Mobile had sued the government in order to notify customers of five national security letters received between 2011 and 2013.
Porn Websites in UK Ordered To Introduce Age Checks From Next Year
dryriver shares an article:
A nine-month countdown to the introduction of compulsory age checks on online pornography seen from the UK has begun. The April 2018 goal to protect under-18s was revealed as digital minister Matt Hancock signed the commencement order for the Digital Economy Act, which introduces the requirement. But details as to how the scheme will work have yet to be finalised. Experts who advised ministers said the targeted date seemed "unrealistic". The act also sets out other new laws including punishing the use of bots to snatch up scores of concert tickets, and mandating the provision of subtitles on catch-up TV. The age-check requirement applies to any website or other online platform that provides pornography "on a commercial basis" to people in the UK. It allows a regulator to fine any business that refuses to comply and to ask third-party payment services to withdraw support. The watchdog will also be able to force internet providers to block access to non-compliant services.
It's Trivially Easy to Hack into Anybody's Myspace Account
If you are one of the almost half a billion people who at some point used to be on Myspace, the hottest social network of the early 2000s, you should know that almost anyone can hack into your account. From a report:
Myspace offers a mechanism to recover an account for people who have lost access to their old associated email address. A security researcher has discovered that it's relatively easy to abuse this mechanism to hack into anyone's account. All a wannabe hacker needs is the target's full name, username, and date of birth. Security researcher Leigh-Anne Galloway disclosed the vulnerability on Monday. She says she informed Myspace about the vulnerability almost three months ago and the site hasn't acknowledged or fixed it.
Chipmakers Nvidia, AMD Ride Cryptocurrency Wave -- For Now
During California's Gold Rush, it was often the sellers of pickaxes and shovels who made the most money. In the frenzy to get rich quick from cryptocurrencies,
some investors are calling computer chipmakers the modern-day equivalent. From a report:
Shares of Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices have gained at least 14 percent since the beginning of June, spurred in part by about a 10-fold boom from April to June in a market, known as ethereum, for a currency that can be used to buy computing power over the internet. What's the link between ethereum and these Silicon Valley chipmakers? It lies in the really powerful graphics processors, designed to make computer games more realistic, that are also needed to gain access to encrypted digital currencies. Nvidia and AMD have rallied in the last month and a half even as investors have ignored chip stocks leaving the benchmark Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index up about 1 percent. Nvidia has gained 14 percent and AMD rallied 27 percent. While some of that has come from optimism around new products for other markets, analysts are projecting that sales related to cryptocurrencies will result in a spike in revenue for both companies. Even so, investors shouldn't bank on a lasting impact from the cryptocurrency boom, said Stacy Rasgon, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "This has happened before," Rasgon said. "It lasted about a quarter." [...] Like bitcoin, ethereum is an attempt by an online community to create an economy that doesn't rely on government-backed currencies. Unlike bitcoin, it's focused solely on offering decentralized computing and storage services. Those seeking to use these services -- and speculators looking for a quick profit by creating and then selling ether -- have seized on graphics cards, which excel at performing multiple simple calculations in parallel, as a faster way to claim the blocks of code that act as the currency of the ethereum market. Demand from ethereum miners has created temporary shortages of some of the graphics cards, according to analysts, who cite sold-out products at online retailers. Estimates of additional sales from this demand run as high as $875 million, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mitch Steves. That would roughly equal AMD's total sales from graphics chips last year, or half of Nvidia's quarterly sales of those components. But Steves and other analysts are also quick to warn that the market opportunity could fizzle out.
