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You're Thinking About the Dictionary All Wrong, Lexicographers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 01:32 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's catching-up-with-internet department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Outline: It seems like ever since "bootylicious" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in 2004, dictionaries have been trying to play catch up to ever-evolving languages of slang, especially when it comes to words originating with African Americans and other communities of color. User-generated definitions found on websites like Urban Dictionary and Genius are also giving them some competition. But in fact, lexicographers have always intended the dictionary to be more of an archive than an authority. The purpose of the dictionary has always been to record how language is being used, but the internet has allowed publishers and lexicographers to communicate that purpose differently, explained Kory Stamper, lexicographer and author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, to The Outline. "I think people assume that because dictionaries are dusty books that the language is this dusty book or that language is only what you find in the dictionary," Stamper said. "And to be able to say, 'No, language is always on the move and here's how it's moving,' really mirrors the way that we can interact with people online." Thanks to the internet, it's now easier for lexicographers to access more written materials and take note of the ways people are using and producing language. And as a result, dictionaries are updated more frequently and more robustly than they were in the days of print-only source material. "Woke" was just one of 1200 new additions to the OED this quarter alone. But even with all the technology afforded to them, lexicographers still walk a fine line between including words that are well-known enough without being too obscure. "We joke around that when we add new words we want 50 percent of the people who see that new word to say, 'Oh my gosh that's not in the dictionary yet?'" said Stamper, who writes for Merriam-Webster. "And then we want the other half of people to go, 'I don't even know what this word is. Why are you adding it to the dictionary?'"

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The Age of Distributed Truth
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-age department:
Eugene Wei, head of video at Oculus (Formerly with Flipboard, Hulu, and Amazon) writes about how information gets distributed now, and things that were commonly known in specific circles are becoming more widely known. From his article: The internet gave everyone a megaphone, and these days that can feel like that Chinese proverb, you know the one. Perhaps the truth was better kept in the hands of a limited set of responsible stewards, but that age of the expert has passed, and that system had its own issues. As every Death Star reminds us each time they're blown up, concentrating power in a small area has its own unique vulnerability. We live in the age of distributed truth, and it's an environment in which fake news can spread like mold when in viral form. But the same applies to the truth, and if there's one lesson on how to do your part in an age of distributed truth, it's to speak the truth and to support those who do. It may be exhausting work -- is it really necessary to point out the emperor is buck naked? -- but it's the best we can do for now. In this age, the silent majority is no majority at all.

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AMD Launches Ryzen PRO CPUs: Enhanced Security, Longer Warranty, Better Quality
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's competition-heats-up department:
Reader harrisonweber shares a report: This morning AMD introduced their Ryzen PRO processors for business and commercial desktop PCs. The new lineup of CPUs includes the Ryzen 3 PRO, Ryzen 5 PRO and Ryzen 7 PRO families with four, six, or eight cores running at various frequencies. A superset to the standard Ryzen chips, the PRO chips have the same feature set as other Ryzen devices, but also offer enhanced security, 24 months availability, a longer warranty and promise to feature better chip quality. The AMD Ryzen PRO lineup of processors consists of six SKUs that belong to the Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 families targeting different market segments and offering different levels of performance. As one would expect, the Ryzen 7 PRO models are aimed at workstation applications and thus have all eight cores with simultaneous multithreading enabled, the Ryzen 5 PROmodels are designed for advanced mainstream desktops and therefore have four or six cores with SMT, whereas the Ryzen 3 PRO models are aimed at office workloads that work well on quad-core CPUs without SMT. The specifications of the Ryzen 7 PRO and the Ryzen 5 PRO resemble those of regular Ryzen processors. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 3 PRO are the first chips from the Ryzen 3 lineup and thus give us a general idea what to expect from such products: four cores without SMT operating at 3.1-3.5 GHz base frequency along with 2+8 MB of cache.

