the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Aug-10 today archive

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

Should Some Sites Be Liable For The Content They Host?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
America's lawmakers are scrutinizing the blanket protections in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which lets online companies moderate their own sites without incurring legal liability for everything they host.

schwit1 shared this article from the New York Times: Last month, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said in a hearing about Google and censorship that the law was "a subsidy, a perk" for big tech that may need to be reconsidered. In an April interview, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California called Section 230 a "gift" to tech companies "that could be removed."

"There is definitely more attention being paid to Section 230 than at any time in its history," said Jeff Kosseff, a cybersecurity law professor at the United States Naval Academy and the author of a book about the law, The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet .... Mr. Wyden, now a senator [and a co-author of the original bill], said the law had been written to provide "a sword and a shield" for internet companies. The shield is the liability protection for user content, but the sword was meant to allow companies to keep out "offensive materials." However, he said firms had not done enough to keep "slime" off their sites. In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Wyden said he had recently told tech workers at a conference on content moderation that if "you don't use the sword, there are going to be people coming for your shield."

There is also a concern that the law's immunity is too sweeping. Websites trading in revenge pornography, hate speech or personal information to harass people online receive the same immunity as sites like Wikipedia. "It gives immunity to people who do not earn it and are not worthy of it," said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at Boston University who has written extensively about the statute. The first blow came last year with the signing of a law that creates an exception in Section 230 for websites that knowingly assist, facilitate or support sex trafficking. Critics of the new law said it opened the door to create other exceptions and would ultimately render Section 230 meaningless.

The article notes that while lawmakers from both parties are challenging the protections, "they disagree on why," with Republicans complaining that the law has only protected some free speech while still leaving conservative voices open to censorship on major platforms.

The Times also notes that when Wyden co-authored the original bill in 1996, Google didn't exist yet, and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old.


By swillden • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What would you do if the Web were to disappear tomorrow, leaving the other internet services intact? I'd have no problem going back to Usenet Newsgroups, email would still be around, as would FTP.


The only reason those services were able to function as well as they did a few decades ago is because the Internet was restricted to a tiny minority of the population, mostly academics.

As soon as it became a tool of the whole population, that changed, and it has changed forever. Eternal September, and much, much more. There is no going back to the pre-Web Internet. Just as the Web would sink into a morass without some filtering, Usenet and FTP would if they became widely used today. They don't need to be filtered now because no one uses them, but kill the web and everyone will move and wherever everyone moves the crap will go, too. Unfiltered email is already unusable. Thankfully, email filtering has gotten so good that we don't much notice how awful email is.

(As an aside: Even aside from filtering, the replicate-the-world architecture of Usenet simply could not scale to modern needs. It was getting really creaky even before Usenet began to decline. And, actually, many news servers engaged in filtering because it was necessary even then.)

There really are only two choices: Either allow service providers to continue waging their endless battle against the flood of crap, recognizing that they'll never succeed perfectly, or else enable some other organization -- probably governmental -- to do the job. Rolling the clock back 25 years is not going to happen.

Personally, I don't think the current situation is great, but I really, really don't want to see government get involved. As long as the filtering is all voluntary, services will have to try to find a balance, and that balance will have to roughly match the sensibilities of the community they serve. Filter too much and the door is open to competitors who allow more freedom. Filter too little, and the door is open to competitors who create a less crap-filled environment. And since "community sensibilities" are only a rough mean with wide variance, there will always be fringe sites that cater to non-mainstream views. Oh, and absolutely anyone is free to run their own servers if they want -- and there's always Tor.

The status quo is messy, complicated and makes no one really happy, but I think it's the best we can do.


By tepples • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Oh, and absolutely anyone is free to run their own servers if they want

This is technically correct, as anyone can run a server on his or her local area network. However, one's own server may not be able to do anything useful on the Internet. This has several causes:

- ISPs with insufficient IP address allocation use carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT). This has the side effect of blocking incoming connections.
- ISPs threaten to disconnect home users who run a server reachable from the Internet and then fulfill those threats.
- Established servers use blackhole lists to determine with which other servers not to communicate. These lists cover home and home business IP address blocks.

AM stations are not liable, though

By Cyberax • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
AM stations are not liable for any slander or libel committed by their callers. As long as the caller stays polite they can accuse ToasterMonkey of being a close friend of Epstein and Polanski.

Basically, the radio stations are only on hook if the caller says "fuck" - that's all FCC cares about.

Should some (web)sites be held liable for content?

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
Short answer: A resounding NO. To rule, in law, otherwise, would invite utter chaos and have an extremely chilling effect (at least here in the United States; YMMV) on Freedom of Speech rights.

Now, that having been said: Privately owned websites are not required under law to allow any and all content to be posted on their pages, they can exercise any level of moderation of user-generated content they choose, so long as it is consistent with their own stated rules. To provide more specific examples of what I mean, if I'm not clear enough, if the owner of a website that allows user-generated content does not wish to have racist, bigoted, sexist, discussion of illegal activities, discussion of drug use, or My Little Pony discussions for that matter, then it is entirely within their rights to remove content as they see fit and even revoke the access rights of any users as they see fit, too. Affected persons and their content are of course free to pursue legal action against that website and it's owners in civil court, but (using the U.S. as an example) there are no constitutional protetions against censorship guaranteed with regards to privately-held companies so far as I can see.

Re: Boring

By jwhyche • Score: 4 • Thread

I really do like the idea of having an anonymous option, but there's no denying that a handful of trolls abused the shit out of it. They didn't just "stick out" because they were anonymous, but rather because they were far far worse than any of the comments from registered accounts.

I don't miss the AC postings but I have to admit they where a part of what made /. /.. But sometimes there is a need to us to post or reply to something anonymously. One compromise that could be made would be to restore the anonymous posting ability with registered accounts. We would still have some sort of anonymous ability but the abuse could still be linked to an account.

Or we could just get over and it and move on. I'm really good with ether.

Do Personality Tests Give Companies Too Much Power?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
One 2016 human resources study found that 48% of American businesses -- and 57% of U.K. businesses -- used personality questionnaires for hiring decisions, a new article reports. They add that the personality test industry may now be bringing in up to $4 billion a year.

But "By relying on these tests, employers can ask questions that would be inappropriate -- or at best bizarre -- in a traditional interview." For example, in 2017 the crafts store Michael's was asking job-seekers whether they strongly agreed with these statements:

- "I am always happy."
- "When I look at the world around me, I have little hope for mankind."
- "Over the course of the day, I can experience many mood changes."
- "When I am in a bad mood, it affects my work."

An anonymous reader quotes an investigative report from The Walrus: Bad hires can be costly for companies, and the tests are now used to screen everyone from minimum-wage employees to consultants and top-level executives. But there is the risk that people saddled with the wrong scores will be screened out en masse without a chance to prove themselves. As part of an attempt to build a perfect capitalist meritocracy, algorithms are effectively monitoring the workforce to decide which traits are deemed desirable -- and who gets left behind...

