By EditorDavid from Slashdot's OS-as-a-Service department
Iwastheone shares an article by former PC World columnist Chris Hoffman.
"No PC users asked Microsoft for Windows as a service," Hoffman complains. "It was all Microsoft's idea."
"Software as a service" is trendy. But these types of services are generally hosted on a remote platform, like Amazon Web Services or even Microsoft Azure. Web applications like Gmail and Facebook are services. That all makes sense -- the company maintains the software, and you access it remotely. An operating system that runs on millions of different hardware configurations is not a service. It can't be updated as easily, and you'll run into issues with hardware, drivers, and software when you change things. The upgrade process isn't instant and transparent -- it's a big download and can take a while to install... [M]illions of applications (or computers!) could break if Microsoft makes a mistake with Windows.
What has Windows as a service even gotten us? How much has Windows 10 improved since its release? Sure, Microsoft keeps adding new features like the Timeline and Paint 3D, but how many Windows users care about those? Many of these new features, like Paint 3D and updates to Microsoft Edge, could be delivered without major operating system upgrades. Just take a look at the many features in Windows 10's October 2018 Update and ask whether they were worth all the deleted files and drama. Texting from your PC is great, but Microsoft could release an app that does that -- in fact, this was once supposed to be a Skype feature. Clipboard history is cool, and a dark theme for File Explorer is cute. But couldn't we have waited another six months for Microsoft to properly polish and test this stuff?
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fat-fingering department
Motherboard staff writer Daniel Oberhaus writes:
If I had a single piece of advice for anyone thinking about getting an NFC chip implant it would be to do it sober.... [A]t the urging of everyone at the implant station, the first thing I did with my implant was secure it with a four-digit pin. I hadn't decided what sort of data I wanted to put on the chip, but I sure as hell didn't want someone else to write to my chip first and potentially lock me out. I chose the same pin that I used for my phone so I wouldn't forget it in the morning -- or at least, I thought I did.... I spent most of my first day as a cyborg desperately cycling through the various pin possibilities that made it impossible for me to unlock the NFC chip in my hand and add data to it.
He remained locked out of his own implanted microchip for over a year. But even when he regained access, "a part of me wants to leave it blank. After a year of living with a totally useless NFC implant, I kind of started to like it.
"That small, almost imperceptible little bump on my left hand was a constant reminder that even the most sophisticated and fool-proof technologies are no match for human incompetence."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-the-chips department
"British companies are planning to microchip some of their staff in order to boost security and stop them accessing sensitive areas," reports the Telegraph. "Biohax, a Swedish company that provides human chip implants, told the Telegraph it was in talks with a number of UK legal and financial firms to implant staff with the devices."
An anonymous reader quote Zero Hedge:
It is really happening. At one time, the idea that large numbers of people would willingly allow themselves to have microchips implanted into their hands seemed a bit crazy, but now it has become a reality. Thousands of tech enthusiasts all across Europe have already had microchips implanted, and now a Swedish company is working with very large global employers....
For security-obsessed corporations, this sort of technology can appear to have a lot of upside. If all of your employees are chipped, you will always know where they are, and you will always know who has access to sensitive areas or sensitive information. According to a top official from Biohax, the procedure to implant a chip takes "about two seconds...." Of course once this technology starts to be implemented, there will be some workers that will object. But if it comes down to a choice between getting the implant or losing their jobs, how many workers do you think will choose to become unemployed?
