Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2018-Mar-12 today archive

Contents

  1. Sleeping In Rooms With Even a Little Light Can Increase Risk of Depression, Study Finds
  2. Google To Reveal 'World's Highest Resolution OLED-On-Glass Display' For VR Headsets
  3. ACLU Sues TSA Over Electronic Device Searches
  4. 'Slingshot' Malware That Hid For Six Years Spread Through Routers
  5. Trump Issues Order To Block Broadcom's Takeover of Qualcomm
  6. Apple Seems OK With Currency Miners In the Mac App Store
  7. Tesla Raises Prices At Its Supercharger Stations
  8. Comcast 'Blocks' an Encrypted Email Service: Yet Another Reminder Why Net Neutrality Matters
  9. University of Arizona Tracks Student ID Card Swipes To Detect Who Might Drop Out
  10. Apple Must Explain Why It Doesn't Want You To Fix Your Own iPhone, California Lawmaker Says
  11. JavaScript Rules But Microsoft Programming Languages Are On the Rise
  12. Data Breach Victims Can Sue Yahoo in the United States, Federal Judge Rules
  13. Coming Soon to a Front Porch Near You: Package Delivery Via Drone
  14. Siri Co-founder is Surprised By How Much Siri Still Can't Do
  15. Firefox Gets Privacy Boost By Disabling Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor APIs
  16. Apple Buys Texture, a 'Netflix For Magazines' App
  17. Dial P for Privacy: The Phone Booth Is Back
  18. Amazon's Alexa Is Coming To an Office Near You
  19. Intel Fights For Its Future
  20. Inside the Booming Black Market For Spotify Playlists
  21. What Image Should Represent All of Humanity On Wikipedia?
  22. YouTube, the Great Radicalizer

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

Sleeping In Rooms With Even a Little Light Can Increase Risk of Depression, Study Finds

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Japanese researchers have found that even the slightest slither of light when trying to sleep could be linked to a heightened risk of depression, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology. IFLScience reports: The reason behind this link is unclear, but the researchers believe it might be to do with the human circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that tells us when to sleep and wake up, among other things, that is "programmed" by environmental factors. In the case of humans and many other creatures, light influences how much of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is pumped into our bodies, meaning we feel awake when the Sun rises and get sleepy when the Sun sets. This system works like a charm when there's only sunlight, moonlight, and a campfire to think about. However, the modern world is beaming with almost constant exposure to artificial light. Light at night (LAN) in a bedroom -- even a flash of a digital clock or streetlight creeping in from a crack in the curtains -- could screw with our natural sleep/wake cycle. The team behind the recent study assessed the sleep of almost 900 elderly people with no signs of depression. They found that people who slept in a room with 5 lux of light or more at night showed a "significantly higher depression risk" than those who slept in a completely dark room. For perspective, a household room with its lights on is around 80 lux and 10 lux is a single candle from 0.3 meters (1 foot) away.

Re:Full Moon is ~0.1 Lux

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

That means dim status LEDs are probably okay

They're not OK. Really, it's worth the effort to try to cover them up as much as possible.

It depends on the color. Red LEDs are best. Blue are the worst.

Also, the best material to darken windows is aluminum foil. Put it on with furnace tape. Use small fragments of furnace tape to cover any pinholes.

My bedroom has a red LED digital clock, angled so I have to lift my head to see it. Otherwise, it is pitch black even in the middle of the day.

Sleeping well is a wise investment. It will help you be healthy and productive.

Sleep

By tquasar • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Darkness, darkness, be my pillow. I was a shift worker for years and had to try to sleep during the day. I warned my family I would be in a bad mood and to please forgive me. I put heavy dark curtains and pull down shades on the two windows. That helped but I could hear my sons playing and cars driving by so I wore earplugs. That helped. During the summer the room would get warm and I installed a window air conditioner. More noise. I slept for four hours then woke up. I still wear a sleep mask and sometime use earplugs at night. It;s one-thirty AM now .

Re:Full Moon is ~0.1 Lux

By dcollins117 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Also, the best material to darken windows is aluminum foil. Put it on with furnace tape. Use small fragments of furnace tape to cover any pinholes.

It's also the best material to completely cover your head. Just use the same instructions.

Re:Full Moon is ~0.1 Lux

By Nidi62 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

For comparison in the other direction.

We need a unit that Slashdot readers can understand. How much lux does a burning Library of Congress put out from one furlong?

Re:blackout

By Farmer Tim • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I don't understand how people can sleep in those bedrooms with large windows without curtains at least not in summer time.

You can find out easily enough with a telescope...

Google To Reveal 'World's Highest Resolution OLED-On-Glass Display' For VR Headsets

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Last year at SID Display Week 2017, Google's VP of VR/AR teased a "secret project" that the company was working on -- a VR-optimized OLED panel capable of 20 megapixels per eye -- which was being undertaken with "one of the leading OLED manufacturers." This year, the schedule for SID Display Week 2018 indicates that Google plans to reveal its made-for-VR panel on May 22nd, which it calls the "world's highest resolution (18 megapixel, 1443 ppi) OLED-on-glass display." The company plans to detail the display in a presentation at the event, which will be co-presented with engineers from LG, suggesting the identity of the second partner on the project. Ideal for VR, the 4.3-inch panel is capable of 120Hz refresh rate and is expected to have a resolution of some 5,500 by 3,000, representing a massive leap over today's leading VR panels which offer 1,600 by 1,440 resolutions at 90Hz.

Google makes it ? NO THANKS.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

I've seen way too much evidence of Google's seemingly psychotic behavior with respect to committing to a project and then killing that project off like it was a cockroach.

When a credible company brings such a product to market, I'll consider it. In the mean time, I'm quite certain I will live very well indeed without this stuff.

I want

By 110010001000 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I would buy a VR headset with that! It might solve the motion sickness and eyestrain issues with typical VR headsets.

Still a long ways to go

By Solandri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

is expected to have a resolution of some 5,500 by 3,000,

Current VR displays cover about a 200 degree field of view. 20/20 vision is defined as the ability to distinguish a line pair spaced 1 arc-minute apart, so 2 pixels per arc-minute. So this corresponds to (200 degrees) * (60 arc-minutes/degree) * (2 pixels/arc-minute) = 24,000 pixels. You need a display that's 24,000 pixels wide for it to display a 200 degree field of view and have the individual pixels not be discernible to the eye. So this display will be a little more than 1/5 of the way there.

Put another way, the angular resolution of this new VR headset will be (5500 pixels) / (200 degrees) = 27.5 pixels per degree. That's about the angular resolution of a 50" 1080p HDTV viewed from 31" away. Or a 24" 1080p monitor viewed from 15" away. The pixels will still be painfully obvious.

Re:The question is:

By WaffleMonster • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I can just barely see the pixels in the Sony Playstation VR headset, which is 1080p, especially when moving my head slowly or holding it at a slight angle.

A 4K screen would probably be overkill for such a small problem (3840 x 2160 = 8.2 Mpixels).

A 20 Mpixel screen would just be a waste of technology - and money, no doubt.

The only metric that matters in VR displays is Pixels Per Degree of arc (PPD) with 60 being very roughly limit of what people can see.

PSVR has a crummy 100 degree FOV yielding following PPD in each resolution category.

PSVR = 14.45
4k = 44
20MP = 64

If you were to increase FOV to 180 to better match vision.

PSVR = 8
4k = 24.5
20MP = 35.55

Not only is 20MP not a waste of technology it's not nearly enough. It's less than half resolution of an iPhone display held at a distance of 1 FT.

Re:Still a long ways to go

By The Raven • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This is not false, but it is not quite true either.

How often do you look as far left as possible? Rarely. We only actively look around directly within about 30-50% of our full view capability, except in the rare cases when we're trying to look at something without others knowing (ie, side-eye). So only the central visual field needs this level of pixel density to be nearly indistinguishable from real life's resolution. The visual fidelity could drop to 1/2 or even 1/4 outside this and you'd barely notice. Now, that's still 12-15000 pixels across. It's still massively higher than we're capable of now. But about a quarter of the pixels Solandri posited would be necessary.

In addition, we can render even fewer pixels with eye tracking. This has already been successfully tested on current equipment with eye tracking and foveated rendering... rendering the center at full resolution, but increasingly fewer pixels per inch as you go away from the center of vision. And it already workes very well, quartering the rendering power needed. With a massive full-vision FOV, it would reduce rendering by needs by 20-40 times.

So that gargantuan 24k by 18k panel becomes a 16k by 12k panel (with a detailed center, and slightly fuzzier edges), with foveated rendering reducing the practical rendering needs down to 4k by 3k.

That's still a huge ask for a modern system, but give it five years and that kind of rendering will be cake. We have fun times ahead of us.

ACLU Sues TSA Over Electronic Device Searches

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration over its alleged practices of searching the electronic devices of passengers traveling on domestic flights. "The federal government's policies on searching the phones, laptops, and tablets of domestic air passengers remain shrouded in secrecy," ACLU Foundation of Northern California attorney Vasudha Talla said in a blog post. "TSA is searching the electronic devices of domestic passengers, but without offering any reason for the search," Talla added. "We don't know why the government is singling out some passengers, and we don't know what exactly TSA is searching on the devices. Our phones and laptops contain very personal information, and the federal government should not be digging through our digital data without a warrant." TechCrunch reports: The lawsuit, which is directed toward the TSA field offices in San Francisco and its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, specifically asks the TSA to hand over records related to its policies, procedures and/or protocols pertaining to the search of electronic devices. This lawsuit comes after a number of reports came in pertaining to the searches of electronic devices of passengers traveling domestically. The ACLU also wants to know what equipment the TSA uses to search, examine and extract any data from passengers' devices, as well as what kind of training TSA officers receive around screening and searching the devices. The ACLU says it first filed FOIA requests back in December, but TSA "subsequently improperly withheld the requested records," the ACLU wrote in a blog post today.

Re:You don't have to give up sight of your propert

By PinkyGigglebrain • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
People!

Could we please stop calling police and other LEOs "Pigs"?

To the best of my knowledge no member of the species Sus (includes boar, warthog, etc.) has ever done anything to deserve that kind of insult.

Call the TSA and LEO's what they are: "Brownshirts"

Stopped Flying...

