By msmash from Slashdot's husle-continues department
Gloria Dickie, writing for Undark Magazine: A 30-meter Komelon-branded measuring tape, a pencil, and a yellow paper form are all Hallsteinn Haraldsson carries with him when he travels to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland. But unfurling the measuring tape before me at his home in Mosfellsbaer, a town just outside of Reykjavik, he says it is a significant upgrade from the piece of marked rope he used to bring along. With 11 percent of the landmass covered in ice, rapidly ebbing glaciers are threatening to reshape Iceland's landscape, and Haraldsson, 74, is part of a contingent of volunteer glacier monitors who are at the frontlines of tracking the retreat. Every autumn, Haraldsson, often accompanied by his wife and son, sets off on foot to measure the changes in his assigned glacier. Their rudimentary tools are a far cry from the satellites and time-lapse photography deployed around the world in recent decades to track ice loss, and lately, there's been talk of disbanding this nearly century-old, low-tech network of monitors. But this sort of ground-truthing work has more than one purpose: With Iceland's glaciers at their melting point, these men and women -- farmers, schoolchildren, a plastic surgeon, even a Supreme Court judge -- serve not only as the glaciers' guardians, but also their messengers. Today, some 35 volunteers monitor 64 measurement sites around the country. The numbers they collect are published in the Icelandic scientific journal Jokull, and submitted to the World Glacier Monitoring Service database. Vacancies for glacier monitors are rare and highly sought-after, and many glaciers have been in the same family for generations, passed down to sons and daughters, like Haraldsson, when the journey becomes too arduous for their aging watchmen. It's very likely one of the longest-running examples of citizen climate science in the world. But in an age when precision glacier tracking can be conducted from afar, it remains unclear whether, or for how long, this sort of heirloom monitoring will continue into the future. It's a question even some of the network's own members have been asking.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
EA CEO Andrew Wilson announced that the game publisher is making a big move into cloud gaming. The company is also planning to launch a new version of its Origin Access subscription service on PC called Origin Access Premiere that will introduce games like Madden, FIFA, and more the same day they launch at retail. From a report: During the publisher's E3 2018 press conference, CEO Andrew Wilson descried the combination of streaming and subscription as "the greatest disruption" to the world of entertainment of the past five years. He pointed to how this business model for movies, TV and books has changed those markets, and believes this combination will have "a profound impact" on the games industry in the years to come. Wilson's comments echoed those of his CFO Blake Jorgensen, who said back in November that a combination of live services, such as FIFA Ultimate Team, and subscriptions will lead to "uncapped" monetisation of its players over the longest possible period of time. In its latest financials, EA revealed that 40% of its revenue last year came from live services, while full game downloads and physical game sales are dropping. Wilson reminded conference attendees of the publisher's recent acquisition of GameFly's Israel-based cloud gaming team, predicting a future where players can enjoy high-end games on any device anywhere with an internet connection. While there are tech demos for EA's streaming service out there, Wilson stressed that it's "not quite ready for full market primetime," but pitched it as a "promise of what we hope to bring you in the future." In the meantime, Electronic Arts took the opportunity to announce a new subscription system that shows the publisher continuing to push towards a service-based economy for video games. Origin Access Premier is a new addition to the firm's PC-based games service: a premium subscription that gives players access to even more titles.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's bold-claim department
The Key2 smartphone, which BlackBerry unveiled earlier this week, is the "most secure Android smartphone," the Canadian company claims. Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: While BlackBerry no longer makes smartphones, it does license its name to a company called TCL which makes Android devices that carry the branding -- and sometimes, a physical keyboard. It isn't just slapping the BlackBerry name on a random low-quality Android phone, however. Actually, these TCL devices have been fairly well received thanks to an adherence to traditional BlackBerry designs. Today, TCL unveils its latest such smartphone, called "KEY2," and it looks quite nice. In fact, the company says it is "the most secure Android smartphone."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department
