By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
The dream of the '90s was alive in Microsoft Teams this week when Microsoft's old office assistant, Clippy, showed up. From a report: If you used Microsoft Office between 1997 and 2001, you likely remember Clippy as the animated paperclip that popped up and offered tips for using the software. Microsoft did away with Clippy in 2001, so people were surprised to see Clippy stickers appear in Microsoft Teams this week. And they were even more surprised when, just a day later, Microsoft offed the little guy again. On Tuesday, Clippy appeared as an animated pack of stickers for Microsoft Teams. The stickers were released on the Office Developer GitHub page, but by the next day, they had vanished. Clippy was around just long enough to rally old fans, and there's now a user petition to bring Clippy back.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's needs-more-fine-tuning department
AmiMoJo shares a report from Ars Technica: The afternoon commute of Reddit user Beastpilot takes him past a stretch of Seattle-area freeway with a carpool lane exit on the left. Last year, in early April, the Tesla driver noticed that Autopilot on his Model X would sometimes pull to the left as the car approached the lane divider -- seemingly treating the space between the diverging lanes as a lane of its own. This was particularly alarming, because just days earlier, Tesla owner Walter Huang had died in a fiery crash after Autopilot steered his Model X into a concrete lane divider in a very similar junction in Mountain View, California. Beastpilot made several attempts to notify Tesla of the problem but says he never got a response. Weeks later, Tesla pushed out an update that seemed to fix the problem. Then in October, it happened again. Weeks later, the problem resolved itself. This week, he posted dashcam footage showing the same thing happening a third time -- this time with a recently acquired Model 3. "The behavior of the system changes dramatically between software updates," Beastpilot told Ars. "Human nature is, 'if something's worked 100 times before, it's gonna work the 101st time.'" That can lull people into a false sense of security, with potentially deadly consequences.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's importance-of-fiber department
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a new report calling for a "fiber for all" plan to combat the broadband access crisis in the United States. Government data and independent analysis show we are falling behind the rest of the developed world in this area, and "the U.S. is the only country that believes having no plan will solve this issue," writes Ernesto Falcon from the EFF. "We are the only country to completely abandon federal oversight of an uncompetitive, highly concentrated market that sells critical services to all people, yet we expect widely available, affordable, ultra-fast services. But if you live in a low-income neighborhood or in a rural market today, you know very well this is not working and the status quo is going to cement in your local broadband options to either one choice or no choice." From the report: Very small ISPs and local governments with limited budgets are at the frontline of deploying fiber to the home to fix these problems, but policymakers from the federal, state, and local level need to step up and lead. At least 19 states still have laws that prohibit local governments from deploying community broadband projects. Worst yet, both AT&T and Verizon are actively asking the FCC to make it even harder for small private ISPs to deploy fiber, so that the big incumbents can raise prices and suppress competition, a proposal EFF has urged the FCC to reject.
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Devin Nunes, R-Calif., escalated the feud between conservatives and Twitter earlier this week with a lawsuit accusing the company of defamation and negligence -- two different allegations, one of which poses a more serious question for the social media platform and technology companies in general. Nunes is claiming that Twitter negligently violated its terms of service when it allowed people onto its online "premises" to say false or disparaging things about him. He is seeking $250 million in damages due to "pain, insult, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and mental suffering, and injury to [Nunes'] personal and professional reputations" brought on by what Twitter users said about him.
From a report: Defamation is an interesting legal matter to discuss, at least in theory, but suing for defamation is seldom profitable in reality. Negligence may not sound as exciting as defamation, but this theory of liability quietly drives most successful civil litigation. Relatively easy to prove, it generally requires that the defendant show conduct that came up short of what can be expected, and that this shortcoming caused the plaintiff's damages. [...] The primary reason that technology companies are not sued into oblivion is the existence of the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, and in particular Section 230, which states that providers of an interactive computer service shall not be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. Ordinarily, a lawsuit like this is properly filed against the Twitter user or account (like "Devin Nunes' Mom") and not Twitter itself.
