the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2017-Feb-16 today archive


  1. Scientists Use Stem Cells To Grow Animal-Free Pork In a Lab
  2. PewDiePie Calls Out the 'Old-School Media' For Spiteful Dishonesty
  3. Samsung Chief Lee Arrested In Corruption Investigation
  4. McDonald's Hires Project Ara Design Team To Reinvent the Drinking Straw
  5. Scottish Court Awards Damages For CCTV Camera Pointed At Neighbor's House
  6. AT&T Is the Latest Carrier To Offer Unlimited Data For All Its Customers
  7. Swedish Court Rules: 'Block the Pirate Bay For Next 3 Years'
  8. FCC Chairman Wants It To Be Easier To Listen To Free FM Radio On Your Smartphone
  9. Google Fiber Sheds Workers As It Looks to a Wireless Future
  10. Tech Jobs Took a Big Hit Last Year
  11. CloudFlare Puts Pirate Sites on New IP Addresses, Avoids Cogent Blockade
  12. YouTube Has 1 Billion Videos With Closed-Captioning (But Not All of Them Are Accurate)
  13. EU Privacy Watchdogs Seek Assurances on US Data Transfer Pact
  14. Sprint's New Unlimited Plan Adds HD Streaming, Four Lines For $90
  15. Valve 'Comfortable' If Virtual Reality Headsets Fail
  16. Google Releases TensorFlow 1.0 With New Machine Learning Tools
  17. Linus Torvalds: Talk of Tech Innovation is Bullshit. Shut Up and Get the Work Done
  18. Check Your Privacy Filters: Facebook Wants To Be the New LinkedIn
  19. Apple Announces WWDC 2017, To Be Held in San Jose On June 5-9
  20. Elon Musk Is Really Boring
  21. Apple's iPhone 8 To Replace Touch ID Home Button With 'Function Area'
  22. Astronomers Discover 60 New Planets Including 'Super Earth'
  23. Lost Winston Churchill Essay Reveals His Thoughts On Alien Life

Alterslash picks the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

Scientists Use Stem Cells To Grow Animal-Free Pork In a Lab

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports describes research " designed to generate muscle from a newly established pig stem-cell line, rather than from primary cells taken directly from a pig," says co-author Dr. Nicholas Genovese, a stem-cell biologist. "This entailed understanding the biology of relatively uncharacterized and recently-derived porcine induced pluripotent stem cell lines. What conditions support cell growth, survival and differentiation? These are all questions I had to figure out in the lab before the cells could be turned into muscle." Digital Trends reports: It may not sound like the most appetizing of foodstuffs, but pig skeletal muscle is in fact the main component of pork. The fact that it could be grown from a stem-cell line, rather than from a whole pig, is a major advance. This is also true of the paper's second big development: the fact that this cultivation of pig skeletal muscle didn't use animal serum, a component which has been used in other livestock muscle cultivation processes. [Genovese] acknowledges that there are other non-food-related possibilities the work hints at. "There is a contingent interest in using the pig as a model to study disease and test regenerative therapies for human conditions," he said.

Re:Yay! Cruelty-free bacon!

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees!

If the aim of veganism is to protect the welfare of animals, and you can clone a cell line from an animal (possibly without even hurting it) then I don't see how this wouldn't ultimately benefit animal welfare.

A cell is a cell. Even the plant cells she's eating originated from a common ancestor with animals (plants and animals are all eukaryotes). So unless she's going out of her way to avoid consuming microorganisms as well, such a stance seems kind of silly to me.

Drivers Of Technology

By cstacy • Score: 3 • Thread

1997 -- The Internet is for porn
2017 -- Genetics is for bacon

Myth Buster!!!

By jandersen • Score: 3 • Thread

...pig skeletal muscle is in fact the main component of pork.

As anybody knows, who has eaten a pork sausage, the main components of pork are in fact soy bean, flour, sawdust etc.

Obligatory Clarke - Lab Grown Meat.

By bmo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Food of the Gods. (Arthur c Clarke)

Itâ(TM)s only fair to warn you, Mr. Chairman, that much of my evidence will be highly nauseating; it involves aspects of human nature that are very seldom discussed in public, and certainly not before a congressional committee. But I am afraid that they have to be faced,; there are times when the veil of hypocrisy has to be ripped away, and this is one them.
You and I, gentlemen, have descended from a long line of carnivores. I see from you expressions that most of you donâ(TM)t recognize the term. Well, thatâ(TM)s not surprising-it comes from a language that has been obsolete for two thousand years. Perhaps I had better avoid euphemisms and be brutally frank, even if I have to use words that are never heard in polite society. I apologize in advance to anyone I may offend.

Until a few centuries ago, the favorite food of almost all men was meat-the flesh of once living animals. Iâ(TM)m not trying to turn your stomachs; this is a simple statement of fact, which you can check in any history bookâ¦

Why, certainly, Mr. Chairman, Iâ(TM)m quite prepared to wait until Senator Irving feels better. We professionals sometimes forget how laymen may react to statements like that. At the same time, I must warn the committee that there is very much worse to come. If any of you gentlemen are at all squeamish, I suggest you follow the senator before itâ(TM)s to lateâ¦
Well, if I may continue. Until modern times, all food fell into two categories. Most of it was produced from plants-cereals, fruits, plankton, algae and other forms of vegetation. Itâ(TM)s hard for us to realize that the vast majority of our ancestors were farmers, winning food from the land or sea by primitive and often back breaking techniques; but that is the truth.
The second type of food, if I may return to this unpleasant subject, was meat, produced from a relatively small number of animals. You may be familiar with some of them-cows, pigs, sheep, whales. Most people-I am sorry to stress this, but the fact is beyond dispute-preferred meat to any other food, though only the wealthiest were able to indulge this appetite. To most of mankind, meat was a rare and occasional delicacy in a diet that was more than ninety-percent vegetable.

If we look at the matter calmly and dispassionately-as I hope Senator Irving is now in a position to do-we can see that meat was bound to be rare and expensive, for its production is an extremely inefficient process. To make a kilo of meat, the animal concerned had to eat at least ten kiloâ(TM)s of vegetable food â"very often food that could have been consumed directly by human beings. Quite apart from any consideration of aesthetics, this state of affairs could not be tolerated after the population explosion of the twentieth century. Every man who ate meat was condemning ten or more of his fellow humans to starvationâ¦

Luckily for all of us, the biochemists solved the problem; as you may know, the answer was one of the countless byproducts of space research. All food-Animal or vegetable-is built up from a very few common elements. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, traces of sulphur and phosphorus-the half-dozen elements, and a few others, combine in an almost infinite variety of ways to make up every food that man has ever eaten or will ever eat. Faced with the problem of colonizing the moon and planets, the biochemists of the twenty-first century discovered how to synthesize and desired food from the basic raw materials of water, air and rock. It was the greatest, and perhaps the most important, achievement in the history of science. But we should not feel too proud of it. The vegetable kingdom had beaten us by a billion years.

The chemists could now synthesize and conceivable food, whether it had counterparts in nature or not. Needles to say, there were mistakes-even disasters. Industrial empires rose and crashed; the switch from agriculture and animal husbandry to the giant auto

For breakfast

By MrKaos • Score: 3 • Thread


PewDiePie Calls Out the 'Old-School Media' For Spiteful Dishonesty

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter Shane_Optima writes: After losing his Youtube Red show and his contract with Disney, the owner of the most subscribed channel on Youtube, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (aka "PewDiePie"), has released a video response to the Wall Street Journal and other mainstream news outlets, who have labeled his comedy videos variously as racist, fascist or anti-semitic. In it, he accuses the mainstream media of deliberately fabricating and misrepresenting the evidence used against him because they are afraid of independent content producers such as himself. In the video, PewDiePie discusses the recent actions of the Wall Street Journal, whose reporters sent nine cherry-picked and edited videos to Disney, which led directly to Disney's decision to terminate their relationship with him. These video clips and others used to "prove" PewDiePie's guilt have been edited (he claims) to remove all context, to the extent of using a pose of him pointing at something as a Nazi salute and using a clip where other players are creating swastikas in a game and editing out the part where he is asking them to stop. The most-cited video in the controversy involves seeing if he can use the site Fiverr to hire someone to create a video containing an over-the-top message for a mere $5. After a couple of laughing males unfurl a sign saying "Death to All Jews," he recoils with widened eyes and sits, apparently dumbfounded, for another thirty seconds before the video ends, without him uttering another word.

PewDiePie's video comes several days after a Tumblr post where he attempted to clarify that the videos were intended to be comedy showing "how crazy the modern world is." He has not yet used the phrase "fake news" in his response to the controversy, but given the current trends surrounding that phrase, it isn't surprising that his supporters are resorting to it frequently. Is this all just another unfortunate instance of collateral damage in the war against far-right political movements, is it a campaign of malicious retaliation by old media that is terrified of new media (as Felix claims), or was J.K. Rowling correct when she called out PewDiePie as a Death Eater? Err, I mean, a fascist?

Re:Death To All Jews

By silentcoder • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Pro Palestine does not equal anti Jew.
It may equal anti-zionist but then liberals tend to be anti-nationalism period. That includes Jewish Nationalism as much as it does, say, American nationalism.

Hell, I personally know quite a lot of anti-Israel, pro-palestine Jews who would be terribly offended at the suggestion that by virtue of their ethnicity they are compelled to be in favor of an appartheid regime that denies basic human rights to a vast population, and who actually support either full and equal rights for Palestinians in Israel or a Palestinian state free of Israeli control.

