Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Most MoviePass Subscribers Have Gone To a Movie They Normally Would've Ignored

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Extremist surveyed 1,311 current self-reporting MoviePass subscribers and found that 82% of subscribers have gone to a movie they normally would have ignored. 13% of respondents said "No," while 5% were "Not Sure." From the report: While theaters are only reporting a slight uptick in foot traffic since MoviePass got popular, there is no denying that there are now more butts in seats of movies that otherwise might not get as much foot traffic. Perhaps the real winner in a world with MoviePass is the box office rake for "bad" movies. If you are a MoviePass subscriber, have you noticed yourself attending movies you otherwise wouldn't pay directly to see?

Companies Are Using California Homes As Batteries To Power the Grid

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Companies like Tesla and SunRun are starting to bid on utility contracts that would allow them to string together dozens or hundreds of systems that act as an enormous reserve to balance the flow of electricity on the grid," reports Quartz. "Doing so would accelerate the grid's transformation from 20th century hub-and-spoke architecture to a transmission network moving electricity among thousands or millions of customers who generate and store their own power." From the report: In theory, networked home-solar-and-battery systems, acting in coordination over a single geographical area, could replace things like natural gas "peaker" plants need to help support the grid on a moment's notice. But it's an open question whether it makes financial sense. Kamath says renewable mandates could keep home solar-storage solutions for the grid going for a while, but the idea will have to prove itself on the market, perhaps by aggregating large areas, if it wants to seriously compete with existing energy assets.

SunRun told investors in 2017 that its pilot programs suggest it could competitively generate $2,000 worth of services by managing electricity flow back to the grid. The company has recently dropped its combative stance with utilities dragging their feet on accepting home solar. Instead, it's pursuing cooperation with the utilities now, in hopes of selling them home-based power. That would allow it grab a chunk of the billions being spent on modernizing the grid. "We don't want to be in a position of building two competing infrastructures," SunRun's Jurich said.

A Middle-Aged Writer's Quest To Start Learning To Code For the First Time

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
OpenSourceAllTheWay writes: The Economist's 1843 magazine details one middle-aged writer's (Andrew Smith) quest to learn to code for the first time, after becoming interested in the "alien" logic mechanisms that power completely new phenomena like crypto-currency and effectively make the modern world function in the 21st Century. The writer discovers that there are over 1,700 actively used computer programming languages to choose from, and that every programmer that he asks "Where should someone like me start with coding?" contradicts the next in his or her recommendation. One seasoned programmer tells him that programmers discussing what language is best is the equivalent of watching "religious wars." The writer is stunned by how many of these languages were created by unpaid individuals who often built them for "glory and the hell of it." He is also amazed by how many people help each other with coding problems on the internet every day, and the computer programmer culture that non-technical people are oblivious of.

Eventually the writer finds a chart of the most popular programming languages online, and discovers that these are Python, Javascript, and C++. The syntax of each of these languages looks indecipherable to him. The writer, with some help from online tutorials, then learns how to write a basic Python program that looks for keywords in a Twitter feed. The article is interesting in that it shows what the "alien world of coding" looks like to people who are not already computer nerds and in fact know very little about how computer software works. There are many interesting observations on coding/computing culture in the article, seen through the lens of someone who is not a computer nerd and who has not spent the last two decades hanging out on Slashdot or Stackoverflow.

Dave Barry to the rescue

By Krishnoid • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I guess some things never change:

Well, my computer makes my dog look like Albert Einstein. I plugged it in and turned it on, and instead of going to work on my telephone-company letters, it started asking a lot of idiot questions, such as what day it was. So I typed in the following computer program:

NEVER YOU MIND WHAT DAY IT IS. WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO IS STRAIGHTEN OUT ALL MY FILES AND COME UP WITH A NICE HEALTHY LIST OF MY TAX DEDUCTIONS, TAKING PAINS TO GIVE ME, RATHER THAN THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, BUT NOT CLAIMING ANYTHING THAT WOULD LAND ME IN THE SLAMMER, IF YOU GET MY DRIFT.

And the computer said:

SYNTAX ERROR

Do you believe that? This machine that doesn't even know what day it is tells me, the paid professional writer, that I have a syntax error.

Urgh.

By Motor • Score: 3 • Thread

Coding is about a way of thinking... not about a particular language. Pick one that lets you get started quickly and doesn't require you to understand objects etc just to do your first simple program. This is why BASIC was great... it got kids going quickly and gave them a nice simple slope into more complex subjects and ambitious stuff:

10 print "hello"
20 goto 10

Also, ignore 99.9% of the stuff you get as advice. I remember back in the mid-2000s... I read some Gentoo Linux nuts advising people wanting to get off Windows that Gentoo was the right choice - definitely. It will compile up from source... and it only takes about 15 hours to install - and oh, BTW, you should make sure you set CFLAGS to "-march=x86_zzxxxy_intel -O9999".

Shut up zealots.

basic programming

By mapkinase • Score: 3 • Thread

is accessible literally to every single person on Earth.

It's trivial. Even actors can learn it.