An anonymous reader writes: Most online quizzes are relatively mindless, promising to reveal which vegetable, sandwich or rock band best represents your personality. That was not the case for a short online test given to 16,000 people in 15 countries this year. It revealed just how unprepared a good chunk of the world is for retirement. The three-question test, given as part of the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2018, measured how well people understand basic financial concepts. Many of the participants failed the quiz, with big potential consequences for their future security. Beyond the sobering lack of financial literacy, there were some rather curious data in Aegon's annual survey, published on Tuesday. For example, some 20 percent of workers surveyed in China envisioned spending retirement with a robot companion. But before we get to that, take a look at this question -- which only 45 percent of people around the world got right: Q. Do you think the following statement is true or false? "Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund." The possible answers? True, false, do not know and refuse to answer. Sixteen percent of people got it wrong. "Do not know" was chosen by 38 percent. In the U.S., 46 percent of workers got it right. Good for you, America -- though Germany beat you handily. (The answer, in case you were wondering, is false.) It was an inflation question that had the highest percentage of wrong answers, however. More than 20 percent of workers didn't grasp how higher inflation hurts their buying power. Given that declining health was the most-cited retirement worry, at 49 percent, and health care is an area (in the U.S., especially) with high cost inflation, well, that makes the subject something older folks should have down cold.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's happy-birthday-Phoronix department
To celebrate its 14th birthday, Phoronix.com used a 15-inch MacBook Pro to run system benchmarking tests on the following operating systems:
- Windows 10 Pro
- The latest macOS 10.13 High Sierra
- Windows 10 Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) using Ubuntu 18.04
- Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with the Linux 4.15 kernel, GCC 7.3.0, and an EXT4 file-system.
- Clear Linux 22780 with the Linux 4.16 kernel, GCC 8.1.1, and EXT4.
- Fedora Workstation 28 with updates is the Linux 4.16 kernel, GCC 8.1.1, and EXT4.
- OpenSUSE Tumbleweed with the Linux 4.16 kernel, GCC 7.3.1, and default file-system configuration of Btrfs root file-system with XFS home partition.
When it came to outright wins and losses, Clear Linux 22780 was the front-runner 59% of the time followed by macOS 10.13.4 finishing first 21% of the time and then Fedora Workstation 28 with winning 10% of the time.
For losses, to little surprise considering the I/O overhead, Windows 10 was in last place 38% of the time followed by Ubuntu 18.04 being surprisingly the slowest Linux distribution 30% of the time on this 2016 MacBook Pro.
The article also reminds readers that "For those looking for a Linux laptop, there are plenty of better options..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's there's-plenty-of-room department
The National Institutes of Health is paying a St. Louis university to study the effectiveness of flu vaccines. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
The university wants volunteers to live in "hotel influenza," where they'd be either given a vaccine or a placebo, be exposed to the flu, and be quarantined for 10 days in the Extended Stay Research Unit. Compensation for such an experiment is around $3,500 (for time and travel), according to a SLU release... "In a traditional flu study, we vaccinate people and see if their immune systems respond by creating antibodies that fight flu," Dr. Hoff said in a release. "In a human challenge study, we vaccinate people, then deliberately challenge their bodies by exposing them to flu to see if they get sick"...
The 24 volunteers living in the "hotel influenza" would have private rooms and bathrooms, common areas with with chairs and TVs, along with exercise equipment, and catered meals in a dining room. They will be observed, "have blood and lung tests and nose swabs to see if they are infected with flu and shedding the virus." If they come down with the flu, they won't be able to leave until they've tested negative for the virus for two days. Nurses would be available around the clock.
One St. Louis newspaper jokes that it will either be a "sickathon" -- or "an indoor vacation complete with catered meals, TV, internet, a gym and views of the Arch".Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's see-ya-systemd department
"Dear Init Freedom Lovers..." begins the announcement at Devuan.org:
We are happy to announce that Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 ASCII Stable is finally available. Devuan is a GNU+Linux distribution committed to providing a universal, stable, dependable, free software operating system that uses and promotes alternatives to systemd and its components.
