Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2020-Jan-14 today archive
 

Contents

  1. How Google Researchers Used Neural Networks To Make Weather Forecasts
  2. Verizon Media Launches OneSearch, a Privacy-Focused Search Engine
  3. Cut Undersea Cable Plunges Yemen Into Days-Long Internet Outage
  4. Dating and Fertility Apps Among Those Snitching To 'Out of Control' Ad Tech, Report Finds
  5. Rapper Akon Created His Own Cryptocurrency City In Senegal Called 'Akon City'
  6. Coral Is Google's Quiet Initiative To Enable AI Without the Cloud
  7. Amazon To Ask Court To Block Microsoft From Working On $10 Billion JEDI Contract
  8. 'Why the Foundations of Physics Have Not Progressed For 40 Years'
  9. Microsoft Patches Major Windows 10 Vulnerability After NSA Warning
  10. How Digital Sleuths Unravelled the Mystery of Iran's Plane Crash
  11. Amazon Lifts FedEx Ground-Delivery Ban For Sellers
  12. Annual Global PC Shipments Grow For the First Time in 8 Years
  13. Cookies Track You Across the Internet. Google Plans To Phase Them Out
  14. Amazon Taps AI To Figure Out Why Customers Buy Seemingly Irrelevant Products
  15. Google To Phase Out User-Agent Strings in Chrome
  16. Apple Responds To AG Barr Over Unlocking Pensacola Shooter's Phone: 'No.'
  17. The Military Is Building Long-Range Facial Recognition That Works in the Dark
  18. US Patents Hit Record 333,530 Granted in 2019; IBM, Samsung (Not the FAANGs) Lead the Pack
  19. Boeing Employees Mocked Lion Air Staff For Seeking 737 Max Training, Calling Them 'Idiots.' A Year Later 189 People Died When One of Their Jets Crashed
  20. Cryptic Rumblings Ahead of First 2020 Patch Tuesday
  21. Elon Musk Shows How Teslas Will Talk To Pedestrians
  22. App Tracking Alert In iOS 13 Has Dramatically Cut Location Data Flow To Ad Industry
  23. Scientists Use Stems Cells From Frogs To Build First Living Robots

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.

How Google Researchers Used Neural Networks To Make Weather Forecasts

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A research team at Google has developed a deep neural network that can make fast, detailed rainfall forecasts. Google says that its forecasts are more accurate than conventional weather forecasts, at least for time periods under six hours. Ars Technica reports: The researchers say their results are a dramatic improvement over previous techniques in two key ways. One is speed. Google says that leading weather forecasting models today take one to three hours to run, making them useless if you want a weather forecast an hour in the future. By contrast, Google says its system can produce results in less than 10 minutes -- including the time to collect data from sensors around the United States. A second advantage: higher spatial resolution. Google's system breaks the United States down into squares 1km on a side. Google notes that in conventional systems, by contrast, "computational demands limit the spatial resolution to about 5 kilometers."

Interestingly, Google's model is "physics-free": it isn't based on any a priori knowledge of atmospheric physics. The software doesn't try to simulate atmospheric variables like pressure, temperature, or humidity. Instead, it treats precipitation maps as images and tries to predict the next few images in the series based on previous snapshots. It does this using convolutional neural networks, the same technology that allows computers to correctly label images. Specifically, it uses a popular neural network architecture called a U-Net that was first developed for diagnosing medical images. The U-net has several layers that downsample an image from its initial 256-by-256 shape, producing a lower-resolution image where each "pixel" represents a larger region of the original image. Google doesn't explain the exact parameters, but a typical U-Net might convert a 256-by-256 grid to a 128-by-128 grid, then convert that to a 64-by-64 grid, and finally a 32-by-32 grid. While the number of pixels is declining, the number of "channels" -- variables that capture data about each pixel -- is growing.

The second half of the U-Net then upsamples this compact representation -- converting back to 64, 128, and finally 256-pixel representations. At each step, the network copies over the data from the corresponding downsampling step. The practical effect is that the final layer of the network has both the original full-resolution image and summary data reflecting high-level features inferred by the neural network. To produce a weather forecast, the network takes an hour's worth of previous precipitation maps as inputs. Each map is a "channel" in the input image, just as a conventional image has red, blue, and green channels. The network then tries to output a series of precipitation maps reflecting the precipitation over the next hour. Like any neural network, this one is trained with past real-world examples. After repeating this process millions of times, the network gets pretty good at approximating future precipitation patterns for data it hasn't seen before.

Local? Few hours? Meh.

By Mr. Dollar Ton • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Anyone who has lived in an area for a while can predict if it is going to rain within the next few hours with almost 100% certainty. Another Goodle "achievement" on par with their "quantum computer algorithm", which was laughed out by the experts in the field.

It is expected that being good in one field (e.g. spying on what people do on the Internet) does not mean that you know much about anything else. About time those spyware enablers get it too.

Our system can predict rain within a 6 hour window

By keithdowsett • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

... we just need to get the run time down below 7 hours.

Verizon Media Launches OneSearch, a Privacy-Focused Search Engine

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Verizon Media, the media and digital offshoot of telecommunications giant Verizon, has launched a "privacy-focused" search engine called OneSearch. With OneSearch, Verizon promises there will be no cookie tracking, no ad personalization, no profiling, no data-storing, and no data-sharing with advertisers.

With its default dark mode, OneSearch lets you know that Advanced Privacy Mode is activated. You can manually toggle this mode to the "off" position which returns a brighter interface, but with this setting deactivated you won't have access to privacy features such as search-term encryption. With Advanced Privacy Mode on, links to search results will only be shareable for an hour, after which time they will "self-destruct" and return an error to anyone who clicks on it. More broadly, the OneSearch interface is clean and fairly familiar to anyone who has used a search engine before. But at its core, it promises to show the same search results to everyone given that it's not tailored to the individual.
In the OneSearch privacy policy, Verizon says it it will store a user's IP address, search query, and user agent on different servers so that it can't draw correlations between a user's specific location and the query that they've made.

"Verizon said that it will monetize its new search engine through advertising; however, the advertising won't be based on browsing history or data that personally identifies the individual -- it will only serve contextual advertisements based on each individual search," reports VentureBeat. OneSearch is currently available on desktop and mobile web, with mobile apps coming later this month.

LOL what a load of horseshit

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread

Verizon promises there will be no cookie tracking, no ad personalization, no profiling, no data-storing, and no data-sharing with advertisers.

I'm sure they also have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn they'd love to sell you for a really incredibly low low price, too.
Fuck off Verizon, we already have DuckDuckGo, it already does everything yours claims to do, we don't need your fake-ass shit.

Re:If you believe Verizon...

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Excellent! I have just been informed that I have won the Zimbabwe lottery, to the tune of 100 trillion ZWD, and I would be most interested in your bridge!

Verizon has learned the lesson of 5G

By Required Snark • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
You don't need to actually have 5G, all you have to do is say you have 5G.

Same for privacy.

Re:No thanks

By paralumina01 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
What I am saying is that people may look for other search engines besides Verizon's after hearing about it. They may not trust Verizon so they look around for something else like YaCy, startpage, searx, DDG, etc.

Re:If you believe Verizon...

By squiggleslash • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
No, it's great, works well although they use a font that means you can't read most of the search results. Just be aware though that if you switch over to it, but switch back to Google within three years, you have to pay a $1,500 early termination fee...

Cut Undersea Cable Plunges Yemen Into Days-Long Internet Outage

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last week, the internet went dark for Yemen and its 28 million citizens. It's still not fully back today. In fact, the entire Red Sea region has dealt with slow to nonexistent connectivity since the severing of a single submarine cable on Thursday. Wired reports: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Ethiopia all felt major effects from last week's cut of the so-called Falcon cable, which even impacted countries as far away as Comoros and Tanzania. Most of them weren't totally knocked offline, though, because they were able to fall back on other lines of connectivity. In Yemen, though, that one cable cut led to an 80 percent drop in capacity. Though the country still had that last 20 percent, trying to route a water main of web traffic through a drinking straw resulted in near-total connectivity failure.

While internet blackouts have been used in regions like Iran and Kashmir as a political cudgel, there's no indication that the cut in Yemen's case was nefarious; it's more likely that an anchor unintentionally severed it. Fixing it, though, won't be so simple. Yemen has three submarine cable landings -- a Falcon connection in the east, another Falcon connection in the west, and a third landing in the port city of Aden, which connects to two other cables altogether. Due to an ongoing civil war, Aden is the temporary capital of Yemen, controlled by the Hadi government; Houthi-controlled territory geographically divides the country. By Saturday, one of Yemen's two main internet service providers -- YemenNet -- was able to restore some connectivity by working with Oman's major ISP, Omantel, to receive service from a different undersea cable. The Falcon cable has not yet been fixed, though, and countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, along with Yemen, are still dealing with lingering impacts of the cut. If providers don't have a backup means of communication, or have to reestablish service with a manual rerouting process, restoring connectivity can take days.

Re:Good news?

By DNS-and-BIND • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
That's why it's good we have Google and Facebook to keep the internet clean of that filth. Censorship is losing its formet bad reputation and making a big comeback. By November 2020 the algorithms will be going full speed and hate content will disappear. Sanders will be president and we will be in a new age of Marcuse's "liberating tolerance". That means tolerance of movements from the Left and the opposite for hate from the Right.

