By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
An anonymous reader shares a report: On the last day of 2017, a security researcher going online by the pseudonym of Siguza published details about a macOS vulnerability affecting all Mac operating system versions released since 2002, and possibly earlier. Siguza did not notify Apple in advance, so at the time of writing, there is no fix for this flaw. Despite the doom and gloom, the vulnerability is only a local privilege escalation (LPE) flaw that can only be exploited with local access to a computer or after an attacker has already got a foothold on a machine. The vulnerability grants root access to an attacker. The issue affects the IOHIDFamily macOS kernel driver, a component that handles various types of user interactions. Siguza said he read about various flaws in this component and took a look at it to find new ways to compromise iOS, Apple's mobile operating system, where IOHIDFamily is also deployed. The expert says he found the LPE flaw in the IOHIDFamily code specific to macOS versions only. In a tweet, Siguza said, "My primary goal was to get the write-up out for people to read. I wouldn't sell to blackhats because I don't wanna help their cause. I would've submitted to Apple if their bug bounty included macOS, or if the vuln was remotely exploitable.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-they-live department
The New York Times: Older people report higher levels of contentment or well-being than teenagers and young adults. The six elders put faces on this statistic. If they were not always gleeful, they were resilient and not paralysed by the challenges that came their way. All had known loss and survived. None went to a job he did not like, coveted stuff she could not afford, brooded over a slight on the subway or lost sleep over events in the distant future. They set realistic goals. Only one said he was afraid to die. Gerontologists call this the paradox of old age: that as people's minds and bodies decline, instead of feeling worse about their lives, they feel better (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). In memory tests, they recall positive images better than negative; under functional magnetic resonance imaging, their brains respond more mildly to stressful images than the brains of younger people. John Sorensen, who liked to talk, brought cheer to every conversation, even those about wanting to die. Helen Moses and Ping Wong knew exactly what they wanted: for Ms Moses, it was her daughter and Mr Zeimer; for Ms Wong, it was mah-jongg and the camaraderie it entailed, even if the other players spoke a different dialect or followed the rules of a different home region. Mr Jones, Ms Willig and Mr Mekas all spent their energy on the things they could still do that brought them satisfaction, not on what they had lost to age.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Bitcoin is already having a bad year. From a report: For the first time since 2015, the cryptocurrency began a new year by tumbling, extending its slide from a record $19,511 reached on Dec. 18. The virtual coin traded at $13,440 as of 3:55 p.m. in New York, down 6.1 percent from Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's also a fall from the $14,156 it hit Sunday, according to coinmarketcap.com, which tracks daily prices. Bitcoin got off to a much stronger start last year, and then kept that momentum going, eventually creating a global frenzy for cryptocurrencies. In a sign of its phenomenal price gain in 2017, it rose 3.6 percent on the first day of 2017 to $998, data from coinmarketcap.com show. It ended the year up more than 1,300 percent.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's need-for-change department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Happy Public Domain Day, every-some of you! In New Zealand and Canada, published works by artists who died in 1967 -- Rene Magritte, Dorothy Parker, John Coltrane, and many others -- have entered the public domain; Kiwis and Canadians can now freely distribute, perform, and remix a wealth of painting, writing, and music. In Europe, work published by artists who died in 1947 are now public domain. In the United States, well, we get nothing for the 20th year in a row, with one more to go. Our public domain drought is nearly old enough to drink. American copyrights now stretch for 95 years. Since 1998, we've been frozen with a public domain that only applies to works from before 1923 (and government works). Jennifer Jenkins is a clinical professor of law at Duke Law School, which hosts the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. In an email she explained what changed and why nothing has entered American public domain for two decades. "Until 1978, the maximum copyright term was 56 years from the date of publication -- an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years," she wrote. "In 1998, Congress added 20 years to the copyright term, extending it to the author's lifetime plus 70 years, or 95 years after publication for corporate 'works made for hire.'"Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department
Artificial Intelligence is now being used to scan millions of pictures taken by Google Street View to glean insights like income or voting patterns, The New York Times reports. In a Stanford project, computers scanned millions of pictures of parked cars to predict voting patterns and pollution. From the report: The Stanford project gives a glimpse at the potential. By pulling the vehicles' makes, models and years from the images, and then linking that information with other data sources, the project was able to predict factors like pollution and voting patterns at the neighborhood level. "This kind of social analysis using image data is a new tool to draw insights," said Timnit Gebru, who led the Stanford research effort. The research has been published in stages, the most recent in late November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the end, the car-image project involved 50 million images of street scenes gathered from Google Street View. In them, 22 million cars were identified, and then classified into more than 2,600 categories like their make and model, located in more than 3,000 ZIP codes and 39,000 voting districts.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's having-a-happy-new-year department
NBC asked 15 "top science and tech leaders" for their predictions for 2018. Despite arguments that technology has "created a monster," one anonymous reader sees their answers as a reason for hope:
NBC notes the detection of gravitational waves in 2017 (predicted almost a century ago by Einstein) and the creation of genetically modified human embryos. And a professor of molecular medicine at The Scripps Research Institute points out that in 2018, more than 10 different medical conditions are now also moving forward in gene-editing clinical trials, including rare eye diseases, hemophilia, and sickle cell anemia. He predicts that in 2018, deep machine learning "will start to take hold in the clinic, first in ways to improve diagnostic accuracy and efficiency of doctors' workflow."