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Sony Will Start Pressing Vinyl Records After 28-Year Hiatus
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-back department:
Sony said this week it will begin pressing vinyl records again, ending an almost three-decade hiatus. A dramatic increase in demand for vinyl music in recent years prompted the move, the company said. From a report: After a 28-year hiatus, Sony announced this week that it plans to open a new facility in Japan dedicated to pressing vinyl records. It's a back-to-the-future announcement at a time when the true digital music revolution -- downloaded and streaming via always-on Internet connectivity -- has quickly grown to dominate listening habits. According to Japan's recording industry association, the country produced nearly 200 million records per year in the mid-1970s. That's unlikely to return. But while many of us have been content to wirelessly download our music, a surprising number of people are going to the store -- or Amazon.com, let's be honest -- and purchasing a vinyl record, sleeve and all.

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France Drops Windows 10 Privacy Case After Microsoft Changes Telemetry Settings
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's all-good department:
Reader Mark Wilson writes: There have been lots of complaints about invasion of privacy since the release of Windows 10. Microsoft's telemetry lead to several lawsuits, including one from France's National Data Protection Commission which said Windows 10 was collecting 'excessive personal data' about users. But now the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libert's has decided to drop its case against Microsoft. The commission is happy that sufficient steps have been taken to reduce the amount of data that is collected and users are now informed about data collection.

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India Presses Microsoft For Windows Discount in Wake of Cyber Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-India department:
India is pressing Microsoft to offer a sharply discounted one-time deal to the more than 50 million Windows users in the country so that they can upgrade to the latest Windows 10 operating system in the wake of ransomware attacks, Reuters reported Friday. From the article: Microsoft officials in India have "in principle agreed" to the request, Gulshan Rai, India's cyber security coordinator, told Reuters over the phone on Friday. If Microsoft agreed to such a discount, it could open up the global software giant to similar requests from around the world. Rai said the government was in talks with Microsoft management in India. It is not immediately clear whether any other countries were seeking similar deals.

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Sony Suspends Thousands Of PlayStation Network Accounts in UK, Allegedly Because Of Issue With PayPal
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening? department:
An anonymous reader writes: PlayStation Network (PSN) users in the UK who've paid via PayPal have had their accounts suspended. 'Thousands' of users this week received an automatic refund for purchases they made with the US money transfer service. According to game blog Kotaku, since Sony hasn't received money from those users, their accounts have been suspended. Neither Sony nor Paypal have addressed the issue yet.

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Despite Hacking Charges, US Tech Industry Fought To Keep Ties To Russia Spy Service
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's round-n department:
The U.S. tech sector pushed the government to keep ties with Russia's spy agency, despite reports that Moscow meddled in the U.S. presidential election, Reuters reported Friday. The sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration last December outlawed U.S. companies from having relationships with Russia's spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), which presented a dilemma to Western tech companies. Reuters says, the FSB also acts as a regulator that approves the importing of technology to Russia that contains encryption, which is used in products such as cellphones and laptops. Joel Schectman, Dustin Volz and Jack Stubbs, reporting for Reuters: Worried about the sales impact, business industry groups, including the U.S.-Russia Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, contacted U.S. officials at the American embassy in Moscow and the Treasury, State and Commerce departments, according to five people with direct knowledge of the lobbying effort. The campaign, which began in January and proved successful in a matter of weeks, has not been previously reported. [...] The sanctions would have meant the Russian market was "dead for U.S. electronics" said Alexis Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, who argued against the new restrictions. "Every second Russian has an iPhone, iPad, so they would all switch to Samsungs," he said. [...] The lobbyists argued the sanction could have stopped the sale of cars, medical devices and heavy equipment, all of which also often contain encrypted software, according to a person involved in the lobbying effort. The goal of the sanctions was to sever U.S. business dealings with the FSB -- not end American technology exports to Russia entirely, the industry groups argued. "The sanction was against a government agency that has many functions, only one of them being hacking the U.S. elections," said Rodzianko.

