By EditorDavid from Slashdot's time-to-light-the-lights department
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: While Apple CEO Tim Cook may not be able to force schoolchildren to code, there's no law against Cook and Apple using Sesame Street to make preschoolers want to code. Among the original Apple TV+ shows Cook announced at Apple's March Event was Helpsters, an "incredible new preschool show" about coding from "the peeps at Sesame Workshop and Apple."
In a skit on stage at the Steve Jobs Theater [available on YouTube], a Helpster monster from the new show named "Cody" (get it!) explains to Big Bird, "See, coding fosters collaboration, critical-thinking skills, and is an essential language that every child can learn. By teaching preschoolers about coding, we are giving them the opportunity to change the world."
One site described Cody as "a sociopathic tech recruiter muppet," complaining that "Teaching kids about technology is fine. But this is just creepy." They also objected to the show's targeting of pre-schoolers.
"From a developmental point of view, most experts agree very young children should be working on figuring out how to share their toys, not thinking about how to program them."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dark-matters department
Long-time Slashdot reader frank249 brings some news from Diana Dragomir, a Hubble Fellow at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research:
Diana Dragomir tweeted that the MOST Telescope "can no longer be powered up. It's had a long life, overshooting its planned one-year lifespan by a factor of 15...!"
The MOST Space Telescope (which stands for Microvariability and Oscillation of Stars) was launched into space in 2003. It was the first Canadian scientific satellite in orbit in 33 years, and it is the first space telescope to be entirely designed and built in Canada. About the size and shape of a large suitcase, the satellite weighs only 54 kilograms and is equipped with an ultra high precision telescope that measures only 15 centimetres in diameter (thus the nickname "humble space telescope").
Despite its diminutive size, it is [was?] ten times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope in detecting the minuscule variations in a star's luminosity caused by vibrations that shake its surface.
Interestingly, when the Most telescope first launched back in 2003 -- it was the same long-time Slashdot reader frank249 who submitted the story.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's lost-in-space department
In December a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed 64 satellites into space. But four months later, more than a dozen "have yet to be identified in space," reports the Verge. "We know that they're up there, and where they are, but it's unclear which satellites belong to which satellite operator on the ground...."
"Many of the satellite operators do not know which of these 19 probes are theirs exactly, and the Air Force can't figure it out either."
For a good portion of these satellites, it's possible that they have experienced some kind of technical problem, preventing the operators from contacting the spacecraft in orbit. But part of the identification issue stems from the SSO-A "SmallSat Express" mission's structure. This was a rocket ride-share, a type of launch that's become popular in the industry. As satellites grow smaller, operators can pack a bunch of these tiny probes together on larger launch vehicles, sending them into space all at once. But with so many satellites going into orbit at the same time, it can be hard for the Air Force's technology to distinguish the satellites from each other. And that, in turn, can make it hard for satellite operators to decipher which satellites are theirs...
Not knowing the exact location of a spacecraft is a major problem for operators. If they can't communicate with their satellite, the company's orbiting hardware becomes, essentially, space junk. It brings up liability and transparency concerns, too. If an unidentified satellite runs into something else in space, it's hard to know who is to blame...
< article continued at Slashdot's lost-in-space department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's video-killed-the-video-star department
An anonymous reader quotes the Verge:
As YouTube battles misinformation catastrophes and discovers new ways people are abusing its system, the company is shifting toward more commercial, advertiser-friendly content at a speed its creator community hasn't seen before. The golden age of YouTube -- the YouTube of a million different creators all making enough money to support themselves by creating videos about doing what they love -- is over... By the end of 2016, when algorithm changes were creating headaches for some of the platform's biggest creators, people started announcing they had to take a break from the site they called home. YouTube wasn't what it was between 2011 and 2016... YouTube was exerting more control over what users saw and what videos would make money...
YouTube faced an escalating crisis of radicalization and sweeping conspiracy theories that had been ignored by executives for years. The company's first small efforts to address these serious issues -- promoting content from musicians, late-night shows, and recommending fewer independent creators -- would have huge secondary effects on the middle-tier creators who had once been the heart of the platform during its golden period. It pushed YouTube toward the exact same Hollywood content to which it had once been an alternative.... Even people outside of YouTube saw what was happening. "YouTube is inevitably heading towards being like television, but they never told their creators this," Jamie Cohen, a professor of new media at Molloy College, told USA Today in 2018....