Meh, take some college courses

By lsllll • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

I'm probably going to get shot down over this and get -1 as troll, but IMAO you cannot make a great programmer unless you've taken some college courses specifically related to computer science. That is in addition to having a passion for problem solving and tinkering with anything and everything. This comes from mostly anecdotal instances of people I have ran into in my over 30 years as a computer programmer.

Taking courses at a college level teaches you the intricate programming concepts and algorithms. Without taking data structures, assembly, operating systems, OOP, and so on at a college level, you're already at a disadvantage. Can you program a Windows/GTK application without taking those courses? Most likely. Can you write device drivers and system routines? No. "How do I sort this list?" Well, that depends on how fast it needs to be sorted, how much memory you have available, how big the list is, etc. "I'm making a list." Does it need to be an array of structures? Does it need to be a linked list? Does it need to be a doubly linked list? Does it need to be a binary tree? Does it need to be a tree? Most programmers don't have to deal with any of this stuff, but then again most programmers aren't great programmers.

I have ran into many programmers that didn't get their degree in computer science and didn't take any computer science courses in college, and they all fall in the same level. Mediocre. Again, anecdotal and stereotypical, but I'd wager that it's correct almost all the time.

My suggestion to the OP would be to (since middle ages is still not too old to become a great programmer, as long as you meet the other criteria of being a tinkerer) take some college courses in computer science. Over 1700 languages doesn't mean shit if you don't understand the concepts of programming (although concepts of something like LISP would be completely different than OOP and other traditional languages). Once you learn the concepts, then the rest is just syntax and concepts specific to the language you're learning, but without the basic concepts, you have no ground to stand on.

Re:meanwhile, in the kitchen...

By The Evil Atheist • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Why does the article need ridicule? Here's a middle aged person with no skill in the subject, putting himself through something difficult to a lot of people just to get insight about something, rather than be scared of it.

Why do you want to ridicule that?

Compare to the average Slashdotter who whinges about the stupidest programming horrors and refusing to learn anything new or difficult and preferring to remain stuck in whatever they were taught or learnt at the time. Then they ridicule other people who do learn the stuff they refuse to learn, and speaking completely from ignorance.

Kudos to this person who didn't do that, and actually tried his hand at something completely foreign to him.

Eric Schmidt Says Elon Musk Is 'Exactly Wrong' About AI

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
At the VivaTech conference in Paris, Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about Elon Musk's warnings about AI. He responded by saying: " I think Elon is exactly wrong. He doesn't understand the benefits that this technology will provide to making every human being smarter. The fact of the matter is that AI and machine learning are so fundamentally good for humanity." TechCrunch reports: He acknowledged that there are risks around how the technology might be misused, but he said they're outweighed by the benefits: "The example I would offer is, would you not invent the telephone because of the possible misuse of the telephone by evil people? No, you would build the telephone and you would try to find a way to police the misuse of the telephone."

After wryly observing that Schmidt had just given the journalists in the audience their headlines, interviewer (and former Publicis CEO) Maurice Levy asked how AI and public policy can be developed so that some groups aren't "left behind." Schmidt replied that government should fund research and education around these technologies. "As [these new solutions] emerge, they will benefit all of us, and I mean the people who think they're in trouble, too," he said. He added that data shows "workers who work in jobs where the job gets more complicated get higher wages -- if they can be helped to do it." Schmidt also argued that contrary to concerns that automation and technology will eliminate jobs, "The embracement of AI is net positive for jobs." In fact, he said there will be "too many jobs" -- because as society ages, there won't be enough people working and paying taxes to fund crucial services. So AI is "the best way to make them more productive, to make them smarter, more scalable, quicker and so forth."

So he's disagreeing by agreeing?

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

He acknowledged that there are risks around how the technology might be misused, but he said they're outweighed by the benefits:"The example I would offer is, would you not invent the telephone because of the possible misuse of the telephone by evil people? No, you would build the telephone and you would try to find a way to police the misuse of the telephone."

That's pretty much the exact same thing Musk argues, so I'm confused by how this is a disagreement. Is someone interpreting Musk as trying to hinder the development of AI? Is that why he employs a huge team of neural net developers at Tesla? Why he founded OpenAI? And Neuralink?

Short term or Long term?

By aberglas • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

In the short term, next few decades, AI will have the effect of being able to concentrate power. Centralized information, with the ability to process it. Pervasive surveillance. We are seeing this actively pursued in China. And also semi-autonomous robot soldiers. This is uncharted territory.

AI will also be really handy, e.g. better Google searches, self driving cars, cheaper services. What happens to the unskilled workforce is very difficult to tell. Will alternative opportunities arise for them? In the short term, probably.

In the longer term, 50..200 years, the AI will become truly intelligent. It will be able to program itself. At that point it will no longer need humans, and it is difficult to see why it would want humans around. Note that this long term is the lifetimes of our grandchildren.

http://www.computersthink.com/

(Schmidt is hardly an unbiased commentator. He knows people are wary of Google's growing power and wants to be able to make money without pesky concerns about the future of humanity.)

