the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

FTC Tells ISPs To Disclose Exactly What Information They Collect On Users and What It's For

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The Federal Trade Commission, in what could be considered a prelude to new regulatory action, has issued an order to several major internet service providers requiring them to share every detail of their data collection practices. The information could expose patterns of abuse or otherwise troubling data use against which the FTC -- or states -- may want to take action. The letters requesting info went to Comcast, Google, T-Mobile, and both the fixed and wireless sub-companies of Verizon and AT&T. These "represent a range of large and small ISPs, as well as fixed and mobile Internet providers," an FTC spokesperson said. I'm not sure which is mean to be the small one, but welcome any information the agency can extract from any of them.

To be clear, the FTC already has consumer protection rules in place and could already go after an internet provider if it were found to be abusing the privacy of its users -- you know, selling their location to anyone who asks or the like. (Still no action there, by the way.) But the evolving media and telecom landscape, in which we see enormous companies devouring one another to best provide as many complementary services as possible, requires constant reevaluation. As the agency writes in a press release: "The FTC is initiating this study to better understand Internet service providers' privacy practices in light of the evolution of telecommunications companies into vertically integrated platforms that also provide advertising-supported content."
The report provides this example as to the kind of situation the FTC is concerned about: "If Verizon wants to offer not just the connection you get on your phone, but the media you request, the ads you are served, and the tracking you never heard of, it needs to show that these businesses are not somehow shirking rules behind the scenes."

"For instance, if Verizon Wireless says it doesn't collect or share information about what sites you visit, but the mysterious VZ Snooping Co (fictitious, I should add) scoops all that up and then sells it for peanuts to its sister company, that could amount to a deceptive practice," TechCrunch adds. "Of course it's rarely that simple (though don't rule it out), but the only way to be sure is to comprehensively question everyone involved and carefully compare the answers with real-world practices."

The honest answer to this would be short.

By ffkom • Score: 3 • Thread
Like: "We collect all the data we can get hold of, and use it for every conceivable purpose, especially those that make us money."

UPS Is Using Drones To Transport Medical Supplies Between Hospitals

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
UPS has partnered with autonomous drone company Matternet and hospital WakeMed in Raleigh, North Carolina, to test a new drone delivery service for transporting medical samples to nearby facilities. The FAA is overseeing the program. CNBC reports: UPS said the service will utilize Matternet's M2 "quadcopter" drone, which can carry medical samples of up to 5 pounds as far as 12.5 miles. The program will begin with "numerous planned daily revenue flights at the WakeMed Raleigh campus," UPS said. The drone delivery service aims to replace WakeMed's reliance on a fleet of courier cars, which currently transports most of the hospital's medical samples. Using a UPS "secure drone container," WakeMed employees can load medical specimens like blood samples and send them quickly to a nearby WakeMed facility.

Matternet has completed "more than 3,000 flights for healthcare systems in Switzerland," UPS added. The WakeMed program is also under the FAA's broader effort called the "Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program," which "aims to test practical applications of drones by partnering local governments with private sector companies."

Not bad

By Major_Disorder • Score: 3 • Thread
Finally a good use for drone delivery. Sending small, time sensitive, cargos between two fixed points. Finally a use case that actually makes sense.

I still want my battlefield drones

By Ichijo • Score: 3 • Thread

You get blown up by a claymore or something but in your backpack is a swarm of little surgeon drones that find all the pieces, sorts them by DNA in case your buddy got blown up too, glues you back together and restarts your heart, all before hypoxia begins to cause brain damage. Then a week or two later you're doing patrols again.

How Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon Warped the Hyperlink

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The concept of the hyperlink was first outlined over 70 years ago and eventually became a central part of the web. But 30 years since the invention of the world wide web, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have skewed the original ambitions for hyperlinks, who they are for and how far they can lead you. From a feature story: The impact that Google's PageRank algorithms have had on how the commercial web chooses to deploy hyperlinks can be seen in just about any SEO (search engine optimisation) blog. Publishers and businesses are encouraged to prioritize internal links over external links that may boost the competition in Google's rankings. "Since the very moment Google came on the scene, links moved from being the defining characteristic of the web, to being a battleground. Google's core insight was that you could treat every link as, essentially, a vote for the site," says Adam Tinworth, a digital publishing strategist. Tinworth explains that Google tries to minimize the effect of these 'unnatural linking patterns', which includes comment spam and 'guest posts', but it remains part of "how the shadier side of the SEO industry operates."

With clear, financial incentives to serve Google's web spiders, which regularly 'crawl' website content to determine its placement in searches, a common strategy involves placing hyperlinks on specific 'anchor text' -- the actual words that you click on -- that benefit that site's PageRank for keywords rather than tailor links to readers. That's not inherently a problem but research from the University of Southampton, published in February, suggests it doesn't go unnoticed. [...] In the cases of Apple and Facebook, the question isn't so much how we link and how we react to them, as where we can link to and where we can follow links to. Apple News, Facebook's Instant Articles and Google AMP all propose variations on limited systems of linking back to sources of information. As for Instagram, it's based on a two-tier system: users can't add external links to posts (#linkinbio) unless they buy adverts whereas accounts with a large number of followers are able to add external links to Stories.