Individual YouTube creators couldn't keep up with the pace YouTube's algorithm set. But traditional, mainstream outlets could: late-night shows began to dominate YouTube, along with music videos from major labels. The platform now looked the way it had when it started, but with the stamp of Hollywood approval.
< article continued at Slashdot's video-killed-the-video-star department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's job-openings department
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
Chinese companies have leaked a whopping 590 million resumes in the first three months of the year, ZDNet has learned from multiple security researchers. Most of the resume leaks have occurred because of poorly secured MongoDB databases and ElasticSearch servers that have been left exposed online without a password, or have ended up online following unexpected firewall errors.
Over the past few months, and especially over the last few weeks, ZDNet has received several tips about exposed servers that --when investigated-- belonged to Chinese HR-focused companies. From tiny firms exposing a handful of CVs to professional executive head-hunting firms, they've all leaked their customers' details, in one form or another... Counting all, we have 590.497 million resumes that have leaked from Chinese companies over the past three months, a worrying sign that Chinese HR companies are not taking the security of their servers seriously.
The article points out that the resumes include personal information including phone numbers, home addresses, family and marital status, and in some cases, even ID numbers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's college-admissions department
"A test of UK university defences against cyber-attacks found that in every case hackers were able to obtain 'high-value' data within two hours," writes the BBC.
Bruce66423 shares their report:
The tests were carried out by "ethical hackers" working for Jisc, the agency providing internet services to the UK's universities and research centres. They were able to access personal data, finance systems and research networks....
The simulated attacks, so-called "penetration testing", were carried out on more than 50 universities in the UK, with some being attacked multiple times. A report into their effectiveness, published by Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee) and the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), showed a 100% success rate in getting through the cyber-defences. Within two hours, and in some cases one hour, they were able to reach student and staff personal information, override financial systems and access research databases.
The tests were carried out by Jisc's in-house team of ethical hackers, with one of the most effective approaches being so-called "spear phishing"...where an email might appear to be from someone you know or a trusted source but is really a way of concealing an attack, such as downloading "malware".Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's survey-says department
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg:
Unemployed people derive significant psychological benefits from receiving a fixed amount of financial support from the state, according to a landmark experiment into basic income in Finland that highlights the disadvantages of the country's existing means-tested system.
Initial results of the two-year study had already shown that its 2,000 participants were no more and no less likely to work than their counterparts receiving traditional unemployment benefit. Thursday's set of additional results from the social insurance institution Kela showed that those getting a basic income described their financial situation more positively than respondents in the control group. They also experienced less stress and fewer financial worries than the control group, Kela said in a statement... They had more trust in other people and social institutions, and showed more faith in their ability to have influence over their own lives, in their personal finances and in their prospects of finding employment
Finland is the first country in the world to test universal basic incomes at national level.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-against-the-grains department
An anonymous reader writes:
"A bad diet kills more people globally than tobacco," reports Bloomberg, citing a new study
funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published Wednesday in Lancet. The study argues that poor diets led to 11 million deaths in 2017 -- and that more than half of them were caused by just three main dietary factors: low consumption of whole grains, low consumption of fruits, and high intake of sodium.
In fact, bad diets are responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other cause, the researchers concluded. "We found that improvement of diet could potentially prevent one in every five deaths globally."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's greenhouse-gas-remissions department
An anonymous reader quotes the BBC:
British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering has shown that it can extract CO2 in a cost-effective way. It has now been boosted by $68m in new investment from Chevron, Occidental and coal giant BHP... With its new funding, the company plans to build its first commercial facilities. These industrial-scale direct air capture (DAC) plants could capture up to one million tonnes of CO2 from the air each year....
Carbon Engineering's process is all about sucking in air and exposing it to a chemical solution that concentrates the CO2. Further refinements mean the gas can be purified into a form that can be stored or utilised as a liquid fuel.... Carbon Engineering says the liquid can be used in a variety of engines without modification. "The fuel that we make has no sulphur in it, it has these nice linear chains which means it burns cleaner than traditional fuel," said Carbon Engineering's Dr Jenny McCahill. "It's nice and clear and ready to be used in a truck, car or jet."
