the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Japan's Hayabusa 2 Successfully Touches Down On Ryugu Asteroid, Fires Bullet Into Its Surface

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Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the asteroid Ryugu at around 11:30 GMT on Thursday. "Data from the probe showed changes in speed and direction, indicating it had reached the asteroid's surface, according to officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)," reports The Guardian. From the report: The probe was due to fire a bullet at the Ryugu asteroid, to stir up surface matter, which it will then collect for analysis back on Earth. The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born. The complicated procedure took less time than expected and appeared to go without a hitch, said Hayabusa 2 mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa. The spacecraft is seeking to gather 10g of the dislodged debris with an instrument named the Sampler Horn that hangs from its underbelly. Whatever material is collected by the spacecraft will be stored onboard until Hayabusa 2 reaches its landing site in Woomera, South Australia, in 2020 after a journey of more than three billion miles. UPDATE: JAXA says it successfully fired a "bullet" into Ryugu, collecting the disturbed material. "JAXA scientists had expected to find a powdery surface on Ryugu, but tests showed that the asteroid is covered in larger gravel," reports CNN. "As a result the team had to carry out a simulation to test whether the projectile would be capable of disturbing enough material to be collected by [the Sampler Horn]. The team is planning a total of three sampling events over the next few weeks."

Researchers Make Coldest Quantum Gas of Molecules

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: JILA researchers have made a long-lived, record-cold gas of molecules that follow the wave patterns of quantum mechanics instead of the strictly particle nature of ordinary classical physics. The creation of this gas boosts the odds for advances in fields such as designer chemistry and quantum computing. As featured on the cover of the Feb. 22 issue of Science, the team produced a gas of potassium-rubidium (KRb) molecules at temperatures as low as 50 nanokelvin (nK). That's 50 billionths of a Kelvin, or just a smidge above absolute zero, the lowest theoretically possible temperature. The molecules are in the lowest-possible energy states, making up what is known as a degenerate Fermi gas.

In a quantum gas, all of the molecules' properties are restricted to specific values, or quantized, like rungs on a ladder or notes on a musical scale. Chilling the gas to the lowest temperatures gives researchers maximum control over the molecules. The two atoms involved are in different classes: Potassium is a fermion (with an odd number of subatomic components called protons and neutrons) and rubidium is a boson (with an even number of subatomic components). The resulting molecules have a Fermi character. Before now, the coldest two-atom molecules were produced in maximum numbers of tens of thousands and at temperatures no lower than a few hundred nanoKelvin. JILA's latest gas temperature record is much lower than (about one-third of) the level where quantum effects start to take over from classical effects, and the molecules last for a few seconds -- remarkable longevity.
These new ultra-low temperatures will enable researchers to compare chemical reactions in quantum versus classical environments and study how electric fields affect the polar interactions, since these newly created molecules have a positive electric charge at the rubidium atom and a negative charge at the potassium atom. Some practical benefits could include new chemical processes, new methods for quantum computing using charged molecules as quantum bits, and new precision measurement tools such as molecular clocks.

Frontier Demands $4,300 Cancellation Fee Despite Horribly Slow Internet

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Frontier Communications reportedly charged a cancellation fee of $4,302.17 to the operator of a one-person business in Wisconsin, even though she switched to a different Internet provider because Frontier's service was frequently unusable. From the report: Candace Lestina runs the Pardeeville Area Shopper, a weekly newspaper and family business that she took over when her mother retired. Before retiring, her mother had entered a three-year contract with Frontier to provide Internet service to the one-room office on North Main Street in Pardeeville. Six months into the contract, Candace Lestina decided to switch to the newly available Charter offering "for better service and a cheaper bill," according to a story yesterday by News 3 Now in Wisconsin. The Frontier Internet service "was dropping all the time," Lestina told the news station. This was a big problem for Lestina, who runs the paper on her own in Pardeeville, a town of about 2,000 people. "I actually am everything. I make the paper, I distribute the paper," she said. Because of Frontier's bad service, "I would have times where I need to send my paper -- I have very strict deadlines with my printer -- and my Internet's out."

Lestina figured she'd have to pay a cancellation fee when she switched to Charter's faster cable Internet but nothing near the $4,300 that Frontier later sent her a bill for, the News 3 Now report said. Charter offered to pay $500 toward the early termination penalty, but the fee is still so large that it could "put her out of business," the news report said. [...] Lestina said the early termination fee wasn't fully spelled out in her contract. "Nothing is ever described of what those cancellation fees actually are, which is that you will pay your entire bill for the rest of the contract," she said. Lestina said she pleaded her case to Frontier representatives, without success, even though Frontier had failed to provide a consistent Internet connection. "They did not really care that I was having such severe problems with the service. That does not bother them," she said. Instead of waiving or reducing the cancellation fee, Frontier threatened to send the matter to a collections agency, Lestina said.


By jpaine619 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Failure to deliver a useable service should render the contract null & void. Contracts must be equitable.. I get something (internet) and you get something (money).. They don't have to be fair, but they MUST be equitable.

An unenforcable "penalty clause"?

By james_gnz • Score: 3 • Thread
In many jurisdictions based on common law, this would be unenforceable on the basis that it is a "penalty clause"--a contractual clause seeking "damages" out of all proportion to any actual damages. This may be worth looking into.

Read the contract

By hawguy • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I once got an ISP to wave the early termination penalty by threatening to force them to invoke the "misuse of services" cancellation. The contract was poorly written and only had an early termination penalty (in the amount of all payments due for the remainder of the multiyear contract) in the event that I cancelled, the only penalty for misuse was "immediate termination of services". Our own legal counsel agreed -- if they terminated our service, we didn't have to pay.