Both sides are right

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Elon didnâ(TM)t say AI is evil. Schmidt is misrepresenting him. Why else would Elon start Open AI? Elon is wants a framework to use AI responsibly thatâ(TM)s all.... put his warnings the right context.

They both agree AI is the future and are right.

But Schmidt obviously do not want regulation and restraints on Googleâ(TM)s business model. Unfettered access to your personal and behaviour data to train the AI.

Schmidt is being very Evil by playing the game this way.

Re:Yes

By arth1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I think both of them are wrong too, but for other reasons.
The problem I see is that the smarter our helpers get, the dumber it allows us to be. Just look at computers for a good example of that. As they became ubiquitous and smarter on the inside, with user interfaces dumbed down for "everybody" to use, there was no longer a need for people to learn anything. Or calculators - people don't feel they need to understand even simple maths anymore, because there's a calculator (or calculator app, or google's built-in calculator) to do everything for them.
I truly fear that as the helpers get smarter, we get dumber. Only a few people will need to be smart enough to program them, but even that is dumbed down with higher and higher levels of abstractions.

Re:Siding more with Schmidt on this one.

By rogoshen1 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

AI will confer an ever greater first mover advantage than Trinity. It is also very easy to dress up in a friendly manner (at least relative to nukes). With AI, once the genie is out of the bottle, it's never going back in. Unless you're a guy like Schmidt, you *should* be terrified of it. You might get better navigation in your self driving car; but at what cost? And are the benefits even remotely distributed among society as a whole?

Basically, entrusting private companies like google with something of this magnitude is irresponsible bordering on insane.
We've reached a point in our technological evolution where every single human being on this planet could easily live a life of middle class security, with much left over. All AI is going to do is FURTHER concentrate wealth and power into a very select group of hands (and speaking of hands, i think Schmidt is showing his here). The rise of AI should be seen as an affront to human agency and dignity. We have two related trends: the growth of a knowledge economy, and the rise of automation. Gee, i wonder what the outcome will be?

Herbert was right, even way back when in 1965.

Google Zooms By Amazon In Smart Speaker Shipments, Report Says

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new report released this week says that Google has surpassed Amazon in global smart speaker shipments in the first quarter of 2018. "[Research firm Canalys] says Google shipped 3.2 million Google Home and Home Mini speakers over the course of the quarter," reports Ars Technica. "Amazon, meanwhile, is said to have shipped 2.5 million Echo speakers." From the report: According to the report, Google jumped from taking 19.3 percent of smart speaker shipments in Q1 2017 to 36.2 percent this past quarter. Amazon accounted for a whopping 79.6 percent of shipments in the year-ago quarter but fell to 27.7 percent in Q1 2018, the report says. Now, it appears the Home has reached a point of parity with the Echo; this report would mark the first time Google has overtaken Amazon in total shipments. Canalys credits Google's rise in part to retailers and channel operators "prioritizing" the Home over the Echo, given that Amazon is one of its biggest competitors in retail at large. A couple of caveats: neither Amazon nor Google breaks out quarterly sales figures for each device family, so Canalys' figures likely aren't 100-percent exact. It's also worth noting that "shipments" are not the same as "sales," so it's possible that deals and discounts on the devices have affected the figures to an extent.

Does this include free units?

By EvilSS • Score: 3 • Thread
If so then no surprise because google has been giving out free minis all over the place lately.

They're not smart speakers...

By b0s0z0ku • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
They're not "smart speakers." They're "connected listeners". Aka bugs for your home.

Google Winning Big Brother Wars!

By Chas • Score: 3 • Thread

Sorry, but these things are tantamout to volunteering to be spied upon 24x7.

I'm sure they're cool and entertaining and may have some actual utility.

But I wouldn't be caught dead with one of the fucking things.

All Major ISPs Have Declined In Customer Satisfaction, Says Study

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index survey finds that Verizon FiOS has been rated the highest in customer satisfaction with a score of 70 out of 100. But, as DSLReports notes, that's nothing to write home about since that score was a one point decline from one year earlier. Furthermore, the industry average was 64 points, which is not only a decline from last year but lower than most of the other industries the group tracks. From the report: According to the ACSI, high prices and poor customer service continues to plague an U.S. broadband industry with some very obvious competitive shortcomings. "According to users, most aspects of ISPs are getting worse," the ACSI said. "Courtesy and helpfulness of staff has waned to 76 and in-store service is slower (74). Bills are more difficult to understand (-3 percent to 71), and customers aren't happy with the variety of plans available (-3 percent to 64)." Not a single ISP tracked by the firm saw an improvement in customer satisfaction scores.

The worst of the worst according to the ACSI is Mediacom, which saw a 9% plummet year over year to a score of 53, which is lower than most airlines, banks, and even the IRS according to the report. Charter Spectrum and Suddenlink also saw 8% declines in satisfaction year over year, and despite repeated claims that customer service is now its top priority, Comcast saw zero improvement in broadband satisfaction and a slight decline in pay TV satisfaction.

The current administration emboldens them

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I know that's not a popular thing to say, but that doesn't make it less true. We have an administration who's stated goal is less regulation and who's people keep getting caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar with no consequences. Is it any wonder why ISPs think they can get away with more?