By Frosty Piss • Score: 3 • Thread

I feel like a lot of these articles get into this "That's not what the Creator envisioned, so this is wrong" line of thinking. But you know? Things evolve to fit the needs of the person using them in their project. Boo hoo, Tim Berners-Lee doesn't like something... Well, he's not on my project team anyway.

ASUS Releases Fix For ShadowHammer Malware Attack

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Iwastheone shares a report from Engadget: ASUS may have inadvertently pushed malware to some of its computers through its update tool, but it at least it has a fix ready to go. The PC maker has released a new version of its Live Update software for laptops that addresses the ShadowHammer backdoor attack. It also promised "multiple security verification mechanisms" to reduce the chances of further attacks, and started using an "enhanced end-to-end encryption mechanism." There are upgrades to the behind-the-scenes server system to prevent future attacks, ASUS added.

The company simultaneously reiterated the narrow scope of ShadowHammer, noting that the malware targeted a "very small and specific user group." It's believed to be an Advanced Persistent Threat -- that is, a state-backed assault against organizations rather than everyday users. Other ASUS devices weren't affected, according to a notice. While the fix is reassuring, it also raises questions as to why the systems weren't locked down earlier. Update tools are prime targets for hackers precisely because they're both trusted and have deep access to the operating system -- tight security is necessary to prevent an intruder from hijacking the process.

Judge Recommends Import Ban On iPhones After Latest Apple Vs. Qualcomm Verdict

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The latest chapter in the ongoing and messy Apple versus Qualcomm legal battle might mean a U.S. import ban on some iPhone models. A U.S. trade judge has found Apple guilty of infringing on two Qualcomm patents related to power management and data download speeds. As a result, the judge -- International Trade Commission Judge MaryJoan McNamara -- says some iPhone models containing competing Intel modems might be blocked from shipping from China, where they're manufactured, to the U.S. The judgment is still pending review by the ITC. Qualcomm is expecting another ruling in a second case it brought to the ITC later today that is not expected to include an import ban on iPhones. Regardless, this ruling is another blow to Apple, which, earlier this month, was found to have infringed on three separate Qualcomm patents in one of many other legal skirmishes playing out between the two companies. Next month the two companies will square off in court to discuss Qualcomm's alleged anti-competitive licensing strategies and the patent royalties it claims Apple owes for disputing the terms of their long-standing relationship.

That's a lot of power in one person's hands

By danbuter • Score: 3 • Thread
It's hard to believe one person could completely shut down a company like this. I'm hoping the judge isn't some 75 year old who doesn't even know how to turn on a computer.

Ban on iPhones?

By DickBreath • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Woo Hoo!

It's about time Apple got a real taste of being on the wrong end of a patent infringement lawsuit.

Clearly Apple must feel that they didn't infringe. But then so did all those Apple was suing over patents not very many years ago. Pinch to zoom? Bouncy scrolling? And wanting to get 100% of the device retail cost as damages? Seriously?

IMO this couldn't happen to a better target than Apple.

FYI . . . long ago I was a card carrying Apple fanboy and longtime developer back in the Classic Mac days. Even after moving from Mac to Linux when OSX came out, I still had fond memories of Apple -- until it started all the patent lawsuits.

Qualcomm antennas are better right?

By omfglearntoplay • Score: 3 • Thread

Isn't this a win for consumers, or did I misremember the old Qualcomm antenna woes? Or old news?

Part of the cnet conversation:

"Now a recent report from Bloomberg claimed Apple might be throttling Verizon's LTE performance with a Qualcomm modem in order to make it perform similarly to the Intel chip that's in other phones. The Qualcomm hardware is theoretically capable of a maximum 600 megabits per second for download speeds. Compared to the Intel modem that's topped out at 450 megabytes per second."

Re:Qualcomm antennas are better right?

By WankerWeasel • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
This isn't related to that. This suit was filed by Qualcomm when Apple decided to use Intel modems rather than theirs. They got upset over the loss of revenue from the move, so they found a patent to go after Apple over and try to force them to use their modems again.

Re:Which models?

By viperidaenz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Keep in mind that Qualcomm didn't file this suit until Apple switched to using Intel chips

You idiot, that's because Qualcomm had a patent agreement with Apple while they were supplying them the chips.
Apple didn't like how Qualcomm based the royalty payment on the retail price of the phone, the same as all the other manufacturers, because Apple have been skyrocketing the retail price - like paying $1099 for a 64GB phone or $1449 for a 256GB model. That's $350 for 192GB. A 256GB micro SD card costs less than $100.
They stopped paying Qualcomm royalties, so Qualcomm sued for infringement.

That's how it's supposed to work.