So I called my sales rep to cancel and he said we' d have to pay the early termination penalty. So I told him that we had a client who was ready to use the connection to send spam (which was one of the activities they prohibited), and of course the sales rep said that they'd have to terminate our service and we'd still have to pay the penalty. So I asked him to run it past his own legal department and get back to me - this ISP already had an issue with their customers sending spam.

They let us terminate early without penalty. I never did service with that vendor again, so I don't know if they updated their contracts. They are long gone now, having been acquired (and that company acquired too).

Object Lesson

By AlanObject • Score: 3 • Thread

Internet, meet capitalism.

Capitalism, meet internet.

What did you expect, Libertarian paradise?

Re: Contract

By dryeo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Except there was no monopoly as she switched providers before canceling. And I addressed the inherited piece later in my post with parentheses and everything.

Summary says,

Six months into the contract, Candace Lestina decided to switch to the newly available Charter offering "for better service and a cheaper bill,"

Note the words "newly available"

NVIDIA Turing-Based GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Launched At $279

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MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has launched yet another graphics card today based on the company's new Turing GPU. This latest GPU, however, doesn't support NVIDIA's RTX ray-tracing technology or its DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) image quality tech. The new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti does, however, bring with it all of the other GPU architecture improvements NVIDIA Turing offers. The new TU116 GPU on board the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti supports concurrent integer and floating point instructions (rather than serializing integer and FP instructions), and it also has a redesigned cache structure with double the amount of L2 cache versus their predecessors, while its L1 cache has been outfitted with a wider memory bus that ultimately doubles the bandwidth. NVIDIA's TU116 has 1,536 active CUDA cores, which is a decent uptick from the GTX 1060, but less than the current gen RTX 2060. Cards will also come equipped with 6GB of GDDR6 memory at 12 Gbps for 288GB/s of bandwidth. Performance-wise, the new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is typically slightly faster than a previous gen GeFore GTX 1070, and much faster than a GTX 1060. Cards should be available at retail in the next few days, starting at $279.

Re:Aaaaannd they gimped it with 6gb of ram

By gravewax • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
I dislike Nvidia, But if you are after a high end gaming card now for mid range prices that is going to still be good for high end in 4-5 years NO ONE is making cards for you.

Microsoft Workers' Letter Demands Company Drop $479 Million HoloLens Military Contract

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A group of Microsoft workers have addressed top executives in a letter demanding the company drop a controversial contract with the U.S. army. The Verge reports: The workers object to the company taking a $479 million contract last year to supply tech for the military's Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS. Under the project, Microsoft, the maker of the HoloLens augmented reality headset, could eventually provide more than 100,000 headsets designed for combat and training in the military. The Army has described the project as a way to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy." "We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country's government 'increase lethality' using tools we built," the workers write in the letter, addressed to CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith. "We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used."

The letter, which organizers say included dozens of employee signatures at publication time, argues Microsoft has "crossed the line into weapons development" with the contract. "Intent to harm is not an acceptable use of our technology," it reads. The workers are demanding the company cancel the contract, stop developing any weapons technology, create a public policy committing to not build weapons technology, and appoint an external ethics review board to enforce the policy. While the letter notes the company has an AI ethics review process called Aether, the workers say it is "not robust enough to prevent weapons development, as the IVAS contract demonstrates." "As employees and shareholders we do not want to become war profiteers," the letter sent today concludes. "To that end, we believe that Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the U.S. Army's ability to cause harm and violence."

Re:Good on them!

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Most highly intelligent people will be anti war.

I believe that most highly intelligent people understand that conflict is an inescapable human trait, and no amount of feel-good rhetoric is going to change the fact that there are people in power out there who simply don't give a damn about human life if it stands in the way of their goals, or if taking it will further those goals. If you've got a means of dealing with such people that doesn't involve force, you've got a Nobel Peace Prize waiting for you. "We can use sanctions!" Sure, but how do you go about enforcing those? I mean, it's worked so well for North Korea, right?

It's admirable to be against war and killing, and it'd be great not to need that, but as long as there are those that will kill with impunity, there will be a need to play on their level.

Must be nice to live in a bubble...

By ToTheStars • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Quoth George Orwell: "Those who “abjure” violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."

Re:Good on them!

By I75BJC • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Like Albert Einstein? He was really, really smart and he personally petitioned POTUS FDRoosevelt to build the Atomic Bomb in order to match Nazi research and development of their own Atomic Bomb. The USA did develop the Atomic Bomb and very intelligent people did the work. What an inaccurate statement.


By Terry Carlino • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Killing people is almost never a military objective. It is a consequence of enemy forces trying to prevent you from achieving you military objective.

No military in the history of the world has done as much to prevent collateral damage (i.e. the killing of innocent bystanders) as the U.S. military. That is just a fact.

Do innocent bystanders sometimes die? Yes, but it's not for want of trying to ensure they are not.

It's also true that war is a political decision. If you don't like the political decisions being made become more involved in politics. Conversely you don't always control when an adversary pushes you into war.

You can disagree about U.S. involvement in Iraq, but you shouldn't pretend Iraq wasn't killing U.S. citizens and supporting terrorism. (And no not being involved in 9/11 doesn't mean Iraq wasn't supporting terrorism. Certainly the Kurds are not unhappy that the U.S. became involved in Iraq.)

I want U.S. soldiers to have the very best equipment available. Because they are real people who I don't want to die because someone who lives under the protective umbrella they provide is living in a fantasy which maintains that disarming the U.S. will make things safer.

Virtual training can reduce civilian casualties an

By clay_buster • Score: 3 • Thread
They clowns are arguing against better training? Better training means fewer casualties and higher survival rates for friendly troops.