[S]ome critics say personality tests give companies too much power. Elizabeth D. De Armond, a professor of legal research and writing at Chicago-Kent College of Law, likens personality tests to an "MRI scan of the soul" and suggests banning them, except in cases where a business can convincingly argue that hiring for a certain personality is essential (police officers must be able to handle highly stressful situations, for example). The tests seek "to observe not just what an employee does, but how that employee thinks -- processes that pertain not just to the employee's presence on the job, but the employee's being at all times," De Armond wrote in 2012.

Merve Emre, who recently published a history of the Myers-Briggs Indicator, argues that "All of these tests are registering the interests of power, and capitalist power specifically. Just because that power is being routed through and sanitized by a scientific proof doesn't mean it's not power."

The article also includes comments from an executive at the company that created the personality test for Michael's who argues that the tests eliminate human biases from hiring based solely on an in-person interview.

Their test even check for people who answered too quickly or answered "strongly agree" too often, according to the article -- and if they did, flag their responses with an "authenticity alert."

Re:They're weeding out

By sjames • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The world does not owe you a job

If the world doesn't want me growing crops in my front yard and hunting in the neighborhood, then arguably, it does.

Shitty companies

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
I would take such 'tests' as a sign that it's a shitty company that I probably don't want to work for.

Pseudo science

By DrXym • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
These tests are nothing more than pseudo scientific garbage in the same mould as handwriting analysis and lie detectors. You might be able to draw some broad conclusions from the answers - assuming somebody was telling the truth - but so what? You could as easily do that just by talking to the person for 10 minutes.

I suspect the real reason for the tests is for the additional excuse it gives employers to turn somebody down - "oh I didn't reject that person because he's black, or her because she's pregnant, no I did it because the test says they're not suitable for the role". Yeah right.

A further thing is that Scientology commercially sells personality tests with the phony-legitimate sounding name "Oxford Capacity Analysis". If you ever find yourself being interviewed for a place that asks you to complete one of those, that then I suggest you let them know it originates from a cult and decline to fill it in.


By ledow • Score: 3 • Thread


If you hire based on a test... any test... you will hire people who are good at passing that test. That may be through trickery, lying, skill or just random chance.

The same as any interview, test or exam - you don't get people who are good at the job, you get people who are good at the interviews and exams.

Now, if you're interviewing for, say, a sales position, that may be exactly what you want - someone good at lying convincingly, face-to-face. But if you interviewing for almost anything else, it's probably NOT what you want.

Same with the logic tests, personality tests, "practical" tests, anything - unless it's literally only a minor component of the interview process you will end up with someone good at acing those tests. Not necessarily someone good at the job.

And, after 20 years in the same industry, I can tell you now that I have never seen a worthwhile test or interview question. They're all too far removed and about what you can spin well rather than what you actually will do.

Also, when I interview others, I don't bother with that shite. It's just a waste of time. I put people into their job for the day, or part of the day, and see what they do. It's that simple. And I've had employees leave (for personal reasons) and then ask to come back later, and my workplace basically begged for them to come back over the people they chose "to fill the gap", so I can't be doing that bad.

You can tell more in a morning of working the job, accompanied by the person, and casual chat throughout than any personality test, interview, CV/resume, etc. could ever tell you.

Re:They're weeding out

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I've only ever been asked to do a personality test once, and fortunately it was right at the start of the interview so when I declined I hadn't wasted too much time. They paid my airfare out there too.

"Sorry, I don't do these. We can continue without it but it's going to be hard for you to convince me this is a good place to work now." They asked why I don't do them and I said I'm used to being treated as a complex adult human being, which cannot be evaluated by a simple personality test and who is trusted to make hiring decisions without such things.

Kotaku Posts 'A Reminder That Video Games Are A Force For Good'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Kotaku Australia: Spurred on by the recent discussions of video games and violence, and spurred on by the emotional and often downbeat tone of that discussion, a user on Twitter posted a simple thought exercise. Rather than talking about the misery and pain of the week, what if people shared all the times Nintendo games changed lives instead?

Unsurprisingly, the tweet went viral with over 22,000 retweets and 31,200 likes, prompting a trending discussion where people began sharing tales of how Nintendo games have served as a force for good.... Users began retelling stories of the first times they shared a Nintendo game with their parents. Others spoke about times how Nintendo games helped them while they were being bullied at school, difficult situations at home, or just being able to connect with people over a shared interest.

The responses included game players with autism or depression, with other gamers sharing stories about bonding with a parent, getting inspired to pursue a career, or meeting friends or future spouses in online games.

Any Slashdot readers want to share their own thoughts on whether videogames are "a force for good"?

Glad They Finally Agree

By Kunedog • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

I sure gamers will forget how Kotaku et al. have tried to smear them over the years (especially when covering up their own ethical misdeeds).

Video games are a media

By Z80a • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They can convey good, convey bad, just like movies or books.
But as with books and movies, they can't brainwash people into murderers or anything else.
This kind of idea comes from the "cultivation theory" that was debunked several times, but seems to come back every time its politically convenient, even if its on the tier of flat earth and fake moon landing theories.

Videogames are neither good nor bad...

By blahplusplus • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

... they are a scapegoat for a society that doesn't want to look in the mirror at it's own deranged, socipathic and predatory behavior. A society that places profits over people, and competition and strife over adult stewardship and genuine concern for one another. George Carlin had it right that we're a dumb immature species.

As an older slashdot member, as one reads and experiences the world. One comes to understand just how stupid, idiotic and predatory human beings really are. Human beings are basically predator apes with serious delusions of being smarter then they really are given all the problems on their planet, most of which are unnecessary and are largely a reflection of how poorly we are made as evolved apes with serious biological defects in both bodily and mental function at every layer of society .

Whether videogames are used for good or ill reflect the qualities of the people and environment around them. Like anything else in the world it's the people who make an activity good or bad not the thing itself.

Attention Whores

By NoSleepDemon • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Have we forgotten about how the video gaming media went after gamers not so long ago? They're simple attention whores who would sell out their own Grandmothers if it got them more viewership.

As for this link to violence - the media at large seem to be bent on blaming just about anything EXCEPT the real cause, which is that the NRA have stopped any progress on gun control. Oh, let's blame 8chan! Wait, what's that? 8chan is accessible and used by people all around the world yet only in America do its users mow people down with machine guns? OK.

It's a diverting strategy

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The people who are accusing video games of inciting Americans (and only Americans) to go out & commit hate crimes with guns don't care whether it's true or not. They don't care what effect video games have on anyone. All they care about is diverting the public's attention from real solutions to the problems of gun violence & hate crimes in the USA.

This strategy has been very effective for several decades now.

Judges Begin Ruling Against Some Porn Purveyors' Use of Copyright Lawsuits

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader pgmrdlm quotes Bloomberg: Pornography producers and sellers account for the lion's share of copyright-infringement lawsuits in the U.S. -- and judges may have seen enough. The courts are cracking down on porn vendors that file thousands of lawsuits against people for downloading and trading racy films on home computers, using tactics a judge called a "high tech shakedown." [Alternate link here.] In one case, two men were jailed in a scheme that netted $6 million in settlements.

