By BeauHD from Slashdot's cat-cognition department
sciencehabit writes: Scientists have been studying the social intelligence of dogs -- how they evolved to communicate and bond with us -- for more than two decades, but they've largely ignored cats. That has started to change. In the past five years, a number of laboratories exploring feline social cognition have popped up around the globe, revealing that cats rival dogs in many tests of social smarts. But cats are hard to work with -- they freak out in the laboratory and often don't cooperate even when researchers study them in their homes -- causing some to wonder whether studies of the feline mind will take off the same way they have for dogs. Oregon State University devised an "attachment test" where an owner and his/her cat will go into a room for a moment, and then the owner will leave. The cat will typically tend to freak out, meow a lot, and walk around in circles until the owner comes back. When the owner comes back and sits down on the ground, often the cat will come back to the owner.
What's particularly interesting about this study is that the cat, after welcoming its owner and recognizing their presence, will then leave and start exploring the room. While the average person would assume that the cat doesn't care about their owner since they appear to just want to explore, it's the opposite that's true. The cat has such a close bond with their owner that they feel they're able to go explore now that their owner is there with them.
They also do a similar test with a fan that has streamers attached to it. With the fan on making loud noise and freaking out the cat, the owner is instructed to "make nice" with the fan. After making sweet talk and touching the fan, some cats will start to calm down, approach the fan, and even lay down in front of it. The cats appear to pick up the emotional cues from their owners and learn that the fan is not something that they should be afraid of.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rogue-attacks department
itwbennett writes: At the Hack in the Box conference in Amsterdam this week, researchers Peter Bosch and Trammell Hudson presented a new attack against the Boot Guard feature of Intel's reference UEFI implementation, known as Tianocore. The attack, which can give an attacker full, persistent access, involves replacing a PC's SPI flash chip with one that contains rogue code, reports Lucian Constantin for CSO. "Even though such physical attacks require a targeted approach and will never be a widespread threat, they can pose a serious risk to businesses and users who have access to valuable information," writes Constantin. Intel has patches available for Tianocore, but as we all remember from the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, distributing UEFI patches isn't an easy process.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's watch-out-Hyperloop department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: This week, Japanese railway company JR East showed off its new Alfa-X, a high-speed bullet train that is designed to achieve a top speed of 400kph, or 249mph, which would make it the fastest commercial train in the world. In day-to-day operations, the train would shuttle passengers at 360kph, or roughly 224mph. On Friday, JR East will begin testing the Alfa-X, without passengers, on its railways. According to Bloomberg, the 10-car train will make the trip "between the cities of Aomori and Sendai at night" for the next three years during a testing phase. JR East hopes to use the Alfa-X commercially by 2030. Japan News says the line will eventually be extended to Sapporo. Bloomberg's report notes that there's a magnetically-levitated train in the works that may win the top-speed crown. It's been built between Tokyo and Nagoya and takes advantage of a tunnel-heavy route to achieve a top speed of 505kph (314mph). If all things go according to plan, it'll open in 2027.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's party-pooper department
The CEO of Party City cited a global helium shortage as he announced on Thursday that the retail chain will close 45 of its 870 stores this year. The shortage has been hitting party supply stores particularly hard for months, CNBC reported last month. Miami Herald reports: Party City CEO James Harrison said in February that the company was already missing its revenue "in large part due to helium supply pressures," according to CNBC, which reports that the company has experimented with "decorative air-filled balloons -- in lieu of the real thing. The company didn't say which stores will close this year.
"The problem is, helium is being used up faster than it can be produced these days," Anders Bylund, an analyst at Motley Fool, said in an investing note. "Helium shortages fluctuate over time and across geographical markets, but anywhere between 50 and 200 of Party City's 850 stores don't have any helium in their tanks at any given time." Bylund added: "Helium may be the second most plentiful element in the universe, but it's also one of the lightest and doesn't form molecules easily with heavier atoms. Hence, the helium we use ends up floating into space, never to be seen again. There is no economically efficient way to manufacture the gas, so the bulk of the worldwide helium supply is a byproduct of natural gas extraction."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's seamless-transitions department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: At the I/O 2019 developer conference earlier this week, Google launched a new technology called Portals that aims to provide a new way of loading and navigating through web pages. According to Google, Portals will work with the help of a new HTML tag named . This tag works similarly to classic tags, allowing web developers to embed remote content in their pages. Google says portals allow users to navigate inside the content they are embedding --something that iframes do not allow for security reasons. Furthermore, portals can also overwrite the main URL address bar, meaning they are useful as a navigation system, and more than embedding content -- the most common way in which iframes are used today.