Of Course It Was Days Long

By cervesaebraciator • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

They called and the guy said he'd be by to repair it sometime between the hours of 1:00-3:00PM on Monday, 8:00-10:30AM on Tuesday, or 8:00AM-5:00PM on Thursday. Come on, guys, it'll be on Thursday! That's the way it always is.

Tell you what: You just go ahead and take the whole day Thursday off, so you can take care of this. We'll stop proving fueling and logistics in support of Saudi war crimes during that window. I mean, I'm sure it might be hard dealing with MBS and his Washingtonian lapdogs, but I think all Americans can finally empathize knowing you have to deal with the cable guy.

Re:Good news?

By alvinrod • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Once people get it, it seems very very sticky.

I think that really depends on the kind of websites they're visiting.

Cable cuts can happen anywhere

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The past several days teams have been working to repair a major fiber cut in the South Lake Union section of Seattle. That's the part of town where much of the big tech presence is.

Re:So what?

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

There is a civil war going on. Who cares about the friggin Internet? It isn't as essential as we think it is.

And you posted this... using what?

To everyone who says, "internet is not essential," I challenge you to go a month without it. Just disable all your internet stuff, and probably your telephone too, since odds are, at some point the data from your phone, even if it's a POTS landline, goes over the internet. Go back to 1978 or whatever, technologically. Spend a month there, with no internet or anything FROM the internet. All your banking stuff is internet based now, so don't think about using a credit card or paying with a check, even in-person. Cash only for you. Your stoplights, odds are, are timed and controlled remotely unless you live in a real backwater kind of place. So don't drive anywhere in a car.

If something is delivered to your door during this time that you ordered over the internet, refuse it. Send it back and tell them the reason is you've converted to no-internetism, it's a new religion that holds as a fundamental tenet that using the internet in any way, shape, or form is a mortal sin.

You'll go bald inside a week if you aren't already. Not from chemical exposure or aging, but from tearing it out in frustration.

Even if you think, "bah, humbug, fie on thee and thy internet!" all the other people you could and/or would be interacting with are no longer available to speak to you because even if they too, crave human companionship and camaraderie in-person, they communicate to arrange when they'll meet up and hang out in-person using the INTERNET.

Basically, the internet has become indispensable and you use it about a thousand times a day, even if you don't own anything connected to it yourself. Okay, a thousand might be a slight exaggeration, but you hopefully get the idea.

Let us pray for the people of Yemen that they get their internet back up soon. Also that everyone stops bombing them and trying to starve them to death. (That's Yemen, right? I forget where-all bombs are falling and people are being murdered for no good reason whatsoever, because it seems to be happening all over the place lately.)

Dating and Fertility Apps Among Those Snitching To 'Out of Control' Ad Tech, Report Finds

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Norwegian Consumer Council published an analysis of how popular apps are sharing user data with the behavioral ad industry. TechCrunch reports the findings: A majority of the apps that were tested for the report were found to transmit data to "unexpected third parties" -- with users not being clearly informed about who was getting their information and what they were doing with it. Most of the apps also did not provide any meaningful options or on-board settings for users to prevent or reduce the sharing of data with third parties. "The evidence keeps mounting against the commercial surveillance systems at the heart of online advertising," the Council writes, dubbing the current situation "completely out of control, harming consumers, societies, and businesses," and calling for curbs to prevalent practices in which app users' personal data is broadcast and spread "with few restraints."

In the report, app users' data is documented being shared with tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter -- which operate their own mobile ad platforms and/or other key infrastructure related to the collection and sharing of smartphone users' data for ad targeting purposes -- but also with scores of other faceless entities that the average consumer is unlikely to have heard of. [...] Among the findings are a makeup filter app sharing the precise GPS coordinates of its users; ovulation, period and mood-tracking apps sharing users' intimate personal data with Facebook and Google (among others); dating apps exchanging user data with each other, and also sharing with third parties sensitive user info like individuals' sexual preferences (and real-time device specific tells such as sensor data from the gyroscope...); and a games app for young children that was found to contain 25 embedded SDKs and which shared the Android Advertising ID of a test device with eight third parties. The 10 apps whose data flows were analyzed for the report are the dating apps Grindr, Happn, OkCupid, and Tinder; fertility/period tracker apps Clue and MyDays; makeup app Perfect365; religious app Muslim: Qibla Finder; children's app My Talking Tom 2; and the keyboard app Wave Keyboard.

No WAY!

By skogs • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

You mean apps specifically designed for lonely and sexually frustrated people are taking advantage of those poor tortured souls?! Say it isn't so! Who would have guessed?

oooh oooh....all of us!

What do you want for nothing?

By TigerPlish • Score: 3 • Thread

A rubber biscuit!

But if you throw it and it don't come back, you go hungry!

Re:Grindr, Happn, OkCupid, and Tinder...

By paralumina01 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Maybe they will learn to be not so quick to give away intimately personal details.

George Orwell was right

By FudRucker • Score: 3 • Thread
and big brother is more like a creepy pervert in a raincoat than George realized

Unexpected Third Parties?

By Retired ICS • Score: 3 • Thread

Did this guy/guys just fall off the turnip truck?

Unless the app/webpage/thing comes with meaningful $1,000,000.00 liability warranty to back a claim that the app/webpage/thing DOES NOT transmit data to third-parties, then anyone born in the last century would expect that the app/webpage/thing is transmitting data to third-parties. This goes without saying.

Rapper Akon Created His Own Cryptocurrency City In Senegal Called 'Akon City'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: It's official, Akon has his own city in Senegal. Known as "Akon City," the rapper and entrepreneur tweeted Monday that he had finalized the agreement for the new city. Akon, who is of Senegalese descent, originally announced plans for the futuristic "Crypto city" in 2018 saying that the city would be built on a 2,000-acre land gifted to him by the President of Senegal, Macky Sall. The new city would also trade exclusively in his own digital cash currency called AKoin, he said. The official website for the city said at the time it would be a five-minute drive from the West African state's new international airport. According to a video posted to the project's Facebook page, "all transactional activity" in Akon City will be conducted using AKoin.

"What's worrying is that, at this stage, there doesn't appear to be any white paper for Akon's cryptocurrency, so it's hard to gauge exactly what we're in for," reports The Next Web. "The associated website does however hype the release of a white paper and an 'explainer video' sometime before February this year."

Re:Shutup and TAKE MY MONEY!

By _Sharp'r_ • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Asking for a white paper? How racist!

Don't they know the currency is backed by their store of vibranium?

Why did Senegal give Akon 2000 acres?

By reanjr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I know Akon does good charity work in Senegal, but maybe charity wouldn't be so needed if the Senegalese president wasn't giving away the nation's land to wealthy expatriates.

Me too!

By porky_pig_jr • Score: 3 • Thread

My hamster Dopey created its own cryptocurrency known as Dopey's currency.

Is this an Underpants Gnome variation?

By Zontar_Thing_From_Ve • Score: 3 • Thread
1) Be a rapper.
2) Build a new city on land the government gave you for free.
3) Use a brand new crypto coin in that new city.
4) ?????
5) Profit!

Bitcoin is not the best, flawed, just the first

By perpenso • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Bitcoin is optimal in every way; You can't beat Bitcoin. You can't beat the best.

Bitcoin is not the best. It is just the first virtual currency to come to the public's attention. It is nothing more than the first popular user of the blockchain, no more important and no less replaceable than the first popular user of the internal combustion engine, the Model T Ford. Blockchain might be the future but bitcoin is not.

Bitcoin is technically flawed according to its own design. To be secure it needs a diverse population of "miners" that maintain the blockchain. We **DO NOT** have a diverse population of miners. Mining is dominated by expensive ASIC hardware and 70% of those miners are located in a single country, China. We no longer have a population of miners that are just regular people's computers spread across the globe, those days are gone, and bitcoin's security model is gone with it.

Bitcoin was supposed to be immune from government intervention, but that require diversity. With 70% of miners in China the Chinese Communist Party can order the miners to modify the blockchain. That is supposed to be impossible by Bitcoin's original design but we have moved away from that design and such things are plausible. Yes that is unlikely to happen but according to bitcoin's original design it was supposed to be impossible not unlikely. Bitcoin is flawed today, its security broken.

Coral Is Google's Quiet Initiative To Enable AI Without the Cloud

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google is working to improve the speed and security of on-device AI through a little-known initiative called Coral. The Verge reports: "Traditionally, data from [AI] devices was sent to large compute instances, housed in centralized data centers where machine learning models could operate at speed," Vikram Tank, product manager at Coral, explained to The Verge over email. "Coral is a platform of hardware and software components from Google that help you build devices with local AI -- providing hardware acceleration for neural networks ... right on the edge device." To meet customers' needs Coral offers two main types of products: accelerators and dev boards meant for prototyping new ideas, and modules that are destined to power the AI brains of production devices like smart cameras and sensors. In both cases, the heart of the hardware is Google's Edge TPU, an ASIC chip optimized to run lightweight machine learning algorithms -- a (very) little brother to the water-cooled TPU used in Google's cloud servers.

