- AI Can Now Help Write Wikipedia Pages For Overlooked Scientists
- Georgia Defends Electronic Voting Machines Despite 243-Percent Turnout In One Precinct
- Google Using Chinese Site It Owns To Develop Search Term Blacklist For Censored Search Engine, Says Report
- WhatsApp Flaw Could Allow Hackers To Modify, Send Fake Messages
- US Invaded By Savage Tick That Sucks Animals Dry, Spawns Without Mating
- Ankis New Robot Has Artificial Emotional Intelligence
- Samsung To Spend Over $22 Billion on AI, Auto Tech and 5G
- Audius Raises $5.5 Million To Decentralize Music, Help Artists Get Paid Faster
- Engineers Teach a Drone To Herd Birds Away From Airports Autonomously
- New York City Just Voted To Cap Uber and Lyft Vehicles and Require Drivers To Be Paid a Minimum Wage
- P2P Piracy is Alive and Growing, Research Suggests
- Freelance Platform Upwork's Opt-in Service Tracks Freelancers By Capturing Screenshots, Webcam Photos and Measuring Clicks and Keystrokes Frequency
- People Still Don't Like Their Cable Companies, ConsumerReports' Telecom Survey Finds
- New Facial Recognition Tool, Designed For Research Purposes, Tracks Targets Across Different Social Networks
- When Working in Virtual Reality Makes You Sick
- Hashcat Developer Discovers Simpler Way To Crack WPA2 Wireless Passwords
- Podcasting is Not Walled (Yet)
- Cybersecurity's Insidious New Threat: Workforce Stress
- LibreOffice 6.1 Released
- Big Money, Big Dreams, Big Expectations and a Lot of Hype: Magic Leap One AR Headset Goes on Sale for $2,295 in Certain US Markets
- Apple Tells Lawmakers iPhones Are Not Listening In On Consumers
- Women Die More From Heart Attacks Than Men -- Unless the ER Doc Is Female
- Oracle Challenges Pentagon's $10 Billion Cloud Computing Contract
AI Can Now Help Write Wikipedia Pages For Overlooked Scientists
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Science:
Plenty of prominent scientists have Wikipedia pages. But while checking to see if someone specific has a Wikipedia page is a quick Google search away, figuring out who should be on Wikipedia but isn't -- and then writing an entry for him or her -- is much trickier. For example, you may or may not have heard of Christina Economos. She doesn't have a Wikipedia page about her, although she's a professor at Tufts University and the New Balance Chair in childhood nutrition. But while she lacks a Wikipedia page, she does have a very short stub describing who she is professionally on a website made by a company called Primer. That little blurb, which could one day grow into a full-blown Wiki entry, was created by an AI system dubbed Quicksilver. The idea behind the project is to use AI as a jumping off point. Humans can use it to help them write Wikipedia pages for scientists who don't have them, but deserve to. For example, on Economos' Primer page, there's a link to an article from CBS Boston that mentions her -- a good potential source for a human Wikipedia editor who may want to write an entry for her.
Primer launched officially last year and uses AI to read information and generate reports; part of its focus is doing the kind of work an intelligence analyst might do. Artificial intelligence generally needs data to learn from, and so for this project, Primer used around 30,000 existing scientist Wikipedia pages to train their machine learning systems. Then they fed 200,000 names and related employment information into their AI system. Those names came from the listed authors of scientific papers focused on computer science and biomedical research provided to Primer from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. If you're curious to see a sample, you can head on over to
this page, which has 100 examples of AI-generated Wikipedia blurbs.
Georgia Defends Electronic Voting Machines Despite 243-Percent Turnout In One Precinct
"In Chicago, it used to be claimed that even death couldn't stop a person from voting," writes Slashdot reader
lunchlady55. "But in the Deep South, there are new reports of
discrepancies in voter turnout with the approval of new electronic voting systems." Ars Technica reports:
[I]f any state is a poster child for terrible election practices, it is surely Georgia. Bold claims demand bold evidence, and unfortunately there's plenty; on Monday, McClatchy reported a string of irregularities from the state's primary election in May, including one precinct with a 243-percent turnout.