Instagram Code Reveals Public 'Collections' Feature To Take On Pinterest

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Instagram is threatening to attack Pinterest just as it files to go public the same way the Facebook-owned app did to Snapchat. Code buried in Instagram for Android shows the company has prototyped an option to create public "Collections" to which multiple users can contribute. Instagram launched private Collections two years ago to let you Save and organize your favorite feed posts. But by allowing users to make Collections public, Instagram would become a direct competitor to Pinterest. Instagram public Collections could spark a new medium of content curation. People could use the feature to bundle together their favorite memes, travel destinations, fashion items, or art. That could cut down on unconsented content stealing that's caused backlash against meme "curators" like F*ckJerry by giving an alternative to screenshotting and reposting other people's stuff. Instead of just representing yourself with your own content, you could express your identity through the things you love -- even if you didn't photograph them yourself.

The "Make Collection Public" option was discovered by frequent TechCrunch tipster and reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong. It's not available to the public, but from the Instagram for Android code, she was able to generate a screenshot of the prototype. It shows the ability to toggle on public visibility for a Collection, and tag contributors who can also add to the Collection. Previously, Collections was always a private, solo feature for organizing your bookmarks gathered through the Instagaram Save feature Instagram launched in late 2016. Currently there's nothing in the Instagram code about users being able to follow each other's Collections, but that would seem like a logical and powerful next step.

Once Hailed As Unhackable, Blockchains Are Now Getting Hacked

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schwit1 shares a report from MIT Technology Review: Early last month, the security team at Coinbase noticed something strange going on in Ethereum Classic, one of the cryptocurrencies people can buy and sell using Coinbase's popular exchange platform. Its blockchain, the history of all its transactions, was under attack. An attacker had somehow gained control of more than half of the network's computing power and was using it to rewrite the transaction history. That made it possible to spend the same cryptocurrency more than once -- known as "double spends." The attacker was spotted pulling this off to the tune of $1.1 million. Coinbase claims that no currency was actually stolen from any of its accounts. But a second popular exchange,, has admitted it wasn't so lucky, losing around $200,000 to the attacker (who, strangely, returned half of it days later).

Just a year ago, this nightmare scenario was mostly theoretical. But the so-called 51% attack against Ethereum Classic was just the latest in a series of recent attacks on blockchains that have heightened the stakes for the nascent industry. [...] In short, while blockchain technology has been long touted for its security, under certain conditions it can be quite vulnerable. Sometimes shoddy execution can be blamed, or unintentional software bugs. Other times it's more of a gray area -- the complicated result of interactions between the code, the economics of the blockchain, and human greed. That's been known in theory since the technology's beginning. Now that so many blockchains are out in the world, we are learning what it actually means -- often the hard way.

Fake news

By jwymanm • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
First off, 51% is an attack not a hack. Second, exchanges have ways to adjust minimum transaction confirmations to almost eliminate any threat from such attacks. A lot of wallets for PoS and other coins have added algorithms and checkpoints to practically eliminate most of the 51% attack vectors also. It's still an ongoing threat but if the coin still matters the ecosystem responds and shuts most attacks down pretty swiftly and with minimal to no loss.


By Dallas May • Score: 3 • Thread

When you put billions in wealth out in the open for the world to see, and then encourage and reward every evil doer in the world to use it for their evil things, the evil doers will figure out ways to do evil.

long known

By gravewax • Score: 4 • Thread
Mostly theoretical lol, no it fucking wasn't. It was a well known vulnerability that hadn't been extensively exploited yet. that is not "theoretical", their was no doubt about the vulnerability or that it has been used many times.

1.1 million isn't what I'd call minimal

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I suppose it depends on how evenly distributed it was, but still.

Also, a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. Maybe I'm misunderstanding but it sounds like you're counting on the exchanges for security. Given how quickly they spin up that seems like a recipe for disaster.

YouTube Is Heading For Its Cambridge Analytica Moment

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Earlier this week, Disney, Nestle and others pulled its advertising spending from YouTube after a blogger detailed how comments on Google's video site were being used to facilitate a "soft-core pedophilia ring." Some of the videos involved ran next to ads placed by Disney and Nestle. With the company facing similar problems over the years, often being "caught in a game of whack-a-mole to fix them," Matt Rosoff from CNBC writes that it's only a matter of time until YouTube faces a scandal that actually alienates users, as happened with Facebook in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. From the report: To be fair, YouTube has taken concrete steps to fix some problems. A couple of years ago, major news events were targets for scammers to post misleading videos about them, like videos claiming shootings such as the one in Parkland, Florida, were staged by crisis actors. In January, the company said it would stop recommending such videos, effectively burying them. It also favors "authoritative" sources in search results around major news events, like mainstream media organizations. And YouTube is not alone in struggling to fight inappropriate content that users upload to its platform. The problem isn't really about YouTube, Facebook or any single company. The problem is the entire business model around user-generated content, and the whack-a-mole game of trying to stay one step ahead of people who abuse it.

[T]ech platforms that rely on user-generated content are protected by the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which says platform providers cannot be held liable for material users post on them. It made sense at the time -- the internet was young, and forcing start-ups to monitor their comments sections (remember comments sections?) would have exploded their expenses and stopped growth before it started. Even now, when some of these companies are worth hundreds of billions of dollars, holding them liable for user-generated content would blow up these companies' business models. They'd disappear, reduce services or have to charge fees for them. Voters might not be happy if Facebook went out of business or they suddenly had to start paying $20 a month to use YouTube. Similarly, advertiser boycotts tend to be short-lived -- advertisers go where they get the best return on their investment, and as long as billions of people keep watching YouTube videos, they'll keep advertising on the platform. So the only way things will change is if users get turned off so badly that they tune out.
Following Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, people deleted their accounts, Facebook's growth largely stalled in the U.S., and more young users have abandoned the platform. "YouTube has so far skated free of any similar scandals. But people are paying closer attention than ever before, and it's only a matter of time before the big scandal that actually starts driving users away," writes Rosoff.