For example, engineers hope that when a user is navigating a news site, when they reach the bottom of a story, related links for other stories are embedded as portals, which the user can click and seamlessly transition to a new page. The advantage over using Portals over classic links is that the content inside portals can be pre-loaded while the user scrolls through a page, and be ready to expand into a new page without having the user wait for it to load. In a demo, you can see that Portals allow users to watch/listen to embedded content and then transition seamlessly to its origin page, where they could leave comments or open other media.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
The loss of the U.K.'s financial power and expertise as a result of Brexit is likely to exacerbate the European Union's lag in the global technological arms race, according to Anders Borg, a former Swedish finance minister and senior adviser at artificial intelligence company Ipsoft. From a report: "Brexit entails several layers of problems," Borg said in an interview in Stockholm. "Technological development is being driven by the financial sector and, to a large extent, Europe's financial sector is London. So it's not the British financial system that is now being put on hold, it's Europe's." Britain is home to a third of artificial-intelligence startups in Europe, according to a report by MMC Ventures in association with Barclays, which dubs the country "the powerhouse" of European AI. Europe is already slipping behind China and the U.S., which invest much more in AI systems, Borg said. Another key issue involves 5G, which provides the additional bandwidth needed to carry the vast amounts of data necessary for AI development. The networks will form the "backbone" of the new digital economy, Borg said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-the-good-fight department
An anonymous reader writes: In 1989, just a few months after the web became a reality, a computer worm infected thousands of computers across the world, including those of NASA. Late last month -- 30 years after the "WANK worm" struck NASA -- the agency released an internal report that the agency wrote at the time, thanks to a journalist and a security researcher who have embarked on a project to use the Freedom of Information Act to get documents on historical hacking incidents. The project is called "Hacking History," and the people behind it are freelance journalists Emma Best, and security researcher (and former NSA hacker) Emily Crose. The two are crowdfunding to raise money to cover the costs of the FOIA requests via the document requesting platform MuckRock.
In the last few years, hackers and the cybersecurity industry have gone mainstream, earning headlines in major newspapers, becoming key plotlines in Hollywood movies, and even getting a hit TV show. But it hasn't always been this way. For decades, infosec and hacking was a niche industry that got very little news coverage and very little public attention. As a result, the ancient and not so ancient history of hacking has a lot of holes. Now, the two women are trying to fill in those gaps in hacker history, like missing pieces of a puzzle, sending FOIA requests to several US government agencies, including the FBI.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's perspective department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited an Apple Store in Orlando, Florida to meet with 16-year-old Liam Rosenfeld, one of 350 scholarship winners who will be attending Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference next month. Echoing comments he shared with the Orlando Sentinel, Cook told TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino that it is "pretty impressive" what Rosenfeld is accomplishing with code at such a young age, serving as a perfect example of why he believes coding education should begin in the early grades of school. "I don't think a four year degree is necessary to be proficient at coding," says Cook. "I think that's an old, traditional view. What we found out is that if we can get coding in in the early grades and have a progression of difficulty over the tenure of somebody's high school years, by the time you graduate kids like Liam, as an example of this, they're already writing apps that could be put on the App Store."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Ivan Mehta, writing for The Next Web: Last year, Netflix reportedly published a whopping 1,500 hours of original content. And with the launch of streaming services from Apple and Disney, the on-demand video market is getting very competitive. Media houses and companies are already looking towards the next solution for producing content to keep up with the trend: AI avatars. Here's one sample: Last year in November, Chinese state-run media company Xinhua debuted an AI anchor that looked exactly like its real-life counterpart Zhang Zhao. The company said that the avatar speaks both in Mandarin and English. Xinhua said at that time that AI anchors are now officially a part of their team; aiming to provide "authoritative, timely and accurate news" round the clock, through its apps and social channels like WeChat. A report from Tencent news published in February stated that the first batch of AI Anchors has produced more than 3,400 news reports, with a cumulative time of more than 10,000 minutes. It even debuted a female AI anchor named Xin Xiaomeng in February. These numbers indicate that at this rate, AI anchors can outwork their human counterparts very soon.Read Replies (0)