Engadget provides more examples, pointing out that in 2006 an Ohio surveillance firm had two employees in its secure data center implant RFIDs in their triceps, and that just last year 80 employees at Three Square Market in Wisconsin had chips implanted into their hands. Their article also hints that "no one's thinking about the inevitable DEF CON talk 'Chipped employees: Fun with attack vectors'"
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's qubits-and-bytes department
"Quantum computing is complex and it's not all it's cracked up to be," writes Slashdot reader nickwinlund77, pointing to this new article from IEEE Spectrum arguing it's "not in our foreseeable future":
Having spent decades conducting research in quantum and condensed-matter physics, I've developed my very pessimistic view. It's based on an understanding of the gargantuan technical challenges that would have to be overcome to ever make quantum computing work.... Experts estimate that the number of qubits needed for a useful quantum computer, one that could compete with your laptop in solving certain kinds of interesting problems, is between 1,000 and 100,000. So the number of continuous parameters describing the state of such a useful quantum computer at any given moment must be at least 2**1,000, which is to say about 10**300. That's a very big number indeed. How big? It is much, much greater than the number of subatomic particles in the observable universe. To repeat: A useful quantum computer needs to process a set of continuous parameters that is larger than the number of subatomic particles in the observable universe. At this point in a description of a possible future technology, a hardheaded engineer loses interest....
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By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University. The gift is believed to be the largest ever to an academic institution. The money is earmarked for scholarships and grants for undergraduate students from low and middle-income families, Mr. Bloomberg, 76, said through a press release. The gift will enable Johns Hopkins to become one of just a handful of need-blind schools -- meaning students will be considered for admission regardless of their ability to pay. Currently, 44% of Johns Hopkins students graduate with some form of debt averaging $24,000. From a report: As a direct result of the endowment, Johns Hopkins will be able to permanently commit to "need-blind admissions," which will admit the highest-achieving students from all backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay, according to the university. In addition, the Baltimore-based school will be able to offer no-loan financial aid packages, reduce contributions for families who qualify for financial aid, provide "comprehensive student support," and increase the enrollment of Pell grant eligible students, which will "build a more socioeconomically diverse student body," Johns Hopkins said in a statement. In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Bloomberg wrote: America is at its best when we reward people based on the quality of their work, not the size of their pocketbook. Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity. It perpetuates intergenerational poverty. And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's blast-off department
Long-time Slashdot reader PuddleBoy quotes NasaSpaceflight.com: Northrop Grumman Innovation System's Antares rocket has launched the NG-10 Cygnus, named the S.S. John Young, on its way to the International Space Station on Saturday morning from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia... With its second and final flight of 2018 upon it, Antares lofted the S.S. John Young Cygnus up to the International Space Station with 3,268 kg (7,205 lb) of pressurized cargo and 82 kg (181 lb) of unpressurized cargo....
Cygnus is undertaking a two phase to the International Space Station, aligning for close approach to the orbital lab for grapple on Monday morning, 19 November -- just over 48 hours after launch. Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Serena Aunon-Chancellor will grapple Cygnus with the Station robotic arm, known as the SSRMS or the Space Station Remote Manipulator System).
John Young was a pioneering astronaut who died in January at the age of 87 -- 36 years after he became the ninth person to walk on the moon, driving the Lunar Roving Vehicle. He was also the commander on the very first Space Shuttle flight in 1981. "We're really proud to name it after John Young," said one executive at Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, "and we'll work hard to do him proud."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's faster-faster department
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
"One key factor is also whether the respective feature can be turned on by default and thus have maximum impact rather than being only made available optionally," Sullivan and Ubl said.... "We want developers to be creative in approaching and solving the performance problem on the web but at a high-level we'll be looking at features that directly impact loading performance (e.g. use of feature policies, smart bundling, code-splitting, differential serving) and runtime performance (e.g. breaking tasks into smaller, schedulable chunks & keeping fps high)...."
But in addition to putting up funds to help frameworks improve their codebase, Google has also invited the development teams some of these frameworks to provide feedback in a more prominent role as part of the Google Chrome development process... "Frameworks sometimes make web apps slower. They are also our best hope to make it faster," a slide in Sullivan and Ubl's Chrome Dev Summit presentation read.
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's free-as-in-beer department
An anonymous reader quotes SD Times:
Amazon wants to make sure Java is available for free to its users in the long term with the introduction of Amazon Corretto. The solution is a no-cost, multi-platform, production-ready distribution of the Open Java Development Kit (OpenJDK). "Java is one of the most popular languages in use by AWS customers, and we are committed to supporting Java and keeping it free," Arun Gupta, principal open-source technologist at Amazon, wrote in a blog post. "Many of our customers have become concerned that they would have to pay for a long-term supported version of Java to run their workloads. As a first step, we recently re-affirmed long-term support for Java in Amazon Linux. However, our customers and the broader Java community run Java on a variety of platforms, both on and off of AWS."