Google Launches Global Council To Advise on AI and Tech Ethics

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Google announced today that it has formed an external advisory group -- dubbed the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) -- that is tasked with " considering some of the most complex challenges in AI," including facial recognition and fairness in machine learning. From a report: The council, which is slated to publish a report at the end of 2019, includes technology experts, digital ethicists, and people with public policy backgrounds, Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president for global affairs, said at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference. The group is meant to provide recommendations for Google and other companies and researchers working in areas such as facial recognition software, a form of automation that has prompted concerns about racial bias and other limitations. "We want to have the most informed and thoughtful conversations we can," Walker said on stage at the MIT Technology Review event in San Francisco. "We want to sit down with the council and see what agenda they want to set."

Trump Administration Dims Rule On Energy Efficient Lightbulbs

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: If it's been a few years since you shopped for a lightbulb, you might find yourself confused. Those controversial curly-cue ones that were cutting edge not that long ago? Gone. (Or harder to find.) Thanks to a 2007 law signed by President George W. Bush, shelves these days are largely stocked with LED bulbs that look more like the traditional pear-shaped incandescent version but use just one-fifth the energy. A second wave of lightbulb changes was set to happen. But now the Trump administration wants to undo an Obama-era regulation designed to make a wide array of specialty lightbulbs more energy efficient.

At issue here are bulbs such as decorative globes used in bathrooms, reflectors in recessed lighting, candle-shaped lights and three-way lightbulbs. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that, collectively, these account for about 2.7 billion light sockets, nearly half the conventional sockets in use in the U.S. At the very end of the Obama administration, the Department of Energy decided these specialty bulbs should also be subject to efficiency requirements under the 2007 law. The lighting industry objected and sued to overturn the decision. [...] NEMA argued that Congress never intended for the law to apply to all these other lightbulbs. After President Trump took office the Energy Department agreed and proposed to reverse the agency's previous decision. Critics say if the reversal is finalized it will mean higher energy bills for consumers and more pollution.

Re: What will it take..

By gtall • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It isn't clear Trump is left unscathed by Mueller. We don't see the full report.

Put yourself in Mueller's shoes. If he issued an indictment of Trump, the right-wing nuts would froth at the mouth...well, more so than they already do. And his boss has already declared Presidents are above the law. So by failing to issue an indictment in the way he did, i.e., evidence on both sides, he makes Barr decide not to indict and now Barr has to defend being a apologies to toads.

And Mueller seemed to do a fair job of spawning off other investigations that were not in his direct purview. So now Barr has to contend with the rank and file knowing what a sleeze Trump is and attempt to bottle up those investigations.

In my opinion, Barr got the job because the Republicans needed a patsy and he was pleasured to oblige.

Harsh LED bulbs?

By steveha • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

the light from LED bulbs seems more harsh

I personally find "daylight" bulbs very harsh, and I'm wondering if you got one of those. They are slightly brighter than "warm" bulbs but I don't like the color.

Ironically we say "warm" bulbs for bulbs with a lower color temperature. Color temperature is measured using the number of degrees that an ideal black-body radiator would be to glow at that color. "warm" bulbs are 2700K, and "daylight" bulbs are 5000K. The hotter color temperature means the light is shifted toward blue, so it's brighter. The "warm" temperature is less bluish. (We are used to fire being considered warm, and it's only red-hot; blue-hot is hotter. But ice looks bluish so I guess we think bluish colors are cooler.)

I have Cree brand tube bulbs that replace fluorescent tubes and they are 3000K color temperature. I like 3000K; the "warm" temperature of 2700K seems kind of yellowish to me. I found that Cree has some 3000K bulbs on the Home Depot web site (I've never seen them in a store) and I plan to try buying some.

Also, bulbs have a metric called "CRI", which I believe is "Color Rendering Index". A CRI rating of 100 is theoretically exactly as nice as sunlight. Higher is better. The most expensive Cree bulbs have CRI of over 90. Your "harsh" bulb may have a low CRI.

Re: What will it take..

By jeff4747 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

And although Trump may have been left unscathed by Mueller's probe

All we've seen so far is a summary written by the guy who literally covered up Iran-Contra. And even that summary explicitly states the report did not exonerate Trump:

While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him

Btw, one of Barr's "interesting" legal positions is that you can not be charged with obstructing justice unless you can be charged with the crime you obstructed justice to hide. Which would seem to fit extremely well with that quote. It's also an insane opinion that isn't backed by anything other than convenience to the powerful.

Re:Of COURSE Trump wants to overturn it...

By Ksevio • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
I guess if he was elected to be a bad president, we deserve a bad president.

Let's not forget when Obama tried to work out compromises with Republicans on health care by picking a Republican plan, taking months to vote on Republican amendments, and then they still all voted against it. When the GOP leader said their #1 priority was to make Obama a one term president, they weren't really looking to compromise.

Re: What will it take..

By DamnOregonian • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I have to pay for the 40% of Trump voters who are obese diabetic shitbags who can't stop eating, you can pay for us while we're between jobs that pay enough to continue paying your health care costs.

Google Makes Emails More Dynamic With AMP For Email

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google today officially launched AMP for Email, its effort to turn emails from static documents into dynamic, web page-like experiences. From a report: AMP for Email is coming to Gmail, but other major email providers like Yahoo Mail, Outlook and will also support AMP emails. It's been more than a year since Google first announced this initiative. Even by Google standards, that's a long incubation phase, though there's also plenty of backend work necessary to make this feature work.