McClatchy's data comes from a federal lawsuit filed against the state. In addition to the problem in Habersham County's Mud Creek precinct, where it appeared that 276 registered voters managed to cast 670 ballots, the piece describes numerous other issues with both voter registration and electronic voting machines. (In fact it was later corrected to show 3,704 registered voters in the precinct.) Multiple sworn statements from voters describe how they turned up at their polling stations only to be turned away or directed to other precincts. Even more statements allege incorrect ballots, frozen voting machines, and other issues. "George is one of four states in the U.S. that continues to use voting machines with no ability to provide voters a paper record so that they can verify the machine counted their vote correctly," the report adds.
Google Using Chinese Site It Owns To Develop Search Term Blacklist For Censored Search Engine, Says Report
using search samples from a Beijing-based website it owns to make blacklists for the censored search engine it
is developing for China. Google's website
265.com redirects to China's dominant search engine, Baidu, by default, "but Google can apparently see the queries that users are typing in," reports The Verge. From the report:
Google engineers are reportedly sampling those search queries in order to develop a list of thousands of blocked websites it should hide on its upcoming search engine in China. Blacklisted results, which include topics like the Tiananmen Square massacre, will result in users seeing a blank page, The Intercept reports. On Baidu, if you search for something less specific, like Taiwan or Xinjiang, you'll get a partial blackout where you can only see tourist information and not politically sensitive news reports. It could be possible that Google is taking a similar tack.
Originally, 265.com was founded in 2003 by Chinese entrepreneur Cai Wensheng, who's also the founder of Chinese beauty app Meitu. Google bought the site in 2008, while it was still operating its search engine within China. Google has essentially been using the site to figure out what Chinese users are searching for since 2008, and now that it is working on an Android search app, it will finally have a use for that data. The Intercept
first reported this news.
WhatsApp Flaw Could Allow Hackers To Modify, Send Fake Messages
discovered flaw in WhatsApp
could allow hackers to modify and send fake messages
(Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). Researchers at the Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point said the vulnerability gives a hacker the possibility "to intercept and manipulate messages sent by those in a group or private conversation" as well as "create and spread misinformation." The New York Times reports:
WhatsApp acknowledged that it was possible for someone to manipulate the quote feature, but the company disagreed that it was a flaw. WhatsApp said the system was working as it had intended, because the trade-offs to prevent such a deception by verifying every message on the platform would create an enormous privacy risk or bog down the service. The company said it worked to find and remove anyone using a fake WhatsApp application to spoof the service. "We carefully reviewed this issue and it's the equivalent of altering an email," Carl Woog, a spokesman for WhatsApp, said in a statement. What Check Point discovered had nothing to do with the security of WhatsApp's so-called end-to-end encryption, which ensures only the sender and recipient can read messages, he said.
For now, the issue appears limited to a discussion among security experts. Both WhatsApp and Check Point Software said they had not seen regular users creating fake quote messages in chats. Check Point said it also discovered a way within group chats to send a message to a specific individual within the discussion. That individual is tricked into believing that the whole group saw the message and responds accordingly. WhatsApp played down the concerns raised by Check Point, saying most people know the person who they are messaging on the service. The company said 90 percent of all messages on the service are sent in one-on-one conversations, and the majority of groups are six people or less -- making it less likely that an unknown person can infiltrate a conversation to trick other users.