Amazon Corretto will be available with long-term support and Amazon will continue to make performance enhancements and security fixes to it, the company explained. Amazon plans on making quarterly updates with bug fixes and patches, as well as any urgent fixes necessary outside of its schedule... Corretto 8 is available as a preview with features corresponding to those in OpenJDK 8. General availability for the solution is planned for Q1 2019... "Corretto is designed as a drop-in replacement for all Java SE distributions unless you're using features not available in OpenJDK (e.g., Java Flight Recorder)," Gupta wrote....
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's plenty-of-commits department
GitHub saw more than 67 million pull requests this year -- more than a third of GitHub's "lifetime" total of 200 million pull requests since its launch in 2008. It now hosts 96 million repositories, and has over 31 million contributors -- including 8 million who just joined within the last 12 months.
These are among the facts released in GitHub's annual "State of the Octoverse" report -- a surprising number of which involve Microsoft.
GitHub's top project this year, by contributor count, was Microsoft's Visual Studio Code (with 19,000 contributors), followed by Facebook's React Native (10,000), TensorFlow (9,300) and Angular CLI (8,800) -- as well as Angular (7,600) -- and the open source documentation for Microsoft Azure (7,800).
Microsoft now has more employees contributing to open source projects than any other company or organization (7,700 employees), followed by Google (5,500), Red Hat (3,300), U.C. Berkeley (2,700), and Intel (2,200). The open source documentation for Microsoft Azure is GitHub's fastest-growing open source project, followed by PyTorch (an open source machine learning library for Python).
Among the "Cool new open source projects" is an Electron app running Windows 95.
But more than 2.1 million organizations are now using GitHub (including public and private repositories) -- which is 40% more than last year -- and the report offers a fun glimpse into the minutiae of life in the coding community.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-movies department
"And the winner of the 2021 Academy Award for best picture is .â.â. Apple?" jokes the Washington Post, noting that Apple has just signed a new multi-year movie deal with film production company A24, "and while that seems like a comparatively minor announcement, it could change the game in some significant ways."
It's sneakily consequential. A24, if you're not familiar, is the boutique New York outfit that has been responsible for a slew of hipster-approved, Academy Award-recognized films including "Lady Bird," "Moonlight" and "Room." Since its founding six years ago by a trio that includes the former partner of late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, it has located commercial success and downtown cool. Its movies are handmade hipster-fests that also often manage to please audiences: In addition to its big three, they include "Hereditary," "Eighth Grade," "A Ghost Story" and "Ex Machina". Welcome to the party, Tim Cook....
For Apple, cachet is everything. And it needs that now. A company that has prided itself on cool has reason to be worried about sustaining that on the entertainment side, with Netflix swiping its video lunch and Spotify some of its music swagger.
That with major competitors like Amazon already producing its own films, Apple, "had to do something..." They add the Apple's announcement "contained about as many details as the iPhone 7 has headphone jacks."
But "Even without those specifics, the significance was clear. Apple is installing itself as a producer of some of the most-acclaimed films around, all without needing to take a single meeting or read one script off the slush pile first...."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Zero-Cool department
YouTube's "Movies & Shows" page added a "Free to Watch" section last month. They're trying to compete with free ad-supported online movie offerings from Roku, Walmart, and Tubi, while "Amazon is rumored to be working on something similar," reports TechCrunch:
Before, YouTube had only offered consumers the ability to purchase movies and TV shows, similar to how you can rent or buy content from Apple's iTunes or Amazon Video.... Currently, YouTube is serving ads on these free movies, but the report said the company is open to working out other deals with advertisers -- like sponsorships or exclusive screenings. YouTube's advantage in this space, compared with some others, is its sizable user base of 1.9 billion monthly active users and its ability to target ads using data from Google.