The promise of AMP for Email is that it'll turn basic messages into a surface for actually getting things done. "Over the past decade, our web experiences have changed enormously -- evolving from static flat content to interactive apps -- yet email has largely stayed the same with static messages that eventually go out of date or are merely a springboard to accomplishing a more complex task," Gmail product manager Aakash Sahney writes. "If you want to take action, you usually have to click on a link, open a new tab, and visit another website." With AMP for Email, those messages become interactive. That means you'll be able to RSVP to an event right from the message, fill out a questionnaire, browse through a store's inventory or respond to a comment -- all without leaving your web-based email client.

Re:boy do i not want that

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

I second this. #DoNotWant

... yet email has largely stayed the same with static messages that eventually go out of date or are merely a springboard to accomplishing a more complex task.

Ya. Emails are messages. I get them, process them, and delete them.

This means you'll be able to RSVP to an event right from the message, fill out a questionnaire, browse through a store's inventory or respond to a comment -- all without leaving your web-based email client.

My goal is to spend less time in my email client, not more. I see how this might be good for Google, with people using their web interface, but it's a solution in search of a problem (or opportunity -- for Google).

Thankfully, I POP all my mail using Thunderbird and display all my mail as plain text (which is safer). Unfortunately, there are still some email messages that can only be displayed as HTML -- grrr.... Hopefully, I can avoid this AMP crap for a while.

Can AMP be turned off?

By Streetlight • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
If it can't be turned off then someone needs to write code that can easily be added to gmail to do so. Google could add such an option but it would likely be buried as a obscure option in the settings.

Re:Web-based email client says it all

By Frobnicator • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I remember the old fantasy that the Web would be the next operating system. Nobody really thought all that much about who would end up in control of that operating system.

"Nobody really thought about it" really means you didn't think about it.

Lots of people thought about it. During the Browser Wars of Netscape v Microsoft starting in late 1995, control over who owns the future was discussed all the time. Companies spent untold billion dollars fighting for that control. Microsoft spent several billion dollars trying to embed their browser into the operating systems. The Netscape/AOL deal was $4.2 billion with companies desperate to be in control. Various players have entered and exited the field, but the war is still going strong.

Across all the companies, there have been several trillion dollars spent over the decades fighting for that control, and many companies were (and are) fighting to the death.

Re:boy do i not want that

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

My goal is to spend less time in my email client, not more.

Seems like their goal with this is to have you spend less time (per-message) clicking around the browser altogether?

Their goal is to allow them to track you more. As AMP pages are served from Google AMP servers, this seems like it will help them a lot, regardless of the browser you use...

Re:boy do i not want that

By cathector • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
in addition to seeming like a bad UX on the surface, we'll get:

* remote execution exploits, due to increased content complexity in the inbox.
* data leak exploits.
* buggy emails!
* heaven for phishers.

Dream Market, the Top Dark Web Marketplace, Will Shut Down Next Month

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Dream Market, today's top dark web marketplace, today announced plans to shut down on April 30. From a report: The announcement came on the same day Europol, FBI, and DEA officials announced tens of arrests and a massive crackdown on dark web drug trafficking. The timing of the four announcements immediately sent most of Dream Market's users and dark web threat intel analysts into a frenzy of theories that law enforcement might have already seized the site and are now running a honeypot operation. Their fears are based on a similar event from June 2017 when Dutch police took over Hansa Market and ran the site for a month while collecting evidence on the portal's users. Law enforcement later used passwords collected from Hansa Market users to gain access to accounts on other dark web marketplaces.

Re:I keep wondering why we don't legalize drugs

By sjames • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You mean as opposed to now where they're strung out on illegal drugs and so have little to lose by adding one more criminal charge?

Try running the prisons properly and legalizing drugs. Then the prospects are: Avoid crime and use drugs or commit a crime and 'enjoy' a few years in a drug free prison.

With the significantly reduced prison population and taxes on the drugs, we will easily be able to afford to upgrade the prisons and still save money.

Re:the real solution

By sjames • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

If they did that, they would be forced to admit that there's enough residue on common items that the dog would alert to everything.

For example, money. Pretty much all of it will test positive for at least cocaine.

The dirty secret: Most of the time the dog alerts due to subtle cues from it's handler, not from something it smells.

Re:the real solution

By anglico • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

When I was a UPS Driver in Santa Cruz we would get back to the building with our pick ups and there were San Jose PD drug sniffing dogs going over the conveyor belts. Any hits and they would pull the packages aside and then let the dogs go over them more thoroughly outside.
  The dogs were from the San Jose PD, and I don't know how many centers they would check, or maybe it was just Santa Cruz, but it happened every fall during harvest time. I told my grower friends if they are going to use UPS, make sure to use Next Day Air, those are taken from the truck to the airport shuttle pretty quickly to make flights out, so the dogs never got to sniff those.
  This was back in 2000 though, so things may have changed until it became legal.