Did you think all Jewish people today would still believe what their grandparents believed 70 years ago? That an ethnic homeland is a fundamental pre-requisite to freedom ? The liberals have long stopped believing that in general - and Jewish liberals tend to agree. At least, those under 40 do.

Re: Death To All Jews

By Hognoxious • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Israel has the power to crush their enemies

By conventional means? Not so sure about that. Last time they ventured into Lebanon it wasn't exactly a walkover.

Re:Death To All Jews

By gsslay • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

His point was that it takes very little to get people to openly proclaim beliefs they don't hold.

And that needed to be proven, because.... ? Or is this just one of those bullshit "social experiments" where Youtubers get to act like assholes because they're holding a camera to record what happens?

Youtube is a cesspit of wannbes trying to outdo each other in shock value, while avoiding getting banned by Youtube, all for the views. PewDiePie was just another one playing the game, but he got burned. He paid people desperate for money to do something stupid, and then pretends to be shocked that they actually did it. That way he gets to claim he's not really responsible, while being the one who conceived it, paid for it, videoed it, uploaded it and collected the ad revenue.

Re: Has he been invited to the white house?

By meta-monkey • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I suppose that's a result of pandering for eyeballs.

Partly. It's also that there's six corporate conglomerates who own all the major media in the US. Naturally, these organizations have similar interests. These are also the interests that fund the politicians. So the job of the media is to propagandize the public to accept the political agenda of the elite. Not to inform. It's a media-run state rather than a state-run media.

Re:Has he been invited to the white house?

By naughtynaughty • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The media is "always appalling"? I disagree.

There are some great media outlets putting out well researched and written articles daily.

Then there are the media outlets targeting people who are only interested in some red meat half-truths being tossed out so they can rant and rave.

While you might not see it as such, I see the current "media dishonesty" schtick to be nothing more than the shark attack media frenzy you complained about.

Samsung Chief Lee Arrested In Corruption Investigation

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Reuters, Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hye. From the report: The 48-year-old Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre, where he had awaited the court's decision following a day-long, closed-door hearing that ended on Thursday evening. The judge's decision was announced at about 5:30 a.m. (2030 GMT) on Friday, more than 10 hours after Lee, the sprawling conglomerate's third-generation leader, had left the court. The same court rejected a request from prosecutors last month to arrest Lee. On Tuesday, the special prosecutor's office had requested a warrant to arrest him and another executive, Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin, on bribery and other charges. The prosecution said it had secured additional evidence and brought more charges against Lee in the latest warrant request. While Lee's detention is not expected to hamper day-to-day operation of Samsung Group companies, which are run by professional managers, experts have said it could affect strategic decision-making by South Korea's biggest conglomerate. Prosecutors have focused their investigations on Samsung's relationship with Park, 65, who was impeached by parliament in December and has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold her impeachment. They accused Samsung of paying bribes totaling 43 billion won ($37.74 million) to organizations linked to Choi to secure the government's backing for a merger of two Samsung units. That funding includes Samsung's sponsorship of the equestrian career of Choi's daughter, who is in detention in Denmark, having been on a South Korean wanted list.

McDonald's Hires Project Ara Design Team To Reinvent the Drinking Straw

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: McDonald's has hired the creators of Google's Project Ara to reinvent the drinking straw. Their new invention, the "Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal" (STRAW for short), is a J-shaped device that allows the user to drink both layers of the company's dual-layer Chocolate Shamrock shake simultaneously, receiving an optimal mixture of chocolate and, um, shamrock. McDonald's announced the new product at a Facebook live event yesterday, which included a keynote by McDonald's Senior Director of Menu Innovation Darci Forrest, a Silicon-Valley-style panel moderated by Austin Evans, and interviews with engineers from NK Labs and JACE. Computational fluid dynamics simulations, 3D printing, and extensive real-world testing (drinking shakes) were required to get the design ready for its eventual unveiling. McDonald's is producing a limited first run of 2000 of the straws for distribution at restaurants across the U.S. "My first reaction was, that doesn't seem too hard. We could have a double straw -- one longer, one shorter. No problem," says Seth Newburg, principal engineer and managing partner at NK Labs, which teamed up with JACE Design on the STRAW. "Then we immediately thought, once you get halfway down, one straw is going to start sucking air... It's one of those things that seems so simple, but as we got into it there were a lot more issues exposed. It turned out to present quite a few engineering and scientific challenges." NK Labs and JACE Design were the two companies who also worked on Project Ara together, the Google initiative to build a phone with interchangeable modules for various components like cameras and batteries. Unfortunately, the plans for Project Ara were scrapped late last year.


By DontBeAMoran • Score: 3 • Thread

McDonald's doing a real commercial which is a parody of Apple's videos with Jony Ive.

Now THAT takes courage. On top of that, their new Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal is a real innovation.

Fail to remember history

By dbIII • Score: 3 • Thread
"black-and-tan" "Shamrock Shake"?
Beyond tacky (
Those who fail to remember history are destined to really piss some people off - in this case in Ireland.
To some people it would be like having a joke of Ronald McDonald in blackface.

Relevant XKCD

By jfdavis668 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Lucky few?

By guises • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The video (which, by the way, was pretty decent for a commercial) says that only a "lucky few" get to experience the STRAW. ... What? What the hell is that? I was briefly sold on trying one of these out, but there's no way I'm going to trek to McDonalds and buy one of these shakes only to get stiffed on the one reason I was buying the shake in the first place. That's like buying a Happy Meal and not getting a toy. You just don't do it. That's a sad meal.

I realize that the point of this is to generate buzz, but what's the point of buzz if you're going to follow it up with, "Ha ha, just kidding. We're not actually going to sell you the thing we're advertising."

Re: My impressions...

By lobiusmoop • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

You just _know_ the CEO of Burger King is thinking 'Fuck everything, we're doing a triple straw."

Scottish Court Awards Damages For CCTV Camera Pointed At Neighbor's House

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
AmiMoJo quotes a report from BoingBoing: Edinburgh's Nahid Akram installed a CCTV system that let him record his downstairs neighbors Debbie and Tony Woolley in their back garden, capturing both images and audio of their private conversations, with a system that had the capacity to record continuously for five days. A Scottish court has ruled that the distress caused by their neighbor's camera entitled the Woolleys to $21,000 (17,000 British Pounds) in damages, without the need for them to demonstrate any actual financial loss. The judgment builds on a 2015 English court ruling against Google for spying on logged out Safari users, where the users were not required to show financial losses to receive compensation for private surveillance.

How Times Change

By TranquilVoid • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"Mah hobby is secretly videotaping couples in cars. I dinna come forward because in this country, it makes you look like a pervert—but every single Scottish person does it!" - Groundskeeper Willie

Re:do I understand it right?

By Capsaicin • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

do I understand it right?

You give no indication that you do.

If CCTV cam now records any part of someone's property its autowin in court?

That would seem unlikely. What gave you that idea?

Did someone think to sue State of London for all those cameras around?

Is the City of London operating "all those cameras" in contravention of the Act?

One or two are bound to record someone's property.

And ...?

In the event this case rested on the failure of the defendant "in her duties as data controller": in the first instance by her failure to become registered as such; and also in "breach[ing] her duty to comply with the data protection principles" under the Data Protection Act 1998. One suspects however, given the dramatic negative impact of defendant's action on plaintiffs' "use and enjoyment of their own home" that plaintiffs could also have succeeded under nuisance.


By whoever57 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
The solution that was found in this case seems quite effective: get you neighbor to pay you approx $21k for the privilege, and probably more if the cameras and mics don't come down.

Re: do I understand it right?

By Anonymous Brave Guy • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The law in this area is still developing in most places, including the UK, as we try to find a reasonable balance between the benefits of new technologies and their ability to infringe privacy in ways that weren't possible before.

As for the ethics and what direction the laws ought to go in, I suggest that a sensible starting point is:

1. If you're just observing activity on private property that any member of the public might observe incidentally while going about their ordinary business, that's probably OK.

2. If you're using technology to observe activity on private property that would not be observed by an ordinary member of the public without unusual behaviour or the use of artificial aids, that might be a problem.

3. If you're recording anything that is happening on private property, that might be a problem.

For example, walking down the street and noticing that someone is in because their light is on and their window is uncovered: fine, anyone walking past would see the same thing. The other person can close their curtains if they want privacy and can reasonably be expected to know that someone walking past would see inside.

Hearing unfortunate personal details because a couple are having a screaming argument in their back yard and the sound carries out to the street where you're walking: also fine, on a similar basis.

However, walking right up to someone's house and looking through a small gap in someone's curtains and see what's happening inside: not OK, this is obviously intrusive and not something most people would expect or think was acceptable behaviour.

Using things like thermal cameras or long-range mics to look or listen inside a private home from across the street: not OK for the same reasons.

Monitoring unencrypted WiFi: a tricky area. On the one hand, the signals are being sent outside someone's private property by their own actions, just like leaving the curtains open or screaming in the back yard. It's hardly fair to blame someone who observes the results incidentally while doing normal things like setting up their own WiFi. On the other hand, an ordinary person wouldn't necessarily understand the implications of everyday technology or what they were exposing. However, someone who was deliberately connecting to and monitoring or recording data from someone else's network probably does understand the implications, and is morally little better than a peeping Tom at the window.

Re: do I understand it right?

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I remember a story on the news about this years ago. Some camera operators perving through the window of some young woman's bedroom. They had the black boxes covering it, but found that if they just rotated the camera to the left a little the boxes stayed in place on screen and the window slid out from under them.