By Kyr Arvin • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

IMDB removed their comments sections entirely rather than police them.

Youtube's comments are more integral to the service, but if Youtube is going to be have to do more about them then respond to user complaints, they might find it easier to just shut that crap down preemptively.

This is just silly

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
YouTube isn't a social network. The controversy, such as it is, doesn't have anything to do with privacy. Also YouTube hasn't done anything dodgy or illegal, they've just responded poorly to a very minor bit of bad publicity.

This'll blow over, some full time YouTubers will sadly lose out (and we'll lose out on some good content) and YouTube will go on.

The CA thing was a mess because not only was there privacy concerns but there was the stink of corrupt American politics all over it.

How I would fix YouTube

By MikeRT • Score: 3 • Thread

1. Fire all of the SJWs who continue to lose their shit that there are still Nazis howling from the virtual street corner. In 2019, anyone obsessed with Nazis should be assumed to either be a closet Nazi or sexually fetishizing them; either of which is moral turpitude for employment purposes as far as I'm concerned.

2. Abolish the whole ad system in favor of an ad marketplace that takes all of the ML engineers off of hunting Nazis and focusing on finding quality content creators to line up with big name advertisers who must then sign a digital contract saying "yes, we reviewed this and yes we accept full responsibility for all harm YouTube and other producers suffer if we pull out because this producer does some shit that offends us rather than just severing ties with them."

3. Give every non-premium creator a disk space quota.

4. Impose the video game rating system on content with severe penalties for any obvious attempt to evade it.

5. Create a credit system with no transaction fees that encourages people to pay for content. I would go as far as allowing people to offer up a single penny with payments happening every 90 days once a producer has made at least $5.

Re:"soft-core pedophilia ring."

By ffkom • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Do you realize this is about completely mundane videos of children in everyday activities, with the only thing related to "pedophilia" being the claim that it was pedophiles who left idiotic comments that suggest parts of these videos were somehow arousing sexual feelings?

While theoretically, extremely stupid pedophiles might actually have been the authors of those comments, it seems just as likely that trolls seeking attention for either fun or publicity or money wrote those comments themselves to then base a "scandal" on them.


By Jeremi • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Potential solution: allow people to submit comments, but the comments donâ(TM)t become publicly visible unless/until the videoâ(TM)s owner approves them.

(Yes, this would drastically reduce both the number of comments and the incentive to comment. I think that would be a good thing)

Apple To Close Retail Stores In the Patent Troll-Favored Eastern District of Texas

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Apple has confirmed its plans to close retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas -- a move that will allow the company to better protect itself from patent infringement lawsuits, according to Apple news sites 9to5Mac and MacRumors which broke the news of the stores' closures. Apple says that the impacted retail employees will be offered new jobs with the company as a result of these changes. The company will shut down its Apple Willow Bend store in Plano, Texas as well as its Apple Stonebriar store in Frisco, Texas, MacRumors reported, and Apple confirmed. These stores will permanently close up shop on Friday, April 12. Customers in the region will instead be served by a new Apple store located at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall, which is expected to open April 13. "The Eastern District of Texas had become a popular place for patent trolls to file their lawsuits, though a more recent Supreme Court ruling has attempted to crack down on the practice," the report adds. "The court ruled that patent holders could no longer choose where to file." One of the most infamous patent holding firms is VirnetX, which has won several big patent cases against Apple in recent years.

A spokesperson for Apple confirmed the stores' closures, but wouldn't comment on the company's reasoning: "We're making a major investment in our stores in Texas, including significant upgrades to NorthPark Center, Southlake and Knox Street. With a new Dallas store coming to the Dallas Galleria this April, we've made the decision to consolidate stores and close Apple Stonebriar and Apple Willow Bend. All employees from those stores will be offered positions at the new Dallas store or other Apple locations."

The Eastern District of Texas

By oldgraybeard • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
where the judges and local lawyers (extended family based corruption) are running a buy your court ruling scam for patent trolls.

Anything coming out of the Eastern District of Texas related to patents should be viewed with suspicion.

Just my 2 cents ;)

*cough* TC Heartland SCOTUS Case *cough*

By AnalogDiehard • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The SCOTUS case TC Heartland vs Kraft of 2017 ruled that patent litigants can no longer "forum shop" for jurisdictions that are friendly to their case, they can only file patent infringement cases in jurisdictions where the defendant has a physical presence. This ruling was aimed squarely at non-practicing entities (the polite term for "patent trolls") who almost unilaterally selected East Texas district or Delaware to file their infringement cases.

Apple won't admit it, but the closure of the stores in the East Texas district was a strategic legal move to exploit the SCOTUS precedent and shield themselves from the patent courts that are all too well known to rule in favor for patent litigants - and for the patent trolls Apple is currently battling.

Re:What's the deal with the Eastern District of Te

By Solandri • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Patent trials are relatively rare, and held in normal courts. Consequently the typical judge who gets assigned to a patent case only has to deal with a small percentage of patent cases in his/her career, so isn't well-versed in patent law. The East Texas district court realized that since there was no requirement in patent law that the case be filed in a local court, that there would be a demand for a court where the judges were well-versed in patent law. They set out to make themselves that court, as a way to increase their workload and thus revenue.

Their rationale (patent trial judges should be specialized in patent law) was fine, even admirable. But their motivation (increase revenue) created a corrupting feedback loop. The more cases their judges decided in favor of patent trolls, the more patent trolls chose to file in their district, and the more revenue the court got.

Re:What's the deal with the Eastern District of Te

By mbkennel • Score: 4 • Thread
Why are Federal Courts thinking about "revenue" ? If any institution ought to be free of commercial entanglements, this is it.