By rally2xs • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

...because of TSA nonsense. If they're going to feel me up, if the airlines are going to beat me up, and if they want to look at my phone and computer, they're going to have to chase me down at 80 mph on I-10 to do it. I like to drive anyway, and they can take their big brother state and shove it. All they're doing, from the bag searches to these electronic searches, are illegal under the 4th Amendment according to Judge Napolitano on Fox News. He was very specific. Illegal. But they just do it anyway.

Stick my bags in the trunk, phone on my belt and computer on the seat beside me, and they're going to have to work to see any of 'em.

Re:Electronic devices

By dwillden • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Searches at borders by Customs when you are crossing said border are considered reasonable. They have a duty and a law enforcement roll to ensure that our borders are secure and that you are not bringing illegal or pirated content into this country.

The TSA has no such ruling, they have no such scope of operations. Their job is to screen for weapons, nothing more. They are not a law enforcement agency. They have no basis or cause to be searching electronic devices for anything. But they are getting away with it because people can't usually afford to miss a flight.

Re:Why do people demand that they be caught?

By dwillden • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Why? Maybe because such searches are not in the scope or mission of the TSA. The TSA is not a law enforcement agency, they've tried to become one. but have been repeatedly rebuffed. Get caught trying to pass through security with a weapon and they call the airport or local city police to arrest you because they can't.

They have no business searching any electronic devices. Their mission is simple, screen passengers and their checked luggage for weapons capable of bringing down or hijacking an aircraft. Nothing more.

This is not a border crossing. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right to Travel freely within and out of this country as one of the non-enumerated fundamental rights of this country. These searches are a massive invasion of our 4th amendment rights and a massive mission creep of an agency that has a very simple job (that they are rather inept at doing).

They are not Customs which is tasked to control illegal content (pirated IP, Kidde porn etc) from entering the country. They are not a Law enforcement agency (FBI) tasked with trying to stop the existence and movement of illegal content. They are the TSA, tasked with making sure no weapons or bombs get into our airport Secure zones.

Please explain what content security screeners need to be looking for. What file (that a TSA goon is likely to find) is going to threaten a flight?

Re:Electronic devices

By BlueStrat • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

ANAL, but my understanding is that courts have found that searches at borders or airports are reasonable.

This is not about people traveling on international flights. This is about US citizens traveling on domestic flights within the continental US and never leaving US airspace.

Neither the TSA nor Customs/Border authorities have the authority to perform any search of domestic travelers, demand ID/papers, or demand that you answer their questions.

It is quite likely that these searches are ordered quite deliberately only as verbal orders so as not to leave a paper trail for when FOIA requests start rolling in like now. Likely, they just get a phone call from some department, agency, or agent/officer/official requesting they search some person of interest, follow through, and report back by phone without creating any documents revealing the practice of performing unconstitutional searches without a warrant. Stonewalling or otherwise stymieing legitimate FOIA requests and other legitimate requests for documents, even subpoenas from Congress, seems to be quite in vogue for the US government.

That's what happens when governments get too big and powerful; they start breaking their own laws with impunity while using those same laws as a weapon against opposition and those who would hold them accountable for their crimes.

The TSA very likely has not provided any responsive documents in response to the ACLU's FOIA request because the policies in question are not of the written variety so they cannot provide that which they deliberately chose not to create.

None of which should surprise anyone. The federal government has trampled on every one of the 10 rights in the BoR, I'd contend even the 3rd Amendment which forbids the quartering of soldiers. The reason the Third was created was the King would send soldiers to "quarter" in the homes of colonists they suspected of rebellion so the soldiers could search everything and watch everything they did.

I contend the US government is quartering *digital soldiers* in our devices in the form of the tools and vulnerabilities created or kept quiet in order to perform the same task as the King's soldiers did in spying on the colonists.

Our freedoms are disappearing quickly. Better wake up and make some noise, as it may already be too late to stop it.

Strat

'Slingshot' Malware That Hid For Six Years Spread Through Routers

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Security researchers at Kaspersky Lab have discovered what's likely to be another state-sponsored malware strain, and this one is more advanced than most. Nicknamed Slingshot, the code spies on PCs through a multi-layer attack that targets MikroTik routers. It first replaces a library file with a malicious version that downloads other malicious components, and then launches a clever two-pronged attack on the computers themselves. One, Canhadr, runs low-level kernel code that effectively gives the intruder free rein, including deep access to storage and memory; the other, GollumApp, focuses on the user level and includes code to coordinate efforts, manage the file system and keep the malware alive. Kaspersky describes these two elements as "masterpieces," and for good reason. For one, it's no mean feat to run hostile kernel code without crashes. Slingshot also stores its malware files in an encrypted virtual file system, encrypts every text string in its modules, calls services directly (to avoid tripping security software checks) and even shuts components down when forensic tools are active. If there's a common method of detecting malware or identifying its behavior, Slingshot likely has a defense against it. It's no wonder that the code has been active since at least 2012 -- no one knew it was there. Recent MikroTik router firmware updates should fix the issue. However, there's concern that other router makers might be affected.

Doing fantastic work

By lordlod • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is just the latest of a number of state sponsored attacks that Kaspersky has published details on. They are doing fantastic work.

Whatever your view on the level of the cooperation with the Russian state, exposing these sophisticated attacks and attack vectors makes us all safer.

More questions than answers

By AlanObject • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The article doesn't call out what versions are affected. My router has 6.40.3 and an upgrade command says that's the latest.

But the bigger problem I have is: (from the TFA)

Routers download and run various DLL files in the normal course of business.

WTF? No they don't. My router doesn't download and run anything during normal operation and it doesn't need to and shouldn't need to. During an upgrade sure.

Anyone who installs a router that downloads stuff and runs it without their express command to do so is simply asking for it.

On top of that I don't understand why they call out DLLs. Mikrotiks run RouterOS based on Linux, most of which don't use DLLs for anything.

Re:More questions than answers

By complete loony • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Winbox was insecure by design. It downloaded dll's from the router and ran them.

How were the routers infected? Some already known exploit, or intercepting the devices during shipping? Who knows.

Re:More questions than answers

By l0n3s0m3phr34k • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
We recently had to admonish our telecom contractor over his re-use of a USB stick. He was using it to update firmware on our IPECS phone system; when asked "Is that write-protected and in read-only mode?" he didn't really know what we where talking about. When asked "How many other companies have you used that USB stick in since the last low level format?" the light bulb came on. After that we started making him download the firmware on our network, and use a USB stick we provided. We have to be 800-171 compliant for DoD contracts, so this stuff matters.

Re:Meanwhile on your mobile devices....

By 605dave • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

This is the biggest scandal no one cares about. I am involved in politics and the upcoming election, and was just demoed a service that was beyond creepy. Basically they provide a library that is widely used by developers, and by the saleswoman's account their stack was in an app on 80% of phones in the world. Android or iOS.

During the pitch she spoke of micro targeting people, and suggested we could see who was at a certain large political rally in DC for both of the last two years. While immediately creepy in its on right, I asked how her company could take supposedly anonymized info from location sharing and match it with an actual person. She replied that they simply geofenced the phones while people were probably asleep which after awhile gave away their home address. They could then match that location with voter files and people's names.

The implications of this one example were staggering to me. Would you suspect a popular game or restaurant app could be used to completely profile you by a third party? We do around here, but most people don't. They don't get the connections. But I asked is she thought people would be unhappy knowing that apps were being secretly being used to share such personal information. To her credit she said yes they would. And she admitted the service would be illegal in Europe.

In the end I told her that as a privacy advocate I wanted to throw up in the back of my throat (actual quote), but as an advisor to campaigns I would have to tell them to use the tech. You don't bring a knife to a data fight, and it's clear it's a data fight now.

Trump Issues Order To Block Broadcom's Takeover of Qualcomm

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Bloomberg reports that President Donald Trump issued an executive order today blocking Broadcom from acquiring Qualcomm, "scuttling a $117 billion deal that had been subject to U.S. government scrutiny on national security grounds." From the report: The president acted on a recommendation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews acquisitions of American firms by foreign investors. The decision to block the deal was unveiled just hours after Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan met with security officials at the Pentagon in a last-ditch effort to salvage the transaction. "There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Broadcom Ltd." by acquiring Qualcomm "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," Trump said in the order released Monday evening in Washington.

Re:Jokes aside I gotta kind of wonder

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Are the Republican voters just living in a perfect bubble or do they really just not care as long as it doesn't have a D next to it's name?

Modern republicanism has all the symptoms of being a cult religion. What is worse is they blatantly ignore facts that don't fit into their world view. Their usual method of doing so is by bringing up some possibly true, possibly not bit of data from the opposition and justifying their decision to support their party by saying, well at least it is not that.

The really fun thing is the only thing they seem truly conservative about is conservation of excuses. They will use the same excuses, time, and time, and time again. Trump could be sleeping with ten different porn stars a night, and have kids with six of them and they would still justify or excuse it by pointing to Bill Clinton who hasn't been president for over 17 years.

Instead of setting a higher bar, ethics only matter if their opponent may not be squeaky clean. They are fine with their guy being a low life scum as long as he is their low life scum. Hillary was flat out guilty for her actions defending her husband and should never be president, at the same time Trump's people were paying off porn stars to shut up. Now I don't support Infidelity in any shape or form but a spouse has the right to defend the other spouse. End of story, well unless your a democrat I guess.

Re: Not going to mention

By PopeRatzo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Please cite electoral criminal activity by national level republicans running for office.

Are you serious? Have you ever heard the name, "Richard M. Nixon"? He was the previous Republican president who resigned in shame after having illegal activity exposed by a special prosecutor. It was kind of a big news story. There were 69 indictments and 48 convictions. A whole bunch of Republicans went to prison.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

Re: Trump's administration issued the order

By quantaman • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

If Trump didn't mean what he said, why did Breitbart run the headline: "Trump the gun grabber"?

So people like you would click on it. See how that works?

They needed to remind Trump that his base was pro-gun.

Why did the NRA feel they needed to have a meeting with him after these comments?

For appearances. So that people like, when they saw that both parties left the meeting without their hair on fire, would be denied the chance to spread around a phony narrative.