AT&T Is the Latest Carrier To Offer Unlimited Data For All Its Customers

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Earlier this week, Verizon announced it is bringing back unlimited data plans after years of selling capped data packages. Now, ATT will be doing the same. ATT will let any current or potential customer buy an unlimited data plan. Until now, only DirecTV customers were able to purchase unlimited data from the carrier. PhoneDog reports: ATT says that starting tomorrow, February 17, its Unlimited Plan will be available to all customers. The plan will include unlimited data, talk, and text, and customers with the plan will also be able to travel to Canada or Mexico and use their plan just as they would at home, with zero roaming charges. ATT's Unlimited Plan also includes Stream Saver, which will optimize video streams to 480p. However, Stream Saver can be disabled if you'd like. One feature that's missing from ATT's Unlimited Plan is mobile hotspot usage, which is notable because the unlimited plans from the other three major U.S. carriers do include some mobile hotspot. Finally, it's worth noting that after 22GB of usage, ATT Unlimited Plan customers may have their speeds slowed during times of network congestion. This policy is also in place at the other three major U.S. carriers, with Verizon's threshold being 22GB, Sprint's 23GB, and T-Mobile's 26GB. A single line on the ATT Unlimited Plan will cost $100 per month. Each additional line will cost $40, but ATT will offer the fourth line free, making the cost for a family of four $180 per month.

Not good enough

By omnichad • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They're trying to get every customer on their largest package by playing with the price. I don't need unlimited data. Or 20GB of data. Or even 2GB. I get by on home wifi and 1GB or less away from home. My wife and I pay less than $50 for two phones on Ting.

The whole 'fear of missing out' thing is working for them. I'm just happy to be connected - I don't need to be streaming audio or video over a congested cell tower.

Compares to Old Unlimited Plan how?

By pollarda • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
I have to wonder how this compares to the old unlimited data plan (which I'm still on).... seems they send me a nasty gram when I hit 16GB warning me that if I go above 22GB, I'll be throttled by their data preservation team. (I bet they're all named bubba too.). So it may be a bit of a better plan than the old one. Thoughts?

Re:Not good enough

By Penguinisto • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Ditto here. I actually use Net10 (which uses either AT&T or Verizon's towers/data/tech, depending on which phone you buy or bring)... $35/mo for unlimited talk/text, and 2GB data (then throttled after that, but with no further charges). So really, why the frig would I pay Verizon or AT&T $100/mo for something that I wouldn't use? In the 5 years I've been with Net10, I think I've gone over the 2GB cap once, a year ago (when I was farting around with rooting).

Re:Almost got it right...

By buss_error • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They had the chance

I am an ardent opponent of AT&T. My opinion for them could not, absolutely not, be any lower than it is. If I were elected King, the second thing I would do is to convict AT&T management from mid-level up of terminal idiocy, sentencing them to sweeping floors for the rest of their natural lives, since they have proven they are too stupid, greedy, and careless to be trusted to wash dirty dishes.

My opinion of ComCast is even worse.

Re:Compares to Old Unlimited Plan how?

By rsmith-mac • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I have to wonder how this compares to the old unlimited data plan (which I'm still on)

It's exactly the same plan, with exactly the same limitations, at exactly the same price.

Which wouldn't be so bad, except that everyone else is cheaper, and everyone else offers some amount of tethering. Which is damned useful to have in a pinch.

Swedish Court Rules: 'Block the Pirate Bay For Next 3 Years'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
"In 2014, many film studios teamed up to force the Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget to block the popular torrent website The Pirate Bay," reports Fossbytes. "It was also said that ISPs should be blocked if they refused to block copyright infringing websites." Now, a Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal has ordered The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer to be blocked by Bredbandsbolaget for the next three years. Fossbytes reports: The court overruled the earlier ruling of the District Court, ordering the ISP to employ some technical measures to stop its customers from accessing the website and its different URLs. The court said that a blocking injunction would be proportional "in the light of EU law." Notably, under the EU law, it's possible for the copyright owners to get an injunction against the ISPs whose services are used to pirate content. This verdict is the first of its kind in Sweden, but similar injunctions have been announced in the past in other European nations. This ruling also opens new doorways for the copyright holders to target more torrent websites in the near future. Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde said in a statement to TorrentFreak: "The fight is not about TPB -- the users of TPB can just bypass this blockade easily. It's about the slippery slope it brings."

TOR: still working for TPB

By DrYak • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

given that The Pirate Bay has a .onion address that is still working no matter what,
such kind of block could actually increase awareness of Tor and increase its usage.

(Which in turn is good for Tor : The more the traffic, and the more the relay nodes, the better).

Distributed Trackers

By MikeDataLink • Score: 3 • Thread

Can someone tell my why this hasn't been solved with distributed trackers? Make it where there millions of pirate bay trackers all over the world?

Re:Distributed Trackers

By wasteoid • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The distributed hash table (DHT) functionality in BitTorrent doesn't include the ability to mod the torrent (good quality, fake, etc), which is how junk torrents are filtered out from real ones. Plus, not all BitTorrent clients support DHT, so you reduce the peers, which is where the real power comes from with BitTorrent.

FCC Chairman Wants It To Be Easier To Listen To Free FM Radio On Your Smartphone

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Your smartphone has an FM radio in it, only it's unlikely that you're able to use it. That's because in the U.S., less than half of phones actually have the FM tuner turned on. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who just recently assumed the top position at the regulatory agency under President Trump, thinks that should change. In remarks made to the North American Broadcasters Association yesterday, Pai said that it's a public safety issue. Both the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Association and an FCC advisory panel on public safety have advocated for turning on the FM radio capabilities in smartphones, since radio is a reliable source of information when internet or cellphone networks go down in severe weather. Although Pai thinks smartphones should have the FM chip turned on, he doesn't think the government should mandate it: "As a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips. I don't believe the FCC has the power to issue a mandate like that, and more generally I believe it's best to sort this issue out in the marketplace."

FM Radio in Europe

By DrYak • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Honestly, I don't even use the radio in my car anymore. It's been ten years or more since I listened to the radio.

On the other side of the atlantic pond, radio in cars tends to be used a lot, specially for traffic information.
Last time I listened to the car's radio has been lat time I drove it :
the car automatically suspended the music we were listening to announce some traffic jams and incident on the highway.
Most GPS (specially the in-car built-ins) are also able to leverage the digital information (TMC signal on the RDS on FM radios) to also display and take into account such traffic information.

So radio on portable devices can be useful for such traffic informations.

The only thing is, as far as I know, most smartphone with disabled radio chips only have *FM*-Radio (i.e.: plain old analog. Sometimes not even with support for digital metadata over RDS).
Whereas lots of European regions are moving to DAB/DAB+ Radio (digital radio, transmitted as MP2 or AAC digital stream respectively), which is not directly supported on purely FM chips, and would be quite taxing on the battery life if attempting to decode on CPU in software (SDR - software defined radio).

Re:FM = clear channel

By citylivin • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Not really. Find your local college radio station. They usually have diverse and interesting programming. I find most of my new music now adays from eclectic DJs on small university transmitters. And there are never any commercials on CBC radio. So you have options for sure.

Re:FCC can't help ...

By taustin • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Reverse 911 and SMS both require the cell network be functional. Receiving an FM signal does not. In addition, and FM signal can be sent from a single mobile transmitter, that can be picked up for a hundred miles or more, with no signal degradation based on how many people are listening, where cell networks have a finite (and comparatively small) maximum bandwidth available.

In the event of a natural disaster, FM is a far more reliable than any possible signal sent through the cell network. This is the entire premise of ham radio.

Re:FCC can't help ...

By blindseer • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Even if I could listen to FM radio, why would I? Honestly, I don't even use the radio in my car anymore. It's been ten years or more since I listened to the radio.

I've started to ask myself the same thing but perhaps for a different reason than you. I had a couple radios die on me recently which made me think about my listening habits as I shopped for replacements.

When I listen to the radio it's usually for news, weather, and traffic. These things I normally find on AM. There's a couple AM new/talk stations I flip between, one of which simulcasts on FM which is sometimes clearer than the AM cast. When there is bad weather I'll listen to the NOAA weather band broadcasts, the local storm watchers that chat on the amateur radio band, or the same news/talk stations I'd listen to normally. There is a local traffic station that broadcasts on low power AM, which is nice if I see traffic moving slow or the road condition is bad.

It's rare for me to listen to music on the radio, I have a large collection of music on my iPod (which is normally left hooked up to the stereo in my truck) and iPhone, and I can stream music over the internet from my iPhone or computer. Trying to listen to music on FM is typically quite annoying with the advertisements that are often louder than the typical music, which is a turn off. As in, I'll turn off the radio than listen to that crap. The point of listening to music is to gain enjoyment, which is destroyed with blaring adverts and/or blithering idiots for DJs.

I do listen to radio broadcasts, just not typically those on the FM band.

Re:FCC can't help ...

By pegr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Did the lack of this feature affect your buying decision? If it's a part of the chipset that the phone vendor didn't implement because nobody wanted it, can you really be upset for not having it?

OTOH, Other markets really use this feature. If it's there and people want it, it will happen. This might be the first step.

Google Fiber Sheds Workers As It Looks to a Wireless Future

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Mariella Moon, writing for Engadget: Alphabet is making some huge changes to steer Google Fiber in a new, more wireless direction. According to Wired, the corporation has reassigned hundreds of Fiber employees to other parts of the company and those who remained will mostly work in the field. It has also hired broadband veteran Greg McCray as the new CEO for Access, the division that runs Google Fiber. These changes don't exactly come out of left field: back in October, Google announced that it's pausing the high-speed internet's expansion to new markets and that it's firing nine percent of the service's staff. Wired says running fiber optic cables into people's homes has become too expensive for the company. A Recode report last year says it costs Mountain View $1 billion to bring Fiber to a new market.