The pornography companies have "a business model that seeks to profit from litigation and threats of litigation rather than profiting from creative works," said Mitch Stoltz, a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco group that has waged a campaign against companies it thinks abuse the copyright system.

Two companies that make and sell porn are responsible for almost half of the 3,404 copyright lawsuits filed in the U.S. in the first seven months of this year, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Law's Tommy Shen... The companies say they are protecting their movies from piracy and infringement under U.S. copyright law, as major movie studios have done for decades, and suggest that the content of their films is the reason for the wrath of the judges. But some of the tactics used in their infringement suits to identify targets and force settlements have critics -- and some jurists -- up in arms and may require congressional actions to fix.

The suits don't initially name names. They identify the Internet Protocol addresses using peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent to download or distribute the movies and then file suits against âoeJohn Doesâ and ask the courts to order internet service providers, like Verizon Communications Inc. or Comcast Corp., to identify the account subscribers. Those people are then contacted by the porn company lawyers.

One lawyer notes that the lawsuits target users in wealthier areas, reports Bloomberg, which adds that in December one district judge even refused to grant the request for identities, ruling that the porn company "treats this court not as a citadel of justice, but as an ATM."

And last month a federal judge cited that ruling when refusing to enter a judgment in another case.

Re:No one intrested in porn?

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
We get it, you came first.

Legal or not?

By Proudrooster • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

“They are used to filing thousands of lawsuits without much research or investigation into the individuals that they are suing,” said David Lin, a copyright lawyer whose Brooklyn-based firm has defended against about 100 such lawsuits. “They can’t just file a lawsuit against grandma just because grandma is the name on the internet account.”

Why not? Others like the RIAA did this and isn't illegal, it is just a capacity issue in the federal courts. As for the courts being complicit in a "high take shakedown" they had no problems cooperating with Wall Street after the housing market collapse in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 to help take peoples homes and give them to the banks.

In other news, as of 2018, the RIAA is does not have any plans to go after individual copyright infringers instead focusing their efforts on prosecuting torrent sites and their administrators. It seems that the RIAA has learned that just because a battle should be fought does not mean that it can be won.

Was 'The Matrix' Part of Cinema's Last Great Year?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
In 2014 Esquire argued that great movies like The Matrix "predicted a revolution in film that never happened," adding "We are in many ways worse off now than we were 15 years ago as a culture. We seem to have run out of original ideas."

This week two film critics debated whether 1999 was in fact cinema's last great year. Slashdot reader dryriver writes: Notable films of 1999 are Fight Club, Magnolia, The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, Three Kings, The Sixth Sense, EXistenZ, Being John Malkovich, Man On The Moon, American Beauty, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Office Space, Boys Don't Cry, Election, Rushmore, Buena Vista Social Club, The Virgin Suicides, Sleepy Hollow, The Insider, Girl Interrupted, The Iron Giant and Toy Story 2.

According to Nicholas Barber, 1999 also was the beginning of the end for quality cinema:

"The release of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace proved that long-dormant series could be lucratively revived. Toy Story 2, the first ever Pixar sequel, proved that cartoon follow-ups needn't be straight-to-video cheapies, but major, money-spinning phenomena. The Matrix proved that digitally-enhanced superhero action could attract audiences of all ages. And The Blair Witch Project proved that found-footage horror in particular, and microbudget horror in general, could be a gold mine. As wonderful as those films may have been -- The Phantom Menace excepted, obviously -- they taught Hollywood some toxic lessons. Instead of continuing to bet on young mavericks, studio executives twigged that there was a fortune to be made from superhero blockbusters, Disney sequels, merchandise-friendly franchises and cheapo horror movies. And that's what we get in 2019, week after week."

He also writes that the boom in DVDs in 1999 had "encouraged studios to fund offbeat projects," ultimately concluding 1999 was "the year when everything began to go wrong." He argues that today it's a different technology driving innovation. "In the 21st Century, streaming platforms have made the small screen the home of fresh ideas, as well as for conversation-starting communal cultural experiences."

But film critic Hannah Woodhead counters with a line from the 1999 film Magnolia: "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us."

"Nostalgia is often the enemy of progress when it comes to pop culture. We have a tendency to look back fondly on what came before, ironing out the flaws in our memory until the past is something that seems truly great, and even aspirational."

the matrix lolz

By iggymanz • Score: 3 • Thread

Typical wooden acting by Reeves, cliche plot carried mostly by special effects.

Not a masterpiece, schlock sci-fi with overuse of sequential stills

plenty of better movies before and since

Re:I'm not sure.

By kackle • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Maybe the whoosh went straight to DVD.

Re:what nonsense

By Strider- • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I prefer to think of Avatar as “Dances with Smurfs”

Re:It's all derivative anyway

By Pseudonym • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

1999 is the year that copyright was extended, and in the case of Disney at least, I think there's an argument to be made there.

Disney cannot do anything original well, they can only adapt well. Their own copyright extension left them with no public domain to raid, so they have had to acquire franchises and, when there were no more of those, to adapt itself with live-action remakes.

Betteridge's Law of Headlines

By Xtifr • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

What a perfect example of Betteridge's Law of Headlines: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no". :)

AMD Poses 'Major Challenge' to Intel's Server Leadership

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Rob Enderle reports on the excitement at AMD's Epyc processor launch in San Francisco: I've been at a lot of AMD events, and up until this one, the general message was that AMD was almost as good as Intel but not as expensive. This year it is very different; Intel has stumbled badly, and AMD is moving to take the leadership role in the data center, so its message isn't that it is nearly as good but cheaper anymore; it is that it has better customer focus, better security and better performance. Intel's slip really was around trust, and as Intel seemed to abandon the processor segment, OEMs and customers lost faith, and AMD is capitalizing on that slip...

AMD has always been relatively conservative, but Lisa Su, AMD's CEO, stated that the company has broken 80 performance records and that this new processor is the highest-performing one in the segment. This is one thing Lisa's IBM training helps validate; I went through that training myself and, at IBM, you aren't allowed to make false claims. AMD isn't making a false claim here. The new Epyc 2 is 64 cores and 128 threads and with PCIe generation 4, it has 128 lanes on top its 7nm technology, which currently also appears to lead the market. Over the years the average performance for the data center chips, according to Su, has improved around 15% per year. The last generation of Epyc exceeded this when it launched, but just slightly. This new generation blows the curve out; instead of 15% year-over-year improvement, it is closer to 100%...

Intel has had a number of dire security problems that it didn't disclose in timely fashion, making their largest customers very nervous. AMD is going after this vulnerability aggressively and pointing to how they've uniquely hardened Epyc 2 so that customers that use it have few, if any, of the concerns they've had surrounding Intel parts. Part of this is jumping to more than 500 unique encryption keys tied to the platform.