Not to worry

By Waffle Iron • Score: 3 • Thread

This problem is almost fixed: Without the albatross of net neutrality hanging on their shoulders, the ISPs have been freed up to focus like a laser on customer satisfaction. In a few short months, your ISP will be pampering you like royalty!

Not enough competition

By thule • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
It used to be that you could dialup whatever ISP you wanted. If you didn't like them, cancel them, dial up another. It was great, but the old copper just can't handle high speed.

At the local level, cities need to allow more competition. The current, local, regulation doesn't cultivate competition for last mile services. There is not much the FCC can do about that.

The old model of granting a single cable company to provide service in a city just doesn't hold up. The what is the solution? Pulling coax/fiber costs money (just ask Google). The grant of exclusivity made sure the company would make their investment back. Maybe a model would be that a city would grant exclusivity to two or more infrastructure companies. The infrastructure companies only sell their services to ISP's. The ISP's can use the infrastructure company that works best for them and customer can choose the ISP that they like. This would be closer to what happened in the days of dialup.

Tesla Agrees To Settle Class Action Over Autopilot Billed As 'Safer'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Tesla on Thursday reached an agreement to settle a class action lawsuit with buyers of its Model S and Model X cars who alleged that the company's assisted-driving Autopilot system was "essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous." The lawsuit said Tesla misrepresented on its website that the cars came with capabilities designed to make highway driving "safer." The Tesla owners said they paid an extra $5,000 to have their cars equipped with the Autopilot software with additional safety features such as automated emergency braking and side collision warning. The features were "completely inoperable," according to the complaint. Under the proposed agreement, class members, who paid to get the Autopilot upgrade between 2016 and 2017, will receive between $20 and $280 in compensation. Tesla has agreed to place more than $5 million into a settlement fund, which will also cover attorney fees.

So, typical class action result

By CrimsonAvenger • Score: 3 • Thread

If you're a member of the class, you get $20 to $280, which is supposed to recompense you for the $5K you spent for the useless software...

The lawyers, of course, get the lion's share of the $5M....

The mesmerizing word "Autopilot"

By AlanObject • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I don't wanna get into the business of defending Tesla. Probably they did overhype their technology but I have a peeve with one avenue of criticism.

That is Tesla shouldn't have called it "Autopilot" because it leads buyers to believe that they are buying a self-driving car.

If you buy an airplane these days chances it has an "Autopilot" as well. Any half-trained pilot knows:

1. Autopilots come with different levels of capability.

2. No current commercial autopilot will keep you from flying the plane into the ground. (Fighter jets have this.)

3. No current autopilot will help you if you run out of fuel. If you think it does you will probably die.

4. The autopilot will fly the plane into weather conditions beyond its capability and everybody aboard will die.

5. The autopilot will be perfectly happy flying you into another plane. When this happens you will die and take the other plane with you.

Yet in spite of all these deficiencies they still call it "Autopilot" and have for 50 years or more and I never heard of a class action suit screaming about misleading advertising. Why? Because pilots (and certainly their instructors) pay attention to the product specifications and assign responsibility to the pilot accordingly. They practice using it and don't just expect to punch a button and have everything taken care of.

I suppose this is too much for the flaccid minds of the American consumer to absorb. So we get lawsuits. Well if the product was actually defective then OK or if Telsa lied about what it could do (beyond calling it "Autopilot") then OK but if it just turns out that the purchasers had unrealistic expectations then I hope it gets thrown out of court.

Re:The mesmerizing word "Autopilot"

By uncqual • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You are missing the key point of "autopilot" and the reason it's on boats and planes.

In the case of boats and planes, autopilots, regardless of how "sophisticated" they are, share one attribute -- they allow you to safely take your hands off the controls for significant periods of time (tens of seconds at least) and divert much/most of your attention to other matters (like looking at a chart). This will be preceded by the pilot making some sort of scan of the environment for hazards both fixed and mobile (in particular other boats and planes) by visual identification, radar, charts, etc and/or knowing that rules of the "road" (ATC imposed for planes) will insure a clear route.

Tesla autopilot fails to deliver on this expectation in two ways. First, the environment it is in coupled with its limited capabilities make it impossible to scan the environment in advance for hazards that will be encountered and that Teslapilot can't deal with (which, itself, appears quite difficult to predict). Second, it tends to run into stationary objects (fire engines, fire department maintenance trucks) and even, it appears, sometimes steers the car into them (gore points). If "autopilot" doesn't let you divert any attention from the road and, actually, makes you pay extra attention in case the car decides to steer into a fixed object, it simply is NOT "autopilot" as the typical consumer would expect it to be.