The 99 free movies include the first five Rocky movies, and four movies in the Pink Panther series (all from the post-Peter Sellers era, including the forgotten 1993 film in which the title theme is sung by Bobby McFerrin), as well as Pauly Shore's dreadful 1996 comedy Bio-Dome (which received a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Also available is James Cameron's original 1984 film The Terminator, the 2010 documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story and the 1995 film "Hackers" starring Angelina Jolie.
"In this cyberpunk thriller, a renegade group of elite teenage computer hackers rollerblade through New York City by day and ride the information highway by night. After hacking into a high-stakes industrial conspiracy, they become prime suspects and must recruit the best of the cybernet underground to help clear their names."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's very-cold-cases department
A U.S. Army officer with a security clearance and a "solid professional reputation" believes he's solved the infamous D.B. Cooper skyjacking case -- naming two now-dead men in New Jersey who have never before been suspected, "possibly breaking wide open the only unsolved skyjacking case in U.S. history," according to the Oregonian.
The data analyst started his research because, simply enough, he had stumbled upon an obscure old book called "D.B. Cooper: What Really Happened," by the late author Max Gunther. Gunther wrote that he was contacted in 1972 by a man who claimed to be the skyjacker... Using the name "Dan LeClair" and various details from the book, as well as information from the FBI's D.B. Cooper case files that have become public in recent years, Anonymous tracked the bread crumbs to a very real man named Dan Clair, a World War II Army veteran who died in 1990... Continuing his research, our anonymous Army officer eventually determined that Clair probably was not D.B. Cooper. More likely the skyjacker was a friend and co-worker of Clair's, a native New Jerseyan by the name of William J. Smith, who died in January of this year at age 89... Clair and Smith worked together at Penn Central Transportation Co. and one of its predecessors. For a while, they were both "yardies" at the Oak Island rail yard in Newark. It appears they bonded in the 1960s as Penn Central struggled to adapt to a changing economy.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-creepy-at-all department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: Facebook has submitted a patent application for technology that would predict who your family and other household members are, based on images and captions posted to Facebook, as well as your device information, like shared IP addresses. The application, titled "Predicting household demographics based on image data," was originally filed May 10, 2017, and made public today. The system Facebook proposes in its patent application would use facial recognition and learning models trained to understand text to help Facebook better understand whom you live with and interact with most. The technology described in the patent looks for clues in your profile pictures on Facebook and Instagram, as well as photos of you that you or your friends post.
It would note the people identified in a photo, and how frequently the people are included in your pictures. Then, it would assess information from comments on the photos, captions, or tags (#family, #mom, #kids) -- anything that indicates whether someone is a husband, daughter, cousin, etc. -- to predict what your family/household actually looks like. According to the patent application, Facebook's prediction models would also analyze "messaging history, past tagging history, [and] web browsing history" to see if multiple people share IP addresses (a unique identifier for every internet network). A Facebook spokesperson said in response to the story, "We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patents should not be taken as an indication of future plans."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department
v3rgEz writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation and transparency non-profit MuckRock helped file over a thousand public records requests, looking into how local police departments were trading away sensitive data on where you drive and park, picked up by their use of automated license plate recognition devices. They've just published the results of those requests, including looking at how hundreds of departments freely share that data with hundreds of other organizations -- often with no public oversight. Explore the data yourself, or, if your town isn't yet in their database, requests its information free on MuckRock and they'll file a request for it. "[Automated license plate readers (ALPR)] are a combination of high-speed cameras and optical character recognition technology that can identify license plates and turn them into machine-readable text," reports the EFF. "What makes ALPR so powerful is that drivers are required by law to install license plates on their vehicles. In essence, our license plates have become tracking beacons. After the plate data is collected, the ALPR systems upload the information to a central a database along with the time, date, and GPS coordinates. Cops can search these databases to see where drivers have traveled or to identify vehicles that visited certain locations. Police can also add license plates under suspicion to 'hot lists,' allowing for real-time alerts when a vehicle is spotted by an ALPR network."Read Replies (0)