While its hardware can be used by lone engineers to create fun projects (Coral offers guides on how to build an AI marshmallow-sorting machine and smart bird feeder, for example), the long-term focus, says Tank, is on enterprise customers in industries like the automotive world and health care. Although Coral is targeting the world of enterprise, the project actually has its roots in Google's "AIY" range of do-it-yourself machine learning kits, says Tank. Launched in 2017 and powered by Raspberry Pi computers, AIY kits let anyone build their own smart speakers and smart cameras, and they were a big success in the STEM toys and maker markets. Tank says the AIY team quickly noticed that while some customers just wanted to follow the instructions and build the toys, others wanted to cannibalize the hardware to prototype their own devices. Coral was created to cater to these customers.
The Coral team says it's trying to differentiate itself from the competition by tightly integrating its hardware with Google's ecosystem of AI services. "Coral is so tightly integrated with Google's AI ecosystem that its Edge TPU-powered hardware only works with Google's machine learning framework, TensorFlow, a fact that rivals in the AI edge market The Verge spoke to said was potentially a limiting factor," the report says.

"Coral products process specifically for their platform [while] our products support all the major AI frameworks and models in the market," a spokesperson for AI edge firm Kneron told The Verge. (Kneron said there was "no negativity" in its assessment and that Google's entry into the market was welcome as it "validates and drives innovation in the space.")

Amazon To Ask Court To Block Microsoft From Working On $10 Billion JEDI Contract

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Amazon Web Services is expecting a decision next month from a U.S. court about whether the brakes will be slammed on the Pentagon's lucrative Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract awarded to Microsoft. The filing (PDF), on January 13, sets up the schedule for key dates including February 11, when AWS and Microsoft's lawyers have agreed to expect a court to decide on AWS's motion for a temporary restraining order. A preliminary injunction is also possibly on the cards.

The significance of February -- and the reason for the sped-up negotiated schedule -- is that three days before Valentine's, the $10 billion mega-contract is supposed to begin, and, as the filing notes, "the United States has previously advised AWS and the Court [it] will begin on February 11, 2020," reiterating that "the United States' consistent position that the services to be procured under the Contract are urgently needed in support of national security." Interestingly, the U.S. -- via the Department of Defense -- said in the document that in this specific "bid protest case, it does not intend to file an answer" to AWS's complaint. Microsoft and the U.S. government have agreed to file their motions to dismiss on January 24 -- the same date AWS is flinging out its "temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction" to pull the JEDI light saber away from Microsoft.
Amazon's initial formal appeal of the decision pointed much of the blame at President Trump, who has been a public critic of Amazon.

"Should it get the nod, AWS's injunction will 'prevent the issuance of substantive task orders under the contract' despite the U.S.'s position that the services 'are urgently needed in support of national security,'" reports The Register.

I though Amazon Employees said no?

By WoodstockJeff • Score: 3 • Thread

Or was that Google employees? Or all of them?

Re:Whatever Happens...

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

These are not the appropriations you're looking for?

Use the force

By backslashdot • Score: 3 • Thread

If you need to ask the court, you already failed JEDI. Use the force.

3.5 entities

By YrWrstNtmr • Score: 3 • Thread
There are 3.5 entities that can do this:
Microsoft
Amazon
Google
Oracle (0.5)

Whoever won it, however they won, the other 3 would bitch about it.

'Why the Foundations of Physics Have Not Progressed For 40 Years'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Sabine Hossenfelder, research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, writes: What we have here in the foundation of physics is a plain failure of the scientific method. All these wrong predictions should have taught physicists that just because they can write down equations for something does not mean this math is a scientifically promising hypothesis. String theory, supersymmetry, multiverses. There's math for it, alright. Pretty math, even. But that doesn't mean this math describes reality. Physicists need new methods. Better methods. Methods that are appropriate to the present century. And please spare me the complaints that I supposedly do not have anything better to suggest, because that is a false accusation. I have said many times that looking at the history of physics teaches us that resolving inconsistencies has been a reliable path to breakthroughs, so that's what we should focus on. I may be on the wrong track with this, of course.

Why don't physicists have a hard look at their history and learn from their failure? Because the existing scientific system does not encourage learning. Physicists today can happily make career by writing papers about things no one has ever observed, and never will observe. This continues to go on because there is nothing and no one that can stop it. You may want to put this down as a minor worry because -- $40 billion dollar collider aside -- who really cares about the foundations of physics? Maybe all these string theorists have been wasting tax-money for decades, alright, but in the large scheme of things it's not all that much money. I grant you that much. Theorists are not expensive. But even if you don't care what's up with strings and multiverses, you should worry about what is happening here. The foundations of physics are the canary in the coal mine. It's an old discipline and the first to run into this problem. But the same problem will sooner or later surface in other disciplines if experiments become increasingly expensive and recruit large fractions of the scientific community. Indeed, we see this beginning to happen in medicine and in ecology, too.

Re:You are confusing Chemistry with Physics

By sphealey • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Materials science has made order-of-magnitude progress in both theory and implementation during that period.

Time for an ultraviolet catastrophe?

By shoor • Score: 3 • Thread

I am not a physicist. But, as I recall, there was a famous physicist in the 19th Century, Lord Kelvin, who predicted that physics was mostly finished. Everything explained, except for a few things like the 'ultra-violet catastrophe'. Black body radiation didn't quite match predicted models. Max Planck created a mathematical model that worked by introducing the notion of quanta. And suddenly physics was revolutionized.

Then there was Albert Einstein, who pondered how physical experiments shouldn't change with different frames of reference. Somebody doing the measurements to deduce Maxwell's Equations on a moving train should come up with the same values as someone doing them at the train station. His conclusion was that the speed of light had to be the same for all observations, and the only way to make that inflexible was to make both space and time flexible.

So what are the ultraviolet catastrophes today? My candidates are, the Measurement Problem, Quantum Entanglement, and the fact that the Theory of Relativity does not reconcile with Quantum Mechanics.

I gather that Quantum Mechanics uses discrete mathematics, and Relativity is smooth, and uses analytical calculus, and that's why they can't be reconciled. The Measurement Problem really just shows to me that QM isn't really a theory, just a set of rules that give the right answers. (Yeah, I know, a lot of people will say that's all any theory is. To those people I would say, let's just agree to disagree.)

I saw on Youtube part of an interview by Freeman Dyson (of the Dyson Sphere), where he talked about meeting Enrico Fermi. [Fermi's rejection of our work (94/157)] He and his PhD students were working on some theory, and Fermi politely shot it down:

I showed him the graphs on which our experiment, our theoretical numbers were plotted and Fermi's experimental numbers were plotted, and the agreement was on the whole pretty good. And Fermi hardly looked at these graphs, he just put them on the desk, just glanced at them very briefly and he said, 'I am not very impressed with what you've been doing.' And he said, 'When one does a theoretical calculation, you know, there are two ways of doing it. Either you should have a clear physical model in mind, or you should have a rigorous mathematical basis. You have neither.' So that was it - in about two sentences he disposed of the whole subject. Well then I asked him, well what does he think about the numerical agreement, and he said, 'How many parameters did you use for the fitting? How many free parameters are there in your method?' So I counted up. It turned out there were four. And he said, 'You know, Johnny von Neumann always used to say, "With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk." So I don't find the numerical agreement very impressive either.' So I said, 'Thank you very much for you help,' and I said goodbye. There was nothing more to be said. The whole discussion took maybe 10 or 15 minutes. And I came back to Cornell to tell the team the bad news. So that was another watershed in my life, and I think it was profoundly useful what Fermi did. He had this amazing intuition. He could spot what was good and what was bad right away. I mean, we might have worked on these calculations for five years if Fermi hadn't given us the red light and, as it was, Fermi was absolutely right because in the end of course it turned out that the theory on which we based the whole calculation was an illusion.

With the arrogance of a layman, let me say I don't think math rigor is enough. You need that clear physical model too, and QM doesn't have it.

Re:You are confusing Chemistry with Physics

By Rutulian • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Uh, no. First, while QED made interpretation of quantized energy states more intuitive and consistent with other theories, it still cannot be solved completely for molecules more complex than H2. It hardly qualifies as Chemistry if you are restricted to hydrogen, so approximation methods have been developed and refined over many decades,
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...

Second, bonding and structure-activity relationships is only a small part of Chemistry. Models/theories/frameworks that actually make useful predictions requires significantly more than just an understanding of the math behind electrostatics and quantized energy levels,
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...

Re:Bullocks

By Rutulian • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

There's nothing wrong with writing a pop-sci book. Plenty of accomplished scientists do, and more should. See, for example,
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...

She seemingly has no research discoveries of her own

And how did you determine that, exactly? A Wikipedia page? Try looking for her actual articles,
https://arxiv.org/search/gr-qc...

She seems to have done fairly well. Not everybody is going to get a Nobel Prize.

Re:You are confusing Chemistry with Physics

By Sique • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You are confusing work, progress in general and in detail.

Sabine Hossenfelder laments missing progress in general. The last Grand Concepts or Grand Theories that were introduced into Physics date back to the 1930-1960ies. Since then, we have lots of work on details (e.g. Hawking Radiation, actually finding the Higgs Boson), lots of lofty Meta Theories (e.g. (Super-)String Theory, Super Symmetry), but nothing to tackle actual open. glaring problems like a testable Quantum Gravity, Dark Matter and Dark Energy, or 33 free parameters in our theories no one knows why they have the values they actually have.

Super Symmetry for instance was introduced in 1971, nearly half a century ago, and we still don't have evidence for a single super symmetric particle, just lots of handwaving like Dark Matter might partly consists of super symmetric particles. String Theories are even older, but still no idea came up how to actually test them, and no, bulding an accelerator the size of our galaxy and feed it with the energy of 10^6 quasars is not a feasible plan. Possible explanations for Dark Energy like Quantum fluctuations causing negative pressure give predictions for their effects which differ from the actual observations by a factor of 10^120. The Standard Model of Quantum Theory yields no new particle types for the next 10^15 times the energy we use right now. Current theories predict that we will find exactly nothing new in an upscaled LHC 10 times the size and power, so what's the point in building one? And yes, LIGO's detection of gravitational waves is a very important result, but one that was expected anyway since a century.