FBI Tells Router Users To Reboot Now To Kill Malware Infecting 500,000 Devices

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The FBI is advising users of consumer-grade routers and network-attached storage devices to reboot them as soon as possible to counter Russian-engineered malware that has infected hundreds of thousands devices. Ars Technica reports: Researchers from Cisco's Talos security team first disclosed the existence of the malware on Wednesday. The detailed report said the malware infected more than 500,000 devices made by Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, QNAP, and TP-Link. Known as VPNFilter, the malware allowed attackers to collect communications, launch attacks on others, and permanently destroy the devices with a single command. The report said the malware was developed by hackers working for an advanced nation, possibly Russia, and advised users of affected router models to perform a factory reset, or at a minimum to reboot. Later in the day, The Daily Beast reported that VPNFilter was indeed developed by a Russian hacking group, one known by a variety of names, including Sofacy, Fancy Bear, APT 28, and Pawn Storm. The Daily Beast also said the FBI had seized an Internet domain VPNFilter used as a backup means to deliver later stages of the malware to devices that were already infected with the initial stage 1. The seizure meant that the primary and secondary means to deliver stages 2 and 3 had been dismantled, leaving only a third fallback, which relied on attackers sending special packets to each infected device.

The redundant mechanisms for delivering the later stages address a fundamental shortcoming in VPNFilter -- stages 2 and 3 can't survive a reboot, meaning they are wiped clean as soon as a device is restarted. Instead, only stage 1 remains. Presumably, once an infected device reboots, stage 1 will cause it to reach out to the recently seized ToKnowAll.com address. The FBI's advice to reboot small office and home office routers and NAS devices capitalizes on this limitation. In a statement published Friday, FBI officials suggested that users of all consumer-grade routers, not just those known to be vulnerable to VPNFilter, protect themselves.
The Justice Department and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have also issued statements advising users to reboot their routers as soon as possible.

Nice.

By bobstreo • Score: 3 • Thread

Now, if they actually listed which router/NAS models and firmware versions were problematic. Or how to diagnose if you were impacted...

If you have remote management turned on for your router or NAS, you should always expect special surprises.

Re:Nice.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I was thinking the same thing, so I went digging in the old (you know, that musty two-day old) slashdot thread. It wasn't straightforward to find it in there but there was a good comment with it. https://blog.talosintelligence.com/2018/05/VPNFilter.html. You can CTRL + F to "Known Affected Devices" and it has them listed. The original comment for aficionados.

VPN

By jmccue • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

These days a VPN is pretty much required.

Now a rant -- Rebooting a router, are you serious ? Give me a break. So now all requests are routed through a FBI server ? I feel much safer now that I rebooted a stupid router. How about forcing a recall

Posted Anonymously for a reason

Seems Odd

By dejitaru • Score: 3 • Thread
User: "Help! My router is infected with vicious malware" Support: "Have you tried turning it off and then on again?"

Re:my router is not on that list, but

By fibonacci8 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

No UPS?:P

Attaching a UPS to the squirrels is tempting, but I fail to see how it solves the original problem.

Zimbabwe is Introducing a Mass Facial Recognition Project With Chinese AI Firm CloudWalk

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: In March, the Zimbabwean government signed a strategic partnership with the Gunagzhou-based startup CloudWalk Technology to begin a large-scale facial recognition program throughout the country. The agreement, backed by the Chinese government's Belt and Road initiative, will see the technology primarily used in security and law enforcement and will likely be expanded to other public programs.

[...] Zimbabwe may be giving away valuable data as Chinese AI technologists stand to benefit from access to a database of millions of Zimbabwean faces Harare will share with CloudWalk. [...] CloudWalk has already recalibrated its existing technology through three-dimensional light technology in order to recognize darker skin tones. In order to recognize other characteristics that may differ from China's population, CloudWalk is also developing a system that recognizes different hairstyles and body shapes, another representative explained to the Global Times.

The why

By AHuxley • Score: 3 • Thread
Track all people who attend any opposition party events.
Track who gave a speech and all the faces of people who attended the political event.

Apple Will Report Government Requests To Remove Apps From the App Store

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
In its bi-annual transparency report today, Apple said that it will soon start reporting government requests to take down apps from the App Store. These requests will relate to alleged legal and/or policy provision violations, Apple says. The Verge reports: These numbers will tell us just how often governments are trying to block access to certain apps, and how many of those orders are actually obeyed. Google doesn't yet report these numbers specifically for the Play Store. As for takedown requests over the last year, governments around the world sent requests for information on 29,718 devices. Data was provided in 79 percent of cases. Governments also requested information on 3,358 Apple accounts, and data was provided in 82 percent of cases.

Birds Had To Relearn Flight After Meteor Wiped Out Dinosaurs, Fossil Records Suggest

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Birds had to rediscover flight after the meteor strike that killed off the dinosaurs, scientists say. The cataclysm 66 million years ago not only wiped out Tyrannosaurus rex and ground-dwelling dinosaur species, but also flying birds, a detailed survey of the fossil record suggests. As forests burned around the world, the only birds to survive were flightless emu-like species that lived on the ground. The six to nine-mile-wide meteor struck the Earth off the coast of Mexico, releasing a million times more energy than the largest atomic bomb. Hot debris raining from the sky is thought to have triggered global wildfires immediately after the impact. It took hundreds or even thousands of years for the world's forests of palms and pines to recover. Fossil records from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, all show evidence of mass deforestation. They also reveal that birds surviving the end of the Cretaceous period had long sturdy legs made for living on the ground. They resembled emus and kiwis, said the researchers whose findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

Re:Flight is lost if predators no longer exist

By careysub • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I am very very likely completely wrong, but I would speculate birds - flying birds - survived, and rapidly lost their power of flight, because it was no longer needed, because their predators were all dead.