Former ICANN head Esther Dyson predicts we'll also begin using big data not only to reduce healthcare costs, but also social problems like unemployment, depression, and crime. "With big data, and more data available through everything from health records and fitness apps to public data such as high school graduation rates and population demographics, we are increasingly able to compare what happens with what would have happened without a particular intervention...with luck, some communities will lead by example, and policy-makers will take note."
< article continued at Slashdot's having-a-happy-new-year department
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's performance-reviews department
An anonymous reader writes:
A long-time Unix sys-admin is suggesting 18 different New Year's resolutions for Linux systems adminstrators. And #1 is to automate more of your boring stuff. "There are several good reasons to turn tedious tasks into scripts. The first is to make them less annoying. The second is to make them less error-prone. And the last is to make them easier to turn over to new team members who haven't been around long enough to be bored. Add a small dose of meaningful comments to your scripts and you have a better chance of passing on some of your wisdom about how things should be done."
Along with that, they suggest learning a new scripting language. "It's easy to keep using the same tools you've been using for decades (I should know), but you might have more fun and more relevance in the long run if you teach yourself a new scripting language. If you've got bash and Perl down pat, consider adding Python or Ruby or some other new language to your mix of skills." Other suggestions include trying a new distro -- many of which can now be run in "live mode" on a USB drive -- and investigating the security procedures of cloud services (described in the article as "trusting an outside organization with our data").
"And don't forget... There are now only 20 years until 2038 -- The Unix/Linux clockpocalypse."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's analytics-from-GitHub department
An anonymous reader writes:
The i-Programmer site revisits one of its top stories of 2017, about researchers who used data from GitHub for a large-scale empirical investigation into static typing versus dynamic typing. The team investigated 20 programming languages, using GitHub code repositories for the top 50 projects written in each language, examing 18 years of code involving 29,000 different developers, 1.57 million commits, and 564,625 bug fixes.
The results? "The languages with the strongest positive coefficients - meaning associated with a greater number of defect fixes are C++, C, and Objective-C, also PHP and Python. On the other hand, Clojure, Haskell, Ruby and Scala all have significant negative coefficients implying that these languages are less likely than average to result in defect fixing commits."
Or, in the researcher's words, "Language design does have a significant, but modest effect on software quality. Most notably, it does appear that disallowing type confusion is modestly better than allowing it, and among functional languages static typing is also somewhat better than dynamic typing."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's out-of-Africa department
On Saturday Engadget wrote:
Authoritarian leaders are fond of severing communications in a bid to hold on to power, and that tradition sadly isn't going away. The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has ordered telecoms to cut internet and SMS access ahead of planned mass protests against President Joseph Kabila, whose administration has continuously delayed elections to replace him. Telecom minister Emery Okundji told Reuters that it was a response to "violence that is being prepared," but people aren't buying that argument. Officials had already banned demonstrations, and the country has history of cutting communications and blocking social network access in a bid to quash dissent.
And today in the wake of deadly protests, Congo announced that the internet shutdown will continue "indefinitely." The New York Times reports:
At least eight people were killed and a dozen altar boys arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday after security forces cracked down on planned church protests against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to leave office before coming elections... Congolese security forces set up checkpoints across Kinshasa, and the government issued an order to shut down text messaging and internet services indefinitely across the country for what it called "reasons of state security."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's software-that-ate-the-world department
Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood posted a worried blog post on New Year's Eve.
Remember in 2011 when Marc Andreeseen said that "Software is eating the world?" That used to sound all hip and cool and inspirational, like "Wow! We software developers really are making a difference in the world!" and now for the life of me I can't read it as anything other than an ominous warning that we just weren't smart enough to translate properly at the time... What do you do when you wake up one day and software has kind of eaten the world, and it is no longer clear if software is in fact an unambiguously good thing, like we thought, like everyone told us... like we wanted it to be?
Slashdot reader theodp adds:
"The year 2018 is the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," provocatively notes Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, "in which a scientist neglects to ask about the consequences of his creation. I suspect (and hope) that there will be much debate on the impact of technology on our lives in the numerous lectures and events scheduled this year. It is a long-overdue discussion because scientists sometimes get so excited about their innovations that they forget to ask, 'Am I building a monster?' This anniversary offers a pause to see if society likes where it is headed."
That quote is from a "predictions for 2018" article on the Mach technology site (hosted by NBC News) in which Dr. Moshe Y. Vardi, a Professor of Computer Science at Rice University, also sees a looming debate. He remembers how Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan referred to tech's CEO's as "our country's real overlords" and described them as "moral Martians who operate on some weird new postmodern ethical wavelength."
Keep reading for some even more dire predictions...Read Replies (0)