By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today, highlighting the key findings from a new study published in the journal Nature: Thanks to global warming, our planet's glaciers continue to melt away, losing up to 390 billion tons of ice and snow per year, a new study suggests. The largest losses were glaciers in Alaska, followed by the melting ice fields in southern South America and glaciers in the Arctic. Glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges by the end of the century, including those in the U.S. The world's seas have risen about an inch in the past 50 years just due to glacier melt alone, according to the study. Since 1961, the world has lost 10.6 trillion tons of ice and snow, the study reported. Melted, that's enough to cover the lower 48 U.S. states in about 4 feet of water.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-have-nothing-to-fear department
Video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu don't appear to be negatively impacting the box office like many would assume. Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush, expects the U.S. box office will grow about 1% to $12 billion this year, setting another record.
"Our takeaway is that Netflix and the expansion of [streaming video on demand] platforms will have minimal impact on box office given the vast supply of content, plenty of which is ideal for theatrical release (and most talent fiercely and contractually objects to a straight-to-streaming release)," Pachter wrote in a research note Monday. CNBC reports: Last year, the domestic box office had a record-breaking year, hauling in $11.9 billion, there was a 5% rise in the number of movie tickets sold, and 263 million people -- 75 percent of the population -- saw at least one movie in theaters. "Everyone has a kitchen, but everyone still goes out to eat," Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said, quoting Sterling Bagby, the late co-founder of B&B Theatres, during a "State of the Industry" panel last week.
Rivkin said that with each new innovation in the entertainment industry, there has been worry that it will kill the movie industry. Talking pictures, technicolor movies, television, basic cable and smartphones were all seen as disruptors. "And yet we're still here," Rivkin said. "The theatrical and home entertainment sectors both grew strongly in 2018, and that's great news, because we are all part of the growth together," he said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
dryriver shares a report from the BBC: In the 1960s it took five hours to fly from New York to Los Angeles, and just 45 minutes to hop from New York to Washington, DC. Today, these same flights now take six-plus hours and 75 minutes respectively, although the airports haven't moved further apart. It's called "schedule creep," or padding. And it's a secret the airlines don't want you to know about, especially given the spillover effects for the environment. Padding is the extra time airlines allow themselves to fly from A to B. Because these flights were consistently late, airlines have now baked delays experienced for decades into their schedules instead of improving operations.
"On average, over 30% of all flights arrive more than 15 minutes late every day despite padding," says Captain Michael Baiada, president of aviation consultancy ATH Group citing the U.S. Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report. The figure used to be 40% but padding -- not operational improvements -- boosted on-time arrival rates. 'By padding, airlines are gaming the system to fool you." He says if instead airlines tackled operational issues, customers would directly benefit. "Padding drives higher costs in fuel burn, noise and CO2 which means if airline efficiency goes up, costs go down, benefitting both the environment and fares."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's threats-in-disguise department
The surveillance tool dubbed "Exodus" has been ported to the Apple iOS ecosystem. According to Threatpost, the spyware "can exfiltrate contacts, take audio recordings and photos, track location data and more on mobile devices." From the report: Earlier this month, word came that Google had booted a raft of Exodus-laden apps. According to Lookout Security, it turns out that iOS versions had become available outside the App Store, through phishing sites that imitate Italian and Turkmenistani mobile carriers. These are notable in that they abused the Apple Developer Enterprise program. According to Lookout and other research from Security Without Borders, the spyware appears to have been under development for at least five years. It's a three-stage affair, starting with a lightweight dropper that then fetches a large second-stage payload that contains multiple binaries with most of the spy goods housed within them. Finally, a third stage typically uses the Dirty COW exploit (CVE20165195) to obtain root privileges on a targeted device. In delving into the technical details, Lookout saw evidence of a fairly sophisticated operation, suggesting that it may have been initially marketed as a legitimate package for the government or law-enforcement sectors.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's lowest-cost-approach department
MDMurphy writes: While people have good and bad things to say about Tesla, one consistent thing has been that the cars emit zero emissions when operating. But in Europe, in exchange for cash, Tesla is merging its fleet with that of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The amount FCA is paying Tesla is presumably less than they would in fines if they were on their own. With this merging of the fleets, in Europe at least, a Tesla is no more clean than a diesel Fiat. "The Italian-American carmaker is behind on meeting the new standard, and the so-called open pool option available at the EU allows automakers to group their fleets together to meet the targets," reports Bloomberg. "Payments to Tesla, whose electric cars don't produce CO2 emissions, may amount to over 500 million euros, according to Jefferies." Ars Technica reports on the strict new EU regulations: "From 2020, 95 percent of an automaker's new cars sold in the EU have to meet this target, with the remaining 5 percent falling under the law in 2021. And the penalties for failing are draconian: a $107 'excess emissions premium' per gram of CO2 over the target, for every single car registered in the EU that year. For some OEMs, this has the potential to be ruinous; if FCA's portfolio were the same in 2021 as it was in 2018, the automaker would have to pay some $3.12 billion, out of total net global profits of $4.1 billion."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mysteriously-missing department
A total of 14 HTC apps have been removed from the Play Store in the last three months. "Looking at the latest HTC Corporation activity in App Brain, we can see that the Sense Home launcher and contacts app People were unpublished just this month," reports Android Police. "12 more apps, including Calendar, Dot View, and Speak suffered a similar fate in February, while the Mail app that went and then returned is once again conspicuous by its absence." From the report: A few of the unpublished apps hadn't been updated in months, so it's likely they simply weren't being used or supported any longer and therefore had no reason to still be on the Play Store. However, apps like Mail, Contacts, and People are supposedly key alternative apps that come preinstalled on HTC devices, so it's a little strange to see those removed.