Devuan 2.0 ASCII runs on several architectures. Installer CD and DVD ISOs, as well as desktop-live and minimal-live ISOs, are available for i386 and amd64. Ready-to-use images can be downloaded for a number of ARM platforms and SOCs, including Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, OrangePi, BananaPi, OLinuXino, Cubieboard, Nokia and Motorola mobile phones, and several Chromebooks, as well as for Virtualbox/QEMU/Vagrant. The Devuan 2.0 ASCII installer ISOs offer a variety of Desktop Environments including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQt, with others available post-install. The expert install mode now offers a choice of either SysVinit or OpenRC as init system...
We would like to thank the entire Devuan community for the continued support, feedback, and collaboration....
The release notes include information on Devuan's new network of package repository mirrors, and they're also touting their "direct and easy upgrade paths" from Devuan Jessie, Debian Jessie and Debian Stretch.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's friend-requests department
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: As Facebook's privacy debacle rages on, it's interesting to look back at Mark Zuckerberg's 2012 visit to the Facebook Moscow Hack (photos, video), at which Facebook provided training in how to access the data of app users' friends and awarded prizes for apps that did so.
In a 2012 video, Facebook's Simon Cross shows the Moscow crowd how they can "get a ton of other information" on Facebook users and their friends. "We now have an access token, so now let's make the same request again and see what happens," Cross explains (YouTube). "We've got a little bit more data, but now we can start doing really interesting stuff. We can get my friends. We can get some more information about one of my friends. Here's Connor, who you'll meet later. Say 'hello,' Connor. He's waving. And we can also get a ton of other information as well."
Cross, ironically, was the spokesperson Facebook later tapped in 2015 to explain to the press why giving friends' data to apps was a horrible idea that had to be curtailed lest Facebook lose its users' trust. Cross told reporters that Mark Zuckerberg said one of Facebook's new slogans was 'People First', because "if people don't feel comfortable using Facebook and specifically logging in Facebook and using Facebook in apps, we don't have a platform, we don't have developers."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's manifesto-destiny department
An anonymous reader quotes InfoQ:
Ron Jeffries, author, speaker, one of the creators of Extreme Programming (XP), and a signatory of the Agile Manifesto back in 2001, shared a post on his blog in which he advocates that developers should abandon "Agile". The post further elaborated that developers should stay away from the "Faux Agile" or "Dark Agile" forms, and instead get closer to the values and principles of the Manifesto. The terms "Faux Agile" and "Dark Agile" are used by the author to give emphasis to the variety of the so-called "Agile" approaches that have contributed, according to him, to make the life of the developers worse rather than better, which is the antithesis of one of the initial ideas of the Agile Manifesto...
Jeffries writes that "When 'Agile' ideas are applied poorly, they often lead to more interference with developers, less time to do the work, higher pressure, and demands to 'go faster'. This is bad for the developers, and, ultimately, bad for the enterprise as well, because doing 'Agile' poorly will result, more often than not, in far more defects and much slower progress than could be attained. Often, good developers leave such organizations, resulting in a less effective enterprise than prior to installing 'Agile'...
"it breaks my heart to see the ideas we wrote about in the Agile Manifesto used to make developers' lives worse, instead of better. It also saddens me that the enterprise isn't getting what it could out of the deal, but my main concern is for the people doing the work..." He argues developers should instead just focus on good general software development practices -- like regularly producing fully-tested software and consciously avoiding "crufty" complex designs.
But what do Slashdot's readers think? Should developers abandon Agile?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's see-you-in-2067 department
EqualCitizens.US reports on growing opposition to the CLASSICS Act proposed by the U.S. Congress, which grants blanket copyright protection to all audio works created before 1972, leaving some of them copyrighted until 2067.