CO2 can also be used to flush out the last remaining deposits of oil in wells that are past their prime. The oil industry in the US has been using the gas in this way for decades. It's estimated that using CO2 can deliver an extra 30% of crude from oilfields with the added benefit that the gas is then sequestered permanently in the ground... There is a big worry that with large investments from the fossil fuel industry, the focus of Carbon Engineering's efforts could be turned to producing more oil, not just tackling climate change. Carbon Engineering says that if governments want to invest in its process they are very welcome to do so. If they're not ready to stump up the cash, the company is happy to take funding from the energy industry as time is so short, and the need for the technology is so great.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fight-identity-thieves department
A new online tool "analyzes publicly disclosed data breaches and gives concrete advice to victims," reported CNET last week. Now the site's creator, data breach expert jimvandyke, is asking Slashdot's readers for feedback:
At BreachClarity.com, just enter the name of any data breach you were in (such as 'Anthem', 'Equifax', 'Yahoo', etc.), and click the bright green 'search' button. Every publicly-reported breach since January 2017 (and noteworthy older ones) are in the database, and eventually every publicly-reported breach will be in the database, thanks to my non-profit partner the IDTheftCenter.org (ITRC). Breach Clarity is now available for free in basic form to consumers, as a very simple UI sitting in front of a comprehensive algorithm of my own design.
The goal of Breach Clarity is to help people by demystifying how any new data breach creates identity-holder risk of identity theft, identity fraud, and other harms. My goal in creating Breach Clarity is to move past the myths and victim-blaming (for instance, my research finds that very few people are actually 'apathetic' or 'lazy' when it comes to security, and it's simply not true that 'everyone's data is all already out there' for any cyber-criminal who wants to commit fraud in another person's name).
Breach Clarity uses dynamic research, technology, and design-thinking to protect people in the face of an onslaught of ongoing data breaches (The ITRC recorded 1,244 publicly reported US ones last year, leading to over $10B in annual identity crimes as reported by my former company Javelin Strategy & Research!)... If you like what you see, please use it and spread the word.
< article continued at Slashdot's fight-identity-thieves department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's self-driving-drones department
In what may be his final year of technology predictions, columnist Robert X. Cringely argues aerial delivery drones "are definitely coming just as fast as regulators will allow them, but I don't think they'll be implemented in the way people expect."
As soon as autonomous systems can be shown to be as safe or safer than human pilots, they'll take over most drone piloting duties... Here's the problem with Pizza-to-the-Home: where does the drone land at your house that won't risk hitting a child, pet or vehicle and also won't risk losing the delivery to theft or damage? We can't economically mandate a drone landing tower for every house that's above obstacles and with a guaranteed clear approach.... But we CAN mandate such a landing platform on top of every pizza delivery vehicle.
Using GPS, the drone and car can find each other with the drone landing only when the car is stopped and the approach is clear... [F]or that driver each delivery will take five minutes or less. Pizza is delivered faster and hotter and the driver, instead of making 2-3 deliveries per hour, can make 10-12. This is what we'll shortly see proposed for drone delivery, not just for pizza but for everything else...
Now here's where Internet-style disintermediation comes into play. Such a drone delivery network still costs money to build but that money will be instantly available if the class of goods that can be delivered expands beyond food to anything weighing under, say, 10 pounds. This means prescription drugs and even Amazon Prime or walmart.com packages can arrive on the same car, delivered to that car by multiple drones and drone networks. All it requires is WAAS GPS and a standardized car rooftop landing platform, which I am sure we will shortly see.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hands-on-the-wheel department
Long-time Slashdot reader Rei writes: Friday, the results of a study by the MIT Center for Transport and Logistics on autonomous system driver attentiveness were released, and the results were conclusive: "drivers do not appear to over-trust the system to a degree that results in significant functional vigilance degradation in their supervisory role of system operation".