Wireless is not a replacement

By DogDude • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
For speed, security, and reliability, wireless isn't even close to being a replacement for fiber. Our business only uses wireless for fun stuff for our customers. Our real business is over wired connections, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Electricity, Phone, Fiber

By Zobeid • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Somehow we managed to wire up the whole country with electrical power, and somehow we wired up the whole country with phone lines, and yet laying out fiber is always TOO COSTLY. It can't be done!

What they should be doing for $1 billion...

By BlueCoder • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

They should be counter lobbying states against cable monopolies and allowing cities and regions to lay their own last mile fibre as part of city services. Then any provider can service any customer in the city minus the city's cut to pay off the build-out. I live in Culver City which has a population of 40,000 in 5.2 square miles. Lets say the city goes whole hog and guts all the old infrastructure including the old copper lines. So every service including plain telephone would have to come over fibre. That would mean at least 90% of people would have to sign up. Lets say 4 people per building for 10,000 residential and business buildings. I say $25 per month per building. They would get you a quarter million dollars a month toward paying off fibre layout. That's $3 million a year. For 5 square miles that should be more than completely paid off in 10 years with maintenance fees and upgrades dropping to something like $5 a month. Last mile solved. If they do right with multiple fibre pairs to every building then it should last the next 150 years; longer than the old copper phone lines. Once the cities are built out and paid off I don't see why the state couldn't tack on a $10 fee to provide for rural build out. I'm sure they would do a better job and actually get it done. But I still think rural people should have to outlay at least something like $3000; not including end point equipment. That's way less than the price of a car and actually increases the equity of their home. So forget laying the lines yourself and get lobbying.

Re:Going to get folded into Fi any day now

By bhcompy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
They're not fighting cable monopolies, they're fighting cities that allow and enforce cable monopolies. This is purely a municipal issue and in some cases a state issue. I squarely place the blame on the people making the laws and taking money from people to make skewed laws. In many states, cities can address this fairly easily. In some, you have to go to the state level. Or for the nuclear option you go federal. Either way, fix the laws and the rest falls in place. This is not the first time nor the last that this is the solution(the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is just one example that can be cited)

Re:Electricity, Phone, Fiber

By crt • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Keep in mind that a big reasons we managed to wire up the whole country with electric, phone, and cable is that we gave those companies local monopolies on delivery of power, telecom, and TV.

If you were to offer Google a monopoly on Internet access in an area, it would appear profitable VERY quickly.

Tech Jobs Took a Big Hit Last Year

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Barb Darrow, writing for Fortune: Tech jobs took it on the chin last year. Layoffs at computer, electronics, and telecommunications companies were up 21 percent to 96,017 jobs cut in 2016, compared to 79,315 the prior year. Tech layoffs accounted for 18 percent of the total 526,915 U.S. job cuts announced in 2016, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm based in Chicago. Of the 2016 total, some 66,821 of the layoffs came from computer companies, up 7% year over year. Challenger attributed much of that increase to cuts made by Dell Technologies, the entity formed by the $63 billion convergence of Dell and EMC. In preparation for that combination, layoffs were instituted across EMC and its constituent companies, including VMware.

Re:Leading Indicator

By creimer • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
We're overdue for a recession. However, I don't think Wall Street got the memo yet. Bonds are oversold as everyone and their mother jumped into the stock market. When the bandwagon drives past you, that's when you make a U-turn in the market. I've been buying up oversold bond funds since the election. Looking forward to buying stock shares on the way down after the market crashes.

What's the net?

By bluefoxlucid • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is like saying I spent $30,000 last year, so my finances took a big hit. I actually had income, so you know... my debts were paid down, savings were built, and I spent $30,000.

The U.S. Technology Industry surpassed 6.5 million employees in 2014, and 6.7 million in 2015. TFA and TFS say there were 79,000 tech jobs cut in 2015, but there were 200,000 more jobs at the end of 2015 than there were at the end of 2014. Now TFA and TFS say there were 96,000 tech jobs cut in 2016, so I guess we're looking at a job growth of 243,000 in the sector?

Re:Mostly thanks to H1Bs

By Altus • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

No, as the summary stated its mostly due to layoffs from large floundering companies... of course this is only about layoffs and doesn't take into account any new hiring which may or may not outpace the layoffs.


By Altus • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Same in Boston. I had 3 job offers when I was looking back in October and got a very significant raise from my previous position. I remember 2002, this is not a rough job market at all.

Re:Leading Indicator

By ctilsie242 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The problem is that since the 1990s, everyone feels the crash. Only a few see the recovery. When the economy tanked in 2000, for a lot of the US, it stayed tanked because the manufacturing jobs and steel mills went overseas. In 2008 when we had the economy crash, tech sector jobs have improved, but in reality, for most other sectors, there has not been that much, if any improvement. If other sectors see it, it is spillover from the tech sector (new BMWs, housing going up), or from other countries buying up land in the US.

I would say the economy peaked last summer, when in June and early July, there were hundreds of DevOps job postings for the local area I am in (Austin, TX). In six weeks, the number of those was reduced by over 90%.

We do have a few bubbles that may pop. First, the only thing that VCs are spending a dime on are companies that either push ads, suck data (analytics), or both. Even cloud computing hit a zenith in the past year where HP left the cloud market, and Rackspace got bought out. The uncertainty about the elections has also shaken people, and that might just have been enough to start an economic slide. To boot, OPEC is back with a vengence, and oil is climbing, which is also a drag on the economy.

Then, there is the final nail in the coffin. The Fed waiting to raise interest rates.

I'm seeing an across the board belt tightening. Public places have hiring freezes. Private companies are looking at technologies like Amazon Lambda [1], serverless technologies, and wholesale, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" moves to AWS. AWS may be more expensive, but in a lot of PHB's heads, even if it costs more, reducing headcount is more important, because of the immediate cost savings.

I think as uncertainty goes on and it goes to outright unrest, the economy is going to not fare well. Especially with so many people disliking the current administration and are willing to monkeywrench to see that it doesn't do well.

[1]: The main attraction for Amazon Lambda is that companies can fire their OS, DBAs, and hardware guys, and just have someone doing IAM as the "IT department" with devs doing everything else.

CloudFlare Puts Pirate Sites on New IP Addresses, Avoids Cogent Blockade

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Earlier this month, several users worldwide reported that they were unable to access pirate websites including the Pirate Bay. It was because the internet backbone network of Cogent Communications had blackholed the CloudFlare IP-address of pirate websites. Less than a week later, CloudFlare is fighting back. From a report on TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay and dozens of other pirate sites that were blocked by Cogent's Internet backbone are now accessible again. CloudFlare appears to have moved the sites in question to a new pair of IP-addresses, effectively bypassing Cogent's blackhole. [...] As of yesterday, the sites in question have been assigned the IP-addresses and, still grouped together. Most, if not all of the sites, are blocked by court order in the UK so this is presumably done to prevent ISP overblocking of 'regular' CloudFlare subscribers.


By viperidaenz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Surely there are some MPAA/RIAA members who use Cloudfare.

Cloudfare should switch their sites to the previously blocked IP addresses.

Re:All they have to do

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Well that's one way to force IPv6 deployment.

The solution is unfortunately national segregation

By Baron_Yam • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

We already have nations cutting off Internet during times of unrest, and applying massive filtering and spying efforts against communications to and from their populations regardless.

If you're going to apply national laws to an international system, that system is going to need to be chopped up into pieces that fit the political borders.

That really sucks if your nation is surrounded by nations who disagree on what should be passed through their borders, so ultimately there needs to be some kind of Internet Treaty, where it is agreed that traffic is only to be interfered with if one of the end points is domestic, or by agreement with one of the governments with authority over an end point.

Let governments be responsible for the border filters (and, presumably, spying), and then private companies like Cogent will have no interest in taking actions like IP block blacklisting.

Re:The solution is unfortunately national segregat

By torkus • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Not true.

It's a game of diminishing returns but there's never an absolute winner.

You can make it nearly impossible to circumvent, and then someone can build a complex circumvention...and so on. Remember when 'hacking' was dumping the plaintext password database after booting off a floppy?

You can make censorship difficult enough to circumvent that people will find something else to do...but the cost (implementation and maint) in that is very high.

Re: For their next trick...

By gnick • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You did say URI. You could have said URL. It was, after all, a URL. This page gives a good description of the difference as well as a guide for responding to the statement, "Actually, that’s called a URI, not a URL"

The response to this correction can range from quietly thinking this person needs to get out more, to agreeing indifferently via shoulder shrug, to removing the safety clasp on a Katana.

YouTube Has 1 Billion Videos With Closed-Captioning (But Not All of Them Are Accurate)

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Over a billion videos on YouTube are accessible to viewers with difficulties in hearing, thanks to the video giant's automated captions, it said Thursday. From a report on Variety: That certainly sounds impressive -- except when you realize that many of the site's automatically generated captions aren't completely right. The Google-owned video giant first launched captions back in 2006, and three years later introduced automatic speech recognition to add closed-captioning to YouTube content. Today, YouTube users watch video with auto-generated captions more than 15 million times per day. But the system is prone to errors. For example, the trailer for Amazon Studio's Oscar-nominated "Manchester by the Sea" (at this link) includes numerous inaccuracies in the auto-transcribed captions, sometimes to hilarious -- not to mention frustrating -- effect.

I've noticed a lot of errors in 'Downfall'

By Hussman32 • Score: 3 • Thread

Something is clearly wrong with the translations of the Downfall videos. Sometimes it's about SAP, sometimes it's about the World Cup, but my limited German tells me it's about the fall of the Third Reich.

Re:So we're talking Auto Generated Bad Lip Reading

By cayenne8 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Yeah, the auto generated CC is pretty bad.