It's not clear exactly why this is happening, but there are a few possible reasons. HTC's smartphone business hasn't been doing all that well in recent years, and supporting a bunch of apps that few people are using doesn't make much sense. That said, there are still plenty more apps from the Taiwanese company still live on the Play Store. Perhaps the new phones HTC plans to launch in 2019 will ship with Android One, thus eliminating the need for its own stock apps altogether.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's April-fools department
A Samsung Galaxy S10 user has managed to fool the in-display fingerprint reader on his smartphone using a 3D print of his fingerprint. The Verge reports: In a post on Imgur, user darkshark outlined his project: he took a picture of his fingerprint on a wineglass, processed it in Photoshop, and made a model using 3ds Max that allowed him to extrude the lines in the picture into a 3D version. After a 13-minute print (and three attempts with some tweaks), he was able to print out a version of his fingerprint that fooled the phone's sensor.
The Galaxy S10's fingerprint sensor doesn't rely on a capacitive fingerprint scanner that's been used in other versions of the phone, using instead an ultrasonic sensor that's apparently more difficult to spoof. darkshark points out that it didn't take much to spoof his own fingerprint. A concern, he notes, is that payment and banking apps are increasingly using the authentication from a fingerprint sensor to unlock, and all he needed to get into his phone was a photograph, some software, and access to a 3D printer. "I can do this entire process in less than 3 minutes and remotely start the 3d print so that it's done by the time I get to it," he writes.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
There has been an uptick in reports of video doorbells getting stolen, according to local news reports. A story adds: According to the reports, residents are waking up in the morning or coming home at night only to find their video doorbell devices stolen. Typically the devices are screwed into place on the outside of a house, often with mounts or braces to hold them in place. While they are wired into the wall, thieves don't seem to care too much about that. In most cases, residents appear to report the devices have been pried off the side of their home. In some cases, the cameras are able to capture an image of the perpetrator as they are stealing the device. Those images are usually available through mobile apps connected to the doorbell, which might help police track down the person responsible for the theft. However, there's no guarantee that officers will be able to find the thieves, especially if they steal the device while keeping their face and other identifying features covered while on camera. Police are suggesting that people keep track of the serial number on their devices in order to keep track of them and watch in case the devices appear on Craigslist, eBay, or other online marketplaces.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
C++ has knocked machine-learning favorite Python out of the top 3 in the TIOBE Index of popular programming languages. From a report: It marks a reversal of fortune for C++, which, after years of occupying third place in the index, was pushed down to fourth place by Python in September last year. First and second place in the list remain unchanged, with Java in pole position and C at number two. The TIOBE Index attempts to estimate the popularity of languages worldwide based on results from major search engines. The index is sometimes criticized for being a rather blunt measure, likely to be influenced by a range of factors beyond a language's popularity, but its rankings are broadly in line with others, with a similar mix of languages albeit arranged in a different order.
In an analysis alongside the latest figures, TIOBE attributes the comeback of C++ to a surge in its popularity, rather than a fall in the use of Python. "This is certainly not because Python is in decline: Python is scoring all time highs almost every month. It is just that C++ is also getting more and more popular," it writes. The report credits this growing interest in C++ to C++11, the version of the language released in 2011 that TIOBE said made C++ "much simpler, safer and more expressive."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Working remotely can be really tough. To get some insight into how to do it better, Google conducted a two-year study involving data from 5,600 employees across the U.S., Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. From a report: Approximately 30% of the company's meetings involve staff in more than two time zones, and 39% involve more than two cities. Veronica Gilrane, manager of Google's People Innovation Lab, oversaw the study and has written a guide for how to make the most of distributed teams. Last week, she released a report of her findings. On the outset of the study, the team hypothesized that distributed teams might not be as productive as their centrally located counterparts. "We were a little nervous about that," says Gilrane. She was surprised to find that distributed teams performed just as well. Unfortunately, she also found that there is a lot more frustration involved in working remotely. Workers in other offices can sometimes feel burdened to sync up their schedules with the main office. They can also feel disconnected from the team. Gilrane says there are three key tricks to optimizing a remote workforce.
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By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department
The European Commission has launched a pilot project intended to test draft ethical rules for developing and applying AI technologies to ensure they can be implemented in practice. It's also aiming to garner feedback and encourage international consensus building for what it dubs "human-centric AI" -- targeting among other talking shops the forthcoming G7 and G20 meetings for increasing discussion on the topic. From a report: The Commission's High Level Group on AI -- a body comprised of 52 experts from across industry, academia and civic society announced last summer -- published their draft ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI in December. A revised version of the document was submitted to the Commission in March. It's boiled the expert consultancy down to a set of seven "key requirements" for trustworthy AI, i.e. in addition to machine learning technologies needing to respect existing laws and regulations -- namely:
Human agency and oversight: "AI systems should enable equitable societies by supporting human agency and fundamental rights, and not decrease, limit or misguide human autonomy."
Robustness and safety: "Trustworthy AI requires algorithms to be secure, reliable and robust enough to deal with errors or inconsistencies during all life cycle phases of AI systems."
Privacy and data governance: "Citizens should have full control over their own data, while data concerning them will not be used to harm or discriminate against them."
Transparency: "The traceability of AI systems should be ensured."
Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness: "AI systems should consider the whole range of human abilities, skills and requirements, and ensure accessibility."
Societal and environmental well-being: "AI systems should be used to enhance positive social change and enhance sustainability and ecological responsibility."
Accountability: "Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure responsibility and accountability for AI systems and their outcomes."Read Replies (0)