US Invaded By Savage Tick That Sucks Animals Dry, Spawns Without Mating
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
A vicious species of tick originating from Eastern Asia has invaded the U.S. and is rapidly sweeping the Eastern Seaboard, state and federal officials warn. The tick, the Asian longhorned tick (or Haemaphysalis longicornis), has the potential to transmit an assortment of nasty diseases to humans, including an emerging virus that kills up to 30 percent of victims. So far, the tick hasn't been found carrying any diseases in the U.S. It currently poses the largest threat to livestock, pets, and wild animals; the ticks can attack en masse and drain young animals of blood so quickly that they die -- an execution method called exsanguination.
Key to the tick's explosive spread and bloody blitzes is that its invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually, that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones. In one U.S. population studied so far, experts encountered a massive swarm of the ticks in a single paddock, totaling well into the thousands. They speculated that the population might have a ratio of about one male to 400 females. Yesterday, August 7, Maryland became the eighth state to report the presence of the tick. It followed a similar announcement last Friday, August 3, from Pennsylvania. Other affected states include New York, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Ankis New Robot Has Artificial Emotional Intelligence
Toymaker Anki, whose Cozmo robot has been a hit, has announced its next bot: Vector. Though it looks a lot like Cozmo, it packs far more computational power -- Cozmo relied on a phone app for smarts -- and utilizes deep-learning tech in the interest of giving Vector a subtler, more engaging personality. Over at Fast Company, Sean Captain has a deep dive into the software engineering that went into the effort. Vector is being powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 chip, and has cartoon eyes displayed on a 184 x 96-pixel screen. The robot actually scans its environment via a single 720p wide-angle camera mounted below the screen. "Cozmo springs to attention when you call its name, making twittering sounds, and lifting its bulldozer-like arms up and down," writes Captain. "If you ignore Cozmo, the bot gets more in your face, or makes loud, obnoxious snoring sounds."
While Vector can connect to the internet and display weather information, set timers, and speak answers to various questions, it's the social and visual intelligence that people may fall in love with the most. Vector is able to detect people and interact with them, even when faces aren't visible. Computer vision technical director Andrew Stein and his team "trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) -- a popular deep-learning AI technology that mimics the brains visual cortex," reports Captain. "Using the often blurry and distorted footage that Vector's camera captures as he moves around, Stein has been teaching the CNN to detect people from the back or the side, for instance, up to about 10 feet away."
Samsung To Spend Over $22 Billion on AI, Auto Tech and 5G
The Samsung conglomerate said it will invest more than $22 billion over the next three years to target such areas as artificial intelligence and auto-technology components, as it seeks out growth drivers beyond phones and memory chips. From a report:
The bulk of the spending will be earmarked for Samsung Electronics, the conglomerate's crown jewel. The company is the world's No. 1 maker of smartphones, semiconductors and televisions and last year put more toward capital expenditures than any other publicly traded company. Samsung ïsaid it would invest heavily in four key areas through 2020. Auto tech, artificial intelligence and new fifth-generation, or 5G, cellular technology [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] -- all of which that fall under Samsung's umbrella -- will draw funding, as will its nascent drug companies specializing in contract manufacturing and biosimilar medications. Samsung, South Korea's largest business empire, spans 62 affiliates as diverse as life insurance and theme parks.
Audius Raises $5.5 Million To Decentralize Music, Help Artists Get Paid Faster
A new company called Audius, lead by entrepreneur and DJ Ranidu Lankage, has
raised $5.5 million to build a blockchain-based alternative to Spotify or SoundCloud. "Users will pay for Audius tokens or earn them by listening to ads," reports TechCrunch. "Their wallet will then pay out a fraction of a cent per song to stream from decentralized storage across the network, with artists receiving roughly 85 percent -- compared to roughly 70 percent on the leading streaming apps. The rest goes to compensating whomever is hosting that song, as well as developers of listening software clients, one of which will be built by Audius." From the report:
Audius plans to launch its open-sourced product in beta later this year. But it's already found some powerful investors that see SoundCloud as vulnerable to the cryptocurrency revolution. Audius has raised a $5.5 million Series A led by General Catalyst and Lightspeed, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Pantera Capital, 122West and Ascolta Ventures. They're betting that Audius' token will grow in value, making the stockpile it keeps worth a fortune. It could then sell chunks of its tokens to earn revenue instead of charging artists directly. The big question will be whether Audius can use the token economy to crack the chicken-and-egg problem of getting its first creators and listeners on a platform that might be less functionally robust than its traditional competitors. There are a lot of moving parts to decentralize, but there are also plenty of disgruntled musicians out there waiting for something better.