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Raspberry Pi Wins UK's Top Engineering Award
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 08:05 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: The team behind the device was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Prize at a ceremony in London last night. The tiny computer launched in 2012. Its designers hoped to introduce children to coding and had modest ambitions. They beat two other finalists, cyber-security company Darktrace and radiotherapy pioneers Vision RT, to win the prize. Previous winners of the innovation award, which has been run since 1969, include the creators of the CT (computerised tomography) scanner; the designers of the Severn Bridge; and the team at Microsoft in Cambridge that developed the Kinect motion sensor.

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Iranian City Soars To Record 129F Degrees: Near Hottest On Earth in Modern Measurements
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 08:05 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's face-the-heat department:
A city in southwest Iran posted the country's hottest temperature ever recorded Thursday afternoon, and may have tied the world record for the most extreme high temperature. From a report on The Washington Post: Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster at French meteorological agency MeteoFrance, posted to Twitter that the city of Ahvaz soared to "53.7C" (128.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Kapikian said the temperature is a "new absolute national record of reliable Iranian heat" (alternative, non-paywalled source) and that it was the hottest temperature ever recorded in June over mainland Asia. Iran's previous hottest temperature was 127.4. Weather Underground's website indicates the temperature in Ahvaz climbed even higher, hitting 129.2 degrees at both 4:51 and 5 p.m. local time. If that 129.2 degrees reading is accurate, it would arguably tie the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth in modern times.

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Wall Street Journal To Cut Back Print Outside the US
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 06:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's print-is-dying-part-72891 department:
The Wall Street Journal plans to discontinue production of print edition outside the United States in what is the latest testament that popularity of print is waning and it is no longer as lucrative for news outlets to maintain print editions of their journalism. From a Financial Times report: The print edition of the business and finance newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, will no longer be available in Europe (paywalled; alternative source), according to two people briefed on the plans. Free copies and unprofitable hotel "amenity deals," where hotels buy bulk copies at a discount, are also being scrapped. However, Dow Jones, the News Corp division that owns the Journal, is debating whether to continue mailing copies to subscribers who still want a physical paper. It is pursuing a similar approach in Asia but is in talks with a partner about a print joint venture that would continue distribution in one big market there, according to the people with knowledge of the discussions. In Australia some Wall Street Journal pages are available as an insert in The Australian, another Murdoch-owned paper.

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Tom Wheeler Defends Title II Rules, Accuses Pai of Helping Monopolists
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 05:12 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smokescreen department:
simkel shares a report from Ars Technica: Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke out against the FCC's proposed repeal of net neutrality rules this week, saying the repeal will help monopoly broadband providers abuse their dominant position. There's "a monopoly provider for three-quarters of the homes in America, and no choice," Wheeler said in a forum (video) in Arlington, Virginia Monday hosted by US Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). "When you've only got one provider, who makes the rules? The provider makes the rules." Wheeler was referring to FCC data that shows most Americans live in areas with either one provider of high-speed broadband (at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream) or none at all. With the FCC's new Republican leadership seeking to overturn net neutrality rules, "the question becomes, will giant companies be able to exploit their monopoly position?" Wheeler said. "Who is going to stand up for consumers? Who is going to stand up for innovation? And who is going to stand up for the most important network for determining our future in the 21st century?"

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Artificially Intelligent Painters Invent New Styles of Art
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '17 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's art-for-the-AI-generation department:
Dthief shares a report from New Scientist: Now and then, a painter like Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso comes along and turns the art world on its head. They invent new aesthetic styles, forging movements such as impressionism or abstract expressionism. But could the next big shake-up be the work of a machine? An artificial intelligence has been developed that produces images in unconventional styles -- and much of its output has already been given the thumbs up by members of the public. The team [of researchers] modified a type of algorithm known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), in which two neural nets play off against each other to get better and better results. One creates a solution, the other judges it -- and the algorithm loops back and forth until the desired result is reached. In the art AI, one of these roles is played by a generator network, which creates images. The other is played by a discriminator network, which was trained on 81,500 paintings to tell the difference between images we would class as artworks and those we wouldn't -- such as a photo or diagram, say. The discriminator was also trained to distinguish different styles of art, such as rococo or cubism. The clever twist is that the generator is primed to produce an image that the discriminator recognizes as art, but which does not fall into any of the existing styles.

