By BeauHD from Slashdot's pot-calling-the-kettle-black department
Last week, Samsung introduced its latest smartphone, the Galaxy A8s. Not only is it the first phone of theirs with a laser-drilled hole in the display for the front-facing camera sensor, but it is also their first phone to ditch the headphone jack. Slashdot reader TheFakeTimCook shares a report from Mac Rumors that takes a closer look at the move and the hypocrisy behind it: [The A8s] is also Samsung's first smartphone without a headphone jack, much to the amusement of iPhone users, as Samsung has mocked Apple for over two years over its decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 in 2016, a trend that has continued through to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. While on stage unveiling the new Galaxy Note 7 in 2016, for example, Samsung executive Justin Denison made sure to point out that the device came with a headphone jack. "Want to know what else it comes with?" he asked. "An audio jack. I'm just saying," he answered, smirking as the audience laughed. And earlier this year, Samsung mocked the iPhone X's lack of a headphone jack in one of its "Ingenius" ads promoting the Galaxy S9. Samsung isn't the first tech giant to mock Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack, only to follow suit. Google poked fun at the iPhone 7's lack of headphone jack while unveiling its original Pixel smartphone in 2016, and then the Pixel 2 launched without one just a year later.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ahead-of-his-time department
Thelasko quotes a report from Ars Technica: A half century ago, computer history took a giant leap when Douglas Engelbart -- then a mid-career 43-year-old engineer at Stanford Research Institute in the heart of Silicon Valley -- gave what has come to be known as the "mother of all demos." On December 9, 1968 at a computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart showed off the first inklings of numerous technologies that we all now take for granted: video conferencing, a modern desktop-style user interface, word processing, hypertext, the mouse, collaborative editing, among many others. Even before his famous demonstration, Engelbart outlined his vision of the future more than a half-century ago in his historic 1962 paper, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework."
To open the 90-minute-long presentation, Engelbart posited a question that almost seems trivial to us in the early 21st century: "If in your office, you as an intellectual worker were supplied with a computer display, backed up by a computer that was alive for you all day, and was instantly responsible -- responsive -- to every action you had, how much value would you derive from that?" By 1968, Engelbart had created what he called the "oN-Line System," or NLS, a proto-Intranet. The ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet itself, would not be established until late the following year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's magic-of-YouTube department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: You might guess that a surefire way to make a hit video on YouTube would be to gather a bunch of YouTube megastars, film them riffing on some of the year's most popular YouTube themes and release it as a year-in-review spectacular. You would be wrong. YouTube tested that theory this week, releasing its annual "YouTube Rewind" year-end retrospective. The eight-minute video was a jam-packed montage of YouTube meta-humor, featuring a who's-who of YouTube stars along with conventional celebrities. The video was slickly produced and wholesome, with lots of references to the popular video game Fortnite, shout-outs to popular video formats, and earnest paeans to YouTube's diversity and inclusiveness. It was meant to be a feel-good celebration of a year's worth of YouTube creativity, but the video started a firestorm, and led to a mass-downvoting campaign that became a meme of its own. Within 48 hours, the video had been "disliked" more than four million times. On Thursday, it became the most-disliked video in the history of the website, gathering more than 10 million dislikes and beating out the previous record-holder, the music video for Justin Bieber's "Baby."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's re-structured department
Facebook has disbanded its secretive research lab, where the company developed new hardware like its Portal speakers and researched moonshot projects like brain computer interfaces. "Building 8, the division Facebook created in 2016 to house some of its most ambitious projects, has been disbanded and the projects have been redistributed to other groups within the social media company," reports Mashable. From the report: The change, which was first reported by Business Insider, marks the end of the "Building 8" brand, though the group's work will continue on. Now, thanks to BI, we know that behind the scenes Facebook has separated the Portal team into its own group, which oversees Facebook's other "unannounced hardware projects." Meanwhile, Building 8's researchers have been shuffled to Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), another new group at Facebook lead by Facebook's top VR researcher, Michael Abrash. The FRL group was created in May, around the same time Facebook announced a bigger reorganization among its top executives.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to BI that the Building 8 brand was no more, but said it continues to work on the same projects and hasn't laid off any employees as a result of the re-structuring: "Building 8 was the early name of the team building consumer hardware at Facebook. Building 8 is part of Facebook's AR/VR organization. Now that we're shipping, it's the Portal team. And Rafa Camargo is still leading the team; that has not changed. We also unified research looking at longer terms projects under one team, which became Facebook Reality Labs, which is also part of our AR/VR organization. This includes research projects like the Brain Computer Interface."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-back-with-a-vengeance department