Engineers Teach a Drone To Herd Birds Away From Airports Autonomously
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Tech Xplore:
Engineers at Caltech have developed a new control algorithm that enables a single drone to herd an entire flock of birds away from the airspace of an airport. The algorithm is presented in a study in IEEE Transactions on Robotics. Herding relies on the ability to manage a flock as a single, contained entity -- keeping it together while shifting its direction of travel. Each bird in a flock reacts to changes in the behavior of the birds nearest to it. Effective herding requires an external threat -- in this case, the drone -- to position itself in such a way that it encourages birds along the edge of a flock to make course changes that then affect the birds nearest to them, who affect birds farther into the flock, and so on, until the entire flock changes course. The positioning has to be precise, however: if the external threat gets too zealous and rushes at the flock, the birds will panic and act individually, not collectively.
To teach the drone to herd autonomously, Soon-Jo Chung, an associate professor of aerospace, and his colleagues [...] studied and derived a mathematical model of flocking dynamics to describe how flocks build and maintain formations, how they respond to threats along the edge of the flock, and how they then communicate that threat through the flock. Their work improves on algorithms designed for herding sheep, which only needed to work in two dimensions, instead of three. Once they were able to generate a mathematical description of flocking behaviors, the researchers reverse engineered it to see exactly how approaching external threats would be responded to by flocks, and then used that information to create a new herding algorithm that produces ideal flight paths for incoming drones to move the flock away from a protected airspace without dispersing it. The team tested the algorithm on a flock of birds near a field in Korea and found that a single drone could keep a flock of dozens of birds out of a designated airspace. The effectiveness of the algorithm is only limited by the number and size of the incoming birds.
New York City Just Voted To Cap Uber and Lyft Vehicles and Require Drivers To Be Paid a Minimum Wage
New York City Council passed regulations on ride-hail companies on Wednesday,
capping the number of vehicles on the road for one year and requiring that drivers to be paid a minimum wage. From a report:
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said earlier that the regulations are intended to protect drivers, fairly regulate the industry and reduce congestion. The year-long cap on new licenses for ride-hailing vehicles will take place while the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) studies the effects of ride-hail service in the city. The cap would not apply to new wheelchair-accessible vehicles or new vehicles serving an area demonstrating need in a way that does not increase congestion. App-based ride services account for 80,000 vehicles in New York City, and provide 17 million rides per month, according to a study by The New School for the TLC. The surge in ridership coincided with increased resident frustration with the local subway system. With the move on Wednesday, New York City, the largest American market for Uber, has become the first major American city to restrict the number of ride-hail vehicles and to establish pay rules for drivers. In a statement issued moments ago, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said," Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock. The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action -- and now we have it."
P2P Piracy is Alive and Growing, Research Suggests
From a report:
In recent years Hollywood and other entertainment sources have focused their enforcement efforts on pirate streaming sites and services. According to several reports, streaming sites get more traffic than their P2P counterparts, with the latter being almost exclusively BitTorrent related. While the rise of online streaming sites can't be denied, a new research report from anti-piracy outfit Irdeto shows that P2P remains very relevant. In fact, it's still the dominant piracy tool in many countries. Irdeto researched site traffic data provided by an unnamed web analytics partner. The sample covers web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was most used. This makes it possible to see how P2P site visits compare to those of pirate streaming sites.