The NRA needed to meet with Trump because the NRA realizes that Trump tends to agree with whomever spoke with him last.

You can say people are being dumb and the President didn't mean what he said... But a lot of conservatives seemed to take it the same way.

He was speaking casually, not lawerly. Which you're trying to pretend you don't know, because it helps your narrative to assert otherwise. And no, there aren't any significant number of conservatives are the least bit worried about that. Because he's more than clarified the matter, for those who think a single sound bite out of context is some sort of executed policy.

He was speaking out of his ass because he has no idea what he's talking about. I'm not saying he's an idiot, I honestly don't know if he's smart or dumb. But I do know he has no attention span, you can hear it every time he talks when he goes flying off on tangents left and right and can barely string together two sentences on the same topic.

That's his basic problem as President, issues are complex and he can't pay attention long enough to really analyze the issues, so instead he just listens to people and tries to get the high level picture. The problem is a smart knowledgeable person can make a superficially compelling case for any position in a complex topic. So if you want Trump to decide on a certain course all you need to do is surround him with the right people and he'll eventually agree with you. That's why the GOP is so confident they can sway him on almost any issue unless he's completely obsessed with it (ie trade), because they can control enough of the people he talks to and none of the nuts on his call list want gun control either. Plus, on something like guns you need actual legislation and the GOP controlled congress will never pass significant gun control.

Re: Not going to mention

By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

*We pretend that Bill Clinton never happened.*

I don't think you fully understood what I said. Because of the criminal activity around Richard Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP) there were sixty-nine indictments and forty-eight convictions. People went to the federal penitentiary for years. Nixon resigned from the presidency and had to be pardoned by his (second) vice-president. And it all started with a burglary and a cover up. There were actually seventy-six indictments and fifty-five convictions during the Nixon Administration, but only 48 of those convictions were directly connected to crimes committed in relationship to Watergate break-in.

This is what you said in your previous comment:

"Please cite electoral criminal activity by national level republicans running for office.

Oh wait... you can't. Because it's never happened."

Now, do you want to apologize to the class?

*We pretend that Bill Clinton never happened.*

Clinton got a blowjob and lied about it. Nobody went to prison. Nobody was indicted. Nobody was convicted.

During the Obama administration, there were zero indictments, zero convictions, even though the House GOP conducted investigations that went on twice as long as the current House Intelligence Committee's. The came up with nothing. There have been already been 22 indictments during the Trump investigation and five convictions. That's convictions. Not allegations. Not accusations. Convictions. As in "guilty". As in felony. And we're not anywhere near the end. Mueller hasn't even gotten to interview Trump or his failsons or Ivanka yet. There are lots and lots of witnesses left to talk to.

Re: Jokes aside I gotta kind of wonder

By guruevi • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There is a good reason those people weren't on the list. Both ATF and FBI are currently the Democratic operations arm as evidenced by their investigations in both Hillary and Trump. They need to keep the narrative that guns are bad going and the best way of doing that is by sowing fear that someone might use them for evil.

Apple Seems OK With Currency Miners In the Mac App Store

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple has yet to block a popular title in the Mac App Store that has openly embraced coin mining, prompting one to ask the question: does Apple allow apps in the Mac App Store if they clearly disclose that they will be mining cryptocurrency? Ars Technica reports: The app is Calendar 2, a scheduling app that aims to include more features than the Calendar app that Apple bundles with macOS. In recent days, Calendar 2 developer Qbix endowed it with code that mines the digital coin known as Monero. The xmr-stack miner isn't supposed to run unless users specifically approve it in a dialog that says the mining will be in exchange for turning on a set of premium features. If users approve the arrangement, the miner will then run. Users can bypass this default action by selecting an option to keep the premium features turned off or to pay a fee to turn on the premium features. If Calendar 2 isn't the first known app offered in Apple's official and highly exclusive App Store to do currency mining, it's one of the very few.

So where's the 30% Apple cut (tax)

By Sebby • Score: 3 • Thread

Apple is adamant on making sure it gets paid 30% for anything that is 'paid' on the app store - either direct purchase of an app, or of its in-app purchases or subscriptions.

Given this, I don't see this type of arrangement lasting.

A replacement for ads

By Tyrannosaur • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

That asks the user first. I am 100% ok with that. Bonus points if I can tell it to run only when my phone is plugged in to charge.

We need replacements for intrusive and dangerous ads, and cryptocurrency mining is a good initial drop-in replacement. I hope other ad replacements happen as well.

Re:A replacement for ads

By vux984 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

"That asks the user first. I am 100% ok with that. Bonus points if I can tell it to run only when my phone is plugged in to charge."

Your phone isn't going to charge very vast if the CPU is pinned at 100%. It's also going to be running super hot.

"I hope other ad replacements happen as well."

Their are already 2 great options:
1) Free Open Source options (f-droid!!) Not really an option on iOS... which is the main reason i don't use iOS.

2) "paying for the app"; with or without free-trial / limited shareware version. I'm pretty happy with this as well.

Sadly with too many apps that's not an option, they'd rather leech off me in some way. Whether its ads or mining crypto currency or harvesting data... or all three.

Tesla Raises Prices At Its Supercharger Stations

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Tesla is increasing the cost of the paid Supercharger access, but a spokesperson for the company says that it "will never be a profit center." Electrek reports: When introducing the program, Tesla said that it aimed to still make the cost of Supercharging cheaper than gasoline and that it doesn't aim to make its Supercharger network a profit center. Instead, they want to use the money to keep growing the network which now consists of over 1,180 stations and close to 9,000 Superchargers. But this week, the rates were updated across the U.S. Some states saw massive increases of as much as 100 percent -- though most regions saw their rates increase by 20 to 40 percent. For example, Oregon saw an increase of $0.12 to $0.24 per kWh, while California, Tesla's biggest market in the U.S., got an increase from $0.20 to $0.26 kWh and New York's rate went from $0.19 to $0.24 per kWh. A spokesperson for Tesla said in a statement: "We occasionally adjust rates to reflect current local electricity and usage. The overriding principle is that Supercharging will always remain significantly cheaper than gasoline, as we only aim to recover a portion of our costs while setting up a fair system for everyone. This will never be a profit center for Tesla."

Re:What does this translate to price per gallon?

By msauve • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
"I haven't driven a car that got as low as 25mpg in thirty years or so."

Why is it about you?

The latest hard data from the EPA states: "The MY 2016 adjusted fuel economy is 24.7 mpg..." (for "new personal vehicle[s]", so obviously lower than that if all operational vehicles are considered).

Re:What does this translate to price per gallon?

By Rei • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

That price for power is insane. Far more than California average.

Re:What does this translate to price per gallon?

By sew3521 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
I drive a 2008 Toyota Rav4 (4-Cyl, 2.4 Liter) and track all of my fill ups using Fuelly. Over the past 10 times I filled up I averaged 21.0 MPG and since I started using Fuelly (176 fill ups ago) I have an average of 22.8 MPG.

'Supercharging'

By Mister Liberty • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Never has a term been so apt.

3rd Party Stations

By quantaman • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Are non-Tesla entities allowed to make supercharger stations? It's a non-issue at this point, but eventually the electric vehicle market will grow large enough to make independently owned charging stations viable.

Not only do you want competition to make sure Tesla never decides to start gouging at the stations, but when more electric vehicles come on the market it would be much better if they all shared a common charging interface. No one wants to wander around town looking for a compatible charge-station.

Comcast 'Blocks' an Encrypted Email Service: Yet Another Reminder Why Net Neutrality Matters

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Zack Whittaker, writing for ZDNet: For about twelve hours earlier this month, encrypted email service Tutanota seemed to fall off the face of the internet for Comcast customers. Starting in the afternoon on March 1, people weren't sure if the site was offline or if it had been attacked. Reddit threads speculated about the outage. Some said that Comcast was actively blocking the site, while others dismissed the claims altogether. Several tweets alerted the Hanover, Germany-based encrypted messaging provider to the alleged blockade, which showed a "connection timed out" message to Comcast users. It was as if to hundreds of Comcast customers, Tutanota didn't exist. But as soon as users switched to another non-Comcast internet connection, the site appeared as normal. "To us, this came as a total surprise," said Matthias Pfau, co-founder of Tutanota, in an email. "It was quite a shock as such an outage shows the immense power [internet providers] are having over our Internet when they can block sites...without having to justify their action in any way," he said.

By March 2, the site was back, but the encrypted email provider was none the wiser to the apparent blockade. The company contacted Comcast for answers, but did not receive a reply. When contacted, a Comcast spokesperson couldn't say why the site was blocked -- or even if the internet and cable giant was behind it. According to a spokesperson, engineers investigated the apparent outage but found there was no evidence of a connection breakage between Comcast and Tutanota. The company keeps records of issues that trigger incidents -- but found nothing to suggest an issue. It's not the first time Comcast customers have been blocked from accessing popular sites. Last year, the company purposefully blocked access to internet behemoth Archive.org for more than 13 hours.

Re:One day?

By bondsbw • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's one reason Net Neutrality matters so much. It's hard enough to offer competition against the behemoths. Once Google or any huge service provider can pay their way out of the slow lane, small businesses looking to compete might as well give up.

Re:Hanlon's Razor

By sconeu • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Fleming's Razor:

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

This is at least twice, per TFS.

Re:Are you sure it wasn't an accident?

By postbigbang • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'm not an apologist for Comcast, at all.

However, remember they run their own DNS so they can mine where you're going with that so-called stealth browser of yours. When it does a DNS lookup, you get the correct IP address to do the https page pull.

If a DNS address becomes black-holed (there are a number of ways to accidentally do this, including being stupid), then you loose a site.

I'm guessing it got screwed up in cache, and when the cache flushed, it came back again. No huge subterfuge, no DDoS attack, just normal screw up. Even Slashdot was pretty stupid about how they did their infrastructure change-over. Happens all too frequently, but it happens. An alarmist charge towards the fate of net neutrality violations is a bit hyperbolic to me.

Re:Never Attribute to Malice

By alexo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

...what can be explained by incompetence.

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

nothing to do with net neutrality

By mbaGeek • Score: 3 • Thread

to point out the obvious. Whatever the problem was, it wasn't because of "Net Neutrality" legislation. Or if Comcast weighs more than a duck - then Net Neutrality matters!