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New Study Finds How Much Sleep Fitbit Users Really Get
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 11:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's snooze-button department:
Fitbit has published the results of a study that uses their longitudinal sleep database to analyze millions of nights of Sleep Stages data to determine how age, gender, and duration affect sleep quality. (Sleep Stages is a relatively new Fitbit feature that "uses motion detection and heart rate variability to estimate the amount of time users spend awake in light, deep, and REM sleep each night.") Here are the findings: The average Fitbit user is in bed for 7 hours and 33 minutes but only gets 6 hours and 38 minutes of sleep. The remaining 55 minutes is spent restless or awake. That may seem like a lot, but it's actually pretty common. That said, 6 hours and 38 minutes is still shy of the 7+ hours the the CDC recommends adults get. For the second year in a row Fitbit data scientists found women get about 25 minutes more sleep on average each night compared to men. The percentage of time spent in each sleep stage was also similar -- until you factor in age. Fitbit data shows that men get a slightly higher percentage of deep sleep than women until around age 55 when women take the lead. Women win when it comes to REM, logging an average of 10 more minutes per night than men. Although women tend to average more REM than men over the course of their lifetime, the gap appears to widen around age 50.

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There Is a Point At Which It Will Make Economical Sense To Defect From the Electrical Grid
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's its-only-a-matter-of-time department:
Michael J. Coren reports via Quartz: More than 1 million U.S. homes have solar systems installed on their rooftops. Batteries are set to join many of them, giving homeowners the ability to not only generate but also store their electricity on-site. And once that happens, customers can drastically reduce their reliance on the grid. It's great news for those receiving utility bills. It's possible armageddon for utilities. A new study by the consulting firm McKinsey modeled two scenarios: one in which homeowners leave the electrical grid entirely, and one in which they obtain most of their power through solar and battery storage but keep a backup connection to the grid. Given the current costs of generating and storing power at home, even residents of sunny Arizona would not have much economic incentive to leave the electric-power system completely -- full grid-defection, as McKinsey refers to it -- until around 2028. But partial defection, where some homeowners generate and store 80% to 90% of their electricity on site and use the grid only as a backup, makes economic sense as early as 2020. [A]s daily needs for many are supplied instead by solar and batteries, McKinsey predicts the electrical grid will be repurposed as an enormous, sophisticated backup. Utilities would step up and supply power during the few days or weeks per year when distributed systems run out of juice.

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$7.5 Billion Kemper Power Plant Suspends Coal Gasification
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's decision-making department:
romanval writes: A coal gasification plant in Mississippi is iswitching to natural gas after 5 years of delays and $4 billion cost overrun. Megan Geuss writes via Ars Technica: "The Kemper County plant was supposed to be a cutting-edge demonstration of the power of 'clean coal,' and, despite running five years late and more than $4 billion over budget, Kemper was able to start testing its coal gasification operations late last year. The plant used a chemical process to break down lignite coal into synthesis gas, or 'syngas,' which was then fed into a generator. The syngas burns cleaner than pulverized lignite coal does. In addition, emissions were caught by a carbon capture system and delivered to a nearby oil field to help with oil extraction. That, Southern and Mississippi Power said, would reduce the greenhouse emissions of burning lignite by up to 65 percent. But with only 200 days of gasification operations under its belt, Kemper identified more issues with its technology, including design flaws that caused leaks and ash buildup."