Besides Google and Twitter, AMD's event also included announcements from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Dell, Cray, Lenovo, and Microsoft Azure. For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has three systems immediately available with AMD's new processor, the article reports, with plan to have 9 more within the next 12 months. And their CTO told the audience that their new systems have already broken 37 world performance records, and "attested to the fact that some of the most powerful supercomputers coming to market will use this processor, because it is higher performing," calling them the most secure in the industry and the highest-performing.

"AMD came to play in San Francisco this week," Enderle writes. "I've never seen it go after Intel this aggressively and, to be frank, this would have failed had it not been for the massive third-party advocacy behind Epyc 2. I've been in this business since the mid-'80s, and I've never seen this level of advocacy for a new processor ever before. And it was critical that AMD set this new bar; I guess this was an extra record they set, but AMD can legitimately argue that it is the new market leader, at least in terms of both raw and price performance, in the HPC in the server segment.

"I think this also showcases how badly Intel is bleeding support after abandoning the IDF (Intel Developer Forum) conference."

How DARE they!

By dpilot • Score: 3 • Thread

After all, isn't server leadership Intel's by right?

More seriously, the market is better served when there is serious competition. Intel has a habit of going a bit off the rails whenever it doesn't have enough competition, finding ways to improve it's profit margins at its customers' expense.

"Rob Enderle reports"

By Nova Express • Score: 3 • Thread

Anyone who has been following tech reporting for any length of time knows that right there is the place to stop reading the article. Enderle is a paid shill. Over the year's he has correctly predicted 34 of the 0 instances of Apple going out of business...

Re:"Rob Enderle reports"

By rcoxdav • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
You are aware that Epyc 2 is lower power per performance than Intel, right? From the review, "AMD gives you more performance per dollar and per watt." Not only is the Ryzen 7742 substantially faster than the Xeon 8280, it is lower overall power.

AMD makes chips, Intel focuses on diveristy

By Ashthon • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Intel has seemingly reached a performance standstill, allowing AMD to catch up and surpass them. So what went wrong at Intel? Could it be that AMD has been focused on making chips while Intel has been focused on social engineering? Here's an Intel video showing their work int he field of "diversity." The video in no way explains how recruiting people based on race and sex leads to better products, yet "diversity" has become the primary focus at Intel.

Intel said they want to "bring the number of female, Hispanic, African-American and Native American employees in Intel’s 50,000-strong U.S. workforce to full representation." They announced "employee bonuses across the Intel enterprise are tied to the diversity business objective." They spent $300 million on recruiting more women and minorities. It's apparent that Intel believes itself not be be a chip company, but a social engineering enterprise.

While AMD are employing the best person for the job, Intel are recruiting based on sexism and racism. Intel have sent a clear message to any talented white men that they should go and work for AMD. It should be obvious to anyone that turning away talented people, and focusing on race and sex rather than ability, will lead to a business falling behind the competition. However, we're living in strange times where Gillette will happily knock $8billion off it's value just so it can tell its customers they're all rapists, where EA will call its customers uneducated and tell them not to buy their product, and were Hollywood seems intent on turning every male character into a woman. I liked it more when companies used to focus on making great stuff and selling it to me.

Re:"Rob Enderle reports"

By Guspaz • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

AMD's chips offer roughly double the performance of the Xeon chips at roughly comparable power draw, so... they're crushing Intel in both the performance-per-watt and performance-per-U categories.

It's not hard to see why, this is AMD's 2019 7nm architecture going up against Intel's 2015 14nm architecture. Intel is still using Skylake for Xeon chips above 8 cores.

New Spectre-like CPU Vulnerability Bypasses Existing Defenses

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
itwbennett writes: Researchers from security firm Bitdefender discovered and reported a year ago a new CPU vulnerability that 'abuses a system instruction called SWAPGS and can bypass mitigations put in place for previous speculative execution vulnerabilities like Spectre,' writes Lucian Constantin for CSO.

There are three attack scenarios involving SWAPGS, the most serious of which 'can allow attackers to leak the contents of arbitrary kernel memory addresses. This is similar to the impact of the Spectre vulnerability.' Microsoft released mitigations for the vulnerability in July's Patch Tuesday, although details were withheld until August 6 when Bitdefender released its whitepaper and Microsoft published a security advisory.

What CPUs are affected?

By Gadget_Guy • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

A little more information would be nice - like do I own a CPU that is affected?

This article seems to indicate that it is only Intel CPUs made since 2012:

Chip maker AMD has stated that its processors are not affected. "AMD is aware of new research claiming new speculative execution attacks that may allow access to privileged kernel data,â it said. âoeBased on external and internal analysis, AMD believes it is not vulnerable to the SwapGS variant attacks because AMD products are designed not to speculate on the new GS value following a speculative SWAPGS. For the attack that is not a SWAPGS variant, the mitigation is to implement our existing recommendations for Spectre variant 1."

The vulnerability specifically affects all Intel CPUs that support speculative execution of the SwapGS instruction, which means all Intel processors from Ivy Bridge (introduced in 2012) to the latest processor series available.


By phantomfive • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
It's not Linux:

“A quick analysis of the Linux kernel revealed that although it contains a gadget which may be used in an attack, it lies inside the Non-Maskable Interrupt (NMI) handler,” Bitdefender researchers said in their paper. “We therefore believe that Linux would be difficult (if not impossible) to attack.”

not exactly an AMD problem

By nimbius • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

although Im sure Intel would love for this bug to be AMD affecting as well, it doesnt appear at this time that AMD is vulnerable at all. AMD products are designed not to speculate on the new GS value following a speculative SWAPGS.

Jesus Intel..

By hairyfeet • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'm actually starting to feel sorry for you, which with all the dirty dealing, market rigging, and bribery? I never thought that would be possible!

But with each new attack the chances of Intel being able to put out a new chip that isn't crippled by patches anytime soon becomes more and more remote, meanwhile AMD just keeps getting better and better with faster and faster chips without all these weaknesses.

The big question is gonna end up "what nasty dirty dealing is Intel gonna try to stop the bleeding?" because as we saw when Athlon was killing Netburst Intel made back room deals and the cripple compiler to fuck AMD and I wouldn't be surprised if they have some other nasty up their sleeve.

Re:Jesus Intel..

By Zuriel • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Most of these vulnerabilities that affect Intel but not AMD seem to come down to Intel doing something reckless to increase performance which AMD didn't do.

Sure, there might be AMD specific issues that haven't been discovered, but it certainly sounds like AMD cared about designing a secure architecture and Intel didn't.

Can Swap Space Solve System Performance Issues?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Earlier this week on the Linux kernel mailing list, Artem S. Tashkinov described a low-memory scenario where "the system will stall hard. You will barely be able to move the mouse pointer. Your disk LED will be flashing incessantly..."

