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Happy 18th Birthday, Wikipedia
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's thank-you-for-everything department:
This week, Wikipedia celebrates its 18th birthday. If the massive crowdsourced encyclopedia project were human, then in most countries, it would just now be considered a legal adult. But in truth, the free online encyclopedia has long played the role of the Internet's good grown-up.

From a story: Wikipedia has grown enormously since its inception: It now boasts 5.7 million articles in English and pulled in 92 billion page views last year. The site has also undergone a major reputation change. If you ask Siri, Alexa or Google Home a general-knowledge question, it will likely pull the response from Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia has been cited in more than 400 judicial opinions, according to a 2010 paper in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology.

Many professors are ditching the traditional writing assignment and instead asking students to expand or create a Wikipedia article on the topic. And YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki announced a plan last March to pair misleading conspiracy videos with links to corresponding articles from Wikipedia. Facebook has also released a feature using Wikipedia's content to provide users more information about the publication source for articles in their feed.

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Microsoft is Separating Cortana From Search in Windows 10
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
Microsoft is making some big changes to Cortana in Windows 10. The company intends to decouple search and Cortana in the Windows 10 taskbar, allowing voice queries to be handled separately to typing in a search box to find documents and files. From a report: This change will be implemented in the next major Windows 10 update, currently scheduled for April. Windows 10 will direct you towards an built-in search experience for text queries, while Cortana will exist for voice queries instead of them both bundled together. "This will enable each experience to innovate independently to best serve their target audiences and use cases," explains Dona Sarkar, Microsoft's Windows Insider chief. "This change is one of several we've made throughout this release to improve your experience in this space, including updating the search landing page design, enhancing your search results, and integrating Microsoft To-Do with Cortana."

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Google's Transition To 64-Bit Apps Begins in August, 32-Bit Support To End in 2021
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
In a bid to deliver better software experience on devices powered by 64-bit processors in the coming years, Google aims to shift Android towards a 64-bit app ecosystem. From a report: The company has now shed more light on the transition and has announced that developers will have to submit a 64-bit version of their Android apps starting August this year. This move will eventually culminate in a universal implementation of the 64-bit app policy that will be enforced in 2021, after which, Google will no longer host 32-bit apps on the Play Store accessed on a device based on 64-bit hardware. Google announced the move towards 64-bit apps in 2017, claiming that apps with 64-bit code offer significantly better performance. However, the search giant did not provide any details regarding the exceptions to the new rule or when the Play Store will cease to serve 32-bit apps. Google has now revealed that starting August 1 this year, developers must submit 64-bit versions of all new apps and app updates, alongside the old 32-bit versions prior to their publishing from the Play Store.

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Mozilla Kills Its Experimental Firefox Test Pilot Program 3 Years After Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Mozilla has announced that it is closing Firefox Test Pilot, an experimental program it launched three years ago. Firefox Test Pilot allowed users to try out potential new built-in Firefox features to understand if they are popular with users. The company says the program was used by an average of 100,000 daily users. A report adds: It's worth noting here that Test Pilot is separate from the various beta versions of Firefox, which are early iterations designed to fine-tune features intended for the prime-time Firefox. Test Pilot, on the other hand, is more about Mozilla dipping its toes in the water to see whether a new feature is worth pursuing at all in the main version of the app, or even as a standalone product. Ultimately, it allows Firefox developers to take bigger risks with their ideas.

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Most Facebook Users Don't Know That it Records a List of Their Interests, New Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Seventy-four percent of Facebook users are unaware that Facebook records a list of their interests for ad-targeting purposes, according to a new study from the Pew Institute. From a report: Participants in the study were first pointed to Facebook's ad preferences page, which lists out a person's interests. Nearly 60 percent of participants admitted that Facebook's lists of interests were very or somewhat accurate to their actual interests, and 51 percent said they were uncomfortable with Facebook creating the list.

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Finland's Ambitious Plan To Teach Anyone the Basics of AI
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
In the era of AI superpowers, Finland is no match for the US and China. So the Scandinavian country is taking a different tack. From a report: It has embarked on an ambitious challenge to teach the basics of AI to 1% of its population, or 55,000 people. Once it reaches that goal, it plans to go further, increasing the share of the population with AI know-how. The scheme is all part of a greater effort to establish Finland as a leader in applying and using the technology.

Citizens take an online course that is specifically designed for non-technology experts with no programming experience. The government is now rolling it out nationally. As of mid-December, more than 10,500 people, including at least 4,000 outside of Finland's borders, had graduated from the course. More than 250 companies have also pledged to train part or all of their workforce.