Microsoft Patches Major Windows 10 Vulnerability After NSA Warning

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft on Tuesday patched an extraordinarily serious security vulnerability in a core cryptographic component present in all versions of Windows. The vulnerability was spotted and reported by the NSA. CNBC reports: The flaw affected encryption of digital signatures used to authenticate content, including software or files. If exploited, the flaw could allow criminals to send malicious content with fake signatures that make it appear safe. The finding was reported earlier by The Washington Post. It is unclear how long the NSA knew about the flaw before reporting it to Microsoft. The cooperation, however, is a departure from past interactions between the NSA and major software developers such as Microsoft. In the past, the top security agency has kept some major vulnerabilities secret in order to use them as part of the U.S. tech arsenal.

In a statement, Microsoft declined to confirm or offer further details. "We follow the principles of coordinated vulnerability disclosure as the industry best practice to protect our customers from reported security vulnerabilities. To prevent unnecessary risk to customers, security researchers and vendors do not discuss the details of reported vulnerabilities before an update is available." Jeff Jones, a senior director at Microsoft said in a statement Tuesday: "Customers who have already applied the update, or have automatic updates enabled, are already protected. As always we encourage customers to install all security updates as soon as possible." Microsoft told CNBC that it had not seen any exploitation of the flaw "in the wild," which means outside a lab testing environment.

Fix for Windows 7?

By EETech1 • Score: 3 • Thread

Is there a fix available for Windows 7, or is it a day late, and a dollar short?

Re:Will Wonders Never Cease

By Ungrounded Lightning • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Holy Carp, the NSA actually did something useful for once. Must have been by accident.

Their mandate is to BOTH:
  - crack foreign communications for US spying.
  - protect US communications - including the civilian sector - from foreign other bad-actor (e.g. crooks) spying.

Unfortunately, they seem to give the first precedence - to the point of working to weaken civilian encryption, to make it easier for THEM to crack when it carries anything of interest to the spook community.

Re:LOL, Golly gee whiz!

By DesScorp • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The NSA prefers to keep these in their pocket, but they also prefer government offices that have Windows boxes not to get p0wned by other countries.

They must not feel that they can offer any mitigations at the network level. It is probably even worse than it sounds.

How much do you want to bet that NSA was looking for new ways of putting Trojans and Worms in systems like, say, Iranian Windows servers (as we did with their nuclear program servers) when they found this? If that's the case, then it means that the vulnerability was so bad, NSA judged the threat to western computer systems so severe that it outweighed the benefits of attacking systems in hostile countries.

Most likely

By Impy the Impiuos Imp • Score: 3 • Thread

The real question is how long did they know about it? Answer is "Until someone else figured it out and started using it."

Re:Fix for Windows 7?

By bob8766 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The MSRC blog reaffirms that it's only Windows 10:

https://msrc-blog.microsoft.co...

How Digital Sleuths Unravelled the Mystery of Iran's Plane Crash

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Open-source intelligence proved vital in the investigation into Ukraine Airlines flight PS752. Then Iranian officials had to admit the truth. From a report: [...] In the days after the Ukraine Airlines plane crashed into the ground outside Tehran, Bellingcat and The New York Times have blown a hole in the supposition that the downing of the aircraft was an engine failure. The pressure -- and the weight of public evidence -- compelled Iranian officials to admit overnight on January 10 that the country had shot down the plane "in error." So how do they do it? "You can think of OSINT as a puzzle. To get the complete picture, you need to find the missing pieces and put everything together," says Lorand Bodo, an OSINT analyst at Tech versus Terrorism, a campaign group. The team at Bellingcat and other open-source investigators pore over publicly available material. Thanks to our propensity to reach for our cameraphones at the sight of any newsworthy incident, video and photos are often available, posted to social media in the immediate aftermath of events. "Open source investigations essentially involve the collection, preservation, verification, and analysis of evidence that is available in the public domain to build a picture of what happened," says Yvonne McDermott Rees, a lecturer at Swansea University.

Some of the clips in this incident surfaced on Telegram, the encrypted messaging app popular in the Middle East, while others were sent directly to Bellingcat. "Because Bellingcat is known for our open source work on MH17, people immediately thought of us. People started sending us links they'd found," says Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat. "It was involuntary crowdsourcing." OSINT investigators then utilise metadata, including EXIF data -- which is automatically inserted into videos and photos, showing everything from the type of camera used to take the images to the precise latitude and longitude of where the taker was standing -- to validify that the footage is legitimate. They'll also try and identify who took the footage, and whether it's practical for them to have been where they claim to have been at the time. However, for this instance, they couldn't use EXIF data. "People would share photos and videos on Telegram which strip the metadata, and then someone else would find that and share it on Twitter," says Higgins. "We were really getting a second-hand or third-hand version of these images. All we have to go on is what's visible in the photograph." So instead they moved onto the next step.

encrypted data

By SethJohnson • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
That data was encrypted with a key likely only known to the deceased. See the other news about William Barr complaining about Apple...

Ukraine and Iran: the new Bermuda Triangle

By guacamole • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I find it curious how Iran and Ukraine both were affected or involved in the last four high profile passenger airliner shotdowns:

  • Iran Air Flight 655, Iranian airliner shot down by a missile from an American ship in 1988.
  • Siberia Airlines Flight 1812, Russian airliner flying over Black Sea from Israel to Siberia shot down in 2001 by apparently a runaway missile fired from a Ukrainian ship during naval exercises.
  • Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, shot down over Ukraine's rebel region of Donbass in summer of 2014, allegedly by the rebels with help from their Russian overlords.
  • Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a Ukrainian airliner shotdown by Iranian missile over Iran.

The conclusion should be.. don't take any Iranian and Ukrainian airline flights. Also don't take any flights flying over or near those countries...

Re:I wanna know who was controlling them at the ti

By LostMyAccount • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem with this idea is that Iran wants to be taken seriously as a state power, not just a bunch of tribal guys with an independent streak, which means they need to maintain the structure and control of a state government.

You're right the Pentagon wants nothing to do with a ground invasion of Iraq -- too big, too complicated geographically.

But in the Pentagon's favor, disrupting Iran militarily and collapsing the regime is within their grasp. You can't bomb the Afghanis into the stone age because they're in the stone age, the Iranian state wouldn't hold up to it, just as the Iraqi one crumbled.

What's really hurt the Iranians in the whole incident:

* Exposed a complete lack of personal and operational security for one of their most important leaders. Suleimani shouldn't have been that easy to zap from a drone.

* Exposed a pretty weak and ineffective short range missile system. They lost two as duds and didn't do a ton of damage. "We didn't mean to" isn't compelling.

* Exposed their air defense network as possible totally incompetent and not a real deterrent to a serious US incursion. A lot of dependence on mobile systems due to the inability to defend fixed systems and a lack of money (the mobile systems can be moved around and used where needed).

* Exposed the regime's slipping control over their population. When your own people riot over an accidental shoot-down of an airliner, it shows they're tired of your military adventurism which has left them poor and in a security state.

Re:Did not take any sleuthing

By Aczlan • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Um... I mostly agree...

However, a 737 isn't anything close to a jumbo jet and would have a similar primary radar signature to many kinds of aircraft. It is REALLY hard to tell the difference between a cruse missile, and F18 and a 737 sized aircraft on radar using a primary paint signature (where the radar signal bounces off the airframe and back to the receiver). The amount of the return, the turbine blade signatures and other returned artifacts may not be all that deterministic and may not give you much assurance that your target identification is good. Apparently it was good enough to shoot it under the perceived conditions.

What amazes me is that this was NOT the first flight of the day from the airport. There had been like 10 other commercial aircraft departures from the airport which where NOT shot at. Something happened, a crew change, a communications outage, some misunderstood or inappropriate order, something that caused them to lose track of what was in their airspace and let them believe they should shoot a the target. This tells me there are some serious problems in Iran's air defenses, even though they have some of the best stuff you can buy from the Russians.

IIRC, the Ukranian plane was 2 hours late taking off, my guess is that the SAM sites had a printed list of flights scheduled to depart and they did not get the message that that flight was departing 2 hours later than it was scheduled to.

Aaron Z

Bullshit

By hoofie • Score: 3 • Thread

Utter shite - as soon as pictures appeared of the wreckage it started looking VERY likely that the aircraft was hit by a radar guided proximity fused missile with an expanding rod or shrapnel warhead [the pictures CLEARLY showed punctures on the aircraft skin which were pre-ground impact]. The similarities to Malaysia Flight 17 were instantly obvious.

After that it was just a question of when the Iranians would fess up.

The NYT and Bellingcat are trying to manufacture a scoop that was already very publicly aired and discussed.

Amazon Lifts FedEx Ground-Delivery Ban For Sellers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon is telling sellers they can begin using FedEx's ground delivery after the company temporarily halted access to the service during the holiday shopping season. From a report: The company will resume FedEx's Ground and Home services on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET, according to an email Amazon sent Tuesday to merchants that was viewed by CNBC. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that the company is resuming ground-delivery service on Tuesday. The spokesperson said FedEx Ground and Home services have been consistently meeting Amazon's on-time delivery requirements, so it reinstated the shipping option for Prime orders.