Re:the real solution

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If they did this, an obvious counter-measure would be for the drug gangs to pay an insider to smear a bit of cocaine paste on random packages.

Misting all the packages with capsaicin would also work.

Re:I keep wondering why we don't legalize drugs

By cayenne8 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

1- Name one place it's been tried and didn't turn to shit (as seen in Vancouver)

You might look at Portugal, as that they pretty much legalized/decriminalized all drugs...and they have actually had a positive result.

I"m surprised more countries don't start looking at their model.

Oculus VR Founder on Recently Unveiled Oculus Rift S: I Can't Use it, and Neither Can You.

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Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR and designer of the Oculus Rift, shares his thoughts on the recently unveiled Oculus Rift S: Rift S is very cool! It takes concepts that have been around for years and puts them into a fully functional product for the first time. Sure, sure, I see people complaining about how Rift S is worse than CV1 concerning audio quality, display characteristics, and ergonomics -- some of the tradeoffs are real, some are imaginary, and people should really wait for it to come out before passing final judgement. [...] My IPD (interpupillary distance, the distance between my eyes) is a hair under 70mm and slightly skewed to the right side of my face. One of my best friends has an IPD of 59mm. I don't know what your IPD is, but both of us were perfectly served by the IPD adjustment mechanism on Rift CV1, a mechanism that was an important part of our goal to be compatible with male and female users from 5th to 95th percentile. Anyone within the supported range (about 58mm to 72mm) got a perfect optical experience -- field curvature on the focal plane was matched, geometric distortion was properly corrected, world scale was at the right size, and pupil swim was more or less even.

Sharp imagery from edge to edge of your field of view was the norm. The small handful of people with an IPD outside that range would not get a perfect experience, but at least they would be in the right ballpark. IPD skews in different directions by gender, race, and age, but we managed to cover almost everyone, and we were proud of that. This is not the case with Rift S. Like Oculus Go, it uses two lenses that are set about 64mm apart, perfect for a perfectly average person. Everyone who fits Cinderella's shoe will get a perfect experience, anyone close will deal with minor eyestrain problems that impact their perception of VR at a mostly subconscious level. Everyone else is screwed, including me. Imagery is hard to fuse, details are blurry, distortion is wrong, mismatched pupil swim screws up VOR, and everything is at the wrong scale. "Software IPD adjustment" can solve that last bit, but not much else -- it adjusts a single variable that happens to be related to IPD, but is not comparable in any way to an actual IPD adjustment mechanism. This is the main reason I cannot use my Oculus Go, even after heavy modification on other fronts.

Number of variables

By sgunhouse • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Any good pair of binoculars will have three adjustments - you can bend the hinge to adjust IPD, you can adjust focus, plus a diopter on one eyepiece (to adjust for your eyes focusing at different distances). But binoculars don't rest on your nose. If you broke your nose as a kid the goggles may not line up correctly. Since they expect you to wear your own glasses we could drop the focus and diopter, but that still leaves at least 3 adjustments.

Race is a social construct, so is gender

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

>IPD skews in different directions by gender, race, and age

What does he mean is skews by gender and race? Everyone knows these are constructs made up by white christian males to oppress the world!

Re:A damned shame

By jythie • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Years ago I worked for a company that built embedded systems that ran for a few thousand dollars apiece, and there were arguments about changes in washers or screen padding that changed the price by maybe a dozen cents. Hardware designers and the people who approve the designs for manufacturing can be surprisingly pennywise and pound foolish.

Though to be fair, there were other things that seemed tiny (like placement of a support or a cable length) but could produce multi-hundred dollar differences in manufacturing cost due to how it would change things like logistics or tooling, so sometimes stuff that seems like it should be cheap can make huge differences.

gushathon blues

By epine • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I've been reading about VR for years, and this is the first time I've ever read anything that cut to the chase. Awesome! Now I can die happy, in my own bed, surrounded by ordinary walls, covered with drab wallpaper.

Oculus no longer relevant

By WaffleMonster • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Oculus has always been twofaced about specs. Palmer and crew went on and on about how important minspec was so people wouldn't get "sick" and end up hating VR.

Yet the very first product Oculus did was 3DOF VR in form of a plastic box that clipped on to cell phones where any head translation results in instant nausea.

Now after THREE YEARS they are releasing an inferior product lacking the very features they previously touted as necessary.

HP Reverb is bare minimum of what Rift CV2 should have been and best of all it's not tied to FACEBOOK.

I'm still waiting for Nvidia or someone to release a serious next gen VR HMD. What is needed is at least 32k display with eye tracking and custom foveated display driver to make using it feasible. Bonus points for light field / dynamic focus depth.

It's pretty clear Oculus is out of the VR hardware business which is fine with me.