Freelance Platform Upwork's Opt-in Service Tracks Freelancers By Capturing Screenshots, Webcam Photos and Measuring Clicks and Keystrokes Frequency
Caroline O'Donovan, reporting for BuzzFeed News:
To convince workers to join the unstable and unreliable world of freelance work, startups and platforms often promise freedom and flexibility. But on the digital freelance platform Upwork, company software tracks hundreds of freelancers while they work by saving screenshots, measuring the frequency of their clicks and keystrokes, and even sometimes taking webcam photos of the workers. Upwork, which hosts "millions" of coding and design gigs, guarantees payment for freelancers, even if the clients who hired them refuse to pay. But in order to get the money, freelancers have to agree in advance to use Upwork's digital Work Diary, which counts keystrokes to measure how "productive" they are and takes screenshots of their computer screens to determine whether they're actually doing the work they say they're doing.
Upwork's tracker isn't automatically turned on for all gigs on the platform. Some freelancers like it because it guarantees payment, but others find it unnerving. [...] Upwork maintains that freelancers don't have to use the time tracker if it makes them uncomfortable. [...] But while Work Diary may be opt-in on its surface, Microsoft Research's Mary Gray said freelancers may not feel like they really have a choice.
People Still Don't Like Their Cable Companies, ConsumerReports' Telecom Survey Finds
Larger cable providers once again take a beating for perceived value -- even when it comes to bundled plans. ConsumerReports:
Unhappy with your pay-TV company? You're not alone. Dissatisfaction with the perceived value of pay-TV service was once again high among the 176,000 members who participated in Consumer Reports' latest telecommunications survey. When we asked for feedback on their experiences with pay TV, home internet, home telephone service, and bundled plans, they shared their displeasure. In fact, most of the larger cable companies -- Optimum (Cablevision), Comcast, and Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks) -- earned low scores in multiple categories, settling into the bottom half of the 25 providers in CR's new telecom service ratings.
Only 38 percent of pay-TV subscribers were highly satisfied with their service, meaning they were "very" or "completely" happy with the offerings. Armstrong, a smaller cable company that operates in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, earned the second-place slot behind Google Fiber, in part due to favorable scores for technical support, reliability, and customer service. Verizon and the two satellite-TV companies -- AT&T's DirecTV and Dish Network -- also rated better than Cox Communications, Comcast, Spectrum, and Optimum.
Top-rated EPB, a municipal broadband service run as a public utility in Chattanooga, Tenn., was one of the few bright spots for internet service. It was the only company to receive a top mark for value. It also got top marks for speed and reliability. Google Fiber was a close second in the ratings, the only other company to get a favorable mark for value.
Nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents who have a bundled plan -- TV, internet, and phone -- said they got a special promotional price when they signed up. And 45 percent were still enjoying that rate when they answered our survey.
New Facial Recognition Tool, Designed For Research Purposes, Tracks Targets Across Different Social Networks
Researchers at Trustwave on Wednesday released a new open-source tool called Social Mapper, which uses
facial recognition to track subjects across social media networks. Designed for security researchers performing social engineering attacks, the system automatically locates profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks based on a name and picture. Unlike tools such as
Geofeedia that require access to certain APIs, Social Mapper performs automated manual searches in an instrumented browser window. The Verge:
Those searches can already be performed manually, but the automated process means it can be performed far faster and for many people at once. "Performing intelligence gathering online is a time-consuming process," Trustwave explained in a post this morning. "What if it could be automated and done on a mass scale with hundreds or thousands of individuals?"
When Working in Virtual Reality Makes You Sick
Virtual reality is a modern-day beacon of escapism -- a way to fully immerse yourself in other worlds -- and it's seeing unprecedented applications. The market, no surprise, is exploding, with some industry groups estimating a $60 billion global market by 2022. As business booms, however, people who are using the tech are reporting a growing number of physical side effects -- like VR arm, but worse: eye strain, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and even dissociative experiences. From a report:
VR companies recommend that people take frequent breaks and moderate their VR time when they're first starting out. "As you become accustomed to the virtual reality experience, you can begin increasing the amount of time you use Daydream View," reads one line of the health and safety information included with Google's VR platform. But what happens when it's your job to build these escapist technologies? The potential health risks for everyday consumers are compounded for those who make VR products for a living.