The study, involving 323,384 miles driven (34,8% on autopilot) and 8682 "tricky situations" identified. Of the "tricky situations", 0% of incidents involved slow driver responses or missed detections; 4,5% rapid/timely responses; 90,6% anticipatory reaction (preventing the situation from occurring); and 4,9% "other". The study suggests that this is the result of two effects: 1) drivers effectively learn the limits of the system through usage; and 2) "tricky situations" are common enough so as to prevent excess trust by the driver in the system — creating the counterintuitive result that the better the systems become, the worse the driver may become.
While the study is limited by the age of the vehicles (under a quarter were even running HW2, vs HW3 which is being released now — and due to the length of the study, most of the miles were accumulated on older software versions), it offers positive conclusions — but also a precaution — about the integration of humans and driver assist systems. In other news, Tesla has announced an April 22 Autonomy Investor Day to showcase the capability of its development versions of the software in city driving, and has started rolling out stoplight detection, no-confirmation automated lane changes and exits, and a limited rollout of advanced summon (navigates through parking lots without a driver).Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's tricky-trends department
An anonymous reader quotes Forbes:
Tesla's stock dropped 8% Thursday on the news that Q1 deliveries fell 31% from the previous quarter. However, being a seasonal business, car companies usually compare their results against the same quarter from the previous year. On that basis, virtually all of the major car companies have said Q1 sales will be flat to 7% lower than last year. In contrast, Tesla's deliveries are up 110% from last year. From the one year perspective, Tesla is the only car company that is growing...
Yesterday's headlines which focused on the 31% decline are factually correct but misleading. Moreover, Tesla said that delays in deliveries to Europe and China caused "a large number of vehicle deliveries to shift to the second quarter. At the end of the first quarter, approximately 10,600 vehicles were in transit to customers globally..." Had Tesla managed the increased deliveries in Europe and China a little better, they might have come close to Wall Street's expectations.
On Friday, Tesla's stock bounced up 2.68%.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cities-of-the-future department
dmoberhaus writes: On Wednesday, the United Nations convened its first ever round table on floating cities. WIRED was in attendance to hear about one specific proposal -- Oceanix City -- the creation of a co-founder of Blue Frontiers, the for-profit wing of the Thiel-backed Seasteading Institute. This project, he says, is less about libertarianism and more about survival. It sounds like paradise, but many technological, economic, and political hurdles will have to be overcome before it's a reality. "Oceanix City was designed by the renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, along with dozens of experts from institutions like the UN and MIT," Wired reports. "According to Ingels, who lives on a houseboat himself, residents of the floating city will use 100 percent renewable energy, eat only plant-based food, produce zero waste, and provide housing affordable to all, not just the rich." "At the core of Oceanix City is a 4.5-acre hexagonal floating platform that is meant to host up to 300 people," the report adds. "These platforms are modular, meaning they can be linked to form larger communities as they tessellate across the surface of the ocean. Each platform will be anchored to the ocean floor using biorock, a material that is harder than concrete and can be grown using minerals found in the ocean, which could make the anchor more secure over time. These anchors might also serve as the seeds of artificial reefs to rejuvenate aquatic ecosystems around the floating city." The community's needs and city's location will determine the design of each platform. For example, some could act as barriers to limit the impact of waves; while others could be dedicated to agriculture. Wired goes on to discuss the political and technological challenges associated with these floating cities. "The plan for the first Oceanix City is to moor it about a mile off the coast of a major city," reports Wired. "If one of these ocean-top communities were to get parked near New York City, for example, the floating community could be treated as a new borough, or a separate city under the jurisdiction of the state..."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: Data from more than 17,000 teenagers show little evidence of a relationship between screen time and well-being in adolescents. The study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, casts doubt on the widely accepted notion that spending time online, gaming, or watching TV, especially before bedtime, can damage young people's mental health. The research found that adolescents' total screen time per day had little impact on their mental health, both on weekends and weekdays. It also found that the use of digital screens 2 hours, 1 hour, or 30 minutes before bedtime didn't have clear associations with decreases in adolescent well-being, even though this is often taken as a fact by media reports and public debates.