Multiple US Airlines Hit By Flight Check-in and Booking Systems Outage

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A computer system that airlines use for check-in kiosks, booking and more was experiencing issues on Tuesday, apparently affecting multiple air carriers. From a report: There were widespread reports on social media of air passengers inconvenienced by the outage, with long lines at airports across the country. Sabre Airline Solutions released this statement shortly before noon Eastern Time: "We are aware of the issues facing some of our customers. Recovery is in progress. We apologize for the inconvenience." The company was tweeting that statement to people who took note of the outage. American Airlines flagged the issue, saying in a statement that Sabre was "experiencing a technical issue that is impacting multiple carriers, including American Airlines. Sabre is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience." American later said that the issue with Sabre's system "has been resolved."

Re:this is what happens when you farm out your sof

By LifesABeach • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
A light fact checking of Sabre's software development habits shows that H1Btards were and are very much involved. A light glance at the screens at an airport Sabre kiosk shows a windows solution that its clients get to choke on. Even to the most Republican Hypocrite Pervert Ivan will admit that Revenue, not Efficient was the measure of success-litanies championed at Sabre.

Firefox Lockbox Comes To Android To Ease Password Pain

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
If you're a Firefox true believer, or even just a Firefox user, your password struggles just got a little easier with the release of Firefox Lockbox for Android devices. From a report: The password manager, based on login information already in Firefox, makes it easier to sign into apps as well. It integrates with login autocomplete systems in both Apple's iOS and Google's Android software, Mozilla said. It's not as fancy as password managers like LastPass, BitWarden, 1Password and Dashlane, and the only browser it works with is Firefox. On the other hand, if you're already in the Firefox world, it's basically already set up for you. There's no migration process as with dedicated password managers.

Convenient, but less secure

By OneHundredAndTen • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
One of the side effects of security is that things become more clumsy and inconvenient. When something becomes more convenient, chances are it also becomes less secure. Pick your poison.

Android = Surveillance Platform

By stevegee58 • Score: 3 • Thread
Android is just a surveillance platform for Big Brother. Why pretend otherwise?

Swift 5 Released

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Ted Kremenek, a manager of the Languages and Runtimes team at Apple, writes: Swift 5 is now officially released! Swift 5 is a major milestone in the evolution of the language. Thanks to ABI stability, the Swift runtime is now included in current and future versions of Apple's platform operating systems: macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. Swift 5 also introduces new capabilities that are building blocks for future versions, including a reimplementation of String, enforcement of exclusive access to memory during runtime, new data types, and support for dynamically callable types.

I can't wait!

By pak9rabid • Score: 3, Informative • Thread
Oh sweet, another forced Xcode upgrade that will no doubt bust up all my app's existing code and require hours of effort to get back to where I was again! Thanks Apple!

Re:I can't wait!

By UnknowingFool • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Did Apple hide this from you? I mean you developed apps using Swift fully knowing it wasn’t ABI stable. And now it’s Apple’s fault for making it stable. As far as I know you could have kept using ObjC.

How is it forced?

By SuperKendall • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Oh sweet, another forced Xcode upgrade

How is this forced? You could keep using the current version of Xcode for quite a while.

In fact even after upgrading, nothing says you have to move to Swift 5 - you can keep compiling against the older Swift versions, and upgrade when it makes sense to you.

I've been using the beta version of Xcode off and on, and it didn't seem to break anything - I was able to compile my existing projects just fine with no changes.

Re:I can't wait!

By UnknowingFool • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I only coded briefly in Swift 2/3 and even I knew it wasn’t ABI stable. That was one of the complaints in why the Swift app size was much larger than ObjC versions. Sorry if this wasn’t clear to you but it is always a risk with a relatively new languages that they aren’t stable for a while. Even older languages break compatibility with new versions. Java 9 breaks a lot of things, and Java was 15 years old by then.

Re:I can't wait!

By Anubis IV • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Well, they sure weren't very upfront about it not being ABI stable in the past.

Other than dropping by your home to deliver the news in person, I honestly don't know how they could have been more up front about it. They talked about it in a keynote, WWDC sessions, written roadmaps, e-mail lists, tech podcasts featuring Apple engineers as guests, and other documentation. Hell, I've never even coded a line in Swift and I felt like I couldn't avoid the information had I wanted to, simply because it was constantly coming up in software development circles.

Now, that doesn't change the fact that the plans have indeed changed over the years. I think I even remember them suggesting that Swift 3 would be ABI stable at one point, which clearly didn't end up being the case. But they've been keeping people in the loop all along and explaining the delays. Even so, most of the language reached ABI stability in 4.x and earlier, so the benefits of full stability in 5.0 are somewhat muted.

version 4 would be the last version to break backwards compatibility

Given that the only people who won't be able to run Swift 5 code are the ones whose devices won't have support for iOS 13 (i.e. devices from likely 2013 and earlier), this only affects organizations supporting apps on unsupported hardware from 6+ years ago (i.e. a vanishingly small number of organizations, at least when it comes to mobile). If you're a developer in that space, you're already familiar with the hassles associated with supporting outdated hardware, such as needing to link against outdated libraries and frameworks or using an older version of a language. It's the sort of stuff we have to do all the time in industry, so I'm not sure why anyone would be bothered by it.