'Windows 10 Is Failing Us'
While Windows 10 is arguably successful from a market share perspective, it is still failing in one big way -- the user experience. Windows 8.x was an absolute disaster, and Microsoft's latest is certainly better than that, but it is still not an enjoyable experience. Before the company tries to add new features (and misses deadlines) like Timeline and Cloud Clipboard, it should focus more on improving the existing user experience. Right now it is failing us and things are not getting better. Even the third-party solutions that aim to turn this spying off aren't 100-percent successful. Unless you unplug from the internet entirely, you can't stop Windows from phoning home to Microsoft. This is a shame, as some consumers are being made to feel violated when using their own computer. Another issue that I can't believe hasn't been resolved is having two locations for system settings. Seriously, Microsoft? We still have "Settings" and "Control Panel" Live Tiles are still worthless, and it is time for Microsoft to kill them. Nobody opens an app launcher and stares at the icons for information. It is distracting and pointless. If I want the weather, I'll open a weather app and see it -- not stare at the icon for the information. It sort of made sense in the Windows 8.x era since you were presented with a full screen of app icons more often, but with a more traditional start-button design in Windows 10, it is time to retire it. Another example: Microsoft doesn't force you to use Edge and Bing entirely, but it still does force you. Cortana is a hot mess, but if you opt to use her, she will only open things in Edge. Searches are Bing-only. In other words, the virtual assistant ignores your default browser settings. Why? Not for the user's benefit. Sadly, the Windows Store is a garbage dump -- many of the "legit" apps are total trash.
Atari Is Back In the Hardware Business, Unveils Ataribox
Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed the company was working on a brand new console back in June this year at E3, but today the company has officially unveiled the product. The new Ataribox console draws on some of the classic styling of the original Atari 2600 console but with a modernized flare, though still sporting that tasty wood grain front panel. Atari is also looking to make the Ataribox a bit more user-friendly and expandable than its Nintendo rivals through the addition of an SD card slot and four USB ports (in addition the requisite HDMI port). The new console will be based on PC component technologies but will be available with a number of classic games to let you bask in the early days of console gaming. However, Atari will also be bringing what is being billed as "current content" to the console as well. So, we can expect to see brand new licensed games for the Ataribox, although it's hard to say, given just its size to go on, what sort of horsepower is lurking under the Ataribox's hood. "We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, pricing, timing," said Atari in a statement sent via email. "We're not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we've opted to share things step by step as we bring this to life, and to listen closely to the Atari community feedback as we do so."
Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC) for Windows Pushes What Could Be Its Last Update
Popular open-source media player for Windows, Media Player Classic Home Cinema -- or MPC-HC, has issued what it says could be the last update the app ever receives. The team writes:
v1.7.13, the latest, and probably the last release of our project... For quite a few months now, or even years, the number of active developers has been decreasing and has inevitably reached zero. This, unfortunately, means that the project is officially dead and this release would be the last one. ... Unless some people step up that is. So, if someone's willing to really contribute and has C/C++ experience, let me know on IRC or via e-mail. Otherwise, all things come to an end and life goes on. It's been a nice journey and I'm personally pretty overwhelmed having to write this post.
HTC Keyboard Ads Likely an Error, But Damage is Already Done
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Ads in the stock keyboard app on a flagship smartphone added quietly via an app update, which then asks you to pay to remove them. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a more comically villainous thing for a phone manufacturer, or app developer, to pull on its users. Yet that's what's been happening to some HTC phone owners over the past day. HTC 10 owners seem to be worst affected (we're not seeing it on the newer U11 for what it's worth), with the ad bar taking up a good chunk of screen real estate. There's understandable outrage among HTC owners whose phones have started coughing up ads every time they open the keyboard. The consensus, obviously, is that this is not an OK place for ads to be appearing. In a statement, HTC said it was an error, and a fix is underway.
Amazon May Unveil Its Own Messaging App
The messaging app field is as hot as ever with Apple, Facebook and Google (among others) slugging it out... and Amazon appears to want in on the action. From a report:
AFTVnews claims to have customer survey info revealing that Amazon is working on Anytime, a messaging app for Android, iOS and the desktop that promises a few twists on the usual formula. It has mainstays like message encryption, video, voice and (of course) stickers, but it reportedly has a few hooks that would make it easy to sign up and participate in group chats. You would only need a name to reach out to someone, for one thing -- no WhatsApp-style dependence on phone numbers here. You only have to use Twitter-style @ mentions to bring people into conversations or share photos, and you can color-code chats to identify the most important ones. Naturally, there are app-like functions (such as group music listening and food ordering) and promises of chatting with businesses for shopping or customer service.