But I did read, that it *IS* very much worth your while to put accurate CC on your videos, as that it supposedly highly figures into your Google rankings.

I found that after I transcribed my videos, my rankings did shoot up higher on plain old Google searches and I think also on YouTube suggestions,, looks to be worthwhile to do if you want max hits.

about as good as google search.

By fish_in_the_c • Score: 3 • Thread

I recently watched a video with closed captioning on.
'stan fortuna school of the eucharist'
lets just say google search doesn't think eucharist is a common term and has an especially hard time with it when it is a quickly spoken rap song with a Hispanic accent.

It was pretty funny what they translated it too.

It did leave me wondering if there should be a mechanism to tell them the words are wrong and really wrong.

Make perfect the enemy of good.

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3 • Thread
It is true in software engineering, and it is true everywhere.

Perfection is the goal. But doing better than current version is the shipping criterion.

Auto captioning is better than no captioning for hearing impaired.

And human captioning is not perfect. I remember watching Lion King with closed captioning turned on and they had missed a crucial "o" in some dialog that had the word "count".

Youtube has a potty mouth

By ukoda • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
For some reason Youtube thinks that people speaking with a New Zealand accent swear a lot. I was testing the Youtube product tutorial on an Android product which, unlike PC browsers, has the closed captioning on by default. A lot of the technical terms, spoken with a Kiwi accent, were being captioned with obscene words. When I recovered from laughing at just how rude it was being I warned our marketing team that made the video. They were mortified and suddenly had a large task of checking and removing the computer generated captions. It turns out all of our SFW videos had NSFW captions.

EU Privacy Watchdogs Seek Assurances on US Data Transfer Pact

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
European Union data privacy watchdogs will seek assurances from U.S. authorities that a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine a transatlantic pact protecting the privacy of Europeans' data. From a report: European concerns have been raised by an executive order signed by Trump on Jan. 25 aiming to toughen enforcement of U.S. immigration law. The order directs U.S. agencies to "exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information." The exemption of foreigners from the U.S. law governing how federal agencies collect and use information about people has stoked worries across the Atlantic about the new administration's approach to privacy and its impact on cross-border data flows.

Assurances from U.S. officials

By sasparillascott • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Because prior assurrances from U.S. officials, whether to foreign governments (Germany and spying on their Chancellor) or their own citizens, have turned out to be so trustworthy. Give me a break. E.U. officials should assume when it comes to privacy related commitments like this, they cannot trust anything the U.S. government says.

Re:Isn't that legislative?

By Jaime2 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

They need assurances because the executive branch has a history of holding "unconventional interpretations" of our own laws, then avoiding judicial oversight by slapping gag orders on all potential defendants so no one has standing in court. The also invented a parallel court system for these cases, where no judge ever says no to anything.

Then they're shocked when one or two operatives grow a conscience and find a way to shine a light on the situation - so they pursue them to the ends of the earth and threaten them with the death penalty.

Sprint's New Unlimited Plan Adds HD Streaming, Four Lines For $90

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Take that, Verizon! Sprint's unlimited data plan now has HD video too. From a report: On February 16, Sprint upped its unlimited plan, launching the "best unlimited HD plan ever", according to its press release. The new plan matches Verizon Wireless' new unlimited plan by offering unlimited calls, text, data, HD video streaming, and 10 GB of mobile hotspot for $22.50 per line, for four lines. That equates to $90 per month for four lines, or half of what Verizon Wireless is charging. Sprint's plan requires the account owner to enable AutoPay, ensuring the bill is paid on time each month. For those who don't need four lines, the first line will set you back $50 per month, two lines of service will bump it $90 per month.

Promotional Pricing

By MiniMike • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

From TFA:

... until the promotional pricing expires on March 31, 2018. After which pricing goes up to $160 a month for the same four lines.

Still not bad pricing for a year. Was just looking into switching away, this adds more weight to staying. Hope they improve their network soon, otherwise it won't be a price-based decision.

Re:Competition is good!

By Jhon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

"Thanks TMobile and Sprint for keeping the majors in line :)"

Yeah... it's a great price! But... it's Sprint.


By John Napkintosh • Score: 3 • Thread

I don't see this option on Verizon's site at all. They're still pushing 45/line/mo for each of four lines.. $180/mo is very different to $90/mo.

Re:Competition is good!

By butchersong • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
I'm sure this wasn't a paid posting... but ignoring that, this is just a promotional rate. "until the promotional pricing expires on March 31, 2018. After which pricing goes up to $160". Personally, I'd rather go with a straight forward tmobile plan.

HD Streaming, oh cool!

By FunkSoulBrother • Score: 3 • Thread

That totally works when I host the HD video on my home server, right?

Valve 'Comfortable' If Virtual Reality Headsets Fail

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VR headset developer Valve is "comfortable" with the idea that the technology could turn out to be a complete failure. Gabe Newell, head of the game studio, made the statement in an interview with news site Polygon. From a report: Valve is co-developer of the Vive VR headset with phone firm HTC. Mr Newell said, so far, interest in the technology was in line with its expectations and that some VR games had already sold well. In the rare and wide-ranging interview, Mr Newell said the advent of VR had much in common with the development of PCs in the 1980s. In both cases, he said, people bought technology without knowing why and discovered afterwards what they were good for. For the PC, he said, it was spreadsheets and businesses that drove the initial success. With VR, people were only starting to discover compelling uses as they experimented and took risks with the technology.Mr Newell said there were now about 1,300 VR-based applications on its Steam gaming service and about 30 of those had made more than $250,000 in revenue.

Re:I'm pretty sure....

By The Raven • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Gabe never 'positions' himself. You are confusing him with normal 'people in high positions'. He is not a spokesman, or a mouthpiece, or even a manager. He built the entire company of Valve in a way so he doesn't have to be the decider. He's just a smart dude at a company on the forefront of VR, and like any new and risky technology, it could fail. Like John Carmack, he pulls no punches... if something sucks, he says it sucks. If he fires someone, he publicly calls them an ass (not necessarily his best moment).

He is not in Marketing, and he doesn't really care what consumers think about his verbiage. In fact, his lack of a filter is part of why Valve as a company is so reticent to talk to the consumers directly, as his quotes have been used against him many times in the past.

So I'm not saying your options are false, I'm just saying that you ascribe too much forethought into his choice of wording.

Re:I'm pretty sure....

By MtHuurne • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

They probably went into VR because if VR became the dominant way of playing games, it would eat their existing business. It's similar to why they made SteamOS as an insurance policy against Microsoft locking them out of the Windows platform.

I think it's safe to say now that VR won't replace PC gaming on a monitor, certainly not any time soon. But since their existing business is doing fine and they didn't invest more than they could afford, it doesn't matter for them if VR fails or becomes a niche product.

Personally, I think VR becoming a niche product is the most likely outcome. People buy expensive steering wheels or flight sticks to get more immersed in their favorite games and, for certain genres, VR can do the same.

Re:I'm pretty sure....

By Vairon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If you read the Valve employee handbook, failure is an accepted part of trying. They are not afraid to fail.

Re: Can VR really "fail"?

By nehumanuscrede • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread


The only thing stopping it is the cost of the hardware required to support it. The VR unit itself in addition to the decent horsepower machine that runs it puts the cost out of reach for those who can just buy a console for their gaming fix.

When the hardware prices come down, more developers will create content because they will have a larger potential player base.

Right now it's akin to a Tesla. Lot's of fun, but not affordable enough for the masses.

Re:So it's going to fail

By Wescotte • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You can see the quote in context here:

He's simply saying he VR is interesting and worth an attempt even if it fails. He also announces in the same interview that Valve is currently developing 3 distinct VR games. Not small "The Lab" experiences but full games. That doesn't sound like the actions of a company who believes VR is dead.

Google Releases TensorFlow 1.0 With New Machine Learning Tools

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a VentureBeat report: At Google's inaugural TensorFlow Dev Summit in Mountain View, California, today, Google announced the release of version 1.0 of its TensorFlow open source framework for deep learning, a trendy type of artificial intelligence. Google says the release is now production-ready by way of its application programing interface (API). But there are also new tools that will be part of the framework, which includes artificial neural networks that can be trained on data and can then make inferences about new data. Now there are more traditional machine learning tools, including K-means and support vector machines (SVMs), TensorFlow's engineering director, Rajat Monga, said at the conference. And there's an integration with the Python-based Keras library, which was originally meant to ease the use of the Theano deep learning framework. And there are now "canned estimators," or models, Monga said, including simple neural networks to start using quickly.

Not production-ready

By Meditato • Score: 3 • Thread

I was experimenting with sentiment analysis in tensorflow, and the other day I started receiving segfaults. Turns out that multiple changes, one of which was in a malloc implementation, had broken my build, and probably all the people using python tensorflow on ubuntu (which is probably like half of all tensorflow users). Not the first time this has happened.

This thing is marvelous, but it's sitting on a high-rise of magic that's a floor too high.

OMG fix the banner adds

By DumbSwede • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I have been a contributer on Slashdot for over 15 years. There have been things to complain about over the years, but FOR GOD SAKE don't let the banner adds chase everyone away. What's more annoying than a Banner Ad? A banner add that doesn't scroll away as you read.

Serious, I will never visit Slashdot again if this isn't fixed ASAP.

Don't be like the thousands of other crap sites that are doing this now. I don't care if it is in the advertisers JavaScript, find somewhat to stop that shit OR I AM GONE!