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By msmash from Slashdot's upon-further-reflection department
A group of researchers claims to have built a prototype for an "online polygraph" that uses machine learning to detect deception from text alone. But as a few machine learning academics point out, what these researchers have actually demonstrated is the inherent danger of overblown machine learning claims. From a report: When Wired showed the study to a few academics and machine learning experts, they responded with deep skepticism. Not only does the study not necessarily serve as the basis of any kind of reliable truth-telling algorithm, it makes potentially dangerous claims: A text-based "online polygraph" that's faulty, they warn, could have far worse social and ethical implications if adopted than leaving those determinations up to human judgment.
"It's an eye-catching result. But when we're dealing with humans, we have to be extra careful, especially when the implications of whether someone's lying could lead to conviction, censorship, the loss of a job," says Jevin West, a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington and a noted critic of machine learning hype. "When people think the technology has these abilities, the implications are bigger than a study."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
Intel will not develop new Compute Cards, the company said this week. From a report: Compute Cards were Intel's vision of modular computing that would allow customers to continually update point of sale systems, all-in-one desktops, laptops and other devices. Pull out one card, replace it with another, and you have a new CPU, plus RAM and storage. "We continue to believe modular computing is a market where there are many opportunities for innovation," an Intel spokesperson told Tom's Hardware. "However, as we look at the best way to address this opportunity, we've made the decision that we will not develop new Compute Card products moving forward. We will continue to sell and support the current Compute Card products through 2019 to ensure our customers receive the support they need with their current solutions, and we are thankful for their partnership on this change."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-trends department
Microsoft's programming language TypeScript has become one of the most popular languages among developers, at least according to a report published by the analyst firm RedMonk this week. Wired: TypeScript jumped from number 16 to number 12, just behind Apple's programming language Swift in RedMonk's semiannual rankings, which were last published in August. Microsoft unveiled TypeScript in 2012, and while it hasn't grown as quickly as Swift -- which has grown faster than any other language, ever since RedMonk started compiling the rankings in 2011 -- TypeScript's own ascendance is impressive, given the sheer number of available programming languages.
More and more applications these days use TypeScript. Google's programming framework Angular, the second most popular tool of its type according to data released last year by the startup NPM, is written in TypeScript. So is Vue, an increasingly popular framework finding a home both among smaller companies and tech giants like Alibaba. But RedMonk doesn't look at how many jobs are available for people skilled in a particular language, nor how many companies actually use the language. Instead, the firm tries to spot trends in developer interest by looking at how many projects on GitHub use certain languages, and how many questions are asked about those languages on the programmer Q&A site Stack Overflow. The idea is to get a sense of where the software development profession is heading.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-frustration department
An anonymous reader writes: Deciding which streaming outlet you want to subscribe to can be just as hard as finding a show itself. With options from big players like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium -- and looming new platforms from the likes of Disney, Apple, AT&T and NBCUniversal -- consumers are already starting to grow frustrated with the crowded streaming marketplace as "subscription fatigue" sets in, according to Deloitte's 13th edition of its Digital Media Trends survey.
Viewers are taking advantage of these options: the average video consumer subscribes to three video streaming services, said Deloitte. But they're growing frustrated over just how many options they have. Nearly half of those surveyed, at 47 percent, said they are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services to watch their shows. And this audience grows attached to the content: 57 percent of consumers said it frustrates them when shows and movies disappear from their streaming libraries.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
A scan of billions of files from 13 percent of all GitHub public repositories over a period of six months has revealed that over 100,000 repos have leaked API tokens and cryptographic keys, with thousands of new repositories leaking new secrets on a daily basis. From a report: The scan was the object of academic research carried out by a team from the North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the study's results have been shared with GitHub, which acted on the findings to accelerate its work on a new security feature called Token Scanning, currently in beta. The NCSU study is the most comprehensive and in-depth GitHub scan to date and exceeds any previous research of its kind. NCSU academics scanned GitHub accounts for a period of nearly six months, between October 31, 2017, and April 20, 2018, and looked for text strings formatted like API tokens and cryptographic keys.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Up to 95% of all reported trading in bitcoin is artificially created by unregulated exchanges, according to a new study [PDF], raising fresh doubts about the nascent market following a steep decline in prices over the past year. From a report: Fraudulent trading volume has dogged cryptocurrency trading for years, but the extent of the market manipulation has been difficult to determine. Bitwise Asset Management said its analysis of trading activity at 81 exchanges over four days in March indicates that the actual market for bitcoin is far smaller than previously thought. The San Francisco-based company submitted its research to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with an application to launch a bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund.