Re:What's the deal with the Eastern District of Te

By keltor • Score: 4 • Thread
They aren't. Federal Court Judges are paid strict salaries that are set by law:

A Philosopher Argues That an AI Can't Be an Artist

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Sean Dorrance Kelly, a philosophy professor at Harvard, writes for MIT Technology Review: Human creative achievement, because of the way it is socially embedded, will not succumb to advances in artificial intelligence. To say otherwise is to misunderstand both what human beings are and what our creativity amounts to. This claim is not absolute: it depends on the norms that we allow to govern our culture and our expectations of technology. Human beings have, in the past, attributed great power and genius even to lifeless totems. It is entirely possible that we will come to treat artificially intelligent machines as so vastly superior to us that we will naturally attribute creativity to them. Should that happen, it will not be because machines have outstripped us. It will be because we will have denigrated ourselves.

[...] My argument is not that the creator's responsiveness to social necessity must be conscious for the work to meet the standards of genius. I am arguing instead that we must be able to interpret the work as responding that way. It would be a mistake to interpret a machine's composition as part of such a vision of the world. The argument for this is simple. Claims like Kurzweil's that machines can reach human-level intelligence assume that to have a human mind is just to have a human brain that follows some set of computational algorithms -- a view called computationalism. But though algorithms can have moral implications, they are not themselves moral agents. We can't count the monkey at a typewriter who accidentally types out Othello as a great creative playwright. If there is greatness in the product, it is only an accident. We may be able to see a machine's product as great, but if we know that the output is merely the result of some arbitrary act or algorithmic formalism, we cannot accept it as the expression of a vision for human good.

Re:The Turning Museum

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Put works by both humans and AI in a museum, see if anyone can pick out which is which.

Or art by Elephants in an Elephant Art Gallery

It's a low bar to reach

By DNS-and-BIND • Score: 3 • Thread
It's sad how low art has fallen. I won't be surprised in the least if crappy computer-generated art can pass for real. After all, the real art that blights our culture is of such a low standard, it would be difficult to do worse. Our artists today are neither deep, original, nor articulate. One hopes they will be the next part of society replaced by automation. Let them learn to code.

Very true

By inicom • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

AI can absolutely create decorative items that may be pleasing to the eye, like many an unskilled artisan who has learned to replicate a decorative form (or Romero Britto, FTM) , but it is not art. Art is a response from the artist, often provocative, that channels their consciousness into their creation.

A Computer Scientist calls Bullshit

By jwhyche • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

Bullshit. A well developed AI can be just as much a artist as any organic critter can. Now Mr philosopher put you hat back on. You have people at the counter to take orders for. Repeat after me, "Would you like fries that that?"

Neuroscience argues otherwise

By pz • Score: 3 • Thread

I suspect that Prof. Kelly is not familiar with his colleague Prof. Livingstone and her work studying the neuroscientific basis for art. It would not be so surprising, given their disparate departments and that Prof. Livingstone is across the river in Boston, somewhat removed from main campus.

The crux of artistic creation is, as I hope philosophers will slowly understand, that each new wave of modality of expression, each new genre, tickles a specific pathway in the brain. Given time, both to study the art and to study the neuroscience of visual perception, the greatness of many of the great works of art can be reduced to a simple explanation. That does not reduce their impact on us, nor should it. But it does reveal the fundamental requirement of human perception to denote a particular work as great.

The Mona Lisa is perhaps Prof. Livingstone's best result: the reason we find the image of a partially smiling woman compelling is that there are two images in conflict: one at low spatial frequencies (larger features) that is smiling, and one at high spatial frequencies (smaller features) that is not. Somehow, Da Vinci was able to exploit these two separate perceptual channels. Because we sense that the figure is smiling, we find it appealing, but we cannot see the smile, so we find it enigmatic and compelling.

Another telling result: much of impressionism is compelling because the colors are what are known as equiluminant: in black-and-white, they would appear to be uniformly gray, this the luminance channel in our visual system is silent, and in conflict with the color channel.

The very fact that we find black-and-white photographs compelling is even understood by showing that the color channel has been suppressed, something that does not normally happen.

Art, at least visual art, is all about masterful manipulation of different perceptual channels that have direct physiological embodiments in our brains.

And, and AI can most certainly be trained to do that. The results eventually will be undoubtedly just as compelling (given good models on which to train the AI) as that done by human hand.

'Netflix Is the Most Intoxicating Portal To Planet Earth'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Instead of trying to sell American ideas to a foreign audience, it's aiming to sell international ideas to a global audience. From an op-ed: In 2016, the company expanded to 190 countries, and last year, for the first time, a majority of its subscribers and most of its revenue came from outside the United States. To serve this audience, Netflix now commissions and licenses hundreds of shows meant to echo life in every one of its markets and, in some cases, to blend languages and sensibilities across its markets. In the process, Netflix has discovered something startling: Despite a supposed surge in nationalism across the globe, many people like to watch movies and TV shows from other countries. "What we're learning is that people have very diverse and eclectic tastes, and if you provide them with the world's stories, they will be really adventurous, and they will find something unexpected," Cindy Holland, Netflix's vice president for original content, told me.

The strategy may sound familiar; Hollywood and Silicon Valley have long pursued expansion internationally. But Netflix's strategy is fundamentally different. Instead of trying to sell American ideas to a foreign audience, it's aiming to sell international ideas to a global audience. A list of Netflix's most watched and most culturally significant recent productions looks like a Model United Nations: Besides Ms. Kondo's show, there's the comedian Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette" from Australia; from Britain, "Sex Education" and "You"; "Elite" from Spain; "The Protector" from Turkey; and "Baby" from Italy. I'll admit there's something credulous and naive embedded in my narrative so far. Let me get this straight, you're thinking: A tech company wants to bring the world closer together? As social networks help foster misinformation and populist fervor across the globe, you're right to be skeptical. But there is a crucial difference between Netflix and other tech giants: Netflix makes money from subscriptions, not advertising.