"I'm afraid I have bad news for the people snickering at Linux here," wrote Chris Siebenmann, a sys-admin at the University of Toronto's CS lab. "If you're running without swap space, you can probably get any Unix to behave this way under memory pressure..." In the old days, this usually was not very much of an issue because system RAM was generally large compared to the size of programs and thus the amount of file-backed pages that were likely to be in memory. That's no longer the case today; modern large programs such as Firefox and its shared libraries can have significant amounts of file-backed code and data pages (in addition to their often large use of dynamically allocated memory, ie anonymous pages).
A production engineer (now on Facebook's Web Foundation team) wrote about experiencing similar issues years ago when another company had disabled swapping when they replaced or reinstalled machines -- leading to lots of pages from hosts that had to be dealt with. This week they wrote: I stand by my original position: have some swap. Not a lot. Just a little. Linux boxes just plain act weirdly without it. This is not permission to beat your machine silly in terms of memory allocation, either... If you allocate all of the RAM on the machine, you have screwed the kernel out of buffer cache it sorely needs. Back off.

Put another way, disk I/O that isn't brutally slow costs memory. Network I/O costs memory. All kinds of stuff costs memory. It's not JUST the RSS of your process. Other stuff you do needs space to operate. If you try to fill a 2 GB box with 2 GB of data, something's going to have a bad day! You have to leave room for the actual system to run or it's going to grind to a stop.

Re:What stupidity is this?

By markdavis • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

>"Swap space is not for solving performance problems."


>" It is for providing more memory than is there and it will always _decrease_ performance."

That is not correct. Swap is used as virtual memory when it needs more RAM for applications, but it is ALSO used to increase performance in cases where RAM is low... The kernel will actively swap out unused (/least used) stuff to create more RAM available for I/O buffering, which can greatly speed up the system. This assumes there are things it can swap out that haven't been used for a long time and not actively needed, however. If it gets to the point it needs stuff too often that is swapped out, thrashing will begin and system performance will become horrible.

My point is, there are real-world cases where using RAM for disk caching rather than holding onto pages that haven't been used in hours or days, will be a great performance maintainer. There are lots of tuning variables to adjust swap behavior.

Re:Backwards Headline

By Sique • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Yes. You do.

The problem is not performance issues per se, but modern applications reserving as much RAM as they can get, leaving nothing for kernel related operations, which then causes kernel operations to come to a screeching halt.

Re:Backwards Headline

By Zero__Kelvin • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
As always, the problem stems from people knowing enough to be dangerous. Processes only over-allocate because the system configuration lets them. The issue is easily solved by a basic understanding of system administration. Don't want your favorite but memory hogging program to use too many resources? Use limits and/or control groups.

The kernel only knows what you tell it when it comes to running programs. limits.conf which affords user and group level granularity, so for example make firefox, chrome, and oprea part of the "browser" group and limit the browser group accordingly. Control its priority, memory limit, stack size, number of processes it can spawn, etc. Need finer granularity? Use control groups to do everything, including telling Linux which CPUs a program has allocated to run them.

Do you want to know why the Linux community has a reputation for "blaming the user."? Two reasons. It is usually a system administrator error, and said error is usually made by people who don't know the difference between a user and a system administrator.

Re:Backwards Headline

By Sique • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
You are missing the point. Yes, you can find system administrative workarounds around many problems. But you shouldn't have to in most cases. Linux once was known for reacting smoothly even during abuse, for instance handling fork() bombs rather gracefully. But an operating system running into issues because applications reserve too much memory has a huge problem, as it is one of the primary tasks of an operating system to administer computer resources including the memory. If the OS does hand out memory without reserving the pages it needs to continue working, that's a core OS issue, not an system administrative one.


By internet-redstar • Score: 3 • Thread
Disable swap on all systems.
Swap is evil.
There are 2 main - VERY IMPORTANT - things to consider:
1) All unused RAM will be used for filesystem caching. This means that whenever something is read or written from disk (or flash based medium) it is read into RAM to be presented to the application needing it. Linux will not discard this information because there is free RAM anyway. This means that if it needs to be read again, it will be immediately available without the slow disk (yes even from your 'fast' flash based medium it's still very slow compared to RAM). Having enough RAM to be useable for filesystem caching is critical.
2) SWAP is used to migrate very inactive memory pages to the (very slow) swap partition or file (depending on kernel swappiness level - and yes you can create swap files instead of paritions, much more practical than partitions). It could be useful if applications 'loose memory': write to it but forget to free it. In this way, the system has more free RAM for filesystem caching and performance can increase.
The fact is however, that the amount of 'lost memory' in most situations (especially on servers or embedded systems) is not a lot compared to the total amount of RAM. Sadly, some distributions allocate a lot of swap space in a paritition. In such a case, when certain applications consume more and more memory, the RAM part for filesystem caching drops to a very low level, and active memory pages get swapped in and out of the SWAPspace.
It is a lot better that the appication in question would get killed when the system runs out of RAM with minimal filesystem caching; through the OOM killer (inside the kernel), than ending up in an active swapping situation.
Android kills background applications before the Linux OOM killer kicks in, on smartphones, and the killer in android is configurable to ensure a minimal amount of filesystem caching remains active. Linux Desktop systems could implement a similar killer to prevent Chrome from starting its own swap-show, but swap is certainly not the answer; on the contrary; performance degrades already before the system starts to swap actively, as file system caching has been reduced beyond 'comfortable'.
Instread of focusing on swap, one should focus on monitoring the filesystem cache size, and alert/take action whenever this goes below about 1Gb of RAM already on desktop and server systems.
Most systems are better off without swap all-together and it is mind-boggling that certain linux 'server distributions' still advice swap space in 2019.

Lawmakers, Intelligence Officials Welcomed To This Year's Def Con Conference

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Multiple members of congress, dozens of congressional staffers and members of the intelligence community are gathering in Las Vegas this weekend to rub shoulders with hackers at Def Con," reports CNN: Washington's embrace of the hacking community comes amid heightened awareness of the threat of cyber attacks in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election and lawmakers realizing they need to get to grips with technology, Phil Stupak, one of the organizers of Def Con's A.I. Village told CNN Business before the conference began... Hackers here are also demonstrating potential vulnerabilities in voting machines used by Americans. The convention's election village includes a room full of voting equipment where hackers can let loose...

It will likely be the largest presence the government has had since before 2013, when, in the wake of NSA analyst Edward Snowden's leaks, Def Con founder Jeff Moss formally requested "the feds call a 'time-out' and not attend Def Con this year." But that has since smoothed over. "I think the record presence of both representative and administration reflect the reality that technology and security are built into our society," Moss told CNN Business.

"We are trying to break down the barriers between the people in tech who know what they're doing and the people in Congress who know how to take that knowledge to make laws," said Stupak, who is also a fellow at Cyber Policy Initiative at the University of Chicago.

Speaking at Def Con this year was the top cybersecurity official for America's Department of Homeland Security, who stressed the importance of backup paper ballots, as well as "auditability."

Also attending Def Con is Senator Ron Wyden, who emphasized another important election safeguard to CNN: that no voting equipment should be connected to the internet.

DefCon is smart

By BarbaraHudson • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
They understand that there's value in keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer. Should be interesting to see what gets leaked.