Unlike other studies, the Oxford research analyzed data from Ireland, the US, and the UK to support its conclusions. The researchers used a rigorous methodology to gather how much time an adolescent spends on screens per day, including both self-reported measures and time-use diaries. This is important as many studies are based solely on self-reported digital technology use, even though recent work found only one third of participants give accurate accounts of how much time they spend online when asked after the fact. The researchers were also able to create a comprehensive picture of teens' well-being, examining measures of psychosocial functioning, depression symptoms, self-esteem, and mood, with data provided by both young people and their caregivers. Additionally, the final of the three studies conducted was preregistered, meaning that the researchers publicly documented the analyses they would run before they analyzed the data. This prevents hypothesizing after the results are known, a challenge for controversial research topics.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's history-lessons department
"BBC Culture reports on DJ Denniz Pop (born Dagge Volle), who couldn't sing, play an instrument, or write a song but could mathematically craft a song from stitching together electronically programmed sounds and beats," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. "Pop was the musical brains behind acts ranging from the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Ace Of Base to Britney Spears, and trained Max Martin who wrote 22 Billbooard #1 hits for the likes of Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Katy Perry, P!nk, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande and Maroon 5 using a technique called 'Melodic Math.'" From the report: In a basement in Stockholm's suburbs, Pop brought together an elite team of eight songwriters and producers for a new venture -- Cheiron Studios -- in 1992. Over the next eight years they would go on to sell hundreds of millions of records through the likes of Ace of Base, 5ive, Robyn, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, Westlife, *NSYNC and Britney Spears. The secret of their songwriting success was to marry the melody to the beat, not work against it, and to have a big chorus. The team at Cheiron followed Pop's example, experimenting in clubs across the capital with up to a hundred different versions of each new track -- meticulously documenting the combinations of beats and melodies that made the club crowds go wild. Through these experiments, an entirely new genre of music blossomed, one that seemed tailor-made for the age of manufactured boybands and girl groups. Having grown up in socialist Sweden, Pop's approach to writing music was almost utilitarian. Like so many Swedish success stories -- IKEA, H&M, Volvo and Spotify -- the Cheiron team wanted their product to appeal to the maximum amount of people, which in a country with a population of only nine million meant focusing outside the nation's borders. Pop designed his music to reflect the lives of the people who bought more music than anyone else -- American teenagers -- at least as far as he understood them from his basement in faraway Stockholm.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's updated-estimates department
schwit1 shares a report from the New York Post: In the U.S., 5.8 million people are living with the debilitating condition, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and that number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050. Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota believe, however, that many more people are probably already living with it without having a formal diagnosis. They've been using brain imaging to give a definite answer as to how many people are affected. Tests on 2,500 people have shown that double the number of people have telltale signs of protein plaques and tangles in the brain -- markers of Alzheimer's disease -- even if they're not experiencing dementia. "The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is all based on clinical assessment. It's just based on the question 'Do you have dementia?'" Dr. Jack Clifford, the Alexander Family professor of Alzheimer's disease research at the Mayo Clinic, told The Telegraph. "Classically defined Alzheimer's undercounts people who have the pathology but do not have symptoms. A lot more people have the disease but do not have symptoms, just like a lot more people have hypertension than have had a stroke, or a lot more people have diabetes than people who have gone blind."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dude-chill department
Jackson Cosko, a former employee of Senator Maggie Hassan, has "admitted to breaking into Hassan's office after being fired, stealing data that included personal contact information, then posting that information online during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing," reports The Verge. The report says Cosko added several senators' private phone numbers and addresses to Wikipedia. He has pleaded guilty to computer fraud, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and making restricted personal information public. From the report: Cosko worked as a computer system administrator for Hassan, but he was fired in May of 2018. According to a plea agreement, he retaliated by using another employee's key to break into his old workplace at least four times, installing keyloggers on computers and using stolen login credentials to download gigabytes of data. While watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearing in September, Cosko "became angry" at Republican senators questioning Kavanaugh -- so he posted contact information for Senators Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, and Orrin Hatch on Wikipedia. Cosko was interning for US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee at the time, and his changes were flagged by a bot that detects Wikipedia edits from congressional computers. The bot inadvertently helped spread the senators' information across Twitter, a process that prosecutors say Cosko aided by tweeting about his leaks.
< article continued at Slashdot's dude-chill department
>Read Replies (0)