Um, what?

By farble1670 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Someone help me. I can't parse the issue here.

Instead of trying to sell American ideas to a foreign audience, it's aiming to sell international ideas to a global audience.

So what? It's a business strategy, not a social agenda. If it works and that's what people want, bully for them.

Re:Um, what?

By froggyjojodaddy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
It's not a social agenda as you correctly pointed out, but it most definitely has a social impact. By watching shows made in different regions, by people who have different cultures and ideals, you're helping share a different mindset and outlook of ideas.

For example, an American watching 'The Bodyguard' (TV series) might better understand the difference in attitudes to firearms. I'm not saying one is better than the other, it's just different. Or it might help someone in South Korea better understand British politics when it comes to public policy.

So... there's no "issue", just the observation from Netflix that globally, people are interested in content from other regions, not just the US.

Should be opposite of surprise.

By SuperKendall • Score: 3 • Thread

News flash, for most people what being a "nationalist" means is enjoying and celebrating the uniqueness of your culture. It doesn't mean they want everyone and everything else to be like them - quite the opposite.

Anyone who enjoys travel and visiting people across the world is inherently a nationalist, someone who would not welcome all cultures being ironed out into one boring mass.

So of course people are interested in watching shows that explore other cultures around the world, even if that is secondary to the purpose of the show...

I really like some of the foreign shows Netflix for a unique cultural perspective they bring - my favorite of those is "3%", a show from Brazil that anyone would enjoy. Others like Babylon Berlin are really interesting...

Good News Bad News

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
The Good News: It is possible to create a news delivery platform that is not funded by advertisement. It is not funded by relentless pursuit of clicks and eyeballs. It will not be a race to the bottom. Millions of people chipping in a few bucks, voting with their dollars for trust worthy news will bring the much needed price signal to the news delivery platform.

Bad news: It is Netflix.

Linus Torvalds on Why ARM Won't Win the Server Space

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Linus Torvalds: I can pretty much guarantee that as long as everybody does cross-development, the platform won't be all that stable. Or successful. Some people think that "the cloud" means that the instruction set doesn't matter. Develop at home, deploy in the cloud. That's bullshit. If you develop on x86, then you're going to want to deploy on x86, because you'll be able to run what you test "at home" (and by "at home" I don't mean literally in your home, but in your work environment). Which means that you'll happily pay a bit more for x86 cloud hosting, simply because it matches what you can test on your own local setup, and the errors you get will translate better. This is true even if what you mostly do is something ostensibly cross-platform like just run perl scripts or whatever. Simply because you'll want to have as similar an environment as possible.

Which in turn means that cloud providers will end up making more money from their x86 side, which means that they'll prioritize it, and any ARM offerings will be secondary and probably relegated to the mindless dregs (maybe front-end, maybe just static html, that kind of stuff). Guys, do you really not understand why x86 took over the server market? It wasn't just all price. It was literally this "develop at home" issue. Thousands of small companies ended up having random small internal workloads where it was easy to just get a random whitebox PC and run some silly small thing on it yourself. Then as the workload expanded, it became a "real server". And then once that thing expanded, suddenly it made a whole lot of sense to let somebody else manage the hardware and hosting, and the cloud took over. Do you really not understand? This isn't rocket science. This isn't some made up story. This is literally what happened, and what killed all the RISC vendors, and made x86 be the undisputed king of the hill of servers, to the point where everybody else is just a rounding error. Something that sounded entirely fictional a couple of decades ago. Without a development platform, ARM in the server space is never going to make it. Trying to sell a 64-bit "hyperscaling" model is idiotic, when you don't have customers and you don't have workloads because you never sold the small cheap box that got the whole market started in the first place.

x86 won on price

By perpenso • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
x86 won on price, on the desktop, on the server. That is the simple truth.

As for stability and bugs, cross platform is superior. Bugs that are hard to manifest on one hardware architecture may manifest quite readily on a different architecture. Having worked on various cross-platform projects I've seen the main x86 based dev teams visit the alternative architecture teams (ex PPC) when they are stumped debugging, they eventually appreciated the alternative architectures. A single architecture target allows for longer lived quirky bugs. The simple truth is that cost is more important to many.

This is not to say ARM will be successful in server space, just that it will be about cost and little else.

Re:Same issue with POWER

By thereddaikon • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I don't think IBM really ever cared all that much. AIM served to help offset the RnD costs somewhat. But I think IBM primarily made POWER for themselves. They wanted a modern architecture for the growing server market that would both be a decent basis to run VMs of legacy mainframe code on and also natively run modern code at the same time. They show no sign of giving up on the architecture over a decade after Apple dropped them and they sell multiple lines of servers using them. POWER doesn't really have to worry about running non native code or cross platform development because the only things POWER servers run is IBM code. The old model of not selling iron but selling a solution is very much in place today. They sell you the software, server and support all in one package. Unless you get an itemized bill you don't even know how much the systems cost. They also don't seem all that interested in the PC server space either.

Motorola on the other hand seemed more willing and eager for PPC to catch on. It didn't work out but you did see some random machines adopt it for short periods. The BeBox, the half backed second chance at Amiga's, random accelerator cards for various obsolete machines etc. The best shot PPC ever had at getting wide adoption was during the short period Apple licensed Mac clones in the mid 90's. Jobs shut down when he returned. Regardless of whether that was the right move it did mean PPC would never be a serious contender to x86.

Re:What differences can you actually notice?

By Jaime2 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You've never seen how half of the corporate stuff comes into existence. It starts as an amalgamation of whatever the most tech-savvy employee managed to piece together. They pieced it together on whatever they run on their desktop.