Linus Torvalds: Talk of Tech Innovation is Bullshit. Shut Up and Get the Work Done

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Linus Torvalds believes the technology industry's celebration of innovation is smug, self-congratulatory, and self-serving. From a report on The Register: The term of art he used was more blunt: "The innovation the industry talks about so much is bullshit," he said. "Anybody can innovate. Don't do this big 'think different'... screw that. It's meaningless. Ninety-nine per cent of it is get the work done." In a deferential interview at the Open Source Leadership Summit in California on Wednesday, conducted by Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, Torvalds discussed how he has managed the development of the Linux kernel and his attitude toward work. "All that hype is not where the real work is," said Torvalds. "The real work is in the details." Torvalds said he subscribes to the view that successful projects are 99 per cent perspiration, and one per cent innovation.

Re: Innovation

By lgw • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Beautiful designs are generally bad. They get taken to the extreme; and you get shit like xml.

XML was pretty awesome ... as a markup language for books and other natural language documents. It was a wonderful tamed version of SGML. Then some crazy people started using it blindly as a object serialization language.

The odd thing is, you can write terse XML for object serialization (just slightly more verbose than CSV!) but no one did. Instead you got the most verbose approach to serialization imaginable.


By WheezyJoe • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Linus' point is there's too much attention spent on hype (the "innovation"), and too little spent on actually getting something built. Having built something himself, and maintained it longer than the lifespans of countless tech companies, he's in an excellent position to say what he's saying. The weak link in the chain is where you start raising money with your idea and your salesmanship, and it becomes time to start hiring engineers, leasing office and factory space, and building prototypes that have a shot at becoming real products. All that costs money, a lot of it, and some "entrepreneurs" and their benefactors simply can't handle seeing all that money they raised just slip away. Easier to keep it, brag about how much you've raised, keep shaking hands with billionaires, and keep on partying on the fund-raising circuit, kicking the whole build-it thing down the road for as long as you can (it's better than bankruptcy in the event your product fails). Human-nature can creep in and fuck-up any good idea with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Seems to me lately only weird guys with personality disorders like Jobs, Musk, Bezos, and Zuckerberg can both raise the money and push the right people just the right way to get a product out the door. Wasn't it Jobs who said "Real artists ship"? That's what Linus was talking about.

Re:The work is more important than the idea

By swillden • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Parallel computing, virtualization, all these things were either developed on paper or implemented in some form long before many of us were born.

And yet none of them were available to me for the majority of my life. Why is that? It's because nobody had gotten around to the hard work of turning into something actually useful.

Available to you. Mainframes have made extensive use of both since the early 80s, at least. The hard work was done, it was just done in an environment that relatively few people interacted with directly.

99% theft, 1% kernel

By emptybody • Score: 3 • Thread

>> "All that hype is not where the real work is," said Torvalds. "The real work is in the details."
>> Torvalds said he subscribes to the view that successful projects are 99 per cent perspiration, and one per cent innovation.

this is because Linux took 99% of its innovation from others and then had the 1% kernel.


By tlhIngan • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

He may be honest, but he's also wrong. Yes, of course "real work" needs to be done to turn ideas into reality, but those ideas are at least as important as the work themselves. "Real work" in service of bad ideas is entirely wasted, and there are plenty of Silicon Valley companies turning out useless apps and software products that won't go anywhere that talented people have spent a lot of time making.

No, ideas are a dime a dozen. You probably come up with a dozen ideas every hour, from the mundane to fantasy.

Execution is key. An idea is just that, abstract. It doesn't mean anything, and millions of individuals will have that same idea. Most of the time, we don't work on the idea - either we realize it's fantasy and thus not worth looking into, or it's pointless, or the ROI is bad. But in the end, the idea doesn't matter. It's the execution of taking that idea and turning it into reality that's important.

And yes, some ideas are totally bad. But behind every useless app was an idea that seemed good, and heck, enough people believed in it to actually bring it to fruition. Now, it could be an incredibly bad idea to begin with, but someone had the resources and means to get it done. Or it could be a good idea executed too early before the market was ready for it (look at streaming music - back a decade and a half, "renting music" was considered a ludicrous idea, now it's a billion dollar industry). Or suffer from poor marketing.

And finally, what seems like a bad idea now might've seemed like a good one at the time.

You really don't know the value of an idea until you try it out.

Check Your Privacy Filters: Facebook Wants To Be the New LinkedIn

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
From a report on CNET: Facebook isn't just for wasting time in the office. It can now help you find a new job entirely. The social network has unveiled a Jobs page, which allows businesses to list all kinds of work for you to find. You can even apply for the job and make contact with recruiters directly through Facebook. This could be seen as a challenge to competing services such as LinkedIn, the recruiting network acquired by Microsoft last December. But while LinkedIn is entirely focused on business, Facebook's social aspects could make it easier for potential employers to trawl your profile for details of your personal life.

Yeah, no thanks.

By Lord Kano • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I do my best to keep my personal and professional personas separate.

I share politically incorrect jokes and use profanity on my Facebook page but I would never do anything of the kind on LinkedIn.

I don't even list my employer on my FB profile.


Umm...they already do

By xxxJonBoyxxx • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
>> Facebook's social aspects could make it easier for potential employers to trawl your profile for details of your personal life

Umm...they already do. That's one of the reasons I quit Facebook years ago. And that was before one of my buddies who works in "gov PR" showed me how he uses Facebook to pinpoint exactly who is whining about what issue - regardless of the "friend" or "privacy" settings they have set up.

Screw Facebook...

By creimer • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't have a Facebook account. But I do have a LinkedIn account with 800+ connections to recruiters I've talked to or worked with over the last 20+ years of my technical career.

Which one will get me a job? Neither.

Out of all the job search websites out there, Indeed is probably the best one. Especially if you can respond to a job posting within 15 minutes of it being posted. I've gotten many phone interviews and two job offers that way.

Over-sharers nightmare + legal age discrimination

By ErichTheRed • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

People are indeed going to have to check their privacy settings (assuming Facebook will allow the Jobs stuff to respect them.) Over-sharers are the obvious target (old sage advice about not posting keg stand videos or political opinions applies here.) But, there's something more insidious -- recruiters will buy access to Facebook Jobs, and start randomly trawling through profiles looking for a match. What happens when they see someone like me, a 41 year old dad with 2 young kids? I can just imagine some 22 year old cold-calling recruiter fresh out of their business degree saying "Oh, let's skip him, he'd never fit in at Company X." It would just be another way to side-step rules on age discrimination. Unlike the stereotypes, I work my butt off to stay current and not be an old stick in the mud. It's a lot of fun being the "adult" in a younger group of peers because I do enjoy sharing knowledge and teaching people. But, I do know that if I'm ever caught out in a layoff situation and don't have any luck with my contacts, I'm pretty stuck when it comes to getting cold recruited for a job. This is why my LinkedIn profile doesn't have a photo, even though I look pretty young.

I wish we could just get beyond the whole recruiter thing. Often, these guys are the only way to get your resume even looked at in big companies, and they're basically sponging off your salary. It's kind of like real estate agents -- they still get a huge commission even though most of their job is now automated (MLS sites replace books of Polaroids, Zillow and friends replace their knowledge of the market, and people generally drive themselves around looking for houses now.) Back in the day, recruiters had the same advantage as intermediaries even though most professionals put some or all of their qualifications out on LinkedIn or similar for people to see. The company I work for uses recruiters, and the worst offenders are the big temp companies they make us recruit through (TEKSystems, etc.) We have had painful interviews with people who have been presented to us as experts and quite obviously have had their resumes doctored by these guys. (And, we're not a bunch of hipster recent CS grads asking stumper questions -- we're looking for generalists with amazing troubleshooting skills mostly.)

Bottom line is that you have to keep the professional network going, lest you be at the mercy of these recruiters.


By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 3 • Thread

"Facebook Wants To Be the New LinkedIn"

Facecrap wants to be the new everything. Soon it will achieve critical mass and spawn the Singularity.

This is just another way for Facecrap to mine more of your data and suck you dry while it blurs the line between your work life and your personal life. No thank you.

Apple Announces WWDC 2017, To Be Held in San Jose On June 5-9

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple said today it will kick off this year's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5. Much like every year, the developer conference is the place where we can expect to see what's coming to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS later this year. This year, the event is being held in a different venue: the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, the original home of WWDC. John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball: First, announcing early really helps people who have to travel long distances to attend, particularly those from outside the U.S. The San Jose Convention Center is the original home of WWDC -- that's where it was held from 1988 through 2002. (WWDC 2002 was the year Steve Jobs held a funeral for Mac OS 9 during the keynote.) San Jose is way closer to Apple headquarters. San Francisco is about an hour drive from 1 Infinite Loop. The San Jose Convention Center is only five minutes away from Apple's new campus. Schiller emphasized to me that this is a big deal: more Apple employees from more teams will be present, simply because they won't have to devote an entire day to being there. (This could be a particular boon to WWDC's developer labs, where attendees can get precious face time with Apple's engineers.)

outside the US

By fermion • Score: 3 • Thread
Are people actually going to risk being detained at the airport for hours or being put in jail just to attend an Apple Conference. This is not snark. I am really interested if these kind of things held in the US are still viable. I expect to see more North American international conferences held in Canada. I know that most people attending the conference will be light skinned, but still...