University of Arizona Tracks Student ID Card Swipes To Detect Who Might Drop Out

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The University of Arizona is tracking freshman students' ID card swipes to anticipate which students are more likely to drop out. University researchers hope to use the data to lower dropout rates. (Dropping out refers to those who have left higher-education entirely and those who transfer to other colleges.) The card data tells researchers how frequently a student has entered a residence hall, library, and the student recreation center, which includes a salon, convenience store, mail room, and movie theater. The cards are also used for buying vending machine snacks and more, putting the total number of locations near 700. There's a sensor embedded in the CatCard student IDs, which are given to every student attending the university. Researchers have gathered freshman data over a three-year time frame so far, and they found that their predictions for who is more likely to drop out are 73 percent accurate. They also have plans to give academic advisers an online dashboard to look at student data in real time. "By getting their digital traces, you can explore their patterns of movement, behavior and interactions, and that tells you a great deal about them," Sudha Ram, a professor of management information systems who directs the initiative, said in a press release.

No information

By VorpalRodent • Score: 3 • Thread

Okay, I was going to dump on this, because the TheVerge article sucks. The press release, however, actually does a good job discussing some of the signals they track and how this ties into them. They even have a nice visualization of student traffic which hints at some ways that they might be able to infer stuff from all of it.

As an aside, the article contains this horrible quote (I really hope there's some missing context):

We think ...[we're] sort of doing what Amazon does — delivering items you didn't order but will be ordering in the future

I'm sorry, but I do not recall Amazon ever doing that. Quite frankly, I'd consider it really awkward to receive things in the mail based on what they thought I might need.

Use Bayesian

By Darkness Of Course • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Bayesian solutions should be capable of >80%.
The alledged wisdom of the crowds should get close to Bayes.

73% is a miss. They should take a class.

Re:No information

By omnichad • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I'm sorry, but I do not recall Amazon ever doing that.

Consider their regional warehouses like a giant edge cache. They pre-buffer likely products into that cache.

Re:Soooo...help me out here

By CrimsonAvenger • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

they found that their predictions for who is more likely to drop out are 73 percent accurate"

73% accurate is nothing to write home about. Especiakkt since they didn't give us a dropout rate.

i.e. 10% dropout rate at73% accuracy will show 24+% of your students going to dropout when they have no such intentions. As well as another 7.3% who actually are going to dropout. While missing 2.7% who are going to dropout, but who have no such intentions.

An accuracy rate of 73% is only useful (and not very useful even then) if the dropout rate is about 50-50 or better.

And what's the deal with spying on your paying customers anyway? Jaysus, tracking every building on campus you enter? Yah, no doubt that'll be very useful for any rape investigations on campus, but really!

politics-free?

By supernova87a • Score: 3 • Thread
I'm surprised that the researchers didn't start to run into university politics before they published their result -- namely, that the University is using data to segregate students and preferentially help some students and not others.

Many a data science / predictive algorithm study has been sunk because university administrators think it singles out people, even if it is to help them.

Apple Must Explain Why It Doesn't Want You To Fix Your Own iPhone, California Lawmaker Says

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A California state lawmaker says she hopes to make Apple explain specifically why it has opposed and lobbied against legislation that would make it easier for you to repair your iPhone and other electronics. Motherboard reports: Last week, California assemblymember Susan Talamantes-Eggman announced that she plans to introduce right to repair legislation in the state, which would require companies like Apple, Microsoft, John Deere, and Samsung to sell replacement parts and repair tools, make repair guides available to the public, and would require companies to make diagnostic software available to independent shops. Public records show that Apple has lobbied against right to repair legislation in New York, and my previous reporting has shown that Apple has privately asked lawmakers to kill legislation in places like Nebraska. To this point, the company has largely used its membership in trade organizations such as CompTIA and the Consumer Technology Association to publicly oppose the bill. But with the right to repair debate coming to Apple's home state, Talamantes-Eggman says she expects the company to show up to hearings about the bill.

"Apple is a very important company in the state of California, and one I have a huge amount of respect for. But the onus is on them to explain why we can't repair our own things and what damage or danger it causes them," Talamantes-Eggman told me in a phone interview. Talamantes-Eggman told me that the bill she plans to introduce will apply to both consumer electronics as well as agricultural equipment such as tractors. Broadly speaking, the electronics industry has decided to go with an "authorized repair" model in which companies pay the original device manufacturer to become authorized to fix devices.

My ideal phone upgrade

By llamalad • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Can I get an iphone that's more durable and has a removable battery?

I'm willing to accept it being double the weight and thickness; I bet with the extra structure they can also improve its durability and let me keep my damned headphone jack.

Everyone's forgetting DRM

By Sloppy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Everyone is aware of the planned obsolescence angle, but nobody seems to have noticed that particular irony of California (i.e. the state containing Hollywood) being the one asking for a right to repair. Lots of hardware makers are either in bed with content companies, or are one. As long as DRM is still legal, this results in an unavoidable conflict of interest.

DRM is always what these companies are really talking about, whenever they use the word "security." They mean they want to keep the machine's master's interests secure against the great adversary: the machine's owner.

DRM and right-to-repair are fundamentally incompatible. You can't implement DRM and also be owner-maintainable, because from an owner's point of view, DRM implementations are bugs (or malware, depending on how strict you want to be about the implementor's intent), and bugs need to be fixed.

I think California will cave in on this, and their legislators will eventually realize that it's necessary that people have adversarial relationship with their computers. The only way this can be avoided, is if DRM ceases to be a thing. And the only way that's going to happen, is if it's outlawed.

Expect this bill to die, for much more inflexible reasons than wanting to protect planned obsolescence. They simply can't allow people to be in charge of their own computers. It's not happening.

Having the right to repair purchased items.

By GregMmm • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

I had to think about this for a while, but it all points back to Apple wanting to sell phones. After I've had my phone for say 3 years why can't I try and fix it? It's not a warranty problem, that's expired. Important point is the phone is mine, not the selling company. I throw the BS flag on the idea it's to keep the integrity of their product. I know, it would be better for me to walk around with a cracked screen on my phone, cause that's great advertisement. Buy this phone, it breaks. And lastly as a couple of people have commented, there is usually multiple detailed youtube videos available on exactly how to do it.

Personally I'm sick of people telling me what do to with my stuff. I'm curious by nature and I've fixed a lot of broken stuff. It's what drive a number of us nerd types. Can I fix this, or better yet, how can I make this better.

This just seems to be all about the money.

"Right to repair" is a terrible name

By Solandri • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
It implies we don't have the right to do what we want with the products we own, unless the state gives us that right. Nobody that right to us - it is ours by virtue of the fact that we own the device.

What this really is is a law to prohibit companies from using manufacturing process and designs which deliberately impede the owner's ability to tinker with a product. And Apple products are not the most egregious violator. It's printers with chipped ink cartridges which refuse to operate unless you buy a new cartridge from that specific manufacturer. (Software is worse, but it gets a pass because you typically buy a software license, not the software itself.)

Re:Dead simple

By tlhIngan • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You can repair it now, but you void the warranty. Don't like the manufacturer's rules, buy something else. It's that simple.

Anyone who's worked a customer service desk knows this - warranty fraud is rampant.

We're not talking about the lame ass buy-a-new-product return-old-product-inside-it trick, but customers lie through their teeth. You can have a laptop that's fallen into the pool, or bathrub, or whatever, and is dripping water all over the return counter, and the customer will say there is no water damage.

And most people are incompetent. Just think about your time fixing software issues. Now figure out what happens when you unleash them to fix hardware problems too. The old butterknife screwdriver is the least of your problems.

Think about it - a site like iFixit - probably the biggest pusher for right to repair, doesn't really want you do it. I mean, if they did, why don't they warrant their products? You buy it, you try to fix it, it doesn't work, why can't you return it? It's almost as if they know if they sell you a cable to fix your iPhone, you're going to return them the damaged one and claim they shipped you a bad one.

And it doesn't cover even things like security - TouchID and FaceID sensors are paired with the phone so people don't swap them. Why? Because if you swap them, you could swap them with "evil" versions of the sensors that record (and transmit) your fingerprint and facial data to a third party who may use it to log into your phone when you're not around. Since this is specialized tech, you can assume it would be a state agency that does this. That would be the deepest of ironies - the FBI uses the law to force Apple to make it so they can break in.

And what about stuff that's safety related? If you replace the battery yourself and it causes the phone to catch on fire, is Apple responsible? Even an official first party battery can be problematic with a fat-fingered person prodding it with their butterknife screwdriver.

I'm guessing we'll see the return of the "warranty void if broken" sticker. Because right now, there's an IQ test in place for people fixing their stuff. And if you think it's ridiculous, well, you haven't seen what the public can do. If you fix computers for a living, you know exactly the people who are going to try to fix their stuff.

JavaScript Rules But Microsoft Programming Languages Are On the Rise

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft languages seem to be hitting the right note with coders across ops, data science, and app development. From a report: JavaScript remains the most popular programming language, but two offerings from Microsoft are steadily gaining, according to developer-focused analyst firm RedMonk's first quarter 2018 ranking. RedMonk's rankings are based on pull requests in GitHub, as well as an approximate count of how many times a language is tagged on developer knowledge-sharing site Stack Overflow. Based on these figures, RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady reckons JavaScript is the most popular language today as it was last year. In fact, nothing has changed in RedMonk's top 10 list with the exception of Apple's Swift rising to join its predecessor, Objective C, in 10th place. The top 10 programming languages in descending order are JavaScript, Java, Python, C#, C++, CSS, Ruby, and C, with Swift and Objective-C in tenth.

TIOBE's top programming language index for March consists of many of the same top 10 languages though in a different order, with Java in top spot, followed by C, C++, Python, C#, Visual Basic .NET, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, and SQL. These and other popularity rankings are meant to help developers see which skills they should be developing. Outside the RedMonk top 10, O'Grady highlights a few notable changes, including an apparent flattening-out in the rapid ascent of Google's back-end system language, Go.

Javascript

By NotSoHeavyD3 • Score: 3 • Thread
JavaScript remains the most popular programming language

-----

Popular as in used because it's the only option, not because people want to use it over pretty much anything else.