An anonymous reader writes: A new variant of the Shamoon malware was discovered on the network of an Italian and UAE oil and gas company. While the damage at the UAE firm is currently unknown, the malware has been confirmed to have destroyed files on about ten percent of the Italian company's PC fleet. Shamoon is one of the most dangerous strains of malware known to date. It was first deployed in two separate incidents that targeted the infrastructure of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's largest oil producer, in 2012 and 2016. During those incidents, the malware wiped files and replaced them with propaganda images (burning U.S. flag and body of Alan Kurdi). The 2012 attack was devastating in particular, with Shamoon wiping data on over 30,000 computers, crippling the company's activity for weeks. Historically, the malware has been tied to the Iranian regime, but it's unclear if Iranian hackers were behind these latest attacks. This new Shamoon version was revealed to the world when an Italian engineer uploaded the malware on VirusTotal, triggering detections at all major cyber-security firms across the globe.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-together department
"Nearly 200 countries overcame political divisions late on Saturday to agree on rules for implementing a landmark global climate deal," reports Reuters. "After two weeks of talks in the Polish city of Katowice, nations finally reached consensus on a more detailed framework for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit a rise in average world temperatures to 'well below' 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels." From the report: Before the talks started, many expected the deal would not be as robust as needed. The unity which underpinned the Paris talks has fragmented, and U.S. President Donald Trump intends to pull his country - one of the world's biggest emitters - out of the pact. At the 11th hour, ministers managed to break a deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the accounting rules for the monitoring of carbon credits, deferring the bulk of that discussion to next year, but missing an opportunity to send a signal to businesses to speed up their actions. Still, exhausted ministers managed to bridge a series of divides to produce a 156-page rulebook - which is broken down into themes such as how countries will report and monitor their national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions and update their emissions plans. Not everyone is happy with everything, but the process is still on track and it is something to build on, several ministers said. Some countries and green groups criticized the outcome for failing to urge increased ambitions on emissions cuts sufficiently to curb rising temperatures. Poorer nations vulnerable to climate change also wanted more clarity on how an already agreed $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020 will be provided and on efforts to build on that amount further from the end of the decade.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's liar-liar-pants-on-fire department
A lawsuit filed Friday is accusing Apple of falsely advertised the screen sizes and pixel counts of the displays in its iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max devices. The two plaintiffs, who filed the suit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, are seeking class action status. CNET reports: The suit alleges that Apple lied about the screen sizes by counting non-screen areas like the notch and corners. So the new line of iPhones aren't "all screen" as marketed, according to the 55-page complaint. For example, iPhone X's screen size is supposed to be 5.8 inches, but the plaintiffs measured that it's "only about 5.6875 inches." The plaintiffs also allege that the iPhone X series phones have lower screen resolution than advertised. iPhone X is supposed to have a resolution of 2436x1125 pixels, but the product doesn't contain true pixels with red, green and blue subpixels in each pixel, according to the complaint. iPhone X allegedly only has two subpixels per pixel, which is less than advertised, the complaint said. The lawsuit also alleges iPhone 8 Plus has a higher-quality screen than iPhone X.Read Replies (0)
The Last Independent Mobile OS
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '18 at 06:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's last-of-its-kind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The year was 2010 and the future of mobile computing was looking bright. The iPhone was barely three years old, Google's Android had yet to swallow the smartphone market whole, and half a dozen alternative mobile operating systems -- many of which were devoutly open source -- were preparing for launch. Eight years on, you probably haven't even heard of most of these alternative mobile operating systems, much less use them. Today, Android and iOS dominate the global smartphone market and account for 99.9 percent of mobile operating systems. Even Microsoft and Blackberry, longtime players in the mobile space with massive revenue streams, have all but left the space. Then there's Jolla, the small Finnish tech company behind Sailfish OS, which it bills as the "last independent alternative mobile operating system." Jolla has had to walk itself back from the edge of destruction several times over the course of its seven year existence, and each time it has emerged battered, but more determined than ever to carve out a spot in the world for a truly independent, open source mobile operating system.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's or-shouldn't-I department
An anonymous reader quotes BGR:
One of the more interesting 2018 retrospectives we've seen focuses on which Google searches were the most popular across each state. Specifically, AT&T tapped into data from Google Trends and came up with a rather amusing look at the most popular "should I..." questions on a state by state basis.
"Should I vote" was the most-popular question in seven states, which isn't surprising, given the exciting races in many areas. Indiana and Michigan, on the other hand, are more concerned with the other four-letter v-word: vape.
Other interesting results:
The most popular question in Washington was "Should I delete Facebook?" The most popular question in California was "Should I move out?" The most popular question in Texas was "Should I apologize?" The most popular question in both Nevada and New Hampshire was "Should I buy bitcoin?"