Researchers Can Accurately Measure Blood Pressure Using Just A Cellphone Video Of Your Face

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging found that blood pressure can be measured accurately by taking a quick video selfie. An anonymous reader quotes this announcement from the University of Toronto: Kang Lee, a professor of applied psychology and human development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and Canada Research Chair in developmental neuroscience, was the lead author of the study... Using a technology co-discovered by Lee and his postdoctoral researcher Paul Zheng called transdermal optical imaging, researchers measured the blood pressure of 1,328 Canadian and Chinese adults by capturing two-minute videos of their faces on an iPhone. Results were compared to standard devices used to measure blood pressure. The researchers found they were able to measure three types of blood pressure with 95 to 96 per cent accuracy.
Lee co-founded a company to turn their technology into a smartphone app (named Anura) that reports stress-level measurements and resting heart rate from a 30-second video of your face -- with plans to release a new version also returning blood pressure results sometime this fall in China.

The university also notes that the researchers now hope to extend their technology so it can measure blood-gluclose levels and cholesterol.

Don't believe it

By schwit1 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It's just a scam to get your face in a database

Needs some work

By nagora • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The people chosen for the test were within normal blood pressure ranges, so basically the system had a good head start. To be any real use it needs to be able to spot people outside of that range

Now it does say this in the paper, but the reporting (of course) is not spending much time on the fact that it didn't really do a lot better than if you or I looked at the videos and said "(s)he seems fine to me" and wrote down whatever the current definitions of "normal BP" is.

Color me skeptical.

By Hallux-F-Sinister • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

TL;DR version: I looked at the abstract in the linked article. Looks like COMPLETE GARBAGE.

IB;IWTR version: First, a thousand and a half odd people does sound like a large sample size... it's not. They used, by their own admission, 70% to TRAIN the equipment. Then they used half of the remaining 30% to do the test, and the other to "validate" the results. BUT... fifteen percent of 1328 individuals isn't even 200.

Second, they used only "normotensive" test subjects, which does IMMENSE damage to their claims. How can they know it will work, or be accurate at all for NON normotensive individuals? Without checking a patient's blood pressure with a REAL, ACTUAL instrument, how can they know whether their technique COULD even be pretended to be reliable? (They didn't even test it on people with either abnormally high or low blood pressure, see?)

Even if they DID not mangle any possible validity by expressly choosing people who had blood pressure within "normal limits," meaning basically people whose resting blood pressure is more or less around 120/80, human blood pressure varies more or less continuously, over a substantial range, even just standing there, or sitting down. Having to sit still for two minutes while a video is taken of your face is liable to have an impact on your blood pressure, AFFECTING the VERY THING they're alleging to be measuring, (see "Uncertainty Principle, Heisenberg,") which calls into even further question, their claims.

SO... that means their actual sample size was... TWO HUNDRED people, people who were, moreover, prescreened and found to have normal blood pressure in the first place. The alleged accuracy could VERY well be the range over which people who have "normal" blood pressure, which means basically they found a way to be within the margin of error by choosing test subjects who were within the margin of error in the first place.

To put this more simply, for people not as familiar with blood pressure measurements, suppose you wanted to be able to prove your algorithm could discern whether or not a human being likes ice cream. You select 1300 random people you bump into in an ice cream shop, (one that only serves ice cream, by the way,) and use 70% of THEM to "train" the algorithm. Then you ask 15% of the group who were NOT part of the 70%, (most of them while they're eating freshly purchased ice cream,) if they like ice cream, ET VOILÀ!

Sure enough, you can predict with better than 95% accuracy which ones like ice cream.

Make sure to ask the remaining 15% too, as they're licking THEIR ice cream cones, if they like ice cream. Just to... you know... validate your data.

I'm going to guess they're going to pick another 1300 people who have no problem with blood glucose regulation for the next step in their research.

I can't help, while I'm being skeptical, to wonder if they're really that naïve, or if they're grifters trying to scam investors into thinking you can tell what someone's BLOOD PRESSURE is, from what is ultimately a sequence of PHOTOGRAPHS! (Oh, almost forgot... the mechanism for the body broadcasting or telegraphing blood pressure is facial blood flow, LOL... You know, the thing that's regulated SEPARATELY from other bodily functions?)

You'd have better luck INFERRING blood pressure from watching respiratory rate. ALTHOUGH... if you held the camera up to someone's EYEBALL, especially from the side, and watched very closely for fluctuations in the shape of the lens of the eye while someone looked straight at something that's not moving... maybe you might get at least SOME kind of pressure DIFFERENTIAL... but all that could maybe reliably tell you is the magnitude of the DIFFERENCE between systolic and diastolic pressures, NOT how HIGH either of them IS. Not that that's not important information, but usually... the most important single fact is how high is systolic pressure, if it's abnormally high? Close behind THAT is how low is systolic, if it's abnormally low. THEN the

Hmm full text or GTFO

By serviscope_minor • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Well honestly this smells a little off to me. I know enough computer vision and ML that I ought to be able to read and understand the paper, but the full text isn't available. But I'm pretty skeptical. Given the average paper quality, it sounds like it was a case of throwing deep learning at a problem, getting decent results on a hold out set and calling it a day.

1300 is not a lot of people for training. Sure people are hard to get but that's not my problem. Secondly I'll bet the dataset is hopelessly biased. The money says there were hardly any black people in the dataset (the institution is in Canada where they make up about 3.5% of the population, so I'd expect around 3.5%), and I'll bet it works less well on people with more opaque skin. But if the validation set has the same bias as the sample then they wouldn't notice the problem.

There's also that normative problem others have pointed out. I don't know what they mean by +/- in the short description, is that L2 (Gaussian) based at 1, 2 or 3 sigma or is it L1 (percentile) based at 75, 95 or 99%? Hard to know, really, but the range for normal blood pressure isn't very large, so I wonder what results the null hypothesis of predicting the mean is.

And it's not clear if they were predicting resting heart rate. If so, then the ML algorithm could well also be picking up stuff correlated with blood pressure to improve the accuracy, e.g. weight. Because given the opportunity an ML algorithm will "cheat".

So yeah I'm super skeptical.

Does Tech-Industry Job Growth Actually Lower Wages For Some Workers?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"A new study finds clear evidence that low-skilled workers fail to benefit from high-tech growth and development," writes a senior editor at The Atlantic (and co-founder of CityLab).

The UK-based study was co-authored by two researchers, one from the London School of Economics and the other from the Resolution Foundation in London. CityLab summarizes its results: High-tech growth leads to better jobs and higher wages for more skilled workers. But it leads to lower wages for less-skilled workers. These effects are compounded by housing costs, with less-skilled workers being even worse off when housing costs are taken into account. Indeed, the researchers see "a negative and statistically significant effect from high-tech on wages for workers in the bottom third of educational attainment."

This effect is even larger when local housing costs are included, which stands in sharp contrast to the situation for higher-skill workers: Their effective wages rise when controlling for housing costs. The reason for this unevenness boils down to the fact that high-skilled tech workers are mobile and paid at rates that factor in higher housing costs, whereas less-skilled workers are more or less trapped; people competing for low-wage jobs mostly lack the resources to move to other places.