That is very likely to have happened in any area that really lost all or most ground predators. It is the reason that flightless birds evolved in New Zealand and islands around the world. Although flightless birds have evolved on continents as well, their distribution on islands is notable, a large fraction of all flightless species hale from predator-free islands.

Re:Puzzling

By TeknoHog • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Good point, but there's another issue with large insects; they need a higher concentration of oxygen in the air than what we currently have. Insects have no lungs or blood, they breathe directly into every cell, so they are more sensitive to this. O2 concentration also affects other species in different ways, many things will simply burn out with too much of it.

Non-arboreal != flightless

By erice • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Both the article and the summary but not the actual paper make the claim that the only birds to survive were flightless. The actual paper talks about the demise of arboreal species. This makes sense as it is difficult for a tree-dwelling species to survive if the trees have gone. It does not follow that the survivors were necessarily flightless. Today most ground-dwelling species retain the ability to fly. And many of these have long, sturdy legs. Given that these kinds of birds don't tend to fly much, it is reasonable that many of these would adapt to a purely flightless lifestyle in the absence of predation. It does not follow that birds had to learn to fly all over again. Even if it took hundreds to thousands of years for the forests to recover, there should still be populations that retain flight ability allowing them to radiate back into the trees quickly.

Re:Chickens

By iggymanz • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

chickens that aren't obese corn fed blubber balls can fly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Re:Puzzling

By knorthern knight • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

> Never understood how birds are the only remaining dinosaurs... wonder what
> made dinos so vulnerable to this event, where many other large species (crocs,
> turtles, fish, etc) survive to this day. One might think that some ***SMALL DINOSAURS***,
> or aquatic/marine species would have found a niche on some continent.

By "dinos", I assume you mean umpteen ton monstrosities. Most, if not all Cretaceous dinosaurs (even the large monstrosities) are now believd to have had feathers to maintain body tempearures. Birds == dinosaurs. It's not just the newer finds. Careful re-examination shows compsognathus == archeopteryx.

The big rock hits earth 65,000,000 years ago, and throws up a shower of debris out of the atmosphere. As the debris rains down all over planet earth, atmospheric friction heats up the incoming debris to several hundred degrees. This hail of red hot stones kills most large animals, and set most forests on fire.

Smaller particles remain in the atmosphere for a few years, blocking a lot of sunlight, and a "nuclear winter" happens. The bottom of the ecosystem (plants) gets greatly reduced. Forget large trees; you're down to hardy ferns Any large vegetarians that survived the initial "rain of fire" die of starvation, since they need a lot of plant matter every day to survive, let alone grow. When the remaining large vegetarians starve to death, there's no food for the large carnivores, so they starve to death.

Re your question about "small dinosaurs"... yes, some did survive. I repeat... birds == dinosaurs. The ones that survived were in the same size range as small mammals that survived. They occupied similar niches, and may have occupied burrows. If they couldn't dig burrows, they could chase out the small mammals who originally dug them. So when the big rock hit, small mammals and small dinosaurs (i.e. birds) that lived in burrows would've survived the initial "rain of fire". Burrows would be crucial for birds, because they lay eggs, rather than bearing their young via pregnancy.

Small dinosaurs ("birds") would compete in the same niches as small mammals, and we know that small mammals survived. Surviving birds at that time would probably be omnivores. They could eat small plants, with the occasional addition of meat in the form of insects and small mammals and even other birds.

Edge Beats Chrome in Battery Test, Says Microsoft

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The latest installment of Microsoft's browser battery challenge shows once again that Edge consumes less energy than Chrome and Firefox. From a report: With the Windows 10 April 2018 Update rolling out across the globe, Microsoft thinks it's once again time to square Edge up against Chrome and Firefox in a new battery-life test. Microsoft's browser experiment shows a time-lapse of "three identical devices, three different browsers, streaming one video." Firefox, Edge, and Chrome play what appears to be a Netflix video on three Surface Books. As usual, the Edge device lasts the longest, depleting the battery after 14 hours and 20 minutes. The Chrome device lasted 12 hours and 32 minutes, while the Firefox laptop ran out of steam after just seven hours and 15 minutes.

Why don't I use Edge? IE6

By ilsaloving • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

IE6 demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Microsoft manages to get even the slightest lead over everyone else, their innovation will grind to a screeching halt and anything they do do will be exclusively for their own benefit.

I mean, we knew this already thanks to countless other examples of their behaviour, but IE6 is probably one of those visible and glaring, directly impacting the entire computer industry and internet.

I don't understand

By Bruce Perens • Score: 3 • Thread
What's the point of Edge if it doesn't run on any good, professional operating system?

Re: Why don't I use Edge? IE6

By The MAZZTer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
When IE6 came out, I seem to recall MS publicly stating they were ceasing development of IE. Unsurprisingly, once Firefox came out and started decimating their market share, they started up again.