I've seen 32-bit servers kept around to run something that has an ancient emailer program embedded in it that won't cooperate with 64-bit operating systems. It's not that there aren't any 64-bit email clients, it's that no one has the time to figure out how to replace an internal part of this ball-of-mud that runs the company.

I've seen Windows XP in data centers because some ancient piece of software that runs the door locks hasn't been updated in twenty years and it has a driver that doesn't play well with anything newer.

Slightly off topic, but similar, was the time when we had trouble buying a server because the software specs were written in 2001 and stated a minimum processor clock frequency of 3.2GHz, but the world had moved on to the Core architecture and clock speeds went way down (but performance went way up).

Probably true for now, but....

By supremebob • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

At some point in the near future, Macbooks will start coming with custom Apple designed ARM processors instead of Intel chips.

At that point, the trendy urban hipsters buying these Macbooks will be developing on ARM and will want to deploy their code on ARM based servers. Your local IT department might say no, but I'm sure that the cloud hosting providers will gladly oblige.

Pinebook Pro

By darkain • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'm currently hoping the Pinebook Pro does very well when released later this year. I'm already planning on purchasing one for FreeBSD ARM development. The specs still are not the best, but are decent enough for some interesting development tasks. A portable ARM laptop with a hex-core processor, 4GB RAM, 64/128GB eMMC, Mini-PCIe with NVMe support, 1080p ISP display, 10,000 mha battery, and USB-C that supports charging + 4k/60hz video. This thing will be a little mini beast for $200. Most of programming is reading/writing code more so than executing it, so I believe this should be plenty powerful for solid web development and system service programming. This laptop NEEDS to do well to show the industry as a whole that these are the type of devices we WANT.

Norwich's Fortnite Live Festival Was a Complete Disaster

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: A festival designed to recreate Fortnite on the outskirts of Norwich has, somewhat predictably, not lived up to expectations. Event organisers flogged 2500 tickets to kids and parents. Entry cost upwards of $15 and unlimited access wristbands a further $26. In return, families got what amounted to a few fairground attractions. Photos from the event show a climbing wall for three people, archery for four people, and four go-karts. An attraction dubbed a "cave experience" was a lorry trailer with tarpaulin over it. An indoors area where you could play actual Fortnite was probably the best thing there -- although it cost money to access and you had to queue to do so. So much for free-to-play. And all of that was if you could actually get into the event to start with. Hundreds of people were left queuing for hours due to staff shortages.

Epic Fail

By Nidi62 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Not only did the festival fail, but it would appear that the organizers had no affiliation with Epic, and (as hinted by the article) no permission to use the Fortnite branding. They've set themselves up for a nice lawsuit, either from attendees or Epic itself.

This always happens at Christmas

By xack • Score: 3 • Thread
Every year at Christmas you hear of a "winter blunderland" go wrong. The only thing different this time is that a game is involved.

Should have signed up for the "Purge"

By mykepredko • Score: 3 • Thread

Sounds like fun limited only by your imagination. Just saying.

Inside Elizabeth Holmes's Chilling Final Months at Theranos

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
In the final months of Theranos, before the blood testing start-up was debunked and its founders charged with fraud, then-CEO Elizabeth Holmes brought a puppy, who she insisted was a wolf to others, with a penchant for peeing into the mix, according to Vanity Fair, which has detailed the chaos that ensued in the waning days of the startup, once valued at $9 billion. The 35-year-old Stanford University dropout has also met with filmmakers who she hopes would make a documentary about her "real story," the outlet reported. She also "desperately wants to write a book." An excerpt from the story: Holmes brushed it off when the scientists protested that the dog hair could contaminate samples. But there was another problem with Balto (name of the dog), too. He wasn't potty-trained. Accustomed to the undomesticated life, Balto frequently urinated and defecated at will throughout Theranos headquarters. While Holmes held board meetings, Balto could be found in the corner of the room relieving himself while a frenzied assistant was left to clean up the mess. [...]

By late 2017, however, Holmes had begun to slightly rein in the spending. She agreed to give up her private-jet travel (not a good look) and instead downgraded to first class on commercial airlines. But given that she was flying all over the world trying to obtain more funding for Theranos, she was spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on travel. Theranos was also still paying for her mansion in Los Altos, and her team of personal assistants and drivers, who would become regular dog walkers for Balto. But there were few places she had wasted so much money as the design and monthly cost of the company's main headquarters, which employees simply referred to as "1701," for its street address along Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. 1701, according to two former executives, cost $1 million a month to rent. Holmes had also spent $100,000 on a single conference table. Elsewhere in the building, Holmes had asked for another circular conference room that the former employees said "looked like the war room from Dr. Strangelove," replete with curved glass windows, and screens that would come out of the ceiling so everyone in the room could see a presentation without having to turn their heads.

Re: Stopped reading at WASP

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Her race isn't relevant. But hack journalists drag race into everything because they don't know what else to write about.

Re:Elizabeth Holmes should be in prison

By Nidi62 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

CEO != CTO. Learn the difference. CEO is a fundraiser. Expecting her to be the brains behind the technology belies ignorance of how corporations work on YOUR part.

One would hope the founder of a medical technology company would have a fundamental understanding of the technology and science behind their primary product, especially if they were touting it as a revolutionary breakthrough.

Re:She's a member of the ruling class

By Nidi62 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I forgot who but she's somebody's God daughter or something. As long as we continue to pretend our ruling class doesn't exist they're untouchable. Warren Buffet nailed it. (apologies for the WaPo link, open it in incognito/private mode).

Her father was a VP at Enron(!) then worked at government agencies and her mother was a Congressional staffer. Explains why almost all of her board members were former government officials (none of the board members had experience with biomedical technology-how that didn't raise red flags with investors I don't know; they were probably too busy seeing green)

Re:Political correctness caused the damage

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Bullshit. Personal connections with people that should have known better and not believing a CEO for a so highly valued company could be lying were the main problems. If someone lost their money for backing a company with a female CEO I'd simply laugh at them - but that wasn't the case for the majority of backers. They backed an incredible technological advancement that could change medical diagnosis all over the world being faster, cheaper, safer. But it was all a gigantic lie.