Re:BS

By fred6666 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Nice try, but

The Unity runtime is written in C/C++. This runtime is used in any build you create using the editor - for webplayers and plugins it is installed separate from your build, whereas it is included in it for stand-alones and other platforms such as iPhone and Wii.

The editor is built on the Unity runtime and additionally includes editor-specific C/C++ binaries.

Wrapped around the Unity core is a layer which allows for .net access to core functionality. This layer is used for user scripting and for most of the editor UI.

So most of the important code is C/C++.
And nothing tells me that API it isn't being developed on Windows using Visual Studio.
The main platform of these games is probably Windows, even though their very first game was developped for Mac OS X.

Redmonks statistics are horrible

By geoskd • Score: 3 • Thread

Redmonks statistical methods and analysis are horribly biased. Can we please stop quoting any conclusions he comes to? They are completely useless at best and actively misleading at worst.

If you want to know what is really going on in the CS world, look to the IEEE; everyone else has an agenda they are pushing...

Re:BS

By fred6666 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I do.
But there is no killer application on Linux requiring mono. Hence, most people don't even bother installing it.
Unlike say, perl and python, which are must-have.
Is there a popular desktop environment, web browser, or even text editor for Linux written in C#? I understand some kid probably wrote a text editor for fun, but I meant something actually used?

Re:Wrong place to look to plan your career skills

By Dutch Gun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'd first ask them what sort of programming career they'd be interested in, and then tailor my recommendations from there. There are many industries which are heavily skewed towards particular languages. Which do you think would be the most important language in the following fields?

* Videogame programming
* Web programming
* Enterprise application programming
* Mobile development
* Scientific and engineering programming

The languages a programmer would want to learn is likely different for each one of these career paths. In the case of my particular career (videogames), you'd be offering terrible advice. C++ completely dominates AAA game development, followed by C#, and a smattering of also-rans.

Programming languages don't exist in a vacuum. They all have strengths and weaknesses, and trying to distill them into a generic popularity contest is a mistake, at least when it comes to career choices.

Data Breach Victims Can Sue Yahoo in the United States, Federal Judge Rules

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Yahoo has been ordered by a federal judge to face much of a lawsuit in the United States claiming that the personal information of all 3 billion users was compromised in a series of data breaches. From a report: In a decision on Friday night, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California rejected a bid by Verizon Communications, which bought Yahoo's Internet business last June, to dismiss many claims, including for negligence and breach of contract. Koh dismissed some other claims. She had previously denied Yahoo's bid to dismiss some unfair competition claims.

[...] The plaintiffs amended their complaint after Yahoo last October revealed that the 2013 breach affected all 3 billion users, tripling its earlier estimate. Koh said the amended complaint highlighted the importance of security in the plaintiffs' decision to use Yahoo. 'Plaintiffs' allegations are sufficient to show that they would have behaved differently had defendants disclosed the security weaknesses of the Yahoo Mail System," Koh wrote. She also said the plaintiffs could try to show that liability limits in Yahoo's terms of service were "unconscionable," given the allegations that Yahoo knew its security was deficient but did little.

Yahoo "data" breach, LOL

By OffTheLip • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
After enjoying personal data giveaways by Anthem, Home Depot, LinkedIn, the federal government, Target and Equifax I find the Yahoo breach to be laughable. ymmv.

Chances are......

By 8127972 • Score: 3 • Thread

..... That if you factor in the number of people who were affected by this and the potential cash that could be extracted from Verizon as they are now left holding the bag, this is going to get settled out of court pretty quickly as fighting this and losing is going to get expensive in a hurry and even Verizon doesnâ(TM)t have that kind of cash. The question is, how long will that take to happen.

There has to be a better way

By FeelGood314 • Score: 3 • Thread
Yahoo treated security as just an expense and an inconvenience. They gave security lips service but when some new shiny tool came along security was always the last thing slapped on at the end. Except I can't just say that about Yahoo, I can say it about just about every company.* Even if individuals in organizations care about security it really doesn't make sense to invest time and money to make things secure. Just role the dice and hope for the best. Make money now and then apologies later. From society's standpoint maybe that's what we want. A few tens of thousands of people might have been badly inconvenienced by yahoo's lack of diligence. Are we, as a society willing to pay more for our goods and services to make them more secure? I think most of us are willing to put up with the crappy security and just hope we aren't one of the victims. So let yahoo get away with it and not pay anything. It's not like equifax paid that much of a fine.

*Note: I am a security expert, I do consulting, I get paid very well but I'm almost always frustrated. Every morning I wake up and I'm amazed the lights still come on.

how about equifax

By jmccue • Score: 3 • Thread

Well that is all well and good, I can sue yahoo for email I hardly ever use and created with made up data ages ago :) the yahoo breach means nothing to me.

What about Equifax, they should be sued into oblivion including the board members. Far more damaging information was released in that breach to the point I now say "who cares about good passwords now, everything about you is now out in the wild", including stuff you do not know.

Coming Soon to a Front Porch Near You: Package Delivery Via Drone

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
After lagging behind other countries for years, commercial drones in the U.S. are expected to begin limited package deliveries within months, according to federal regulators and industry officials. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; an alternative source was not immediately available] From a report: The momentum partly stems from stepped-up White House pressure, prompting closer cooperation between the government and companies such as Amazon.com seeking authorizations for such fledgling businesses. The upshot, according to these officials, is newfound confidence by both sides that domestic package-delivery services finally appear on the verge of taking off. Earlier promises of progress turned out to be premature. The green light could be delayed again if proponents can't overcome nagging security concerns on the part of local or national law-enforcement agencies. Proposed projects also may end up stymied if Federal Aviation Administration managers don't find creative ways around legislative and regulatory restrictions such as those mandating pilot training for manned aircraft. But some proponents of delivery and other drone applications "think they might be ready to operate this summer," Jay Merkle, a senior FAA air-traffic control official, said during a break at an unmanned-aircraft conference in Baltimore last week that highlighted the agency's pro-business approach.

How are they going to address thieves?

By crgrace • Score: 3 • Thread

Where I live there are constant problems with people stealing packages from porches and front doors. Seems to me drone delivery would make things even worse because they wouldn't have any way to fight this. In my building, the drivers have our garage code so they can put packages securely in the garage. Seems like this wouldn't be possible with drones.

How is Amazon addressing this?

Security concerns? Gravity concerns.

By MadCat221 • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
I am against "Drone Delivery" for one fundamental reason: Gravity. If a delivery truck has a mechanical failure, it's just dead on the road No harm done to the cargo. Gravity does not ensue upon my package. If a delivery drone has a mechanical failure, down it goes, and so does my package.

If a delivery truck takes a hit, it'd have to be a pretty seriously heavy hit to damage my package. If a delivery drone takes a hit... All aircraft are designed first and foremost to optimize weight, because it has to work against gravity to even move. It just doesn't have the bulk to sustain damage like a ground vehicle does.

Re:I'm close to an airport

By mikael • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Shhh. Don't give them ideas. They'll throw the book at you and fine you for littering, operating a flying vehicle without a license, without insurance, while intoxicated and failing to maintain an aircraft in airworthy condition.

Siri Co-founder is Surprised By How Much Siri Still Can't Do

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
In an interview with Quartz, Norman Winarsky, a founder of Siri, suggests that Apple may have given Siri an overly ambitious collection of responsibilities and hasn't made the feature reliable enough. From a report: And while vastly improved from its earliest days, Siri still isn't a sparkling conversationalist. "Surprise and delight is kind of missing right now," said Winarsky, now a consultant and venture capitalist. Winarsky acknowledges that some of this disappointment stems from the sheer difficulty of predicting the pace of major technological advancement, which Bill Gates once summed up as the human tendency to "overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10."

But part of it is also likely because Apple chose to take Siri in a very different direction than the one its founders envisioned. Pre-Apple, Winarsky said, Siri was intended to launch specifically as a travel and entertainment concierge. Were you to arrive at an airport to discover a cancelled flight, for example, Siri would already be searching for an alternate route home by the time you pulled your phone from your pocket -- and if none was available, would have a hotel room ready to book. It would have a smaller remit, but it would learn it flawlessly, and then gradually extend to related areas. "These are hard problems and when you're a company dealing with up to a billion people, the problems get harder yet," Winarsky said. "They're probably looking for a level of perfection they can't get."

Digital Assistants suck in general.

By jellomizer • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

In general this technology, is just the command line interface all over again, with some rudimentary natural language parsing, with a default fail over of googling the question.

The problem with All the Digital Assistants is that it doesn't really get context. So it comes up with silly answers to questions, because the context of the question isn't place in concern.

Siri is a data science problem, not neuroscience..

By RyanFenton • Score: 3 • Thread

Data science is about shaping databases to better match phenomenon - often VERY badly, but good enough to work for business or solving some immediate problem at hand with the resources at hand. I've worked at it, and it's powerful and amazing in its own ways - but it's not neuroscience, at all.

Siri has some lovely canned responses, shaped to match common human inputs, and improved based on what new common inputs come in, largely by adding more human inputs rather than really dynamically generated content.

Data science can help you shape an estimate to match previous responses better, can shape a curve to match an exponent better - but it isn't neuroscience.

ELIZA and her informational descendants like Siri aren't immitating humans - they're selecting from a data set of mixed repeating inputs and canned responses, with a few lexical alterations for effect.

They're not systems fooling humans - they're humans fooling humans using sliced up prerecorded clips.

Almost all of artificial intelligence and even business intelligence is like that - focused on satisfying expectations to some percentage, not on actually modelling absolute truth. As long as customers are indicating improvement, managers give the thumbs up, it continues.

It's very much more stage magic than anything else - under the hood, it's ugly framework and empty air, but dressed up to show the illusion just where it can be seen.

Which makes sense - if you're spending millions, and millions, and millions on it - you expect some stagecraft, I mean "modern professionalism" painted on top to pretend every dollar was spend with perfect wisdom.

Siri-ously though - it's a cool extension of previous technology, and a neat way to present it to cell-phone users and the like. But it's also cheesy use of such tools, and shouldn't be taken as more than window dressing to other tools as it is. The promise of 'virtual assistants' from the mid 90's is nowhere closer with this. Wolfram Alpha might be closer - but they're mostly in the same bag of oddball interfaces.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Digital Assistants suck in general.