Doesn't matter

By Snotnose • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
1) 90% of the time when browsing I'm plugged into the local nuclear power plant.
2) Last time I tried Edge the only site that worked well was microsoft.com

But...

By Pezbian • Score: 3 • Thread

Does Edge hog RAM like Chrome does?

I swear Chrome could store each page as a big ol' bitmap and still use less RAM than it does.

Researchers Crack Open AMD's Server VM Encryption

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Shaun Nichols, reporting for The Register: A group of German researchers have devised a method to thwart the VM security in AMD's server chips. Dubbed SEVered (PDF), the attack would potentially allow an attacker, or malicious admin who had access to the hypervisor, the ability to bypass AMD's Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) protections.

The problem, say Fraunhofer AISEC researchers Mathias Morbitzer, Manuel Huber, Julian Horsch and Sascha Wessel, is that SEV, which is designed to isolate VMs from the prying eyes of the hypervisor, doesn't fully isolate and encrypt the VM data within the physical memory itself.

"malicious admin"

By Joffy • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I feel like some of these stories are like Bob's Home Security fails to protect you if your wife is a serial killer.

Wait a minute...

By Narcocide • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If you have access to the hypervisor you already have full control over the guests even without this "exploit." Why is this considered a big deal exactly?

Re:"malicious admin"

By vux984 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"I feel like some of these stories are like Bob's Home Security fails to protect you if your wife is a serial killer."

To an extent they are, but if you are using cloud providers, the other tennants, and the monkeys at the cloud provider itself should all be considered potentially hostile.

And even within companies there is this (legitimate) concept that everyone in IT shouldn't hold the keys to payroll, finance, HR, and the R&D trade secretes... so there are lots scenarios where the people administering the systems, the servers, the cloud fabric etc, shouldn't be able to get access to the contents of the virtual machines.

Insecure by design

By duke_cheetah2003 • Score: 3 • Thread

All modern PC's were never designed with the thought in mind: There will be millions of attacks against this to try and break in.

We just didn't think about that when we designed this stuff, which was before the internet really took off. Of course it's all insecure and broken, it wasn't designed to be hardened against the countless ways security researchers are finding into these designs.

When the "forces that be" decide to scrap everything we've created upto now, and start anew, with a security focus right at the starting line, then we'd get some hardware and software platforms that're truly hardened against any attack.

Bandaids over the x86 paradigm? Waste of time. It's never going to be secure, not against everything everytime. It's just not designed to be secure, we didn't think it needed to be. We didn't think there'd be millions of malicious actors in the wild, with our computers all interconnected by the internet, so everything is exposed to everyone. We just didn't think that'd ever happen. It shows.

US Reaches Deal To Keep Chinese Telecom ZTE in Business

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Trump administration told lawmakers the U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp back in business, a senior congressional aide said on Friday. From a report: The deal, communicated to officials on Capitol Hill by the Commerce Department, requires ZTE to pay a substantial fine, place U.S. compliance officers at the company and change its management team, the aide said. The Commerce Department would then lift an order preventing ZTE from buying U.S. products.

ZTE was banned in April from buying U.S. technology components for seven years for breaking an agreement reached after it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The Commerce Department decision would allow it to resume business with U.S. companies, including chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.

This could be about American jobs

By qzzpjs • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

ZTE was getting a lot of its components from American suppliers and the ban could have hurt those suppliers financially. Some may even have reduced their work forces if demand dropped. This probably also plays into Trump's plans to get China to buy more American products to reduce the trade deficit.

There's also the remote chance that Trump has money invested in those American suppliers. We'll probably never know.

Re:MAGA

By mspohr • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Trump suddenly became concerned about all of these Chinese employees right after China made a big investment in one of his hotels.
"Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported last week that the Chinese government will provide $500 million in state loans to build MNC Lido City, a resort and theme park project in Indonesia that will include a golf course and hotels marked with the Trump name.
We have a new level of corruption.

One hand washes the other

By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

This has absolutely nothing to do with the $500,000,000.00 that a Chinese government bank just poured into a failing Trump property in Indonesia.

http://www.businessinsider.com...

No quid pro quo. You're the quid pro quo.

Re:What's wrong with this?

By Phydeaux314 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They did pay a fine as part of the original settlement, and a moderately severe one, too. The Commerce Department's decision to ban them from buying American hardware and software was levied only after they failed to adhere to the terms of settlement, specifically, that several executives would be punished, fired, and receive no bonuses. They didn't follow up on punishing the executives, hence the ban.

It's not like this was a draconian move out of the blue - they were told ahead of time what the consequences would be for not doing what they agreed to do, and they did it anyway. I presume the assumption was that the Commerce Department wouldn't actually follow through with it, which turned out to be wrong.

'course, Trump's probably the most corrupt president we've ever had, so it turns out to have been a fine move by ZTE.

Re: Chinese immigration

By thomst • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Spy Handler stated, in part:

China has been the #2 source of illegal immigrants to the US for a long long time, at least two decades. .... but it used to be very common to see headlines like,

"Cargo container seized at port of Long Beach found with fifty Chinese migrants living inside while being unloaded from cargo ship."