The article concludes that spurring growth in tech-industry jobs "offers no panacea for low-wage jobs: If anything, it makes a bad and highly unequal situation even worse."

GDP isn't everything

By Kohath • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Which is why "but these policies increase GDP" isn't the only thing that matters when deciding on policies.

Brexit is a good example. To an external observer, remain arguments seem to amount to "but GDP!" plus some name-calling. Same thing for pro-immigration/open borders arguments in the US.

If you actually care about your countrymen, then there are additional considerations that argue for a middle ground approach. If you don't care about your countrymen (or if you're just dumb), then keep it up with "but GDP!' plus name-calling. Your countrymen are seeing you more and more clearly.

Housing is the main issue

By stikves • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Technological improvements do tend to make things cheaper. This includes not only stuff like phones or cameras, but also food, energy, and building construction costs.

So in theory (but not practice), the quality of living of all people, including the poor should actually go up. (And it does go up in many cases. Say what you want, however Walmart for example brings cheap food on the table).

However one thing that keeps everyone down is the fixed land (plus the ever increasing regulations here in Cali. Rooftop solar is not mandated for example). We can build houses more quickly and for a lower price. However we cannot even when we need and want. So, people started living in vans, sharing a house with other families, or outright on the streets.

The only thing that keeps us down seems to be NIMBY-ism. Please do not blame tech for failure on this regard.

Tech hates inefficiency

By ghoul • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Tech succeeds in industries where there are inefficiencies.
Salaries are high when there are inefficiencies and need to be covered with human intelligence.
So yeah once a computer is helping than the skill level needed and salary offered for a job goes down.

Lets say Taxis - Drivers not only had to be able to drive, they had to be able to navigate the city. Now add Google Maps and any idiot can navigate. Voila Uber . Any idiot can be a taxi driver and hence a lower salary than what taxi drivers were making.

Re:Housing is the main issue

By lucasnate1 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It's funny how many expressions people invent to dehumanize other people. It can "neg*o" or "ki*e" or "useless eaters", and sometimes it can just be "low skilled worker".

when you haven't got a hammer, every nail hurts

By epine • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I despair at the idiocy of these headlines from time to time.

First question: are we talking general or special relativity here? Are we discussing a proximal economic dislocation due to size, velocity, or acceleration?

The real wage myth — circa May 2019

BTW, these time series understate the growth in total labor compensation, as the cost of fringe benefits such as health care has risen faster than nominal wage growth.

Fringe? A large component of the rise in total compensation for the lower and middle class over the past decade or so is entirely contained in terms not reflected in hourly wages paid.

Okay, so this economics blogger actually understands how compensation number work, but then he pulls this clanger out of his backside in the very next sentence:

Whatever explains the rise of populism in America, it is not stagnant wages.

WTF? Perception never drives behaviour? In what alternate universe does this blogger reside?

What's happening is that the cost of longevity has an exponential term, certainly beyond about 75 years of life expectancy, further small gains are obtained at a great price.

Pfizer Gets Back to Growth — 9 February 2016

With peak annual sales of roughly $13 billion, Lipitor was the planet's best-selling drug in the 2000s; however, sales of Lipitor plummeted after the drug lost patent protection in November 2011.

Quality-adjusted life year
The value of atorvastatin over the product life cycle in the United States — 2011

Assuming increasing statin use over time (with a mean of 1.07 million new users per year) and a 3% discount rate, the cumulative incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of atorvastatin versus simvastatin ranged from cost-savings at release to a maximum of $45,066/QALY after 6 years of generic simvastatin use in 2012.

Over the full modeled life cycle (1997-2030), the cumulative ICER of atorvastatin was $20,331/QALY. The incremental value of atorvastatin to US payers (after subtracting costs) was estimated at $44.57 to $194.78 billion, depending on willingness to pay.

I remain a bit perplexed over how these QALY partial derivatives are teased out, when the average person cresting 60 years of age is assigned an entire portfolio of similar prophylactic drugs. This is inherently a "weak link" class of system. You only need to die once to become a statistic. If you find yourself taking three of these drugs at the same time, does $/QALY triple in size. $150,000/QALY is starting to look like real money even for the upper middle class.

The medical-industrial complex craves tenuous longevity with a ferocity unrivalled in human history.


U.S. health care spending grew 3.9 percent in 2017, reaching $3.5 trillion or $10,739 per person.

Norwich University: The Cost of U.S. Wars Then and Now — undated (definitely don't attend this second-rate institution of higher learning)

Though it lasted fewer than four years, World War II was the most expensive war in United States history. Adjusted for inflation to todayâ(TM)s dollars, the war cost over $4 trillion and in 1945, the warâ(TM)s last year, defense spending c

The World's Smartest Chimp Has Died

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times, written by philosophy professor Lori Gruen: Sarah, who could have been deemed the world's smartest chimp, was brought to the United States from Africa as an infant to work with David and Ann Premack in a series of experiments designed to find out what chimpanzees might think. In order to determine what, if anything, might be on Sarah's mind, she was one of the first chimpanzees to be taught a human language. The Premacks taught her to use plastic magnetic tokens that varied in size and color to represent words. She formed sentences by placing the tokens in a vertical line. Ann Premack noted that her earliest words named "various interesting fruits," so that Sarah "could both solve her problem and eat it."

Sarah's career established that not only do chimpanzees have complex thoughts, but also distinct personalities with strong preferences and prejudices. But this is just part of her remarkable life story. As she grew older she helped a diabetic chimpanzee named Abby, who she was living with, remember to get her medication. She was a loving, yet stern, aunt-like figure to a pair of young chimpanzees, Harper and Emma, and she helped Henry, a male chimpanzee who came from a situation of terrible abuse, get along with other chimpanzees. Since the time that Sarah was thought to have established that chimpanzees know what others might want or need, a growing number of investigators have tried to figure out if other animals have a theory of mind. Though there have always been skeptics, studies have suggested that crows, jays, ravens, other apes, monkeys, and maybe dogs, may know what others are thinking. In social animals, being able to glean what others might be thinking is a good strategy for getting along. For chimpanzees living in sanctuaries, it can facilitate care.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall.

By Ostracus • Score: 3 • Thread

Mirror neurons may account for that "theory of mind".

Smartest or highest educated?

By Dan East • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Surely she wasn't the smartest chimp alive - the odds that the chimp they selected for study happened to be the smartest in the world is unlikely. However she may have been the most educated and had the greatest skill set of any chimp alive.

Re:Soon, a smarter one

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

once it / he / she says "mammy".

It is not lack of intelligence that prevents apes from talking, but lack of vocal cords.

That is why they learn languages based on hand signs or tokens.

Grey parrots can express the full range of human language phonemes, so they can be taught to interact verbally. Apes cannot.