Although the article warns that "If you're asking Google what you should or shouldn't do, you probably already know the answer."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's all-around-you department
In the future, "A massive convergence of technologies will enable us to use computers and the internet without really using them," argues Computerworld.
At the dawn of the personal computing revolution, people "operated" a computer. They sat down and did computing -- often programming. Later, with the application explosion, operators became "users." People used computers for purposes other than programming or operating a computer -- like balancing their checkbooks or playing video games. All computing uses so far have required a cognitive shift from doing something in the real world to operating or using a computer. Ambient computing changes all that, because it involves using a computer without consciously or deliberately or explicitly "using" a computer....
It's just there, guiding and nudging you along as you accomplish things in life. Ambient computing devices will operate invisibly in the background. They'll identify, monitor and listen to us and respond to our perceived needs and habits. So a good working definition of ambient computing is "computing that happens in the background without the active participation of the user...."
In 20 years, the idea of picking up a device or sitting down at a computer to actively use it will seem quaintly antiquated. All computing will be ambient -- all around us all the time, whispering in our ear, augmenting the real world through our prescription eyeglasses and car windshields, perceiving our emotions and desires and taking action in the background to help us reach our business goals and live a better life. Between now and then we'll all ride together on a very interesting journey from computers we actively use to computing resources increasingly acting in the background for us.
Though the article identifies smart speakers are the first ambient computing devices most people will encounter, it's argues that that's just the beginning of a much larger change.
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How Microsoft Embraced Python
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '18 at 06:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's beyond-Basic department
Steve Dower, a Python developer at Microsoft, describes how the language become popular internally:
In 2010, our few Pythonistas were flying under the radar, in case somebody noticed that they could reassign a few developers to their own project. The team was small, leftover from a previous job, but was chipping away at a company culture that suffered from "not invented here" syndrome: Python was a language that belonged to other people, and so Microsoft was not interested. Over the last eight years, the change has been dramatic. Many Microsoft products now include Python support, and some of the newest only support Python. Some of our critical tools are written in Python, and we are actively investing in the language and community....
In 2018, we are out and proud about Python, supporting it in our developer tools such as Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, hosting it in Azure Notebooks, and using it to build end-user experiences like the Azure CLI. We employ five core CPython developers and many other contributors, are strong supporters of open-source data science through NumFOCUS and PyData, and regularly sponsor, host, and attend Python events around the world.
"We often felt like a small startup within a very large company" Downer writes, in a post for the Medium community "Microsoft Open Source Stories."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-sharing-the-road department
Waymo's testing dozens of self-driving mini-vans near Phoenix. Now the Arizona Republic asks why the vehicles are getting so much hate, citing "a slashed tire, a pointed gun, bullies on the road..."
"Police have responded to dozens of calls regarding people threatening and harassing Waymo vans."
That was clear August 19, when police were called because a 37-year-old man who police described as "heavily intoxicated" was standing in front of a Waymo and not allowing the van to proceed. "He stated he was sick and tired of the Waymo vehicles driving in his neighborhood, and apparently thought the best idea to resolve this was to stand in front of one of these vehicles," Officer Richard Rimbach wrote in a report.
Phil Simon, an information systems lecturer at Arizona State University and author of several books on technology, said angst from residents is probably less about how the Waymo vans drive and more about people frustrated with what Waymo represents. "This stuff is happening fast and a lot of people are concerned that technology is going to run them out of a job," Simon said. Simon said it is hard for middle-class people to celebrate technological breakthroughs like self-driving cars if they have seen their own wages stagnate or even decline in recent years. "There are always winners and losers, and these are probably people who are afraid and this is a way for them to fight back in some small, futile way," Simon said. "Something tells me these are not college professors or vice presidents who are doing well."
Police used video footage from Waymo to identify the license plate of a Jeep that kept driving head-on toward Waymo's test car -- six different times, one in which the driver then slammed on the brakes, jumped out of their car, and demanded that Waymo get out of their neighborhood. Another local resident told the newspaper that "Everybody hates Waymo drivers. They are dangerous." On four separate occasions, people have thrown rocks.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-such-place-as-Farmville department
An anonymous reader quotes a CNN opinion piece by Stanford business school lecturer David Dodson:
"Senator, we run ads." That's what Mark Zuckerberg told Senator Orrin Hatch earlier this year during his congressional testimony when asked to describe Facebook's business model. The 84-year-old senator was later mocked on social media for not understanding modern technology. But I'd argue that the wily senior senator understood Facebook's business quite well. Hatch was simply getting Mark Zuckerberg to say it out loud. Sometimes it takes an old guy to call out a youngster....