(Quote above edited to remove gratuitous xenophobia.)

The "#2" claim is bullshit - but the People's Republic is, in fact, a non-trivial source of unauthorized immigrants to the USA. According to the New York Times, there are currently 268,000 of them here.

That number is dwarfed by the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America, but it's still more than the population of Newark, NJ (at least, as of the 2010 census). And China refuses to accept deportees, so we're basically stuck with them, even if the current administration manages to locate them all - which it won't, because it's focused exclusively on Hispanics.

It's also worth noting that Chinese immigrants, both authorized and unauthorized, tend to be younger, and have skills that are better-suited to the American job market, than the average Hispanic immigrant. They also tend not to arrive in shipping containers. Most of them arrive legally, on tourist visas - which they blithely overstay, because there's nowhere near the level of effort expended on tracking them down as there is on tracking down Hispanics.

In my experience (and I know several such Chinese), they tend to be highly entrepreneurial. The ones I know are engaged in smuggling consumer goods - not from China to the USA, but from the USA to China. (Levis 501's are hugely popular - and extremely costly - in China, for instance.) In a twisted way, you could say they're actually contributing to this country's economy, and doing a tiny bit to redress our trade imbalance with China.

In another way, you could say they're probably laundering money for the Chinese mob - and I'd bet a shiny, new, Ohio quarter you'd be right ...

Valve Slammed Over 'Horrendous' Steam School-Shooting Game

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Several readers have shared an EuroGamer report: Just a week after the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas that saw 10 people fatally shot and 13 others were wounded, Valve has come under fire for a Steam school-shooting game that encourages you to "hunt and destroy" children. Active Shooter, which at the time of publication is live on Steam and due for release on 6th June, is described by its developer as "a dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator." The idea is you're sent in to deal with a shooter at a school, but you can also play as the actual shooter, gunning down school children.

Now, an anti-gun violence charity has called on Valve to pull the game from Steam. The developer of Active Shooter is called Revived Games, the publisher Acid. Revived Games' credits include White Power: Pure Voltage and Dab, Dance & Twerk. "Acid", who plans to add a survival mode in which you play as a civilian and have to "escape or perform a heroic action such as fight against the shooter itself," took to Active Shooter's Steam page to defend the game. "First of all, this game does not promote any sort of violence, especially any soft [sic] of a mass shooting," Acid said.

Re:Not against

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Is the game mocking mass shootings, or glorifying them, or something in between?

Whatever it's doing, it sure looks clumsy and tasteless from here.

You think? What about the complete disparity between people getting angry about a game involving school shootings, while also having absolutely no willpower to actually do anything about real school shootings?

Ih, there's plenty of will power to do "something" ... the problem is that none of the "something's proposed would actually do anything useful.

Re:As seriously as the US takes it

By Solandri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
You shouldn't care about school shootings either. There have been about 250 deaths in school shootings over 18 years (non-gang, non-suicide), or about 14 per year. Since there are approximately 51 million K-12 students in the U.S., a student's chances of being killed in a non-gang, non-suicide school shooting in any given year are about (51 million students) / (14 deaths/year) = 1 in 3.6 million.

You're more likely to be killed by a deer. About 120 Americans are killed by deer every year. (325.7 million Americans) / (120 deaths/year) = 1 in 2.7 million chance of being killed by a deer each year. Do you wring your hands over the possibility of being killed by a deer, and hold marches to demanding the deer population be controlled?

The U.S. causes of death statistics are readily available from the CDC website. For 2015, the leading causes of death for the 15-19 year old demographic were:

3,919 deaths - Accidents (mostly automobile accidents and drug overdoses)
2.061 deaths - Suicide
1,587 deaths - Homicide (mostly outside school, and gang related)
583 deaths - Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
306 deaths - Heart disease
195 deaths - Birth defects
72 deaths - Influenza (the flu)
63 deaths - Chronic lower respiratory diseases
61 deaths - Cerebrovascular diseases
52 deaths - Diabetes
41 deaths - Complications from pregnancy and childbirth

All of these represent a greater risk to students than the 14 deaths per year from school shootings.

Atari

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 3 • Thread

Back in ancient times of game systems, in Seven Cities of Gold (I think) on the Atari, you could wantonly attack peaceful Indians ... or keep slaughtering ones that had stopped resisting.

They went into some kind of weird tribal dance of utter despair that really freaked me out and made me never want to try that again. Brrr.

But my point is you could do it.

Granted, they were so pixilated and cartoonish that I don't think even those who believe video games inspire violence could really think that game would ... so it;s not quite the same thing.

Re:Not against

By ceoyoyo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"there is insufficient political support for that"

That would be the no willpower to actually do anything problem.

In actual fact, there's lots of will, including political support to do it. Polls in the US show a majority of voters favour increased gun control. Problem is, there's a very vocal minority making everyone believe there's no will.

We need to STOP PUBLICIZING shootings!

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
You want to help stop more school shootings? The Press needs to stop publicizing them. All they're doing is turning these shooters into celebrities, which in turn is emboldening the would-be school shooters, and so on, and so on.