Good.

By b0s0z0ku • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Ground (truck/rail) transportation is a lot more carbon-efficient than flight.

Re:But it was FedEx that pulled out...

By raftpeople • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Yes, FedEx pulled out of their partnership with Amazon in general. The issue, from FedEx perspective is as follows:
1 - Amazon growth, if sustained over next 5 years will put it's package delivery well beyond current capabilities of FedEx or UPS, which would require significant investment in facilities and logistics just to keep up.

2 - Amazon's business is low margin (due to Amazon's negotiating strength)

3 - Amazon was already cherry picking the most dense delivery areas for their delivery services and leaving the less dense areas to carriers like FedEx

If FedEx tries to keep up with the growth and demands, they run the risk of heavy investment for low margin with the possibility of Amazon still shifting to their own or other lower cost providers.

Annual Global PC Shipments Grow For the First Time in 8 Years

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Annual global PC shipments rose for the first time in eight years, according to data released by industry tracking firms late Monday. New submitter mimil writes: International Data Group said late Monday that global PC shipments rose 2.7% year-over-year to 266.7 million units, the first annual gain since 2011, when PC shipments rose 1.7%. "This past year was a wild one in the PC world, which resulted in impressive market growth that ultimately ended seven consecutive years of market contraction," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "The market will still have its challenges ahead, but this year was a clear sign that PC demand is still there despite the continued insurgence of emerging form factors and the demand for mobile computing," Reith said. Over at Gartner, data showed that PC shipments grew 0.6% for the year to 261.2 million units. Gartner does not include Chromebooks that run on Google operating system or Apple iPads.

Desktop Standards Rant

By Tablizer • Score: 3 • Thread

PC's are still the work-horse of the typical office and nothing around will unseat them anytime soon. Google's online office suite is gaining share, but not fast enough so far to pose a serious challenge to MS. Maybe a decade from now it will be a real dog-fight, but let's solve current problems for now.

Our typical in-house CRUD stacks assumed finger-oriented mobile devices would take over the desktop, and thus stopped trying to be desktop and mouse friendly. That was a mistake. Mousie lives.

We need an interaction- and state-friendly GUI markup standard so we can have desktop-friendly UI's without relying on a Dagwood Sandwich of buggy JavaScript layers to emulate a real desktop.

Current web standards make typical in-house CRUD development a royal pain, but nobody feels comfortable going back to client-side per-app installs*. Let's stop ignoring the desktop and do it right this time.

* Some say MS has streamlined and automated the process of deploying and upgrading WPF applications to avoid the upgrade headaches we remember from the 90's. I can't personally vouch for the new deployment either way.

Windows 10 and the need for SSD, perhaps

By ctilsie242 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

One of the biggest things when going from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is the need for a SSD. Windows 7, it was an option. Windows 10, booting a machine without a SSD is a deal-breaker, because you have so many subsystems, apps, processes, and other stuff trying to fight for the same read/write heads on a HDD. A SSD can easily handle the random I/O.

This in itself, makes it appear that PCs are "slow", likely getting people to upgrade to new machines.

Intel held gaming back for almost a decade.

By UnknownSoldier • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Last time I ordered / built a PC was back in 2013 because there was little point in upgrading the i7 4770K for minuscule gains. Upgrading the GPU is usually the better move -- this Rule-of-Thumb has been true for ~20 years.

In December I ordered 4 systems:

* Threadripper 1920X
* Threadripper 2950X
* Threadripper 3960X
* Ryzen 5 3600X

AMD has LOTS of people upgrading systems. Octacore is the new quad-core.

Some claim the PC is dead

By MpVpRb • Score: 3 • Thread

..and the future is smartphones and tablets
This may be true for some less demanding things, for people with sharp eyesight and the ability to type on a tiny touch screen
For real work, a large screen is necessary

AMD ending the stagnation?

By fintux • Score: 3 • Thread

For a looooong time, the 4-core CPUs have been available in the mainstream desktop platforms, and for quite long time in the laptops as well. 2-core CPUs have been commonplace for ~10 years, too. Meanwhile, the prices of the similarly bracketed CPUs have been on the rise. So people have not been getting a significant speed increase for the same amount of money. As (I believe, not 100% sure) improved performance is the main reason why people buy new PCs, no wonder there has been nothing happening.

Until 2017, AMD finally changed the game by bringing 8-core CPUs to mainstream, and now has caught up, and surpassed, Intel in IPC. And now we're seeing more cores in lower price points, too, and finally in laptops as well, while prices/core have been going down significantly. After a long time, people are getting significantly more performance for the same money. I'm not surprised at all that the sales have been going up, and I expect to see that for quite some time if the progress continues.

Cookies Track You Across the Internet. Google Plans To Phase Them Out

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google has announced plans to limit the ability of other companies to track people across the internet and collect information about them, a significant change that has widespread ramifications for online privacy as well as the digital economy. From a report: The company said Tuesday that it plans to phase out the use of digital tools known as tracking cookies, which other companies use to identify people online and learn more about them. The move is meant to offer users greater control over their digital footprints and enhance user privacy, according to Google. But the move could also provide Google with even greater control over the online advertising market, which the company already dominates. Google said the change will come to its Chrome web browser and be rolled out over two years. Google did not announce any changes to its own data collection methods.

Google also said that a previously announced change to make third-party cookies more secure and precise in their abilities will be rolled out in February. Justin Schuh, director of engineering for trust and safety for Google's Chrome, said the search giant needs time to enact changes because it is working with advertisers and publishers to address the need for cookies to remember sign-ins, embed third-party services such as weather widgets and deliver targeted advertising. But he did not downplay the significance of Google's announcement. "We want to change the way the web works," he said in an interview.

Yes but....

By lkjlkjlkj • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If chrome disables cookies, websites will be forced to work without them, which means that firefox users will reap all of the same benefits while simultaneously avoiding Google. As a firefox user, this seems win-win. Change my mind.

Re:Monopolistic advantages

By MachineShedFred • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

People who work at Google are ok with it, because they have Google stock options, Google RSUs, and participate in the Google employee stock purchase program. Implementing this causes Alphabet's stock to rise, and they all get paid.

Don't underestimate greed as a motivational factor to leave any morals or ethics at the door. After all, that's what anti-competitive behavior is all about.

Make tracking a monopoly

By Laxator2 • Score: 3 • Thread

At the moment too many players have the ability to track users with cookies.
Replacing cookies with Google-exclusive trackers will shut out competitors and command higher prices for the user data.
I wonder if there will be an antitrust probe initiated by the other trackers. It would be interesting to see the creeps fighting each other.

Re:Yes but....

By HumanEmulator • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

If chrome disables cookies, websites will be forced to work without them, which means that firefox users will reap all of the same benefits while simultaneously avoiding Google. As a firefox user, this seems win-win. Change my mind.

Google's replacement technology for website logins will almost certainly use a custom Google service (like AMP) which will track logins (thereby linking your non-Google web logins to Google accounts) or otherwise force small to medium sized websites to replace their login systems with OAuth-based social logins. To use any website that requires a login, you'll now have to login through a Google or Facebook account. They'll spend the next two years telling everyone how much "more secure" this is.

Re:Monopolistic advantages

By swillden • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

People who work at Google are ok with it, because they have Google stock options, Google RSUs, and participate in the Google employee stock purchase program. Implementing this causes Alphabet's stock to rise, and they all get paid.

No, not really. I work for Google, and my compensation has nothing to do with why I'm okay with most of what Google does (there are a few exceptions, not many).

The reason I'm okay with it is because I see behind the curtain. Take, for example the Google Takeout project that jittles belittled. I know some people who work on that team and they're extremely serious about making sure that when you request that something is deleted, it is absolutely, completely and irrevocably deleted. By and large, people at Google really are dedicated to doing the right thing, and most of the awful assumptions about Google's "real behavior" that float around are just that: assumptions, with no basis in fact.

Of course, most of my trust in Google is due to the current employees and the current culture. And I'm not quite as confident of either of those today as I was a few years ago. Google is slowly but surely turning into a typical American megacorp. It has a long, long, long way to go before it gets there. it's still the case that the vast majority of Google employees can do their jobs, day in and day out, focused entirely on figuring out how to do the most good for the users without ever once worrying about the bottom line. That's very different from most.

You'll notice, if you look, that the big employee uprisings have been over social issues, not Google's bread and butter business practices. That's because if you see how the bread and butter business practices work, there's very little to object to. Google collects a lot of data on people (but would rather not), but Google also does an outstanding job of protecting that data from leakage, from abuse by employees, from use in any other way than intended (mostly to target ads), and from government intrusion (of course, Google has to comply with proper court requests).

But I am concerned that Google's gradual change will eventually morph it into an organization that cannot be trusted with all of this data. I think that's all but inevitable, a sort of corporate law of entropy. I was very disheartened to see that Sergey Brin has stepped completely away. For years I viewed him as the company's highest-ranking conscience (at least on business practices). Because I fear that eventual future, I actually put a fair amount of effort into keeping user data away from Google.

In 2018, for example, I put a lot of time into designing cryptographic protocols to enable secure backups of Android devices, to ensure that Google can safely store and restore them, but can't decrypt them, even by brute force application of the company's massive computing power. In 2019 I spent most of my time working on how to store driver's licenses and other important identity credentials in Android devices, and the architecture not only keeps the data well-protected by security chips, but also explicitly does not ever let it touch a Google server. To make sure that my approach was good, and I wasn't missing anything, I consulted with representatives of the ACLU and EFF, and I told them that one of my main goals was to keep the data away from Google.