By Zak3056 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The problem with All the Digital Assistants is that it doesn't really get context. So it comes up with silly answers to questions, because the context of the question isn't place in concern.

SOME things it has context for it and gets right in a downright scary fashion. Siri (and Google in the Samsung phone it replaced) know when I usually leave for work, or leave to go home, and pop up a notification with route, traffic, and anything else. They know that on Monday I take my daughter to Girl Scouts, that I leave work at a different time on that day and take a different route. The know that on Friday I drive to my Girlfriend's house, but that I have a doctor's appointment first, and that my ex-wife picks my daughter up on that day so I don't need to drive to school (except on those weekends I have my daughter, when I DO need to drive to school). That stuff (while, as noted, is REALLY freaking scary) is pretty useful.

Almost EVERYTHING else, it's just downright shit for. As another poster put it, "I found this wrong information on the web, which I won't read to you."

Siri's intelligence

By Quasar1999 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Actual conversation I had with Siri.

"Siri, what is my relationship status?" ... "I can't answer that"
"Siri, what is my marital status?" ... "I can't answer that"
"Siri, phone my wife" ... proceeds to phone my wife.
"Siri, where is my girlfriend?" ... "Your wife is right beside you."


That last one has me confused. Did Siri know that I am married and thus girlfriend means spouse? Or did she try to warn me that my wife was right next to me.

Siri solved hard problems, then bungled easy stuff

By MorePower • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

All my life, we've been expecting voice recognition "real soon now". And it always flopped. You had to shout really slowly and carefully to get the system to recognize maybe half the words you said.

Then along came Siri, and finally there was a commercially available system that was good enough with normal speaking tone and pace (mostly) and... it dropped the ball miserably at doing simple stuff with the recognized speech.
I haven't tried Siri in ages, so maybe they've improved it recently, but I already gave up on using it because of how dumb it was. For example:

I could ask Siri for directions, say to my hotel, and she would understand fine. But if I asked for gas stations along my route, or restaurants near my destination she wouldn't do it. My old Tom-Tom could do that fine, you had to push the touchscreen as it had no voice capabilities, but it did it great. Siri could understand my voice, but could not do what my Tom-Tom could. To add insult to injury, Siri's canned response indicated that she understood what I was asking for (to use my route or destination as a search location instead of my current position), she just wouldn't do it.

Another time, I wanted to call my wife from a rental car (my regular car has its own voice recognition that works better for this). So I asked Siri to call [wife's name]. She didn't understand, fine, my wife has a weird foreign name. So asked Siri to call [our last name]. She found 2 people with that last name in my contacts (myself and my wife ) and asked me which one I wanted to call. Great! I responded "[wife's name]" Siri then asked "what do you want to do with [wife's name]?" Siri you just asked me which of 2 people I wanted to call! Oh well, I responded "Call her". Siri didn't understand what "Call her" meant and looked up websites related to "Call her". Now even back in the '80s when playing Infocom text adventures like Zork, you could type commands like "hit troll" have the game respond "what do you want to hit the troll with?" and answer "axe". The game remembered just fine that it asked you to fill in some info, and was ready to plug in the new info into what you were doing a few commands ago. But Siri couldn'do that, 30 years later.

Firefox Gets Privacy Boost By Disabling Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor APIs

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Stating with Firefox 60 -- expected to be released in May 2018 -- websites won't be able to use Firefox to access data from sensors that provide proximity distances and ambient light information. From a report: Firefox was allowing websites to access this data via the W3C Proximity and Ambient Light APIs. But at the start of the month, Mozilla engineers decided to disable access to these two APIs by default. The APIs won't be removed, but their status is now controlled by two Firefox flags that will ship disabled by default. This means users will have to manually enable the two flags before any website can use Firefox to extract proximity and ambient light data from the device's underlying sensors. The two flags will be available in Firefox's about:config settings page. The screenshot below shows the latest Firefox Nightly version, where the two flags are now disabled, while other sensor APIs are enabled.

Why was this even possible?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Why the hell would there even be APIs to allow websites to interrogate information about your machine?

The answer to any website asking for anything more than the user agent should be no, sorry, fuck off.

I can't imagine why any of this information should ever be given to a damned website.

Proximity? To what? Fingers to keyboard?

By jabberw0k • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Why would anyone even want a device that has invasive sensors in it?

Re:Stop putting the operating system in the browse

By fibonacci8 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
"Dinner and a movie" is traditional before that level of commitment.

Re:Stop putting the operating system in the browse

By FatdogHaiku • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

So you would prefer a policy such that newly encountered domains default to script off. Under this policy, how would a web application that falls into "the small amount of use case that actually need scripting" demonstrate to the user that it is worthy of "opt in explicit consent"?

Isn't that exactly what the noscript HTML tag is for?
You hit a page that thinks it needs scripting and you get a message asking you to enable it... maybe showing a GIF promising all kinds of wonderful things the site can do for you..

Proximity: Wrong scale

By DrYak • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

you've got the wrong scale regarding proximity. it's not about the number of meters from the device to the user.
it's more "is there something pressed against the screen ?" (like the user's cheek and ear in case of a smartphone).
That's the thing that turn off the screen and (even more important) the touch screen while you're talking into the phone (that is : with the whole smartphone's body against your head. Not using earphones / bluetooth).

Web apps are a thing, and in some case, such as Skype, the web app (http://web.skype.com in this case) *is* the app. The new "native" Linux client is basically the web app, but packaged together with chrome, thanks to Electron framework. (and initially, wrapped together with the necessary plug-in to enable voice-chat, back when it used microsoft-edge-only api instead of webrtc. things have moved since and call work in bare firefox without any plugin and only webrtc).

(I haven't bothered to check, but I strongly suspect that the android app also shares code heavily this web app)

By providing an API to light and proximity sensors, it gives the web app a (web-)standard way to be able to behave like a normal phone app during calls and have the screen shut down so your cheek won't accidentally click on stuff.
Thus SkypeWeb opened in Firefox will act the same as the regular app, and all of them could potentially use the exact same API (instead of the Android App, iOS App, Windows APP all using their system's specific sensors API and Firefox not even being able to).

Same way of thinking could be applied to any other on-line voice calling platform's web app, or even "native" for the cases where "native" is just a wrapped up web app.

The problem, is that some rogue script on some mailicious website/ad could abuse it: e.g only do nefarious things such as mining cpu-cryptocoin only when the user isn't looking.
So these API will go the same way as all other sensitive API such as Location/GPS API : diabled by default, let user only enabled them on the sites where it's genuinely needs (Location: e.g. on google maps).

Apple Buys Texture, a 'Netflix For Magazines' App

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Apple said on Monday it will acquire Texture, a digital magazine app, as the iPhone maker looks to fill the gap left by Facebook's pullback from news distribution. From a report: The deal is Apple's latest move to build out its content and services platform, coming just three months after it announced plans to acquire Shazam, the music recognition app, for around $400m. First launched in 2010, Texture has been described as "Netflix for magazines," as its $10-per-month subscription service provides unlimited access to more than 220 publications including People, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, National Geographic and Vogue. Further reading: Recode.

Snark

By pr0t0 • Score: 3 • Thread

What is a "magazine"?

The difference between a "digital magazine" and a web site is the ads are always full-page in the magazine.

Re:Snark

By OrangeTide • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

It's like an ebook with color full page advertisements.

If Apple went with Netflix model, could be good

By SuperKendall • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

An app by itself that just presents the world of magazines as we know it, is nice but not very useful. There are not that many magazines I actually want to read...

Now what would be lots more interesting, is Apple really going the Netflix model - in addition to providing access to normal magazines, what if Apple spent even just a billion dollars on producing really out there magazines? Something no traditional publisher would produce because of risk, but Apple could back and present through the app as a hook, the same way Netflix has original series that are a draw to use the service and thus also see other content.

Apple could even do things like short run magazines, that only had five-ten issues, or really interactive stuff since it's presented in an app. There are a lot of exciting possibilities there!

Re:If Apple went with Netflix model, could be good

By barc0001 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> An app by itself that just presents the world of magazines as we know it, is nice but not very useful

You're making a pretty blanket statement based on your personal tastes. It may not be useful - to you - but many people would find it useful and more cost effective than buying magazines all the time. Also, have you actually looked at what's on offer for Texture, or are you just going by what you see at the supermarket as "the world of magazines"? I took a look a few minutes ago and was surprised to see there is a magazine devoted to beer, among other things.

I'm not sure this would be for me, but if I did get a subscription I can easily see myself reading Popular Mechanics, Make:, This Old House, National Geographic and PC World, among others while I'm on the train commuting. Would be a damn sight better than reading the fragmented snippets of news and social media I currently make do with on that trip.

Dial P for Privacy: The Phone Booth Is Back

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As mobile phone use exploded and the pay phone was increasingly linked to crime, the booth began to disappear. But things are appear to be changing. From a report: Now, the phone booth -- or at least a variation of it -- is making a modest comeback. When the women-only club and work space The Wing opened its first location in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan in October of 2016, the interior featured marble tables, pink velvet couches, and one small, windowless, reflective glass-doored room dubbed the Phone Booth. One year later, when another location of The Wing opened in Soho, eight built-in, glass-doored call rooms were included in the design. [...]

Other companies that have recently purchased Zenbooths include Volkswagen, Lyft, Meetup and Capital One. The Berkeley, Calif., company was launched in 2016, and its products range from $3,995 (for a standard one-person booth) to $15,995 (for a two-person "executive" booth). The one-person booth is a soundproof, eco-friendly, American-made box that's about 36 inches wide and 34 inches deep, with an insulated glass door, a ventilation fan, power outlets and a skylight -- and it can be assembled in roughly an hour. (It does not, however, contain an actual phone.) Sam Johnson, a co-founder of the company, said it produced "hundreds" of Zenbooths a month in 2017. This year, it's on track to quadruple that production. But he doesn't call them phone booths. "We're manufacturing quiet spaces and privacy," he said.

Zenbooth is not the only free-standing office phone booth in the game. Companies like Cubicall, Nomad, and TalkBox, among others, are offering up solutions to the modern office's privacy problem.