For media companies that run ads, especially ones that use public networks, we tell them that they can't lie or mislead, that it's not okay to advertise cigarettes to children or push prescription drugs without including the risks. We have laws governing deceptive advertisements and Truth in Advertising laws. Companies that run ads can't say a car gets 40 miles per gallon unless it's true. They can't say a movie won an Academy Award unless it did. If you say the wool comes from New Zealand, it must.... When nearly half of Americans get their news from Facebook, its newsfeed should be subjected to the same standards of fairness, decency and accuracy as newspapers, television and other media outlets....
Calling Facebook a tech company is how we got into so much trouble. It's also why, when Zuckerberg answered Hatch, the 34-year-old billionaire smiled in a way that was interpreted by many as smug. As if the senator was too antiquated to grasp the complexities of Facebook's revenue model. I see it differently. The company founder was offering a grin of acknowledgment. The jig was up. Facebook places ads just like most media companies do and should be held to the same overall standards.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's middle-age-craziness department
"it is clear to me that open source -- now several decades old and fully adult -- is going through its own midlife crisis," writes Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill.
[O]pen source business models are really tough, selling software-as-a-service is one of the most natural of them, the cloud service providers are really good at it -- and their commercial appetites seem boundless. And, like a new cherry red two-seater sports car next to a minivan in a suburban driveway, some open source companies are dealing with this crisis exceptionally poorly: they are trying to restrict the way that their open source software can be used. These companies want it both ways: they want the advantages of open source -- the community, the positivity, the energy, the adoption, the downloads -- but they also want to enjoy the fruits of proprietary software companies in software lock-in and its concomitant monopolistic rents.
If this were entirely transparent (that is, if some bits were merely being made explicitly proprietary), it would be fine: we could accept these companies as essentially proprietary software companies, albeit with an open source loss-leader. But instead, these companies are trying to license their way into this self-contradictory world: continuing to claim to be entirely open source, but perverting the license under which portions of that source are available. Most gallingly, they are doing this by hijacking open source nomenclature. Of these, the laughably named commons clause is the worst offender (it is plainly designed to be confused with the purely virtuous creative commons), but others...are little better...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you-have-nine-new-emails department
An anonymous reader quotes Inc:
Our attention in the workplace is a precious resource that often falls victim to tools like email, Slack, and so on, which bring a nonstop supply of things to read, things to respond to, things to file, things to loop others in on, things to follow up on, and in general, things to do. This "always on" dynamic has roots in a desire for increased workplace collaboration and productivity, but as is so often the case, it turns out there is a balance to be struck for optimal results. New research shows that groups who collaborate less often may be better at problem solving....
In a study titled "How Intermittent Breaks in Interaction Improve Collective Intelligence", the authors use a standardized problem-solving test to measure the contrast between time spent in collaboration mode against the quality and quantity of problem solving results. The group with no interaction predictably had the highest options for solutions, but those solutions were of lower overall quality. The group with high interaction had higher quality solutions, but less variety and a lower likelihood to find the optimal solution. The intermittent collaboration groups found the desirable middle ground to balance out the pros/cons of the no interaction and high interaction groups, leading them to become the most successful problem solvers.
The article warns of a "collaboration drain", suggesting managers pay closer attention to when collaboration is (and isn't) necessary. "Once upon a time in the land of business, people primarily communicated through conversations, meetings, and internally circulated printed memos. In the absence of email, Internet, cell phones, and CRMs there was a repeating cadence of connection, then disconnection, even while in the office."
"In this case, 'disconnected' really amounts to uninterrupted -- and able to focus."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's defining-high-definition department
Is there an open source video analysis tool available that can take a folder full of video captures (e.g. news, sports, movies, music videos, TV shows), analyze the video frames in those captures, and put a hard number on how optically sharp, on average, the digital video provided by any given digital TV or streaming service is?
If such a tool exists, it could be of great use in shaming paid video content delivery services that promise proper "1080 HD" or "4K UHD" quality content, but deliver video that is actually Youtube quality or worse. With such a tool, people could channel-hop across their digital TV service's various offerings for an hour or so, capture the video stream to harddisk, and then have an "average optical sharpness score" for that service calculated that can be shared with others and published online, possibly shaming the content provider -- satellite TV providers in particular -- into upping their bitrate if the score turns out to be atrociously low for that service....
People in many countries -- particularly developing countries -- cough up hard cash to sign up for various satellite TV, digital TV, streaming video and similar services, only to then find that the bitrate, compression quality and optical sharpness of the video content delivered isn't too great at all. At a time when 4K UHD content is available in some countries, many satellite TV and streaming video services in many different countries do not even deliver properly sharp and well-defined 1080 HD video to their customers, even though the content quality advertised before signing up is very much "crystal clear 1080 HD High-Definition".
What's the solution? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
And is there an open source tool measuring the sharpness of streaming video?Read Replies (0)