This is pretty typical. All designs have to be approved by a Privacy Working Group team, and the PWG people are not only rabidly-focused on their jobs, but they have huge clout. You know how in most companies if Legal says "You must do X this way", that's the final word? PWG teams are roughly that powerful in Google.

In part this is in response to public pressure, and the FCC consent decree, I think. But I think a lot of employees are doing what I am, trying to ensure that if/when in some future world Google does become evil, it can't do much harm.

Amazon Taps AI To Figure Out Why Customers Buy Seemingly Irrelevant Products

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Why do customers buy products seemingly irrelevant to their web and voice assistant searches? That's a good question -- and one a team of Amazon researchers sought to answer in a study scheduled to be presented at the upcoming ACM Web Search and Data Mining conference in February. From a report: In it, they say that their analyses -- which looked at purchases and "engagements," the latter defined as interactions like sending search results to cell phones and adding products to shopping carts -- suggests customers are partial to products that are broadly popular or cheaper than products relevant to a given search query. Additionally, they say people are much more likely to buy or engage with irrelevant products in a few categories -- such as toys and digital products -- than in categories like beauty products and groceries. "Product search algorithms, like the ones that help customers place orders through [our Alexa assistant], aim at returning the products that are most relevant to users' queries, where relevance is usually interpreted as 'anything that satisfies the users' need,' wrote Laine Lewin-Eytan, senior manager of applied research in the Alexa Shopping group, in a blog post. "A common way to estimate customers' satisfaction is to rely on the judgment of human annotators. (We annotate a very small fraction of 1% of interactions.)"

Meanwhile, back in the day

By Waffle Iron • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's a wonder that Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck ever got their mail order business off the ground, given that they had absolutely zero insight into what catalog pages their customers flipped to before ordering. They were flying blind!

They had no idea whether someone who ordered radon-infused water had actually opened the catalog looking for horse collars. That conundrum must given them many sleepless nights.

Because spying on people does not work.

By gurps_npc • Score: 3 • Thread

Yeah, when I search for "videos australian fires"

That does not mean I want to buy airfare, video cameras or fire extinguishers.

The best thing to give an 80s kid for christmas

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The Retail Store Christmas Flyer/Book.
This had about 50 pages of toys in it. Nearly all of it was stuff you would never have. But as a kid you would go threw it look at all the toys imagine playing with them, and having general more fun in your head then the toys would actually provide.

For adults who have to live on a budget many amazon searches does the same thing. We get to look at products, pass the time thinking on what we could use this product for, or what people would say if they saw it in a party, all of it pure fiction. And most of us adults, have the maturity to realize that so we don't buy it.
However after the shopping we will then go and get the stuff we were going to get anyways. Replacement Dog Bones, Replacement HDMI Cables, That toy for you kids birthday.

Re:Because their search sucks

By darkain • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

EXACTLY this. I've been highlighting some of these lately. For example, searching for a new UPS for my desktop, and getting granola bites near the top of the results set. While the granola bites may give *ME* energy, they wont do shit for giving my desktop energy!

Duh

By Areyoukiddingme • Score: 3 • Thread

Every generation forgets everything previously learned about retail and has to start over.

Some products are more fungible than others. Some random Shiny Slimy Atomic Shithead toy from China is interchangeable with every other Atomic Shithead when you're buying it for your nephew. You don't care what the kid gets, and the kid's 4 and doesn't care either. So yeah, anything vaguely toylike is going to get substituted in the toy section. Same for "digital products", which are exclusively entertainment products. (No, that self-help app is not there to help you—it's to entertain you.) Of course there's a lot of slop in those categories.

Groceries and cosmetics are the opposite. You only buy the Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese because that fucking 4 year old won't eat any other brand, let alone anything else. People have extremely strong food preferences, so grocery products are not fungible. Cosmetics are also very specific. There's only a very limited range of products that work with a particular skin tone and hair type and that's it. Once you find a product that works for you, you stick with it. Even a very small change in formulation may make the product either not work properly with the amount of oil in your skin or not work as well. Either way, it took you several years as a teen and young adult to find products that suit you and given the opportunity, you'll use the same ones for the next 50 years (even if maybe you shouldn't).

Basic economics. Some things are fungible. Others aren't as much. And of course what is considered fungible varies radically depending on economic status of the buyer. When you're starving, anything edible is good enough. The moment you're not, preferences kick in. None of this is even remotely mysterious.

Google To Phase Out User-Agent Strings in Chrome

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google has announced plans today to phase out the usage of user-agent strings in its web browser Chrome. From a report: UA strings have been developed part of the Netscape browser in the 90s, and have been in use ever since. For decades, websites have used UA strings to fine-tune features based on a visitor's technical specifications. But now, Google says that this once-useful mechanism has become a constant source of problems, on different fronts. For starters, UA strings have been used by online advertisers as a way to track and fingerprint website visitors. "On top of those privacy issues, User-Agent sniffing is an abundant source of compatibility issues, in particular for minority browsers, resulting in browsers lying about themselves (generally or to specific sites) , and sites (including Google properties) being broken in some browsers for no good reason," said Yoav Weiss, a Google engineer working on the Chrome browser.

To address these issues, Google said it plans to phase out the importance of UA strings in Chrome by freezing the standard as a whole. Google's plan is to stop updating Chrome's UA component with new strings (the UA string text that Chrome shares with websites). The long-term plan is to unify all Chrome UA strings into generic values that don't reveal too much information about a user. This means that new Chrome browser releases on new platforms such as new smartphone models or new OS releases will use a generic UA string, rather than one that's customised for that specific platform.

Google wants to own the Web

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
I see this as a power-play by Google to define the standards for everyone else whether they like it or not. Should there be one standard? Yes. Should one tech company be allowed to define (read as: 'own') it? Probably not.

Another Alternative

By JBMcB • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Google disables user agent strings, encourages web sites to assume everyone is using Chrome and default to a chrome-optimized site.

Actually read the article, and more

By kingbilly • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Everyone is harping on Google but after reading the article, then linked articles, then links - I wound up on a W3 standards draft that said UA should go the way of the dodo and to not rely on it. So why is everyone acting like Google thought this up by themselves? Safari already did this too.

Re:What can possibly go wrong with this?

By mark-t • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Of course, but that doesn't mean that the chrome users will not be switching browsers when chrome stops working for them.

The fact that it might be the website's fault is irrelevant.

Re:but how will they charge extra?

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Ah, I see. So by your logic it's probably also okay to have two products, identical on the inside, but one labeled 'for men' and one labeled 'for women', and charge women (or men) more for their otherwise identical products? How about one marketed to blacks and one marketed to whites, identical otherwise, but you charge the blacks (or whites) more for it? You still okay with this logic of yours? It's identical logic.

Apple Responds To AG Barr Over Unlocking Pensacola Shooter's Phone: 'No.'

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On Monday, Attorney General William Barr called on Apple to unlock the alleged phone of the Pensacola shooter -- a man who murdered three people and injured eight others on a Naval base in Florida in December. Apple has responded by essentially saying: "no." From a report: "We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation," the company said. "It was not until January 8th that we received a subpoena for information related to the second iPhone, which we responded to within hours," Apple added, countering Barr's characterization of the company being slow in its approach to the FBI's needs. However, it ends the statement in no uncertain terms: "We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys." Despite pressure from the government, Apple has long held that giving anyone the keys to users' data or a backdoor to their phones -- even in cases where terrorism or violence was involved -- would compromise every user. The company is clearly standing by those principles.

Re:AS long as they do the same in China

By angel'o'sphere • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Actually in this case the perpetrator is already dead. Obviously they don't want the data for any kind of a trial, but to see if he was in contact with anyone else who might also be a danger.
And that can be easily figured by his call history and IP connections. All data his ISP/phone company already has.
No damn need to put a backdoor into the phone or "crack" the phone.

Re:Bullshit. (you're delusional)

By gosand • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They didn't say no - they can't. They said "We have provided all we have, there is no back door". Apple isn't really standing on any principle here beyond maybe refusing to put in back doors for future incidents like this, but as they say this is common sense - a back door is a back door and hurts their business.

Now - if there is a back door and the government finds out about it, someone's going to Federal PMITA prison.

So Apple still sucks ass, as much as you nerds hate MS I hate Apple and that still stands.

The principle is HUGE. If they build back doors, then they could either theoretically be compelled to share them, or more likely they will be figured out. Then EVERY iPhone would be vulnerable. By refusing to even build them, they are standing fast on that very critical principle. It protects them, their brand, and their customers at the same time. If they did build a backdoor, there would be huge incentive for people to figure out how to break in.

I don't like Apple either, but I can't ignore they are doing the right thing here.

Re:Well...

By bkr1_2k • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This isn't about the ability to brute force a phone you already have physical access to, though (or any other cracking method). You can be damned sure this is about setting the ability to remotely access any phone they damn well please anywhere they damn well please.

This is way more important than just being able to pull data off the phone of a dead "bad guy".

Re: Well...

By UnderCoverPenguin • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

encrypt a copy of the key with their signing key

The signing key is the private key of a public/private key pair. The devices authenticate the signature using a copy of the public key. So, this idea won't work.