Meh

By silverkniveshotmail. • Score: 3 • Thread
A few companies bought this product and we can declare that the phone booth has returned?

This feels like a press release, not news.

Phone booth is never coming back

By Comboman • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
First a history lesson. Cellphones caused Payphones to disappear. Phone Booths started disappearing long before that (there's a scene in the 1979 film Superman where Clark Kent looks around for a place to change into his costume but can only find boothless payphones). The booths were targets of vandalism and the homeless used them as shelters and/or public toilets. That is why they disappeared.

As for these new booths, the lack of phone isn't the main difference; it's the fact that they are located in private rather than public spaces. They are not in any way a replacement for phone booths, they are really a replacement for the private office space that disappeared when companies started embracing open-plan offices.

we desperately need

By mapkinase • Score: 3 • Thread

We desperately need these at work.

Alternatives to pissing money away...

By geekmux • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"...products range from $3,995 (for a standard one-person booth) to $15,995 (for a two-person "executive" booth)"

So, after you destroyed business privacy by embracing the open-floor plan, your answer is to build obscenely priced closets?

Kind of makes you wonder how much it would cost to throw up some drywall and mount some doors and you know, give employees the privacy of an office again.

Or better yet, grow the hell up and learn to properly measure performance and manage employees working remotely. We sure as hell could use a few less million cars on the road every day.

Sexist shit

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

> women-only club and work space The Wing

Really? People would throw an absolute shit-fit if there was a "men-only club and work space"

How TF is this legal?

Amazon's Alexa Is Coming To an Office Near You

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Amazon announced today that it's bringing its voice assistant into a range of business settings, big and small, like hotels and co-working spaces. From a report: While people always think of Amazon as a consumer company, it has shown itself time and again to have larger ambitions. This move could help it expand tis business services beyond its already popular Amazon Web services. In an interview, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that exposure to the workplace will improve Alexa by exposing it to new types of conversations. "The kind of language we use in our offices is sometimes radically different from the more conversational things we do in our(homes)," he told Axios. Alexa "will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations."

Re:Possibley

By gtall • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Not really, the payoff for these technologies is mining your data, selling you an app is only a means to that end. And most regular proles have no idea what an injection attack is. It isn't clear they even think sending out their information is a bad thing, and you might have to define the term "information" to them.

Oh HELL no

By ilsaloving • Score: 3 • Thread

What serious business would seriously consider an always on surveillance device that eavesdrops on every conversation around them?

You may as well put up a big sign in your window that says, "Trade Secrets available to anyone who will listen!"

Two basic things it needs first...

By rklrkl • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We got an Amazon Echo at work to see if it's any use for business activities as it stands. First problem was that there's no way to configure a proxy server to gain access to Amazon (and other) remote servers, which is incredibly short-sighted of them.

Second issue is that an "obvious" business use is recording (and preferably transcribing) business meetings, but I was *shocked* that the Echo can't even take a simple voice note and record it for you for later access (never mind transcribing to text, which would be another essential feature).

As everyone has been pointing out here, everything the Echo does seems to go through Amazon's servers, so business confidentiality seems to be a major stumbling block to business acceptance. Heck, I can't even tell if the data goes out encrypted (without sniffing the network traffic) and is always stored encrypted.

Re:Not could. DOES.

By nospam007 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"There were several court cases, where employers used surveillance against their employers, and they all lost"

Railway dispatchers and their airplane colleagues have had all their conversations, be that normal, per phone, radio, loudspeakers lawfully recorded since the dawn of time.
Also police officers are getting forced to wear cameras, their radio messages have also been recorded forever.
Supermarkets have had cameras for decades, they also cover the check-out personnel. Ditto for banks.
I could continue but it's now happy hour.

InfoSec says NO

By eth1 • Score: 3 • Thread

As an InfoSec guy, there is NO WAY IN HELL any of these type of devices are getting into my building.

In fact, I think our next infosec newsletter will mention keeping these away from work-from-home spaces, as well

Intel Fights For Its Future

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An anonymous reader shares a post: The Smartphone 2.0 era has destroyed many companies: Nokia, Blackberry, Palm... Will Intel be another victim, either as a result of the proposed Broadcom-Qualcomm combination, or as a consequence of a suicidal defense move? Intel sees the Qualcomm+Broadcom combination as an existential threat, an urgent one. But rather than going to the Feds to try and scuttle the deal through a long and uncertain process, Intel is rumored to be "working with advisors" (in plainer English, the company's Investment Bankers) on a countermove: acquire Broadcom. Why the sudden sense of urgency? What is the existential threat? And wouldn't the always risky move of combining two cultures, employees, and physical plants introduce an even greater peril?

To begin with, the threat to Intel's business isn't new; the company has been at risk for more than a decade. By declining Steve Jobs' proposal to make the original iPhone CPU in 2005, Intel missed a huge opportunity. The company's disbelief in Apple's ambitious forecast is belied by the numbers: More than 1.8 billion iOS devices have been sold thus far. Intel passed on the biggest product wave the industry has seen, bigger than the PC. Samsung and now TSMC manufacture iPhone CPUs. Just as important, there are billions of Android-powered machines, as well. One doesn't have to assume 100% share in the smartphone CPU market to see Intel's gigantic loss.

Shed no tears for them.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Intel has a long history of anti-competitive behavior. One needs only search "Intel anti-competitive behavior" or see their Wikipedia page to recognize that it's a persistent and ongoing. Yes, they have brought advances to the semiconductor field but they have always behaved in the most unethical manner possible to subvert the competition.

I look forward to the rise of AMD.

This article is nonsense

By lamer01 • Score: 3 • Thread
Intel has a stranglehold on server CPUs. AMD is making a comeback there but the ARM camp does not have compelling enough solutions in that space. Low power is great but it's not everything.

"fighting"? really?

By ravrazor • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Intel stock is up 50% in the last 12 months (to $50) and they made about $63 billion dollars in 2017.

I think they're doing okay.

Can Intel even play in this market?

By roc97007 • Score: 3 • Thread

This is a real question. I don't have anything against Intel, and my current workstation has Intel Inside.

Does Intel have anything that plays well in the phone/tablet market? My understanding is that Qualcom and/or Samsung don't own the market just because they were there first, but because their products are designed specifically for the application, whereas Intel's offerings in that arena all appear to be relatively low power x86 chips. Key term being "relatively". Like Microsoft's early struggles with hand held devices, trying to shoehorn a desktop OS into something with a 4 inch screen, Intel appeared to be trying to leverage existing designs in a market where they weren't appropriate.

I could be missing something, but it seems like Intel's largest current issue is that they make the best possible processor for an increasingly smaller market, and don't make anything particularly appropriate for the most aggressively expanding markets. An issue they share to a certain extent with Microsoft.

It'll be interesting to see what happens should Intel acquire Broadcom. I think there's a good chance -- maybe 40% that after acquisition Intel will drop or severely de-emphasize Broadcom's SoC products in favor of one of their lower power laptop x86 processors. And fail miserably at it.

Re:History

By epine • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Now, Intel also did never manage to come up with anything x86 that was suitable for a smartphone.

I went though a short, thirty-year obsession with all things microarchitecture. The appalling stupidity of accepted memes in this space I'll surely carry to my lonely grave.

Crufty x86: here's how it broke down.

First, about 50% of the original cruft drank the shrink-me fluid, and shrank down so small you can barely see it now (e.g. some extra microcode entries in a rarely used, unpopular spiral annex of the instruction decode table for misbegotten 286-era CISC call gates.) Jesus, people, exponential happens.

Second, about 25% of the cruft turned out to not nearly be so crufty as legend would have it. The RISC camp soils itself over the read-modify-write instruction group. But generating a complex address once (yes, x86 does complex address generation within the context of a single instruction) rather than twice alleviates substantial pressure on the address look-aside unit. It's also a very handy and compact addressing mode for minor stack spill (e.g. function variables that don't quite manage to stay in registers all the time). With a 30% instruction encoding density advantage over the original ARM32, you need many fewer transistors in your i-cache to achieve the same i-cache hit ratio. The bigger your caches, the more free transistors to apply elsewhere. x86 is still a bit short on registers despite rmw, but you gain a bunch of this back on lighter context switches, so it's not a complete write-off.

The other 25% is an eternal pain in the ass. Here's how the PITA component breaks down. The majority of it has little impact on peak throughput at all, but it comes at a thermal efficiency cost. The thermal cost is mostly irrelevant if you are sucking juice from a wall socket, and your processor is not hitting the thermal wall. The other side of this is a hideous sunk-cost in the engineering trickery required to pull this off (for a company the size of Intel, however, hideous is mostly peanuts, and nice barrier to entry you've got there, shame if a different device category became prominent).

A minority of the PITA aspects of the instruction set are just permanently a PITA. Deep OOO requires extensive hazard detection, and x86 has hazards up the wazoo (many partial register writes, and seventeen different flavours of flag register update subsets). This costs silicon, this costs power, this costs cycle time, this costs pipeline stages. Lose, lose, lose.

Considering the architecture is now 40-years old, that's not exactly a resounding F on the old report card, by a sane grader.

Because of aspects like instruction decode alignment (with those blasted variable prefix bytes) and extremely complex hazard detection x86 is just always going to produce twice as much heat arriving at the same result 20% faster than any reasonable design that was originally power conscious.

I suspect most of this fixed thermal inefficiency resides in the front end and not the back end. Meaning that an alternative x86 instruction set could be devised (somewhat more drastically different than Thumb-2 vs. Thumb) with vastly more efficient instruction decode (thermally) and vastly fewer implicit scheduling hazards. Caches, register sets, dispatch pipelines, retirement unit, memory ports, execution units, these could all remain the same. Perhaps the only register you'd want to muck with is the flags register, and maybe you'd trash the ability to write to AH (though you'd probably keep partial register writes to AL to handle common byte operations).

[*] Fifteen years ago, the ugly details of this stuff was more in my head, so my examples predate AMD64, but mutatis mutandis.