EU Parliament Votes To End Daylight Savings

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The European Parliament on Tuesday voted with a large majority to end daylight savings time in the EU by 2021. From a report: Under the proposals, each member state would decide whether to continue with twice-a-year clock changes or stick permanently to summer or winter time. All 28 member states would need to inform the European Commission of their choice ahead of the proposed switch, by April 2020. They would then coordinate with the bloc's executive so that their decisions do not disrupt the functioning of the single market.

Re:Yay but nay

By religionofpeas • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Stop thinking that we somehow need to regulate our clocks to that yellow thing

Right, we should all work 9-5 on UTC time, and if that means you work and play in the dark, and go to sleep in the light, so be it. Stop thinking that you need the sun to enjoy a nice day on the beach, or a hike in the mountains, when you can simply bring some flashlights with you.

Split the Difference - 30 minutes in the middle !!

By ripvlan • Score: 3 • Thread

I hate the time change. It does NOT save energy (I never understood that argument). I live near the 45th parallel and it is damn dark in the morning & afternoon during the winter. Around here the excuse is to have light in the morning to make school bus pickup safer - see the reason isn't even universal. Experience says, it don't make much difference. The bus comes around 6:50am and the sun doesn't rise until 7:30. And for those in Seattle or Montreal its even worse(8 am?! holy-moly). But its fast period in the middle of December and January, a big difference is noticed by Feb. Longer nights in the summer promotes business (outdoor events, concerts on the green etc).

And summer time - The sun is up by a bit after 5 and sets around 9, we still have light at 10pm. A plenty long day.

So - why not split the difference by 30 minutes. We get "30" minutes of extra light in the winter. And it doesn't make a difference in the summer. I'd hate to have summer sunset occur before 8pm with a whole-sale switch. Lots of outdoor stuff goes on in the summer evenings - outdoor music, riding bikes.

But we'd all be awake and not have to listen to constant complaining 2 weeks a year.

Re:Yay but nay

By gmack • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Keep in mind that Spain is entirely in the wrong timezone It is south of the UK so it should be on the same timezone as the UK but instead it's on Central European time so 10-18 is actually 9-17. Also it's mainly only government offices that take 3h lunch breaks. At least in the Madrid area, the people who actually work for a living mainly get a 1h lunch break.

Re: Yay but nay

By Miamicanes • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Technically, GMT is NOT the same as UTC. There are actually three different standards... GMT, UTC, and TAI.

They differ because the precise length of an orbital & rotational year is neither 100% consistent nor predictable.

GMT is defined by solar noon at the Greenwich Observatory in London. If observation reveals that we've wobbled by a few milliseconds, GMT changes to reflect that. It sounds nice in theory, but 99.999% of use cases honestly don't give a fuck whether solar noon at Greenwich happens a few hundred milliseconds (or entire seconds) early or late.

TAI is kind of like Unix time, except it has much greater precision. It defines a second as a precise number of cesium-137 decay periods, a year as a precise number of seconds, and counts both as an offset from its starting point. TAI currently deviates from GMT by ~32 seconds.

UTC was envisioned as a compromise between GMT and TAI. It adds and removes seconds to ensure that UTC's noon falls within a half second of Greenwich solar noon. It's also a royal pain in the ass to deal with, because unlike TAI, UTC is a historical moving target. 9:47:42 July 18, 1997 UTC is NOT precisely 8 years before 9:47:42 July 18, 2005 UTC (even accounting for leap year gymnastics), because a couple of seconds were added as well

UTC makes a mess of things like timestamped logs, the same way DST does... but worse, because most people using UTC for timestamps are doing it PRECISELY to avoid the DST timestamp problem, and have no idea that "leap seconds" even EXIST until the first time they get burned by it.

UTC-vs-TAI was exacerbated by the sudden popularity of using internet time protocol (NTP) to automatically set clocks on computers. In the past, people set the time, and let it go until they manually updated it at their own convenience. Leap seconds were rare to begin with during that era, and a second or two gain or loss when the computer got rebooted was lost in the greater disruption of the reboot itself.

Fast forward to sometime around 2006, when UTC-via-NTP had become commonplace, and a leap second occurred, Linux computers all automatically observed it, and all hell broke loose when software that assumed that "UTC" behaved like TAI found itself with 2 seconds' worth of logged activity bearing the same timestamp (and often, undefined weirdness if computations involving milliseconds were involved on computers that did 64-bit timekeeping).

As I understand the "Linux" problem, programmers want TAI-like behavior, but POSIX compliance explicitly requires UTC... switching Linux to TAI would require changes to POSIX to allow timestamps to unambiguously indicate whether they're UTC or TAI, and the current 32-second difference is too big to just sweep under a rug and ignore. So instead, we have a complicated system where computers use NTP to sync up to TAI, then the OS converts TAI to UTC and adds/removes leap seconds before exposing it as the leap-second-mangled offset from midnight January 1, 1970 for consumption by programs that don't actually CARE about the precise moment of solar noon @ Greenwich.

The proposed solution is almost worse... ending leap seconds in UTC (to avoid rewriting POSIX & everything it dictates, causing YEARS of insidious bugs in the process), and inventing a FOURTH standard to do what UTC currently does & keep astronomers happy.