In theory, each device could have its own, Apple assigned private key, with Apple keeping the corresponding public keys, but this would make the devices less secure. A key derived from the user's password is more secure because the device only has that key in volatile memory only as long as it's needed. Currently, the only persistent key in the device's trusted computing module (TCM) is the private key for Apple's signing key, which is not the high value target the signing key is. If Apple starts storing persistent, device specific signing keys in the devices' TCMs, it will only be a matter of time before someone figures out how to extract that key. Once that happens, all iOS/iPadOS devices will be vulnerable.

Re:Well...

By hamburger lady • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

so i read the necronomicon like you asked. and now there's a shoggoth in my living room. thanks a lot, jerk.

The Military Is Building Long-Range Facial Recognition That Works in the Dark

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: The U.S. military is spending more than $4.5 million to develop facial recognition technology that reads the pattern of heat being emitted by faces in order to identify specific people. The technology would work in the dark and across long distances, according to contracts posted on a federal spending database. Facial recognition is already employed by the military, which uses the technology to identify individuals on the battlefield. But existing facial recognition technology typically relies on images generated by standard cameras, such as those found in iPhone or CCTV networks.

Now, the military wants to develop a facial recognition system that analyzes infrared images to identify individuals. The Army Research Lab has previously publicized research in this area, but these contracts, which started at the end of September 2019 and run until 2021, indicate the technology is now being actively developed for use in the field. "Sensors should be demonstrable in environments such as targets seen through automotive windshield glass, targets that are backlit, and targets that are obscured due to light weather (e.g., fog)," the Department of Defense indicated when requesting proposals.

Define

By kenh • Score: 3 • Thread

Long range:

The device should be able to operate from a distance of 10 to 500 meters and match individuals against a watchlist.

So they want a sensor that can work through a car windshield and detect subtle heat differences over 500 meters in sufficient detail to identify certain individuals?

Seems unlikely.

Training dataset

By PPH • Score: 3 • Thread

Where will they get the biometric data necessary to make identifications? There exists plenty of visible light image sources for standard facial recognition. But it's my understanding that the IR signature of one's face differs enough from the visible to make a conversion difficult.

IR facial recognition is in use today for high security facilities. For one thing, it makes holding a picture of a subject's face in front of a camera useless. But that depends on each individual's IR facial photograph being captured. Not a problem when you are sitting for a badge photograph. I suspect that the fancy camera with multiple lenses was doing exactly this when I had my photo taken.

Pointless

By Ignatius • Score: 3 • Thread

Assuming that the scheme is even workable, which I doubt, it would be trivial to camouflage or disguise against it. It would just lead to more men wearing makeup.

Infrared

By nospam007 • Score: 3 • Thread

"Sensors should be demonstrable in environments such as targets seen through automotive windshield glass,"

If the driver has the heat full up to the windshield, the glass should be much warmer than his face, I'm not sure it would work then.

US Patents Hit Record 333,530 Granted in 2019; IBM, Samsung (Not the FAANGs) Lead the Pack

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
IFI Claims, a company that tracks patent activity in the US, reports that 2019 saw a new high-watermark of 333,530 patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office. From a report: The figures are notable for a few reasons. One is that this is the most patents ever granted in a single year; and the second that this represents a 15% jump on a year before. The high overall number speaks to the enduring interest in safeguarding IP, while the 15% jump has to do with the fact that patent numbers actually dipped last year (down 3.5%) while the number that were filed and still in application form (not granted) was bigger than ever. If we can draw something from that, it might be that filers and the USPTO were both taking a little more time to file and process, not a reduction in the use of patents altogether. But patents do not tell the whole story in another very important regard. Namely, the world's most valuable, and most high profile tech companies are not always the ones that rank the highest in patents filed. [...] As with previous years -- the last 27, to be exact -- IBM has continued to hold on to the top spot for patents granted, with 9,262 in total for the year. Samsung Electronics, at 6,469, is a distant second.

Intellectual Property...

By SirAstral • Score: 3 • Thread

or really "Imaginary" property should be almost entirely abolished.

Patents need to be difficult to get. It is too easy for 2 different people to come up with the same idea done different ways and right now the system is too easy to game for those with stacks of cash.

Additionally, it should be illegal for a business to own a patent... period. We should only allow people to own patents period. It can be any number of people but it must be people and "non-transferable". No patent should ever be sold. Just rights to access and use the patent licensed for whatever the inventor wants.

That would totally fuck up our current model for the better. People and their ideas would become valuable again and businesses would no longer have that particular leverage to fuck the people over hard any longer. They already have more than enough leverage to fuck people over in other areas.

Boeing Employees Mocked Lion Air Staff For Seeking 737 Max Training, Calling Them 'Idiots.' A Year Later 189 People Died When One of Their Jets Crashed

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Indonesia's Lion Air considered putting its pilots through simulator training before flying the Boeing 737 Max but abandoned the idea after the planemaker convinced them in 2017 it was unnecessary, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter and internal company communications. From the report: The next year, 189 people died when a Lion Air 737 Max plunged into the Java Sea, a disaster blamed in part on inadequate training and the crew's unfamiliarity with a new flight-control feature on the Max that malfunctioned. Boeing employees had expressed alarm among themselves over the possibility that one of the company's largest customers might require its pilots to undergo costly simulator training before flying the new 737 model, according to internal messages that have been released to the media. Those messages, included in the more than 100 pages of internal Boeing communications that the company provided to lawmakers and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and released widely on Thursday, had Lion Air's name redacted.

Email

By ledow • Score: 3 • Thread

I don't know about you guys but the one guaranteed way to create merry hell is by putting something in an email that the company don't want a record of.

It's the one way that things turn from "Oh, you don't need to worry about that" to "We have recorded your concern and are going to do the following to act upon it."

Of course, they hate you for that, but equally they can't sack you easily, for just expressing such a concern officially, when they KNOW that they have to respond to it and you're in the right to mention it. That's prima facie evidence of constructive dismissal if they do.

Are companies really that stupid that, in email, they are not recording official responses to concerns and people are just dropping that paper trail midway without doing anything about it?

Re:Then 2 million people go to jail?

By hackingbear • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Okay, so you round up the 2 million people who have Boeing in their 401k and bring them into court. What next?

Some countries already have that sorted out. In China, for example, every company has a role called the Legal Representative. This role is usually served by the CEO/General Manager/Chairman, but can be a different designated person. This person will sign all contracts on behalf of the company and go to jail if the company commit a crime. For example, the General Manager of the company in the milk powder scandal was sentenced to life.

Re:Then 2 million people go to jail?

By raymorris • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Well the way it currently works, and has since ancient Rome as far as I know, is this:

You put $1,000 of your saving into Boeing (and $1K each into many other companies).

If Boeing does well, you stand to gain $100.

If Boeing does very bad, you stand to lose your $1,000.

So in any given year your maximum penalty is about 10 times as much as the gain you'd expect if they do well.

That's the system we have now, as opposed to putting most US adults in prison because somebody they don't know did something bad.

Re:Corporations are people?

By mobby_6kl • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I don't think your anecdotes do much in the face of data (Not to mention Enron was 20 years ago):

Federal white-collar prosecutions have declined by nearly 50 percent since the peak years of President Barak Obamaâ(TM)s administration, according to figures compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

In the first 11 months of FY 2019,the government launched 4,973 prosecutionsâ"most of them cases of fraud by wire, radio or televisionâ"a drop of 8.5 percent since the previous year.

Compared to eight years ago, the 2019 figures so far represented a drop of 46.6 percent, TRAC said.

https://thecrimereport.org/201...

Five thousand cases, most of them probably minor bullshit, is nothing in a country this big.

Re:hindsight is 2020

By Mal-2 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Damnit if we can't edit comments I wish we could at least delete them within a certain window.

That's what "Preview" is for. The system was set up to prevent people from saying something popular, getting voted up, and then changing it to something unpopular, defamatory, or just wrong. Replies always are to the exact text you see, and you can be sure it hasn't been ninja edited.

Cryptic Rumblings Ahead of First 2020 Patch Tuesday

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Brian Krebs: Sources tell KrebsOnSecurity that Microsoft is slated to release a software update on Tuesday to fix an extraordinarily serious security vulnerability in a core cryptographic component present in all versions of Windows. Those sources say Microsoft has quietly shipped a patch for the bug to branches of the U.S. military and to other high-value customers/targets that manage key Internet infrastructure, and that those organizations have been asked to sign agreements preventing them from disclosing details of the flaw prior to Jan. 14, the first Patch Tuesday of 2020. According to sources, the vulnerability in question resides in a Windows component known as crypt32.dll, a Windows module that Microsoft says handles "certificate and cryptographic messaging functions in the CryptoAPI." The Microsoft CryptoAPI provides services that enable developers to secure Windows-based applications using cryptography, and includes functionality for encrypting and decrypting data using digital certificates. NSA said on Tuesday that it spotted the vulnerability and reported it to Microsoft. NSA said Microsoft will report later today that it has seen no active exploitation of this vulnerability. NSA's Director of Cybersecurity, Anne Neuberger, says the critical cryptographic vulnerability resides in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, and that the concern about this particular flaw is that it "makes trust vulnerable."

NSAKEY

By Arthur, KBE • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Must have finally expired.

Responsible disclosure

By Martin S. • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

When sufficient developed responsible disclosure is indistinguishable from either black or foil hattery.

Re:NSAKEY

By arglebargle_xiv • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
They've upgraded the ROT13 cipher to double ROT13 for extra security.