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The Motorola Razr Could Return as a $1,500 Foldable Smartphone
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
The iconic Motorola RAZR might be making a comeback as a $1,500 foldable screen smartphone, and it could launch as early as February, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. From a report: The price point puts the handset north of even Apple and Samsung's flagships, at $1,500. Of course, there isn't really a standardized price point for the emerging foldables category yet. The Royole FlexPai starts at around $1,300 -- not cheap, especially for a product from a relative unknown. And Samsung, the next on the list to embrace the foldable, has never been afraid to hit a premium price point. Ultimately, $1,500 could well be standard for these sorts of products. Whether or not consumers are willing to pay that, however, is another question entirely.

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WhatsApp Now Has More Monthly Active Users Than Facebook App
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Facebook's $19 billion bet on WhatsApp in 2014, when the messaging app had 450 million active users, is beginning to pay off. From a report: In recent months, WhatsApp has surpassed Facebook's own marquee app in popularity, according to industry estimates. In September of last year, WhatsApp for the first time had more monthly active users worldwide on Android and iPhone platforms than the Facebook app, research firm App Annie said today in its annual State of Mobile report. App Annie did not share specific figures but told VentureBeat that WhatsApp has maintained its lead over the Facebook app since September.

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Sprint To Stop Selling Location Data To Third Parties
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-relief department:
After AT&T and T-Mobile said they would stop selling their customers' phone location data to third parties, Sprint has followed suit. From a report: Last week, Motherboard revealed that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint had been selling their customers' real-time location data that ultimately ended up in the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. Motherboard found this by purchasing the capability to geolocate a phone for $300 on the black market. In response, AT&T and T-Mobile said they were stopping all sales of location data to third parties.

Nearly a week later Sprint has committed to doing the same, in a statement to Motherboard. "As a result of recent events, we have decided to end our arrangements with data aggregators," a Sprint spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. Sprint did not provide a timeline of when this data access selling may end, but T-Mobile and AT&T have previously said their processes will be complete in March.

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WeWork's CEO Makes Millions as Landlord To WeWork
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: For more than two months after employees at IBM moved into a Manhattan building managed by office space giant WeWork, frequent elevator problems forced workers to climb the stairs of the 11-story building and prompted complaints to the company. One of the landlords behind the building was no ordinary owner: It was Adam Neumann, WeWork's chief executive, who leased the property to WeWork after buying it [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], according to people familiar with the situation.

Mr. Neumann has made millions of dollars by leasing multiple properties in which he has an ownership stake back to WeWork, one of the country's most valuable startups. Multiple investors of the privately held company said the arrangement concerned them as a potential conflict of interest in which the CEO could benefit on rents or other terms with the company. [...] WeWork, which was recently valued at $47 billion by investor SoftBank, signs long-term leases for office space with landlords, then subleases the space on a short-term basis to companies. Mr. Neumann, the 39-year-old executive who founded WeWork in 2010, is WeWork's largest individual shareholder and has voting control over the company.

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World's First Robot Hotel Fires Half of Its Robot Staff
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shortcomings-of-AI-automation department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: The world's first hotel "staffed by robots" has culled half of its steely eyed employees, because they're rubbish and annoy the guests. "Our hotel's advanced technologies, introduced with the aim of maximizing efficiency, also add to the fun and comfort of your stay," the Henn na Hotel boasted on its website. It's where multilingual female robots staff the reception desk. Guests are checked in using face recognition. Robot concierges carry your luggage. Robots cleaned and mixed drinks. A voice activated robot doll is on hand at night while you sleep.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the room doll interpreted snoring as a request it couldn't understand, waking guests continually through the night to rephrase. "The two robot luggage carriers are out of use because they can reach only about two dozen of the more than 100 rooms in the hotel. They can travel only on flat surfaces and could malfunction if they get wet going outside to annex buildings," the paper reported. "They were really slow and noisy, and would get stuck trying to go past each other," lamented one guest. The concierge and the room doll have now been removed.

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Hubble Space Telescope Will Last Through the Mid-2020s, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '19 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's staying-alive department:
schwit1 shares a report from Space.com: Despite recent issues with one of its instruments, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to last at least another five years. A new report suggests that the iconic spacecraft has a strong chance of enduring through the mid-2020s. [...] One reason the spacecraft has lasted so long is that astronauts have provided aid. Servicing missions continued to update the telescope until 2009, when the space shuttle was retired. The final update to Hubble included the installation of two brand-new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and WFC3. The astronauts on Servicing Mission 4 also performed on-site repairs for the telescope's two other instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), both of which had stopped working. The astronauts additionally replaced Hubble's 18-year-old batteries with new ones; installed six new gyroscopes, whose job is turning the telescope; and added a brand-new Fine Guidance System to point the instrument. Astronauts also covered Hubble's equipment bays with insulating panels and installed a device that will help to guide the observatory down when its mission comes to an end.