When VR bigwig Jeremy Bailenson founded Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, in 2003, two items were even more important than the VR equipment he was using: "We had to keep a bucket in the lab and a mop nearby," Bailenson says. Today, he institutes a strict 20-minute limit on headset time for people in his lab. These health effects produce unique challenges for VR developers. "We have to understand not just the good but also the downsides of this technology. There a lot of questions we need to answer," Bailenson says. "The whole point of VR is it takes you out of your space, but you can't be doing that for many hours a day."
[...] Suddenly rotating around a virtual environment using handled controllers or quickly looking left and right in the VR space without any concomitant physical movement in the real world tend to physically affect Jonathan Yomayuza, VR technical director at the Emblematic Group, a creative firm based in Southern California. [...] The feeling Yomayuza describes is common among people who work with or use VR.
Hashcat Developer Discovers Simpler Way To Crack WPA2 Wireless Passwords
Woodmeister shares a report:
While looking for ways to attack the new WPA3 security standard, Hashcat developer Jens "Atom" Steube found a simpler way to capture and crack access credentials protecting WPA and WPA2 wireless networks. The attacker needs to capture a single EAPOL frame after requesting it from the access point, extract the PMKID from it by dumping the recieved frame to a file, convert the captured data to a hash format accepted by Hashcat, and run Hashcat to crack it. Once that's done, the attacker has the Pre-Shared Key (PSK), i.e. the password, of the wireless network. Depending on the length and complexity of the password and the power of the cracking rig, that last step could take hours or days. "The main difference from existing attacks is that in this attack, capture of a full EAPOL 4-way handshake is not required. The new attack is performed on the RSN IE (Robust Security Network Information Element) of a single EAPOL frame," Steube explained. This makes the attack much easier to pull off, as the attacker doesn't depend on another user and on being in range of both the user and the access point at the exact moment when the user connects to the wireless network and the handshake takes place.
Podcasting is Not Walled (Yet)
Rakhim Davletkaliyev, a software developer, writer and podcaster, recently launched two new podcasts. One of the things he was asked by people following the launches was "but how do I subscribe, it's not on iTunes/Google Podcasts?" He writes:
Podcasts are simply RSS feeds with links to media files (usually mp3s). A podcast is basically a URL. And podcast clients are special browsers. They check that URL regularly and download new episodes if the content of the URL changes (new link added). That's it, no magic, no special membership or anything else required. The technology is pretty "stupid" in a good way.
Ever since tech companies started waging war against RSS, podcast distribution became visually RSS-free. What do you do to subscribe? Easy, just search in the app! For the majority of iOS users that app is Apple Podcasts, and recently Google made their own "default client" for Android -- Google Podcasts. It looks like podcast clients are similar to web browsers and just provide a way to consume content, but the underlying listings make them very different. Corresponding services are actually isolated catalogs. When you perform a search on Apple Podcasts, you aren't searching for podcasts. You are searching for Apple-approved podcasts. And if the thing you're looking for is not there, then... well, you get nothing.
Most Podcast clients still accept RSS. Apple Podcasts, iTunes, PocketCasts, OverCast, PodcastAddict. Google Play Music doesn't say anything explicitly, but you can just put RSS URL into the search field and it works. For now. I won't be surprised if these apps gradually and silently remove this feature.