Elon Musk Is Really Boring

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Sometimes it is hard to tell if Elon Musk is serious about the things he says. But as for his "boring" claims, that's really happening. In a wide-range interview with Bloomberg, the billionaire talked more about his new venture, The Boring Company. The idea began on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago when Musk tweeted, "Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging..." Over the course of next few hours later, Musk added, "It shall be called 'The Boring Company,' Boring, it's what we do. I am actually going to do this. Excerpts from the story: And so, around noon on a Friday in January, an excavation crew started digging. "I was like, 'Hey, what's the biggest hole we can make by Sunday evening?'" Musk says. [...] "My other idea was to call it Tunnels R Us and to essentially troll Toys "R" Us into filing a lawsuit," he says, letting out a loud and well-articulated ha-ha-ha-ha. "Now we've decided to troll AT&T instead! We're going to call it American Tubes and Tunnels." When I ask him if the tunnel venture will be a subsidiary of SpaceX or an independent company, he responds cryptically. "Don't you read my Twitter? The Boring Company. Or TBC. To Be Continued." An aide chimes in: Yes, the Boring Company, aka To Be Continued, aka Tunnels R Us, aka American Tubes and Tunnels, aka whatever, will indeed be an independent company. Tunnel technology is older than rockets, and boring speeds are pretty much what they were 50 years ago. Musk says he hopes to build a much faster tunneling machine and use it to dig thousands of miles, eventually creating a vast underground network that includes as many as 30 levels of tunnels for cars and high-speed trains such as the Hyperloop. Musk chose the SpaceX parking lot as the site of his first dig, mostly because it was convenient and he could legally do so without city permits. The plan is to expand the current hole into a ramp designed for a large tunnel boring machine and then start digging horizontally once the machine is 50 feet or so below ground, which would make it low enough to clear gas and sewer lines and to be undetectable at the surface. 100 marks to Bloomberg for the headline, and the story which is as funny as it is insightful.

how far down does land ownership go?

By JustNiz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Undetectable at just 50ft? Hardly. there are plenty of cases of people in England loosing their homes down sinkholes that appear after some old, forgotten mine hundreds or even thousands of feet down collapses after centuries.
I find it hard to believe that in California, once you've dug 50 ft down on your own land, absolutely nothing stands in your way (other than geology) to just tunneling wherever and as far as you like.

If I happen to own some land in CA that Musk wants to tunnel under/through, can he really do so without my permission or even knowledge?

People like Musk need to do more homework

By fiannaFailMan • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Solutions like this are classic examples of tech-rich people thinking they have all the answers when there's a whole bank of qualified specialist people already working in that field who know what's really needed to fix the problem but have only been stymied by politics.

If traffic is driving Musk nuts then the solution is not to find innovative new ways to handle more traffic. The solution is to ask why is traffic so bad in the first place.

Recommended reading: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jacobs

Or if that's too heavy, try Suburban Nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream.

Only then will you come to see the culprit: Single Use Zoning, aka the BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) rules. Single-use zoning forces everybody to make several car journeys just to get through a typical day. Going to work? Car. Going out for lunch? Car. Going home form work? Car. Need to go out for a bottle of milk and postage stamp? Car. Going to a movie? Car.

No bloody wonder the place is flooded with traffic. You try to build a city around the automobile and it becomes a hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists. You try to widen roads to accommodate more cars and the laws of induced demand kick in, resulting in even more traffic and roads as choked as they were before.

Learn a few things about urban planning, Elon. Don't arrogantly assume that you're the first person to want to address this problem. Smart growth and sustainable, walkable, transit-oriented development is a far better solution than drilling holes in the ground and cracking puns about the word "boring." It requires years of tedious work and politicking to build support for smart growth. A city is not a private company with which you can do what you like. There are elected councils, public advisory committees, public hearings, tax implications, and all manner of complex bureaucratic hoops that you have to jump through to fix these things.

Re:Son of a b... he's got a world domination plan

By swb • Score: 4 • Thread

The digging machines might be useful on Mars.

It almost becomes "Red Mars" if you can put robotic tunneling machines on the planet and create large tunnel galleries ahead of time.

Once people get there, the exterior holes can be plugged with a few airlocks and then pressurized with a breathable atmosphere. Tunneled structures will give you protections from the atmosphere, meteorites and radiation.

Re: Serial Entrepreneur

By Jinker • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't get it. I see teslas on the road almost daily here in the frozen north. I can only imagine there's more in warmer climes and where there's more luxury cars on the road. They have some of the highest customer satisfaction levels for any car. They flat out outperform the competition in many regards. He built a better mousetrap, but instead of a mousetrap it was a multi billion dollar project to launch some of the most complicated consumer hardware people can purchase into an extremely mature competitive environment.

Whether or not Tesla survives or wins in the car sector, other manufacturers have been forced to respond to the market disruption.

Calling him a failure seems like an ad hominem attack, really.

Re: Serial Entrepreneur

By meta-monkey • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

You can either talk people down or rise to their level.

Well the first one is much easier, so...kind of a no-brainer.

Apple's iPhone 8 To Replace Touch ID Home Button With 'Function Area'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: Apple will ditch the home button when it debuts a new 'iPhone 8' model later this year, and will dedicate the extra screen real estate to an area for virtual buttons, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Adding detail to his previous predictions regarding the next-generation handset, Kuo in a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider said the full-screen design will allow Apple to integrate a "function" area never seen in an iPhone. The device is expected to adopt a 5.8-inch OLED panel in a form factor similar to the current 4.7-inch iPhone 7. Despite having extended screen real estate as compared to current iPhone models, the actual active display area on "iPhone 8" will be closer to 5.15 inches on the diagonal, with the remaining bottom portion dedicated to system functions like virtual buttons. While Kuo failed to elaborate on an exact implementation, the note suggests Apple plans to hardcode a set of always-on, static system controls into iOS. Whether the so-called "function area" is capable of switching to an active display mode for in-app activities like watching videos or playing games, remains to be seen. With the deletion of current Touch ID technology, Kuo believes "iPhone 8" will incorporate new bio-recognition assets to take over device security and Apple Pay authentication duties. The analyst did not offer predictions on the type of biometric tech Apple intends to use, but a report earlier today said the company could integrate a 3D laser scanning module capable of facilitating facial recognition and augmented reality applications. Kuo in a note last month said Apple might integrate a dual biometric system utilizing optical fingerprint readers and facial recognition hardware.

Re:Still playing catch-up

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
And hopefully Apple will get it right. My android phone has two "soft" buttons next to a physical home button, and I hate those little fuckers. It's entirely too easy to accidentally press them. Since the screen on the iPhone is pressure sensitive, they better make the buttons react to a forceful push rather than a touch, but they probably will; they usually pay a lot of attention to this stuff.

Borrowing features

By sjbe • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Once again the latest iPhone introduces revolutionary new ideas Android has had for years.

We get it. You don't like Apple. We'll all pretend for your benefit that the Android ecosystem hasn't "borrowed" any features from Apple and the Android is the one true system from which all good things originate.

Re:Facial Recognition...

By Freischutz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So, I have to re-register every time I shave in order to use apple pay? Oh, you are wearing a baseball cap, so you have to take that off to pay? Oh, you want to unlock your phone while walking down the street. Better take off your sunglasses... Apple, why you gotta keep losing desired functionality?!?!

I know that venting your outrage over everything that Apple does is great fun but please do not trash talk facial recognition just because Apple is using it. You are severely underestimating what modern face recognition algorithms can do. If you set out to do it and if this: is your taste in sunglasses, you can certainly screw up facial recognition systems but modern facial recognition software has pretty impressive success rates even with subjects wearing headgear, different hair styles, 'normal' sunglasses or regular eye glasses and obscured faces (beards, scarves, veils). already tried integrating face recognition login into Android and it turned out to be an embarrassing fail: because the Android camera could not distinguish between an actual 3D face and a 2D picture of one. Hence the mention of 3D laser scanning module for the new iPhones in the article summary because 3D scanning is what you need for pattern recognition based security features that are hard to fool regardless of whether you are talking about face recognition or fingerprint scanning. On an unrelated note a 3D laser scanning module sounds like a pretty awesome addition to a smartphone for all kinds of reasons having nothing to do with facial recognition and a lot to do with a long standing desire on my part (as, I am sure, many others here) to own a fully functional Start Trek tricorder. A 3D laser scanning module built into your phone would be a major step in that direction. Being able to scan an object on my kitchen table with a smartphone and then sending it to a 3D printer after a short stopover on my laptop to clean up the scan would be nothing short of awesome.

Make Siri more useful

By RogueWarrior65 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Yesterday, I needed to turn on the iPhone's flashlight and for some bizarre reason, it wouldn't let me swipe up from the bottom of the screen to turn it on. So I asked Siri to do turn it on and she said, "I can't do that." Siriously? A while back, the speedometer cable in my truck broke so I couldn't tell how fast I was going. I asked Siri thinking that she would be able to use the GPS to figure it out. "Hey, Siri, how fast am I going?" She said, "I've been wondering that for a while." Yeah, um, hey Siri, quit being a smartass millenial and do some work.

Both borrow

By sjbe • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It's not a question of whether or not someone likes Apple.

Sure it is. Otherwise he wouldn't get any pleasure out of making snarky comments about how some feature in an Apple product was done somewhere else first despite the fact that very few people actually care.

Many of the "all new, we just created this and it's never been seen before!" additions to iOS have been blatant rip-offs of features in use for Android for months, if not years before Apple claims it is "all new".

Yeah yeah, Apple doesn't do anything new. Blah blah blah. Old argument. Here's the thing. Whether or not Apple is first to market with a given feature is more or less irrelevant. Very few people care if Apple or Samsung or HTC actually put the feature in a product first. What matters is A) whether that feature matters to a potential buyer enough to make them buy the product and B) whether the feature matters as a part of the entire product. I don't buy my phone piecemeal. I buy a phone with the best implemented SET of features. Worrying about who did it first is irrelevant.

It's the exact sort of crap that Apple would have sued for if the roles were reversed.