Google Launches 'Live View' AR Walking Directions For Google Maps

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google is launching a beta of its augmented reality walking directions feature for Google Maps, with a broader launch that will be available to all iOS and Android devices that have system-level support for AR. On iOS, that means ARKit-compatible devices, and on Android, that means any smartphones that support Google's ARcore, so long as "Street View" is also available where you are. TechCrunch reports: Originally revealed earlier this year, Google Maps' augmented reality feature has been available in an early alpha mode to both Google Pixel users and to Google Maps Local Guides, but starting today it'll be rolling out to everyone (this might take a couple of weeks depending on when you actually get pushed the update). We took a look at some of the features available with the early version in March, and it sounds like the version today should be pretty similar, including the ability to just tap on any location nearby in Maps, tap the "Directions" button and then navigating to "Walking," then tapping "Live View" which should appear near the bottom of the screen.

The Live View feature isn't designed with the idea that you'll hold up your phone continually as you walk -- instead, in provides quick, easy and super-useful orientation by showing you arrows and big, readable street markers overlaid on the real scene in front of you. That makes it much, much easier to orient yourself in unfamiliar settings, which is hugely beneficial when traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An amateur astronomer in Texas captured a rare sight earlier this week when an apparent meteor slammed into Jupiter's thick upper atmosphere. Gizmodo reports: On Wednesday, amateur astronomer Ethan Chappel was on the lookout for Perseid meteors, reports ScienceAlert. But his telescope was trained on Jupiter with the camera running. Later, after feeding the data into a software program designed to detect impact flashes, Chappel was alerted to the event. Looking at the footage, Chappel saw a brief but discernible flash along the western portion of Jupiter's Southern Equatorial Belt, or SEB. Later that day, Chappel announced his discovery in a tweet: "Imaged Jupiter tonight. Looks awfully like an impact flash in the SEB." Chappel released a sharper version of the impact on Thursday, along with a colorized view of the apparent impact.

The flash appeared at at 4:07 a.m. UTC (12:07 a.m. ET) and lasted no longer than a second and a half, said astronomer Bob King in his coverage at Sky & Telescope. The impact still needs to be confirmed by other astronomers, but it certainly bears the hallmarks of a meteor strike, and not something that might be produced by Jupiter's lightning flashes or auroras. Looking at the flash, the size of the explosion seems small, but it's important to remember that Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. The meteor had to have been quite big to produce a flash of such prominence.


By Iwastheone • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Life on Earth Can Thank Its Lucky Stars for Jupiter and Saturn

By Sarah Lewin January 12, 2016 Science & Astronomy

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Without Jupiter and Saturn orbiting out past Earth, life may not have been able to gain a foothold on our planet, new simulations suggest.

The two gas giants likely helped stabilize the solar system, protecting Earth and the other interior, rocky planets from frequent run-ins with big, fast-moving objects, researchers said.

In other words, giant planets appear to have a giant impact on giant impacts.

"If you don't have giant planets in your system, you have a very, very different planetary system," Tom Barclay, of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California said here Friday (Jan. 8) at the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Barclay and his colleagues found that massive impacts — such as the one involving the proto-Earth that's thought to be responsible for the formation of the moon 4.5 billion years ago — would happen more frequently, and for a longer time periods, in solar systems that lack giant outer planets.

Such giant impacts could result in the loss of a planet's atmosphere, potentially making the world uninhabitable, Barclay said.

"If you have giant planets, your last giant impact happens somewhere between 10 and 100 million years [after planet formation], which is pretty fine — it's like what happened on Earth," Barclay said. "If you don't have giant planets, the last giant impact can happen hundreds [of millions] to billions of years in. This really is a risk to habitability."

As a solar system forms, planetary building blocks and debris zoom around in a broad disk before eventually aggregating into planets with stable orbits. Barclay's group started its simulation after Mars-size planet embryos had already formed in the system, and looked at cases with and without giant planets on the outer perimeter.

The researchers found that, with giant planets around, the remaining small solar system bodies were either ejected out of the system more quickly — because of the angular momentum the gas giants add to the system, Barclay said — or became a part of the existing planets sooner.

Without the influence of giant planets, the fragments formed a large, dangerous cloud orbiting close within the system that took much longer to disperse — kind of like a closer-in version of the icy Oort Cloud, a shell of debris that orbits in the outer solar system and occasionally casts comets toward Earth.

The giant planets' effect was only a small part of what the researchers were investigating with their new simulation, which attempts to fix two major problems with other models of the final stages of planet formation, Barclay said. First, the researchers took into account the fragmenting that occurs when objects ram into one another, rather than assuming they combine perfectly. And second, they ran hundreds of simulations to see all the possible ways the chaotic formation process could play out.

"Things that aren't rare but aren't especially common don't show up in typical simulation runs like this," Barclar said. "So you need to run a really large number."

Look at Jupiter with more light, at sunset

By raymorris • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Looking at Jupiter late at night is like looking into a cop's flashlight - the contrast between bright Jupiter and the dark sky means you can't see much. Try looking right around sunset or sunrise. Shortly after Jupiter becomes visible you may be able to see more, while the sky is brighter.

This also applies to Saturn and the moon. For these three objects, light pollution isn't that big of an issue (but use a fence or something to avoid direct glare right into your telescope).

Another suggestion re Jupiter - don't forget to look for its moons, which are about 5 diameters away from the planet.

Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter

By PolygamousRanchKid • Score: 3 • Thread

Is Jeffery Epstein in jail right now . . . ?

Although, Jupiter might be too old for his tastes.

Re:Look at Jupiter with more light, at sunset

By Solandri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
FYI, the inverse square falloff of light means that anything lit by the sun is the same brightness regardless of distance. The stuff closer to you shines more light into your eyes, but that's exactly offset by the stuff appearing bigger to your eye due to their proximity. The additional brightness is spread over a larger area on your retina, exactly canceling out the additional brightness. That's why when you look outside on a sunny day, the grass right next to you is the same brightness as the grass several miles away. The same applies to the moon and the planets.

However, magnification will reduce the brightness per angular area. In photography, this is governed by the f/stop. In order to maintain the same brightness at (say) f/5.6 when going from a 100mm to a 200mm lens (2x the magnification, meaning the image covers 4x as much area), you must make the aperture of the lens 2x wider so it collects 4x as much light.

For observing the moon and planets through a telescope, this means it's unnecessary to reduce the contrast by viewing around sunset or sunrise. All you have to do is use an eyepiece with a higher magnification - the more magnification, the dimmer the image becomes (because the same amount of light is being spread over a larger area of your retina).

Re:Look at Jupiter with more light, at sunset

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Looking at Jupiter late at night is like looking into a cop's flashlight - the contrast between bright Jupiter and the dark sky means you can't see much. Try looking right around sunset or sunrise. Shortly after Jupiter becomes visible you may be able to see more, while the sky is brighter.

Easier to just get a bunch of filters to suit what you're looking at:
- Light pollution reduction for nebula.
- "moon" filters for the moon and planets.
- Solar filters for staring into the sun.
- Instagram filters for when you influence your followers.