Oh come now.

It was a huge factor - "she's young! She's a woman CEO in tech!" It was all over the place.

Re:What a joke

By magarity • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Can you imagine a fund in your 401K funding this frivolity, this literal SHIT SHOW - and yes I wrote shit because she would bring in her non-toilet trained dog and allow it to shit in the board room.Private jets. Insane spending on rent, office....I don't care who you are and how rich you could make my investors be, there have to be limits. This is beyond what is acceptable.Insanity.

If you're quite finished with your rant, Theranos was never publicly traded so no 401K fund would have bought it.

Lessons From Six Software Rewrite Stories

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new take on the age-old question: Should you rewrite your application from scratch, or is that "the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make"? Turns out there are more than two options for dealing with a mature codebase. Herb Caudill: Almost two decades ago, Joel Spolsky excoriated Netscape for rewriting their codebase in his landmark essay Things You Should Never Do . He concluded that a functioning application should never, ever be rewritten from the ground up. His argument turned on two points: The crufty-looking parts of the application's codebase often embed hard-earned knowledge about corner cases and weird bugs. A rewrite is a lengthy undertaking that keeps you from improving on your existing product, during which time the competition is gaining on you.

For many, Joel's conclusion became an article of faith; I know it had a big effect on my thinking at the time. In the following years, I read a few contrarian takes arguing that, under certain circumstances, it made a lot of sense to rewrite from scratch. For example: Sometimes the legacy codebase really is messed up beyond repair, such that even simple changes require a cascade of changes to other parts of the code. The original technology choices might be preventing you from making necessary improvements. Or, the original technology might be obsolete, making it hard (or expensive) to recruit quality developers.

The correct answer, of course, is that it depends a lot on the circumstances. Yes, sometimes it makes more sense to gradually refactor your legacy code. And yes, sometimes it makes sense to throw it all out and start over. But those aren't the only choices. Let's take a quick look at six stories, and see what lessons we can draw.

Joel was incorrect..

By Junta • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

His article hinges upon the assumption that Netscape was screwed over by the rewrite. In reality, they were almost certainly screwed on the business side to the extent no amount of technical effort could overcome their position.

To the extent they had technical woes, it may well have been the case they couldn't sort out how to make the improvements they wanted to make given their current design.

Now there are valid points, that 'old code' may look crusty but there is a good chance it is crusty for a reason and that sort of thinking should be ever present while making such a call, to try to understand *why* it is crusty before throwing it out. However sometimes it is for bad reasons:
-Written against a once-presumed 'winner' of the market that becomes defunct. Your shockwave website has to be rewritten because the supporting technology is toast, and you better be scrapping your flash website soon if not already.
-Maybe the runtime is still around, but *your* ability to find willing developers is difficult, so you have to switch languages/runtimes to align with the labor market
-The people doing it didn't know what they were doing and did it incorrectly. Optimally, this is the same team that recognizes they painted themselves into a corner so they know what to do next time.
-The code is full of workarounds for third party libraries that no longer apply. True this doesn't scream 'rewrite', but one of his points was that the ugliness of code is due to fixes for things long forgotten that still matter, but it's frequently the case they do still matter.

In short, like all opinions be informed and influenced, but no simple answer is ever 100% correct no matter what. Internalize the points and evaluate in your scenario.

Re:The only unmatintainable code...

By HornWumpus • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The classic answer to that is 'job security' == 'unpromotable'

But that assumes you aren't going to change companies, on your schedule, and 'fuck them'.

The truth is 'job security' == 'not promotable without an employer change'. But that's just true for many employers in any case. If that's your boss, there is no reason not to play 'knowledge is power', just don't be slow blatant about it the PHB can see it.

Re:I disagree

By ctilsie242 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I do think refactoring is a must and needs to be part of the design cycle, just as much as getting the features that marketing already has sold to customers.

Technical debt is a thing, and getting that heap of hacks, kludges, workarounds, and other junk out of the codebase is just as critical as doing months long sprints to appease marketing. In fact, the Agile cycle in theory has room in between sprints for doing just this and fixing stuff. However, every place I have worked at who tried to do Agile had a "permanent sprint" in place, which not just burned people out, it made code bases which were all but impossible to maintain. Especially with management always threatening to outsource or offshore the devs, to the point where the devs knew they were going to get offshored, so they didn't care about anything except making their deliverables, even if it meant that they left gaping security holes, or just horri-bad code, because that mess would be cleaned up by someone else.

If a company actually values its code base, they will treat it just as they do any other machine... take time to take it down and service it, fix glaring problems, add actually useful code documentation (no comments about "don't touch this routine, we don't know how it works, neither will you.") Then, start seeing if you can do things like performance testing and code optimization, perhaps a pass for security checking (strncopy(), not strcopy(), etc.)

Wrong reason to to rewrite

By CanadianMacFan • Score: 3 • Thread

I once worked in a government department that liked silver bullets. One of the things they tried was moving the development shop to one language, Java. That meant rewriting everything they wrote and even used. Even apps that were running without issues had to be re-written just because it was originally written in C. They even wanted to rewrite the utility that most sites were using at the time just because it used Perl.

Re:I disagree

By apoc.famine • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Technical debt is a thing...

Best place I ever worked knew that, and worked to quantify it. That helps a lot when you're trying to figure out whether or not to refactor. In a couple cases, it became apparent that a partial refactor was going to accomplish something like 90% of a full one, with 10% of the effort.

Quantifying your pain-points with even back-of-the-envelope calculations can really help you make good decisions about how to move forward.