Really? What's stopping the Android handset makers from suing? You aren't going to argue that they are a bunch of nice guys who just wouldn't do that... because that would be ridiculous. I assure you Samsung will sue just as readily as Apple will. Two things there. First, Apple isn't as trigger-happy with lawsuits as you seem to imply and second, Android makers take ideas from Apple and vice-versa all the time. There are no innocent parties here.

Astronomers Discover 60 New Planets Including 'Super Earth'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 quotes a report from New York Post: An international team of astronomers has found 60 new planets orbiting stars close to Earth's solar system, including a rocky "super Earth." The experts also found evidence of an additional 54 planets, bringing the potential discovery of new worlds to 114. One planet in particular, Gliese 411b, has been generating plenty of attention. Described as a "hot super Earth with a rocky surface," Gliese 411b is located in the fourth-nearest star system to the Sun, making it the third-nearest planetary system to the Sun, according to the U.K.'s University of Hertfordshire, which participated in the research. Gliese 411b (also known as GJ 411b or Lalande 21185) orbits the star Gliese 411 (or GJ 411). Despite the "super Earth" label, Dr. Mikko Tuomi from University of Hertfordshire's Centre for Astrophysics told Fox News that Gliese 411b is too hot for life to exist on its surface. The 60 new planets are found orbiting stars that are mostly some 20 to 300 light years away, according to Tuomi. The discoveries are based on observations taken over 20 years by U.S. astronomers using the Keck-I telescope in Hawaii as part of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey. During the course of the research, scientists obtained almost 61,000 observations of 1,600 stars, which are now available to the public.

Re: I love Slashdot

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

With all due respect then why even come here let alone bother to leave a comment. Since I don't bother going to a ton of websites everyday this article regardless of how many days ago it was posted is still interesting.

I find such comments petty and a bit middle school in nature.

So, does this super earth...

By Z80a • Score: 3 • Thread

Is like earth, but better on every sense? like having a super sundae instead of regular sundaes or a super intel that runs their processors at 20 Ghz because they use the super silicon?
And most importantly, do they name everything super (something)?

Re: I love Slashdot

By rmdingler • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Indeed, and though an interesting story about space exploration or scientific innovation won't garner the comment count of an, er, insightful political discussion, there are still some nerds who actually prefer this genre.

Re:Planet hunters

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Only now are our detection methods getting refined enough to see Earthlike worlds. We have been amazed by the number of large planets we have been seeing everywhere we look. Now prepare to be amazed by the proliferation of Earthlike planets.

Re:So, does this super earth...

By Curunir_wolf • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The only way it's "like earth" is that it's a planet. It's way hotter than earth, much larger (thus the "super" adjective), closer to its star, etc. These astronomers really have an extremely wide brush they use when calling a planet "earth like". Oh, and guess what - the star it was orbiting is "sun-like". Sounds great! When can we go?

Lost Winston Churchill Essay Reveals His Thoughts On Alien Life

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
"A newly discovered essay by Winston Churchill shows that the British statesman gave a lot of thought to the existential question that has inspired years of scientific research and blockbuster movies: are we alone in the University?" reports The Verge. "The essay was drafted in the 1930s, but unearthed in a museum in Missouri last year." Astrophysicist Mario Livio was the first scientist to analyze the article and has published his comments in the journal Nature. The Verge reports: Livio was "stunned" when he first saw the unpublished, 11-page essay on the existence of alien life, he tells The Verge. The astrophysicist was visiting Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, for a talk last year, when he was approached by Timothy Riley, the director of Fulton's US National Churchill Museum. Riley showed him the essay, titled "Are We Alone in the Universe?" In the essay, Churchill reasons that we can't possibly be alone in the Universe -- and that many other Suns will likely have many other planets that could harbor life. Because of how enormously distant these extrasolar planets are, we may never know if they "house living creatures, or even plants," Churchill concludes. He wrote this decades before exoplanets were discovered in the 1990s; hundreds have since been detected. What's impressive about the essay is the way Churchill approaches the existential and scientific question of whether life exists on other planets, Livio says. Churchill's reasoning mirrors extremely well the way scientists think about this problem today. The British leader also talks about several theories that still guide the search for alien life, Livio says. For example, he notes that water is the key ingredient for life on Earth, and so finding water on other planets could mean finding life there. Churchill also notes that life can only survive in regions "between a few degrees of frost and the boiling point of water" -- what today we call the habitable zone, the region around a star that is neither too hot or too cold, so that liquid water may exist on the planet's surface.

Re:Ahead of his time

By Rei • Score: 5 • Thread

Yes, but nuclear weapons were not. Don't get me wrong, people were speculating about harnessing the energy of the atom for weapons. H. G. Wells coined the term "atomic bomb" in 1914 in "The World Set Free", but they were like ordinary bombs that continued exploding for days. Heinlein wrote about the development of a nuclear weapon to end World War II 1940 ("Solution Unsatisfactory"), but it was about a dirty bomb. If you have anything from before 1925(*) that's so accurate of a description of what nuclear weapons actually were, I'd like to see it. He got the minimum size wrong, but apart from that, that's pretty prophetic.

(*) - That quote was published in 1929 and written in 1925.

BTW, the autopilot invented in 1914 was just a self-leveling system with a compass - it wouldn't be anywhere near accurate enough for guiding flying weapons. Flying weapons "by wireless or other rays", aka remote controlled (passive or active) aircraft is an entirely different thing. Something that actually was done in World War II, but a decade and a half after Churchill wrote that.

This doesn't make him some sort of Nostradamus, but it does mean that he was paying close attention to the technological developments of his time and thinking over their implications with an analytic mind.

Re:Anthropological principle

By Bongo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

One thing which gets left out is ... I hate to say this but ... consciousness. We know matter exists, and we know consciousness exists, but we really don't know the first thing about how consciousness works. I don't mean information processing, because eventually any robot will be able to do everything a human does, as it is just about having a machine that's processing inputs and converting those to behaviours.

No, the real mystery is why such a robot would even need to be sentient. There is no reason why humans, as we are, need to be sentient. We are just biological machines. We could go about performing human functions and communications all running our complex brains just as we are, just not sentient, not experiencing any of it. One human could say to another, "I love you" as simply a code for certain information which gets processed into various probabilities of scenarios for future survival, and so on. Even poetry can come down to that, given we're now starting to develop machines which can work with intuitive patterns.

So that leaves consciousness as a) totally irrelevant and b) the most core part of our existence as sentient experiencing humans, humans watching the movie of their lives.

A lot of people tend to dismiss consciousness as just a byproduct, but that's maybe just because it is so hard to study that any self respecting person stays well clear of it. But it is also known as the "hard problem" and it is so "hard" that some say we'll need to start thinking about consciousness as another law of the universe, along with the other fundamental laws. And that would eventually start to modify these "anthropic" principles in some way.

As for "gods" well, humans have always had very powerful imaginations, and we make stories, but that's a separate thing altogether, and those stories about identity and belonging are perhaps seen as survival strategies between groups, where rather than physically fight another group, you just reprogram them to act as if they are part of your group already, "owning" as it were, without destroying.

And even if one puts aside survival questions, and one assumes there may be an afterlife, it really is up for grabs what form that could take, as the possibilities are endless and in my mind, either you die and disappear in which case you don't know you're dead, or something else, which could be anything. Nobody knows. But I digress.

Back to the point, ideas like the anthropic principle tend to go a bit too far with their conclusions given that they take no account of consciousness and what part that plays in existence and the cosmos.

And inventing trillions of trillions of other universes as a way to explain why this one happened to be tuned just right for us, is hand-waving and as made up as any myth which was made up as an ad-hoc explanation. An explanation isn't more rigorous just because it avoids mentioning gods or turtles.

We don't know why matter was tuned just right, and we don't know what consciousness is, and we don't know if there is life out there. Although there's no reason to think that Earth is special. I mean, it is more like the naughty corner if anything, you get sent here and ignored until you learn to calm down and behave. (See, stories.)

Re:SIR winston churchill !

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

If you were writing that hundreds of years ago, that's be a perfectly normal statement. Queen comes from Old English cwen (queen, woman, wife) - having originally been in the context of "wife (of a king)", and only later to refer only specifically to royals. It stems from the proto-germanic kwoeniz (wife), from PIE gwen (woman, wife), cognate of Greek gyne (woman, wife), Gaelic bean (woman), Sanskrit janis (woman), etc.

Lots of words related to women have changed over time, it's sort of weird. In Middle and Old English, woman was wif, which later became wife; the word "woman" comes from "wifman", or "woman-man", in the context of the gender-neutral usage of man that's been steadily dropped from English over the past half century (aka, more like "woman-person"). Wif still exists in English in a context closer to its original meaning in the word "midwife" - "woman who is with" (mid being a cognate of the Old Norse miðr (with), seen today in languages like Icelandic "með", Danish "med", etc)

Even "girl" has changed. "Gyrle" used to refer to babies only (more commonly female, but of either sex). Boys were "knave gyrles" and girls were "gay gyrles" (yeah, the latter term has changed a bit ;) ). The word "boy" existed at the time, but more often referred to a servant or commoner rather than being a generic term for "young male".

And yet no link to the actual essay

By DrXym • Score: 3 • Thread
That neither link actually leads to the essay. The Verge link is basically regurgitated clickbait summary of the Nature link. Utterly redundant in and of itself.

The Nature article while more informative only provides a handful of selective quotes from the essay but still no link. Instead it frames the essay in the context of Churchill's interest in science. How about an actual link to the actual essay?

Re:Maybe he just wanted to shoot them in cold bloo

By Bearhouse • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Churchill wasn't opposed to barbarous tranny, as long as it was coming from his own country.

Unfortunately, his position on shemales and ladyboys remains unknown.