Cybersecurity's Insidious New Threat: Workforce Stress
week's Black Hat event will highlight job-related stress and mental health issues in the cyber workforce. From a report:
The thousands of cybersecurity professionals gathering at Black Hat, a massive conference held in the blistering heat of Las Vegas every summer, are encountering a different type of session this year. A new "community" track is offering talks on a range of workplace issues facing defenders battling to protect the world from a hacking onslaught. With titles like "Mental Health Hacks: Fighting Burnout, Depression and Suicide in the Hacker Community" and "Holding on for Tonight: Addiction in Infosec," several of the sessions will address pressures on security teams and the negative impact these can have on workers' wellbeing.
"A lot of people in this space feel strongly about wanting to protect their users," says Jamie Tomasello of Duo Security, who is one of the speakers. "Where this becomes challenging is when people are under sustained high stress. That increases the risk of depression and mental illness." The impact on cyber defenders' lives is deeply concerning, as are the broader implications for security. In spite of a push for greater automation, many tasks in cyber defense are still labor intensive. Workers experiencing mental health issues are more likely to make mistakes and to have performance issues that require colleagues to pick up the slack, increasing the likelihood they will make errors too.
The Document Foundation said on Wednesday it is releasing
LibreOffice 6.1, the latest major update to its productivity suite. It is available to download for Linux, Windows, and macOS platforms. The new version offers, among other features, Colibre, a new icon theme for Windows based on Microsoft's icon design guidelines, which it says, makes the office suite visually appealing for users coming from the Microsoft environment. The Document Foundation also reworked the image handling feature on LibreOffice to make it "significantly faster and smoother thanks to a new graphic manager and an improved image lifecycle, with some advantages also when loading documents in Microsoft proprietary formats." Other new features and changes include:
The reorganization of Draw menus with the addition of a new Page menu, for better UX consistency across the different modules. A major improvement for Base, only available in experimental mode: the old HSQLDB database engine has been deprecated, though still available, and the new Firebird database engine is now the default option (users are encouraged to migrate files using the migration assistant from HSQLDB to Firebird, or by exporting them to an external HSQLDB server). Significant improvements in all modules of LibreOffice Online, with changes to the user interface to make it more appealing and consistent with the desktop version. An improved EPUB export filter, in terms of link, table, image, font embedding and footnote support, with more options for customizing metadata. Online Help pages have been enriched with text and example files to guide the users through features, and are now easier to localize.
LibreOffice 6.1's new features have been developed by a large community of code contributors: 72% of commits are from developers employed by companies sitting in the Advisory Board like Collabora, Red Hat and CIB and by other contributors such as SIL and Pardus, and 28% are from individual volunteers. In addition, there is a global community of individual volunteers taking care of other fundamental activities such as quality assurance, software localization, user interface design and user experience, editing of help system text and documentation, plus free software and open document standards advocacy at a local level. You can read the full
changelog here. Here's
a video that walks through the new features and changes that LibreOffice is receiving with v6.1.
Big Money, Big Dreams, Big Expectations and a Lot of Hype: Magic Leap One AR Headset Goes on Sale for $2,295 in Certain US Markets
After earning the moniker "tech's most secretive startup" from Wired and telling Forbes in 2016 it was going to ship its system "soon-ish," the
company is finally releasing the $2,295 Magic Leap One. For now, it will be available for purchase in limit U.S. markets. CNET:
It includes a high-powered, moon pie-shaped computer called the Lightpack, a handheld remote called Control and a steampunk-inspired headset with round lenses and patented optics. That's called Lightwear. There's just one thing: Regular folks like us aren't the intended audience. At least not yet. This "Creator Edition," says CEO Abovitz, is part of a "controlled market release" in just a handful of cities in the United States for the developers and creative types Magic Leap will woo this year and next. The goal: for those makers to dream up the experiences (aka content) it needs to convince us to become Leapers. The company is already showing investors and partners prototypes of its smaller (and hopefully less expensive) Magic Leap Two and Magic Leap Three, but won't say when they'll be released. Magic Leap, valued at $6.3 billion as of two months ago, counts Google, Alibaba, Warner Bros, AT&T, and several top Silicon Valley venture capital firms and about a dozen other big names as its investors. More about the product going on sale
Apple Tells Lawmakers iPhones Are Not Listening In On Consumers
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters:
Apple told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that its iPhones do not listen to users without their consent and do not allow third-party apps to do so either, after lawmakers asked the company if its devices were invading users' privacy. Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta wrote to Apple's chief executive Tim Cook and Alphabet chief executive Larry Page in July, citing concerns about reports that smartphones could "collect 'non-triggered' audio data from users' conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a 'trigger' phrase, such as 'Okay Google' or 'Hey Siri.'"