Win7

By malx • Score: 3 • Thread

Is Win7 getting this patch?

If not, an âoeextraordinarily seriousâ crypto hole being the first item to hit as soon as Win7 goes EOL would really set the tin foil hats going.

Re:Win7

By rsmith-mac • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Yes, Windows 7 would get this patch. Today is the final regular patch release for that OS; so anything getting fixed today in Windows will include Win7.

Elon Musk Shows How Teslas Will Talk To Pedestrians

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: In a tweet, the Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company's vehicles will soon be able to talk to pedestrians if you choose, and he showed off a clip of the unnamed feature in action. The Model 3 passing by tells the cameraman, "Well, don't just stand there staring, hop in."

Musk didn't dish out more information on the function, but the speakers used are likely the same ones added to meet new regulations for electric cars and plug-in hybrids this year. Teslas, and all other EVs, will need to make an alert tone under 18.6 mph starting this year. What also isn't clear is how the car will actually talk. Clearly, the clip above is a prerecorded message. If drivers will actually be able to speak to pedestrians remains unknown, or perhaps Tesla will offer a library of messages. Tesla told Roadshow Musk's tweet "is the extent of what we're sharing right now, though the CEO did say Teslas will also be able to "fart in [pedestrians'] general direction."

Re:Old news..

By bobbied • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Presumably this speech tech is just for the robotaxi service or something.

I believe that part of the reasons for this is to alert the blind pedestrians who might not hear an electric car that's going slow enough. The ability to hail riders as you approach is just a novel way to use the same hardware.

Re:Simple message

By bobbied • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Hey fuckwad! Get your head out of your phone and look where you're walking!"

That should get people's attention.

Sure, unless they are BLIND... Then you just insulted them because they don't have their head in their phone and cannot see where they are walking.

Unreal voices returns

By fluffythedestroyer • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
If I hit someone under 18mph like they say, can I make it yell "Boom, headshot", or "mmmm multilkill". or the golf version " FORE" ? lol

Re:Stealth Vehicles

By DogDude • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Same situation here. I just blow past them closely (I'm in the woods... there's usually not anywhere else to do), and scare the shit out of them. If they're going to be oblivious to their surroundings, that's not my problem. They should be lucky that I'm not a murderer/rapist.

I can't imagine being so out of touch with the world around you that you've got shit pumping in to your ears when you're in the woods. Of all the places to turn off the garbage coming from your phone, I would think it would be in the woods.

Re:WIll pay extra for ...

By sinij • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
There is a difference between riding on the street and in the middle of the street. My commute is not your work-out gym.

App Tracking Alert In iOS 13 Has Dramatically Cut Location Data Flow To Ad Industry

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple's initiatives to minimize tracking by marketers is continuing to make life harder for the advertising industry, forcing advertisers to use inefficient data sources to pinpoint users. AppleInsider reports: Over the years, Apple has enhanced how it protects the privacy of its users online, typically by limiting what data can be seen by advertisers tracking different data points. Initiatives such as Intelligent Tracking Protection in Safari has helped secure more privacy by making it harder to track individual users, which advertising executives in December admitted has been "stunningly effective." While ITP and other improvements have helped to minimize the tracking of users, marketers are also being affected by another element of iOS 13, one where users are regularly notified of apps that are capturing their location in the background. The warning gives options for users to allow an app to continue to track all the time or to do so when it is open, with users often selecting the latter.

According to data from verification firm Location Sciences seen by DigiDay, approximately seven in ten iPhone users tracked by the company downloaded iOS 13 in its first six weeks of availability. Of those tracked users who installed the update, around 80% of them stopped all background tracking by apps. Ad tracking company Teemo suggests the opt-in rates to share data with apps when not in use are often below 50%, whereas three years ago, the same rates were close to 100%. The higher rates were due to it being a time when users were largely unaware there were options to disable tracking in the first place.

Re:Ad and tracking company, take heed

By Joce640k • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Wait. We aren't shitting on Apple for this? Seems par for the course for anything mentioning Apple in these parts.

OK, let's see: "Apple is just making the data more valuable (for themselves) by causing artificial scarcity"

How's that?

It's pretty bad

By Dan East • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I made a similar comment several months ago, but it's worth repeating for this story. I have the Redbox app installed on my iPhone - I use it to locate and reserve movies at the Redboxes in my town. Sometimes I would get a notification from the app, letting me know about some discount code or special, or the release of a new movie. After a few of these notifications, spread out over the course of a week or two, I started to notice something. When I was driving in a shopping plaza headed to the store, I would get one of those notifications from Redbox, at about the same exact location each time. I would get these notifications when I was approaching a Redbox and I was within about 100 yards of it.

On a hunch I opened up my location privacy settings, and lo and behold, Redbox had access to my location all the time, even when the app wasn't in use. Normally I restrict location services to apps that actually have a legitimate use for the (like the Redbox map / locator function) but only when the app is running.

So this little bastard had been reporting my location ALL THE TIME, everywhere I went, at high precision, to whoever manages Redbox's systems, just so it could pop up a notification "ad" when I got physically close to one of their kiosks.

This kind of thing right here is not cool. The costs to our privacy and other potential abuses are not worth optimizing advertising by 0.02% or some similar trivial BS. They are doing these things just because they can, whether or not it is even effective or worthwhile, because it can be done relatively cheaply. More than likely Redbox is sharing this data with someone (Google, Mapbox, etc) who happily uses this data for traffic analysis and other things, and who knows what other 3rd parties, and that is probably a more effective source of income than the targeted advertising itself.

I understand there are legitimate uses for background location services - there are a lot of them. But popping up a notification ad when I'm physically close to something is absolutely not one of them. Anyway, I applaud the control Apple is giving us over our data. The ability to limit location services to only when the app is in use, or all the time, is a win-win for consumers, as we get the make the decision ourselves on a per-app basis.

Re:Boo fucking hoo.

By Dixie_Flatline • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Apple does care about your privacy. I have no doubt that it is primarily a mercenary thing, but to be honest, the motivation is largely irrelevant. If you can't tell if I'm a fluent English speaker or just extremely good at faking it, it basically means I'm fluent in English. Whether Tim Apple really believes in privacy as a human right (which he might, as a gay man in a world where some countries still kill LGBTQ people) or he just thinks it's a good look, as long as they act consistently in protection of our privacy, it's a distinction without a difference.

Re:backfire

By Dan East • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

why would you keep your app on the iOS platform if you no longer can get any money from it

Because what is the alternative? iOS is the winner in mobile devices hands down, at least in the US and on non-low-budget devices. I develop a free weather / news / community information app that serves certain specific regions in the US. I have (at significant expense to myself) both iOS and Android versions that are as identical as they can be - as far as feature set, quality, and appearance. Again, this app is free with only very minor banner type advertising. For a couple years now, the iOS version has more than double the install base as the Android version. I have bent over backwards looking into this, making sure the Android version was not buggy, making sure it was compatible with the plethora of most used devices, etc. I push people directly to my app in specific geographic areas - this is not something people just find on the app stores or something. So it is a very targeted geographic base agnostic of the device type.
  That is simply the state of the market. Even though Android is at slightly more than 50% of the market share in the US, you have to consider the vast number of budget / prepay / cheap phones that is included in the Android numbers, and I presume people with these "throw away" devices are using them for other things (just basic communication?), and Android sees far more "churn" of people switching devices more often than with iOS.

I also have a game on the market, which we sold for 99 cents (back when there was the free demo version and then paid version type set up before in-app purchases became the rage). Again, the game was 100% identical on the two platforms. The numbers here, for an app you had to pay for, were far, far worse. Around 90% of our sales were for iOS, and the remaining 10% we earned from Android was really not even worth supporting it at all.

So anyway, in response to your statement, unless the developer can force the customers into using the platform of choice (IE schools are buying your software AND the hardware together type situation, and thus you can specify the hardware and OS), any developer who wants a legit app will absolutely be targeting iOS first and foremost.

Stopped clock, twice a day, etc.

By twocows • Score: 3 • Thread
I can't stand Apple. I'm glad they get privacy right, that's a good thing especially given their (thankfully fading) position as a trendsetter, but it doesn't really make up for all the other malicious and user-hostile crap they pull (and that other companies copy). And as far as I'm concerned, LineageOS does privacy just fine.

Scientists Use Stems Cells From Frogs To Build First Living Robots

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Cy Guy writes: Having not learned the lessons of Jurassic Park and the Terminator, scientists from the University of Vermont and Tufts have created "reconfigurable organisms" using stem cells from frogs. But don't worry, the research was funded by the Department of Defense, so I'm sure nothing could possibly go wrong this time. "The robots, which are less than 1mm long, are designed by an 'evolutionary algorithm' that runs on a supercomputer," reports The Guardian. "The program starts by generating random 3D configurations of 500 to 1,000 skin and heart cells. Each design is then tested in a virtual environment, to see, for example, how far it moves when the heart cells are set beating. The best performers are used to spawn more designs, which themselves are then put through their paces."

"Because heart cells spontaneously contract and relax, they behave like miniature engines that drive the robots along until their energy reserves run out," the report adds. "The cells have enough fuel inside them for the robots to survive for a week to 10 days before keeling over."

The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Be careful

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I hear these robots sometimes can get hopping mad.

If you kiss one of the robots

By jfdavis668 • Score: 3 • Thread
Does it turn into a robot prince?