Maybe by doing so you'd even close the gap enough to compete with ARM. But: a huge redevelopment and validation cost (what, me validate?), another substantially different code generation mode for every major compiler, another by

Inside the Booming Black Market For Spotify Playlists

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The black market for Spotify playlists is booming. It's cheaper than you might expect to hack the system -- and if it's done right, it more than pays for itself, the Daily Dot reports. From the article: It's impossible to overstate the value of Spotify playlists. The company dominates the streaming music market, with 159 million active users and 71 million paid subscribers -- nearly double Apple Music's subscription base, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. More importantly, Spotify has made playlists its defining feature. [...] The rising value of Spotify playlists has spurred a new form of payola -- the decades-old illegal practice of paying for a song to be broadcast on the radio -- with massive amounts of money changing hands behind the scenes. An August 2015 expose by Billboard quoted an unnamed major-label executive who claimed playlist adds were being sold for "$2,000 for a playlist with tens of thousands of fans to $10,000 for the more well-followed playlists." Spotify responded by updating its terms of service to explicitly prohibit "selling a user account or playlist, or otherwise accepting any compensation, financial or otherwise, to influence the name of an account or playlist or the content included on an account or playlist." But the practice of paying for placement, as with other forms of payola before it, hasn't died out. It's just been remixed.

In a matter of minutes and for a mere $2, you can pay to have your song considered by one of the 1,500 curators working on SpotLister, one of several new services that sells access to prominent Spotify users. The site was founded by two 21-year-old college students -- Danny Garcia, a guitar player at New York University, and a close friend who requested anonymity due to unrelated privacy concerns. They started a "private-for-hire" PR company in 2016 that offered "pitching services" to generate buzz on SoundCloud and, later, Spotify. The two would take on anywhere from 15 to 20 clients a month, each paying anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 to secure prominent placement on playlists.

Should be easy enough to shut down

By jonwil • Score: 3 • Thread

If its a violation of the terms of service to do this stuff, then it should be fairly easy for Spotify to get SpotLister and these other services shut down (maybe make use of the overly broad overly vague CFAA to do it)

Free market will take care of it

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
These playlists have a following because they have a reputation of creating good quality music selections. If they squander the goodwill by selling out to paid placements, so be it. Free market will take care of it.

In the Radio spectrum is limited and licensed and it was the only free content delivery system for the masses. Since a few people got to be gate keepers, we needed rules to make sure they do not abuse the defacto monopoly status given to them by the government. On the internet, with unlimited opportunities for all players to pitch music, there is a dire need for someone to provide editorial services, find good music from obscure and unexpected sources, draw attention to it and develop a reputation of being a good play list creator. And people will pay for a good play list. It is no different from being an editor of a literary magazine.

It is high time spotify recognizes it and makes it official. Let thousand playlists bloom, market will shake out those who sell out.

What Image Should Represent All of Humanity On Wikipedia?

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An anonymous reader writes: If aliens ever do come across the Pioneer spacecraft and make assumptions about the entire human species based on the man and woman etched onto the plaque it carries, this is what they will think of us: We all look like white people; we all look about 30ish years old; we do not wear clothes. It's a problem you encounter anytime you have to choose a few individuals to represent an entire group, and it's one that the editors of Wikipedia have debated for years: What image should grace the top of the "human" entry in the online dictionary?

The photo that's there now, after years of feverish debate, is of an Akha couple from a region of Thailand along the Mekong river. "The photo of the Akha couple remain humanity's type specimens on Wikipedia," writes author Ellen Airhart. "Just as a shriveled northeastern leopard frog at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology represents its whole species, so this couple stands for all of us."

Such musing about the taxonomic representation of the human species could actually have a big impact on our digital future. "Future scientists will have to teach computers, not aliens, to recognize the human image. Right now, software engineers program artificial intelligence to recognize people by feeding them millions of pictures of faces," she writes. "But whose faces? Computer scientists run into the same questions about gender, race, and culture that the Wikipedia editors encountered. Being able to use more than one photo expands the conversation but does not necessarily make it easier."

Most

By countach • Score: 3 • Thread

Whichever race is the most prevalent. That would be Chinese I guess.

Computer generated

By sad_ • Score: 3 • Thread

Feed a computer algorithm millions of pictures of people, as diverse as possible, and let it then generate what the average human looks like.

We Are All Fucked

By sycodon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

...if Aliens look to Wikipedia for anything.

any healthy member of H. sapiens

By ooloorie • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

Any healthy adult members of H. sapiens will do, since they are biologically interchangeable. If you object to one member over another on racial grounds, it simply means that you're a racist.

Re:it cant be done with a single couple

By denzacar • Score: 4 • Thread

Otherwise I think you're going to need to either do a computer generated average image

A computer generated image based on a global model which would include all most recent census data from all over the globe would work great for that.
Particularly if the whole process was automated, updating itself on its own as new data arrives.

And as for anyone feeling underrepresented by such an image, you can legitimately tell them to go and reproduce themselves.
Reproduce themselves billions of times.

YouTube, the Great Radicalizer

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Zeynep Tufekci, writing for the New York Times: Before long, I was being directed to videos of a leftish conspiratorial cast, including arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11. As with the Trump videos, YouTube was recommending content that was more and more extreme than the mainstream political fare I had started with. Intrigued, I experimented with nonpolitical topics. The same basic pattern emerged. Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons. It seems as if you are never "hard core" enough for YouTube's recommendation algorithm. It promotes, recommends and disseminates videos in a manner that appears to constantly up the stakes. Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.

This is not because a cabal of YouTube engineers is plotting to drive the world off a cliff. A more likely explanation has to do with the nexus of artificial intelligence and Google's business model. (YouTube is owned by Google.) For all its lofty rhetoric, Google is an advertising broker, selling our attention to companies that will pay for it. The longer people stay on YouTube, the more money Google makes. What keeps people glued to YouTube? Its algorithm seems to have concluded that people are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with -- or to incendiary content in general. Is this suspicion correct? Good data is hard to come by; Google is loath to share information with independent researchers. But we now have the first inklings of confirmation, thanks in part to a former Google engineer named Guillaume Chaslot. Mr. Chaslot worked on the recommender algorithm while at YouTube. He grew alarmed at the tactics used to increase the time people spent on the site. Google fired him in 2013, citing his job performance. He maintains the real reason was that he pushed too hard for changes in how the company handles such issues.

Vids about vegetarianism led 2 vids about veganism

By walterbyrd • Score: 3 • Thread

The horror! The horror!

Article is just leftist propaganda

By walterbyrd • Score: 4 • Thread

I use youtube everyday. I watch conservative videos all time. I don't get any far-right neo-Nazi crap recommended.

Considering that youtube censors even moderate conservatives, I find it hard to believe there is all that much far--right stuff out there.

This is just the leftist NYT calling for more censorship. The left just *loves* censorship.

brass-knuckle pursuit dynamics

By epine • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

When I hover over a YouTube recommendation, a vertical "..." control appears, which can be clicked upon to pop up a small menu.

Inside this floating drip, drip, drip menu there are three items: Not interested, Add to Watch later, and Add to playlist.

I've been running experiments on Not interested. First I applied it to every video where the thumbnail contained giant boobs. I like boobs, but there's a time and place, but pressed into my nose all day long—under false pretences, more often than not—is not the time and place.

If it really is machine learning under the hood, in theory YouTube would detect this conspicuous pattern. Miraculously, after dismissing many dozens of these, YouTube rarely offers up thumbnail cleavage any longer. But what did it really conclude? That I don't like boobs? That I don't like videos thumbnailed under false pretences? That I don't like the kinds of subject matter typically bannered under "here be the big boobies"?—for which the "fail" genre servers as the conspicuous anchor tenant. Or did it just run out of booby thumbnails in its primary recommendation rotation? From the outside looking in, it's hard to know.

Then I watched a bunch of chess analysis videos after AlphaZero "destroyed" Stockfish. I decided that I really like agadmator's coverage in general, so I watched some of his classics. By this point, 50% of my recommendation column on nearly every YouTube screen was chess videos. So I started to systematically blow these away with my persistent Not interested assault weapon (more of a musket than a semi-automatic, but you go to war with the army you have). It took about a week, and one- to two-hundred repetitions, but now the chess videos arise in my feed no more.

Then I got interested in the Sam Harris interactions with/about Jordan Peterson (who is not an idiot, and not a puppet of the far right, but very well read, articulate, 50% a clone of my own perspective on life, and 50% the exact opposite of my perspective on life; in short, about the most useful resource presently available to me to drive actual personal growth). It wasn't long before I was viewing Harris's "controversial" interview of Charles Murray. (By merely adding that scarequote disclaimer, a certain faction of the Identity Politics Police have already won.)

You can guess what happened to my recommendation feed after that.

Now, this could have been far worse than it was, because I had long been waging a slow campaign of rooftop assassination of any video containing ALLCAPS somewhere in the video title (especially if the main verb, and most especially the snowclone "x DESTROYS y about z"—if you've already mentally replaced z with "Zionism", YouTube has conditioned you well).

Optimally x and y are selected to maximize brass-knuckle pursuit dynamics. We've all seen this trope on WWE. Back when I grew up in the two-channel 1970s, wrestling was one notch above ultimate pain, variety hours such as Lawrence Welk, Tommy Hunter, Rene Simard, or the The Pig and Whistle, so I endured enough wrestling to internalize all the wrestling tropes for life, while desperately checking back to the other channel every three minutes in prayer, I guess, for the kind of programming miracle—surely on par with the virgin birth (whatever that was)—where an entire show is cancelled and replaced mid-episode (I dreamed this dream week after week for what seemed like years and years).

Brass-knuckle pursuit dynamics is where the black hats have both guys in the ring, while the white-hat's partner distractedly sits the imbalance out (bear in mind, this is Canada in the 1970s, where any given NHL bench-clearing brawl clears the bench right down to the lowest equipment manager, so the 250+ lb muscle-bound white hat going Daisy Daydream while his partner gets two-wayed in the ring already strained the c

Re:One of the biggest stories of the decade

By butchersong • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I think it is simpler than this. When you allow people to produce their own content and associate freely, they tend to cluster together into distinct groups. Hell, I have a farm and several breeds of chickens. The chicks are raised together from 1 day old and even once they begin maturing will instinctively cluster together into their own types in the coop. It's a little depressing to think on overmuch but this is something very deep in us.

Re:Political leanings.

By Chas • Score: 4 • Thread

The most radicalized and violent are right-wing?

Hello? Antifa calling here!