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China and NASA Shared Data About Historic Moon Landing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 11:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sharing-is-caring department:
hackingbear writes: "China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since a Cold-War-era-like American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval," reports New York Post. "The Chinese space agency's deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft. China, in turn, shared the time and coordinates of Chang'e 4s scheduled landing. He added that while NASA's satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward." In response to the question about why would China allow this exchange given that the U.S. has put technological obstacles to China's lunar exploration program and refused to issue visas to Chinese experts, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, "China could have chosen not to offer the relevant information to the U.S., but as a major country, we should act with the posture and bearing of a major country. I believe what Mr. Wu said has shown the confidence, openness, and broadmindedness of Chinese aerospace engineers as well as scientists and researchers and China's confident and open posture as a major country."

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Insect Collapse: 'We Are Destroying Our Life Support Systems'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 09:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-data-more-problems department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished. His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming. "It was just astonishing," Lister said. "Before, both the sticky ground plates and canopy plates would be covered with insects. You'd be there for hours picking them off the plates at night. But now the plates would come down after 12 hours in the tropical forest with a couple of lonely insects trapped or none at all."

"We are essentially destroying the very life support systems that allow us to sustain our existence on the planet, along with all the other life on the planet," Lister said. "It is just horrifying to watch us decimate the natural world like this." Lister calls these impacts a "bottom-up trophic cascade", in which the knock-on effects of the insect collapse surge up through the food chain. "I don't think most people have a systems view of the natural world," he said. "But it's all connected and when the invertebrates are declining the entire food web is going to suffer and degrade. It is a system-wide effect." To understand the global scale of an insect collapse that has so far only been glimpsed, Lister says, there is an urgent need for much more research in many more habitats. "More data, that is my mantra," he said.

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Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Meme Could Train Facial Recognition Algorithms On Age Progression, Age Recognition
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-as-harmless-as-it-seems department:
If you've spent any time on social media lately, you've probably noticed a trend where users are posting their then-and-now profile pictures, mostly from 10 years ago and this year. While this "10 Year Challenge" appears harmless, founder of KO Insights and the author of Tech Humanist, Kate O'Neill, says all this data "could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition." She adds: "It's worth considering the depth and breadth of the personal data we share without reservations." From the report: Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics, and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g. how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you'd want a broad and rigorous data set with lots of people's pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart -- say, 10 years. Sure, you could mine Facebook for profile pictures and look at posting dates or EXIF data. But that whole set of profile pictures could end up generating a lot of useless noise. People don't reliably upload pictures in chronological order, and it's not uncommon for users to post pictures of something other than themselves as a profile picture. A quick glance through my Facebook friends' profile pictures shows a friend's dog who just died, several cartoons, word images, abstract patterns, and more. In other words, it would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully-labeled set of then-and-now photos.

< article continued at Slashdot's not-as-harmless-as-it-seems department >

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Pwn2Own Contest Will Pay $900,000 For Hacks That Exploit Tesla's Model 3
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bug-bounty department:
The Model 3 will be entered into Pwn2Own this year, the first time a car has been included in the annual high-profile hacking contest. The prize for the winning security researchers: a Model 3. TechCrunch reports: Pwn2Own, which is in its 12th year and run by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative, is known as one of the industry's toughest hacking contests. ZDI has awarded more than $4 million over the lifetime of the program. Pwn2Own's spring vulnerability research competition, Pwn2Own Vancouver, will be held March 20 to 22 and will feature five categories, including web browsers, virtualization software, enterprise applications, server-side software and the new automotive category. The targets, chosen by ZDI, include software products from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Oracle and VMware. And, of course, Tesla . Pwn2Own is run in conjunction with the CanSec West conference. There will be "more than $900,000 worth of prizes available for attacks that subvert a variety of [the Model 3's] onboard systems," reports Ars Technica. "The biggest prize will be $250,000 for hacks that execute code on the car's getaway, autopilot, or VCSEC." "A gateway is the central hub that interconnects the car's powertrain, chassis, and other components and processes the data they send. The autopilot is a driver assistant feature that helps control lane changing, parking, and other driving functions. Short for Vehicle Controller Secondary, VCSEC is responsible for security functions, including the alarm."

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Hackers Broke Into An SEC Database and Made Millions From Inside Information, Says DOJ
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's insider-trading department:
Federal prosecutors unveiled charges in an international stock-trading scheme that involved hacking into the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR corporate filing system. "The scheme allegedly netted $4.1 million for fraudsters from the U.S., Russia and Ukraine," reports CNBC. "Using 157 corporate earnings announcements, the group was able to execute trades on material nonpublic information. Most of those filings were 'test filings,' which corporations upload to the SEC's website." From the report: The scheme involves seven individuals and operated from May to at least October 2016. Prosecutors said the traders were part of the same group that previously hacked into newswire services. Carpenito, in a press conference Tuesday, said the thefts included thousands of valuable, private business documents. "After hacking into the EDGAR system they stole drafts of [these] reports before the information was disseminated to the general public," he said.