American ISPS Are Now Fighting State Broadband Privacy Proposals
The EFF complains that "the very companies who spent millions of dollars lobbying in D.C. to repeal our federal broadband privacy rights are now
fighting state attempts to protect consumers because they supposedly prefer a federal rule." The EFF urges Californians to
phone their state senator ahead of a crucial back-to-back committee hearings on Tuesday. An anonymous reader writes:
"Congress stole your online privacy. Let's seize it back," begins an email that the EFF is sending to California supporters. It warns that "Big Telecom has massive amounts of money to spend on an army of lobbyists. But if Internet users from across California unite with one voice, we can defeat their misinformation campaign... Don't let the big ISPs coopt our privacy."
The EFF's site points out that more than 83% of Americans support the privacy regulations which were repealed in March by the U.S. Congress, according to a new poll released last week. That's even more than the 77% of Americans who support keeping current net neutrality protections in place, according to the same poll. The EFF now hopes that California's newly-proposed legislation could become a model for privacy-protecting laws in other states. And back in Silicon Valley, the San Jose Mercury News writes that California "has an obligation to take a lead in establishing the basic privacy rights of consumers using the Internet. Beyond being the right thing to do for the whole country, building trust in tech products is an essential long-term business strategy for the industry that was born in this region."
The EFF has also compiled an interesting list of past instances where ISPs have already
tried to exploit the personal information of their customers for profit.
New Interactive Basic Electronics Textbook Launched Online
Long-time Slashdot reader
The group that first brought schematics and circuit simulation to the browser has now released the first few chapters of Ultimate Electronics: Practical Circuit Design and Analysis, an interactive online textbook for people learning electronics. The materials released today cover about half of a first semester undergraduate electronics course.
Ask Slashdot: What Are The Lesser-Known Roles Of The IT Department?
On the same day that I was hired into a new IT position, my new employer also bought a pair of $1,500 conference phones from a third-party vendor, which turned out to be defective; I've spent a chunk of the last two weeks arguing with the vendor. During the process I've learned that, as the IT guy, I'm also the antibody of the corporation and my job is to prevent not just malware and viruses but also junk hardware from entering my business's system. As a software engineer who is new to the IT side of things, I have to ask, what else have you learned about IT?
What fresh hell has this software engineer gotten themselves into? Leave your best answers in the comments. What are the lesser-known roles of the IT department?
George A. Romero, Martin Landau Both Died This Weekend
This weekend the world lost two familiar faces from the world of fantasy, horror and science fiction films -- director George A. Romero and actor Martin Landau. An anonymous reader writes:
Bronx-born director Romero started his career with a segment for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood about tonsilectomies, but is best remembered for his influential zombie movies Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), and Land of the Dead (2005), as well as the 1982 horror film Creepshow (written by Stephen King). In 1998 Romero also directed a zombie-themed ad for Resident Evil 2, and later even wrote a rejected script for the first Resident Evil movie. In 2004 Romero began work on a zombie video game City of the Dead, which was ultimately never finished. Romero appears as himself in the zombie section of Call of Duty: Black Ops, and in 2014 Marvel comics launched Empire of the Dead, a 15-issue title written by Romero.
Martin Landau began his career playing a gunfighter in the third episode of The Twilight Zone, and a time-travelling astronaut in the sixth episode of The Outer Limits. Soon he was starring as master of disguise Rollin Hand on Mission: Impossible -- which ran from 1966 to 1973 -- and on Space: 1999, which ran from 1975 to 1977. At the age of 66 Landau finally won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1994 film Ed Wood. In 2012 Landau also provided the voice of the science teacher in Burton's Frankenweenie, and had an uncredited role in the director's 1999 movie Sleepy Hollow as one of the early victims of the headless horseman. Landau was also in the 1998 X-Files movie (playing the doctor who tips off Mulder that there's something suspicious in the morgue).
schwit1 remembers that Landau began his career playing a sadistic henchman in Alfred Hitchcock's
North by Northwest (who appears
in the climactic final scene on Mt. Rushmore) -- and that Landau famously
turned down the role of Mr. Spock on