The study, made public Thursday, is an attempt to alleviate the agency's longstanding concerns that a bitcoin ETF would leave investors exposed to fraud and market manipulation. Bitwise's fund, if approved, would be based upon the 5% of trading it considers legitimate, said Matthew Hougan, Bitwise's head of global research. That volume comes from 10 regulated exchanges that can verify that their trading data and customers are real. This slice of the market, he said, is well regulated, transparent and efficient. "I hope everyone sees there is a real market for bitcoin," he said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's improper-data-gathering-practices department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Facebook employees were aware of concerns about "improper data-gathering practices" by Cambridge Analytica months before the Guardian first reported, in December 2015, that the political consultancy had obtained data on millions from an academic. The concerns appeared in a court filing by the attorney general for Washington DC and were subsequently confirmed by Facebook. The new information "could suggest that Facebook has consistently mislead [sic]" British lawmakers "about what it knew and when about Cambridge Analytica," tweeted Damian Collins, the chair of the House of Commons digital culture media and sport select committee (DCMS) in response to the court filing.
In a statement, a company spokesperson said: "Facebook absolutely did not mislead anyone about this timeline." After publication of this article, the spokesperson acknowledged that Facebook employees heard rumors of data scraping by Cambridge Analytica in September 2015. The spokesperson said that this was a "different incident" from Cambridge Analytica's acquisition of a trove of data about as many as 87 million users that has been widely reported on for the past year. "In September 2015 employees heard speculation that Cambridge Analytica was scraping data, something that is unfortunately common for any internet service," the spokesperson said. "In December 2015, we first learned through media reports that Kogan sold data to Cambridge Analytica, and we took action. Those were two different things." The filing raised questions about when Facebook first learned about the misuse of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, the now defunct political consultancy.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-and-what-army department
Google's Stadio cloud-gaming service may be intercepted by a similar service from Walmart. According to a report from US Gamer, the American retail giant is looking into launching its own cloud gaming service. From the report: Multiple sources familiar with Walmart's plans, who wish to remain anonymous, confirmed to USG that the retail giant is exploring its own platform to enter in the now-competitive video game streaming race. No other details were revealed other than it will be a streaming service for video games, and that Walmart has been speaking with developers and publishers since earlier this year and throughout this year's Game Developers Conference. Walmart's discussions with developers for its streaming service have been secretive, and it's unclear how far along the service is in-development. But our sources are confident that this is a space Walmart is trying to move into.
Though Walmart might sound like a strange company to be jumping into the streaming tech space, the move isn't wholly unexpected. In recent years due to competition from Amazon, Walmart has been increasingly looking into more tech-focused markets beyond its traditional physical retail chain. Over time, Walmart has integrated its physical stores with its large online presence, offering deliveries, app integrations, and in-store pick up services. Walmart also has a technology arm in Silicon Valley called Walmart Labs, which has 6,000 employees and develops tech for Walmart's digital presence. In addition it boasts tools like Cruxlux, which is a search engine designed to reveal the connection between any two people, places, or things. Finally, Walmart has a data center unofficially called Area 71 in Caverna, Missouri which holds over 460 trillion bytes of data. Data centers are a centerpiece of Google's Stadia streaming service and companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple also own powerful data facilities, all of whom are also coincidentally working in streaming technology.Read Replies (0)