Those documents included quarterly earnings, mergers and acquisitions plans and other sensitive news, and the criminals were able to view it before it was released as a public filing, thus affecting the individual companies' stock prices. The alleged hackers executed trades on the reports and also sold them to other illicit traders. One inside trader made $270,000 in a single day, according to Carpenito. The hackers used malicious software sent via email to SEC employees. Then, after planting the software on the SEC computers, they sent the information they were able to gather from the EDGAR system to servers in Lithuania, where they either used it or distributed the data to other criminals, Carpenito said.

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Apple Maps Gooses DuckDuckGo In Search Privacy Partnership
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's privacy-first department:
Search engine DuckDuckGo now displays location information from Apple Maps in its search results. "DuckDuckGo now uses Apple Maps both for small maps in location-related search results and for larger, interactive search results that appear in a separate maps tab," reports CNET. "That replaces a combination including MapBox, OpenStreetMap and homegrown technology." From the report: The top reason DuckDuckGo argues you should try it is that it doesn't keep any personal information on you and what you searched for, unlike search leader Google. That dovetails nicely with Apple's sustained push to improve online privacy. But maintaining your privacy can be tough when you're looking for location-related information. DuckDuckGo says it's struck a balance, though. It doesn't send personally identifiable information such as your computer's Internet Protocol network address, to Apple or other third parties, DuckDuckGo said. "For local searches, where your approximate location information is sent by your browser to us, we discard it immediately after use," the company added.

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'Mona Lisa Effect' Is Real But Doesn't Apply To Leonardo's Painting
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: There have long been anecdotal reports that the eyes of the Mona Lisa -- Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci's most famous painting -- sometimes seem to follow viewers as they move around the artwork. The phenomenon is even called the "Mona Lisa effect" because of it. But a new study published in the journal i-Perception found that she's really "looking" to the right-hand side of her audience. "There is no doubt about the existence of the Mona Lisa effect," the authors wrote. "It just does not occur with the Mona Lisa herself."

This was a small study, with just 24 subjects. All were asked to look at a high-resolution recreation of the Mona Lisa on a computer monitor, with a folding ruler placed between them and the screen to track viewing distance. Subjects would signal where they perceived Mona Lisa's gaze met the ruler. The researchers sampled 15 sections of the famous portrait, ranging from the Mona Lisa's full head to just her eyes and nose, and they showed subjects each image three times in random order. They also changed the ruler's distance from the monitor halfway through the sessions. Based on the more than 2,000 individual assessments, they found no evidence of the Mona Lisa effect with Leonardo's masterpiece. "We demonstrated that Mona Lisa gazes to her left-hand side [the viewer's right] from about 35.5 cm inside pictorial space, and 14.4 degrees to the viewer's right-hand side in real space," the authors wrote. "Thus, Mona Lisa does not fulfill the premise of the Mona Lisa effect. She does not gaze at the viewer."

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A Supercomputer In a 19th Century Church Is 'World's Most Beautiful Data Center'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder department:
"Motherboard spoke to the Barcelona Supercomputing Center about how it outfitted a deconsecrated 19th century chapel to host the MareNostrum 4 -- the 25th most powerful supercomputer in the world," writes Slashdot reader dmoberhaus. From the report: Heralded as the "most beautiful data center in the world," the MareNostrum supercomputer came online in 2005, but was originally hosted in a different building at the university. Meaning "our sea" in Latin, the original MareNostrum was capable of performing 42.35 teraflops -- 42.35 trillion operations per second -- making it one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe at the time. Yet the MareNostrum rightly became known for its aesthetics as much as its computing power. According to Gemma Maspoch, head of communications for Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which oversees the MareNostrum facility, the decision to place the computer in a giant glass box inside a chapel was ultimately for practical reasons.

"We were in need of hundreds of square meters without columns and the capacity to support 44.5 tons of weight," Maspoch told me in an email. "At the time there was not much available space at the university and the only room that satisfied our requirements was the Torre Girona chapel. We did not doubt it for a moment and we installed a supercomputer in it." According to Maspoch, the chapel required relatively few modifications to host the supercomputer, such as reinforcing the soil around the church so that it would hold the computer's weight and designing a glass box that would house the computer and help cool it. The supercomputer has been beefed up over the years. Most recently, the fourth iteration came online in 2017 "with a peak computing capacity of 11 thousand trillion operations per second (11.15 petaflops)," reports Motherboard. "MareNostrum 4 is spread over 48 server racks comprising a total of 3,456 nodes. A node consists of two Intel chips, each of which has 24 processors."

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