Compounding matters even more is disagreement about how to handle the leap seconds we already have. If UTC retroactively wipes them out, we're back to the problem of ambiguity with "UTC" timestamps between the 1980s and present... no way to indicate whether it's a "legacy" UTC timestamp or a "revised" one. If it doesn't, we'll still have to deal with those legacy timestamps in perpetuity.

The net result is that we're likely stuck with UTC and dealing with leap seconds in Linux for at least another decade or two. My guess is that POSIX will be left alone, UTC will eventually stop adding leap seconds (but leave the existing ones as-is), and they'll come up with a new standard for Astronomers to take the place of UTC.

Re:Yay but nay

By Gavagai80 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

And without official timezones, every business can decide for itself, which will cause a lot more confusion and chaos.

If you were right, it would cause the end of all rush hour traffic congestion, which would be wonderful.

But back in the real world, most businesses are going to set their hours to be daylight hours since that's when their customers and employees will want to be awake. And back in the real world every business already decides for themselves what their hours are. Many people start work at 7, 8, 9am with no real dominant standard starting time. People talk as "9 to 5" were a standard, but the mean work start time is actually 8:18 (in USA+Europe, source). Which is why it's really more like rush 3 hours instead of rush hour. Clock time really has zilch current influence on when employers set their working hours right now, it would not change if we went to UTC.

Europe Passes Controversial Online Copyright Reforms

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
EU lawmakers today endorsed an overhaul of the bloc's two-decade old copyright rules, which will force Google and Facebook to pay publishers for use of news snippets and make them filter out protected content. From a report: The set of copyright rules known as the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, but more succinctly as the EU Copyright Directive, has been debated and discussed for several years. While it is broadly uncontroversial in many regards, there are two facets to the directive that has caused the internet to freak out. Article 11, which has been dubbed the "link tax," stipulates that websites pay publishers a fee if they display excerpts of copyrighted content -- or even link to it. This obviously could have big ramifications for services such as Google News. Then there is Article 13, dubbed the "upload filter," which would effectively make digital platforms legally liable for any copyright infringements on their platform, which has stoked fears that it would stop people from sharing content -- such as GIF-infused memes -- on social networks. In a statement, EFF said, "In a stunning rejection of the will five million online petitioners, and over 100,000 protestors this weekend, the European Parliament has abandoned common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts, and approved the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive in its entirety."

Re:No there's not. This is the EU.

By Opportunist • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Yes, that's why the EU parliament is essentially powerless. It's mostly a dump for politicians you can't keep at home because they're a liability and you can't just fire because they know too much. Essentially, it's what we came up with when political murder went out of fashion.

Re:Not democracy

By jabuzz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The parliament is democratically elected. Next election being in May.

The council is composed of elected ministers, one from each member state.

The commissioners are civil servants (and civil servants are not elected in any country I have ever heard of) that are appointed by the council.

More either uninformed or deliberate misinformation.

Re:Not democracy

By elrous0 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The funny thing is that Germany has done with the EU what it never could with Hitler and the world's most advanced military force at the time: take over the entirety of Europe (and without firing a shot). They even got the other countries to APPLY for the privilege of giving up their national sovereignty. Even Goebbels himself could have never engineered something that brilliant in a million years.

Turns out the Blitzkrieg was just a waste of effort. Just convince everyone else that it's in their economic interest to hand over control of their country to you, and they'll not only LET you invade, they'll BEG you for it.

Re:Not democracy

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

An unseen group of unelected bureaucrats that are not under any elected control. Who runs them? Who knows?

Laws a proposed by the Commission, which is made up of representatives appointed by each member state's government, which in turn is made up of people you elect.

They are a civil service, similar to how politicians on most member states don't actually write the laws themselves, they have civil servants write them and then review and ask for changes.

The idea is that the Commission takes direction from the Council, which is made up of member states' leaders (i.e. people you elected), comes up with proposals that they think will make things better and puts them to the Parliament. The Parliament can reject them or ask for changes if necessary.

In addition, member states have vetoes in many cases, including anything which requires a new treaty to implement.

Also, if the Parliament doesn't like what the Commission or the Council is doing, it can get rid of them. That happened in 1999. The Parliament is DIRECTLY elected by citizens of member states.

If you don't know this it's because you are wilfully ignorant.

I would be fine with this, if...

By bradley13 • Score: 3 • Thread

You know, I would actually be fine with strengthening some aspects of copyright protection - if there were softening in other respects. Media producers want paid for snippets? Fine, absolutely fine. But their copyright expires in 12 months, after which the material enters the public domain.

What is actually likely to happen: Media companies will be shocked, shocked when companies like Google simply stop linking to them. Their business will collapse, until they see the solution: issuing a general public license allowing anyone to link to their content with no fees whatsoever. At which time, Google&Co. will start linking to them again. We've been here before, more or less. And we'll be here again in a few years, when the next generation of clueless MBAs decides to try to monetize links.

The liability of platforms for copyright infringement by their users? I'm not seeing a great solution to that one. Stupid politicians, this is why we can't have nice things...