In a letter to Walden, an Oregon Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Apple said iPhones do not record audio while listening for Siri wakeup commands and Siri does not share spoken words. Apple said it requires users to explicitly approve microphone access and that apps must display a clear signal that they are listening.
Women Die More From Heart Attacks Than Men -- Unless the ER Doc Is Female
Women who suffer from heart attacks
may be at a higher risk of death in the emergency room if they see a male physician rather than a female one,
a new study suggests. The study doesn't jump to conclusions, but doctors and cardiologists have a few theories. There could be a systematic bias where male physicians are not listening to female patients' complaints as readily as [those of] a man, or there could be a bias that favors men in the medical literature, leading to misdiagnoses in women. It may also be that female doctors do a better job than their male counterparts. "In the new study everyone was more likely to survive if they saw a female physician, and
a study published last year [...] indicated all patients of female physicians had lower mortality and hospital readmission rates," reports Scientific American. From the report:
Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women, but the latter are significantly less likely to survive heart attacks. According to 2016 American Heart Association statement, 26 percent of women will die within a year of a heart attack compared with just 19 percent of men. The gap widens with time: By five years after a heart attack almost half of women die, compared with 36 percent of men. The reason has eluded researchers for years, but the authors of the new study point to the disparity in male and female representation in emergency doctors as a potential source of answers. The researchers analyzed a Florida Agency for Health Care Administration database containing every heart attack case from every ER in the state (excluding Veterans Affairs hospitals) between 1991 and 2010.
The researchers divided 500,000-plus cases into four categories: male doctors treating men; male doctors treating women; female doctors treating men; and female doctors treating women. "All of those are statistically indistinguishable except for male doctor -- female patient," says Brad Greenwood, an author on the study and a data scientist at the University of Minnesota. If a heart attack patient is a woman and her emergency physician is a man, he says, her risk of death suddenly rises by about 12 percent. Put another way, a heart attack patient dies in the ER about 11.9 percent of the time overall -- but the research team found women with heart attacks will die about 12.4 percent of the time if their cases are handled by male doctors. This means approximately one out of every 66 women with heart attacks dies in the emergency room if she sees a male doctor rather than a female one.
Oracle Challenges Pentagon's $10 Billion Cloud Computing Contract
filed an official complaint with the U.S. government over plans to award the Pentagon's lucrative cloud contract to a single vendor. Rebecca Hill writes via The Register:
The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which has a massive scope, covering different levels of secrecy and classification across all branches of the military, will run for a maximum of 10 years and is worth a potential $10 billion. In spite of this pressure from vendors and the tech lobby -- as well as concerns from Congress -- the US Department of Defense (DoD) refused to budge, and launched a request for proposals (RFP) at the end of last month. Oracle is less than impressed with the Pentagon's failure to back down, and this week filed a bid protest to congressional watchdog the Government Accountability Office asking for the RFP to be amended.
In the protest, the database goliath sets out its arguments against a single vendor award -- broadly that it could damage innovation, competition, and security. Reading between the lines, it doesn't want either of Amazon or Microsoft or Google to get the whole pie to itself, and thus endanger Oracle's cosiness with Uncle Sam. Summing up its position in a statement to The Register, Oracle said that JEDI "virtually assures DoD will be locked into legacy cloud for a decade or more" at a time when cloud technology is changing at an unprecedented pace.