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Google Photos 3.0 Released, Bringing Smarter Sharing, Suggestions and Shared Libraries
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's automatic-sharing department:
Google is rolling out Google Photos 3.0, which features an AI-powered Suggested Sharing feature along with Shared Libraries, "both of which are designed to make the Google Photos app a more social experience, rather than just a personal collection of photo memories," reports TechCrunch. From the report: With the addition of Suggested Sharing, Google Photos will now prompt you to share photos you took by pushing an alert to your smartphone. The feature will identify people in the photos using facial recognition technology and machine learning, which helps it understand who you typically share photos with, among other things. It also looks at the photos you've taken at a particular location, before organizing them in a ready-to-share album by selecting the best shots (e.g., removing blurry or dark photos). You can edit the album if you choose, then share with the people the app suggests, remove suggestions, or add others. Even if your friends or family doesn't use Google Photos, you can share by sending them a link via text or email. A second feature called Shared Libraries is designed more for use with families or significant others. This lets you either share your entire photo collection with someone else, or you can configure it to share only selected photos -- for example, photos of your children.

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Zillow Drops Complaint Against Blogger After Backlash Over Copyright Claim
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-and-forth department:
The blog "McMansion Hell" is back up and running days after Zillow threatened the site's creator, Kate Wagner, into taking it down. Zillow's decision to withdraw their complaint came soon after the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced it would defend Wagner pro bono. GeekWire reports: "We have decided not to pursue any legal action against Kate Wagner and McMansion Hell," a statement from the company said Thursday. "We've had a lot of conversations about this, including with attorneys from the EFF, whose advocacy and work we respect. EFF has stated that McMansion Hell won't use photos from Zillow moving forward. It was never our intent for McMansion Hell to shut down, or for this to appear as an attack on Kate's freedom of expression. We acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our partners -- the agents and brokers who entrust us to display photos of their clients' homes." The Zillow response came in the wake of the week's events and a strongly worded letter to Zillow general counsel Brad Owens on Thursday (PDF here). EFF staff attorney Daniel Nazer said, "Our client has no obligation to, and thus will not, comply with Zillow's demands. Zillow's legal threats are not supported and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech." EFF said McMansion Hell was relaunching and no posts would be deleted, but that "in the interests of compromise, and because Wagner no longer wishes to use Zillow's website, she will no longer source photographs from Zillow for her blog."

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Opinion: Google Unleashes Terrible New Update For Google News Upon the Net
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it department:
Rei shares their opinion of Google's redesign of Google News: Google unveiled a "new look" for Google News, describing it as a "clean and uncluttered look." New design features include a mostly empty "In the News" box for trending-topics, most of which you probably don't care about; a double-height page header so that they can make the border around the search box inexplicably larger and add a four-option menu bar; large empty grey expanses that take up half the browser; and a new news section that presents half as many news articles per page. If you didn't think you were having to scroll enough when using Google News, don't worry -- Google's got your back with this new update. It's safe to say that Slashdot reader Rei is not so fond of the Google News redesign. Have you had the chance to view it yourself? What do you think of the Google News facelift?

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System76 Unveils Its Own Ubuntu-Based Linux Distribution Called 'Pop!_OS'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '17 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shiny-and-new department:
BrianFagioli writes: Not content with simply following Canonical and embracing vanilla GNOME, System76 has decided to take its future into its own hands. Today, the company releases the first alpha of an all-new Linux-based operating system called "Pop!_OS," which will eventually be the only OS pre-loaded on its computers. While it will still be based on Ubuntu and GNOME, System76 is tweaking it with its own style and included drivers. In other words, the company is better controlling the user experience, and that is smart. "The Pop!_OS community is in its infancy. This is a fantastic time to engage with and help develop the processes and practices that will govern the future development of the operating system and its community. The team is currently opening up planning for the development roadmap, code of conduct, discussion forums, and the processes surrounding code contribution. Progress made on Pop!_OS has established an inviting, modern, and minimalist look and has improved the first-use experience including streamlining installation and user setup. Work on the first release, scheduled for October 19th, centers on appearance, stability, and overall tightness of the user experience followed by adding new features and greater customization ability," says System76. You can check out the project on GitHub here and download the alpha ISO here. For more information, the company has set up a subreddi.

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