Importantly, the Act doesn't require artists or the rights holder to register for the copyright. Rather, any and all pre-1972 sound recordings would be copyrighted, greatly limiting the public's access to these works. Various organizations and scholars have responded. Equal Citizens along with a coalition of internet freedom and democracy reform organizations, is sending this letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge its members to reject this Act in its entirety, or at a minimum, at least require registration of pre-1972 works. Otherwise, if the Act passes as is, famous artists and wealthy corporations will benefit greatly while the public will get absolutely nothing in return, as Professor Lawrence Lessig notes in Wired....
This act will limit access to past works and stifle creativity for new works. It would effectively remove many existing works, including some popular documentaries, podcasts, etc., from the public arena. The Coalition recommends adding a registration requirement to secure the extended copyright term, such that works that nobody claimed could be allowed to enter the public domain. As this TechCrunch report on the coalition letter explains:
By having artists and rights owners register, it solves the problem for everyone. Anyone who wants to have their pre-1972 works brought into the new scheme can easily achieve that, but orphan works will enter the public domain as they ought to.
"Either way," Lessig writes, "it is finally clear that the Supreme Court's prediction that the copyright owners would be satisfied with the copyright protection provided by the Sonny Bono Act turns out not to be true."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-always-good-for-the-bottle department
"Thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of U.S. cities and towns -- including several in Oregon -- have gone to landfills," reports the New York Times. Slashdot reader schwit1 summarizes their report:
One big reason: China has essentially shut the door to U.S. recyclables. The Times notes that about a third of recyclables gets shipped abroad, with China the biggest importer. But starting this year, China imposed strict rules on what it will accept, effectively banning most of it. That, the Times reports, has forced many recycling companies who can't find other takers to dump recyclables into landfills.
"Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives," reports the Times, though most major U.S. cities aren't affected, and countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are now importing more materials.
But at least some recycling companies are simply stockpiling material, "while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's war-games department
Slashdot reader drdread66 shares this article from Reuters:
The U.S. military is increasing spending on a secret research effort to use artificial intelligence to help anticipate the launch of a nuclear-capable missile, as well as track and target mobile launchers in North Korea and elsewhere. The effort has gone largely unreported, and the few publicly available details about it are buried under a layer of near impenetrable jargon in the latest Pentagon budget. But U.S. officials familiar with the research told Reuters there are multiple classified programs now under way to explore how to develop AI-driven systems to better protect the United States against a potential nuclear missile strike.
If the research is successful, such computer systems would be able to think for themselves, scouring huge amounts of data, including satellite imagery, with a speed and accuracy beyond the capability of humans, to look for signs of preparations for a missile launch, according to more than half a dozen sources. The sources included U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the research is classified. Forewarned, the U.S. government would be able to pursue diplomatic options or, in the case of an imminent attack, the military would have more time to try to destroy the missiles before they were launched, or try to intercept them.
Reuters calls it "one indicator of the growing importance of the research on AI-powered anti-missile systems," adding "The Pentagon is in a race against China and Russia to infuse more AI into its war machine, to create more sophisticated autonomous systems that are able to learn by themselves to carry out specific tasks."
One official told Reuters that an AI prototype for tracking missile launchers is already being tested.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's happy-sixth-anniversary department
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
Vint Cerf notes that the world ran out of IPv4 address space around 2011, some 13 years after internet engineers started sketching out IPv6, under the belief back then that IPv4 addresses would run out imminently. Since 'World IPv6 Launch' on June 6, 2012, significant progress has been made. Back then just one percent of users accessed Google services over IPv6. Now roughly a quarter of users access Google over IPv6. But Cerf noted that "it's certainly been a long time since the standards were put in place, and it's time to get with the program"...
The Internet Society's snapshot of IPv6 in 2018 notes that Google reports that 49 countries deliver more than five percent of traffic over IPv6. There are also 24 countries where IPv6 traffic is greater than 15 percent, including the US, Canada, Brazil, Finland, India, and Belgium. Additionally, 17 percent of the top million Alexa sites work with IPv6, while 28 percent of the top 1,000 Alexa sites do. Enterprise operations are IPv6's "elephant in the room", according to the Internet Society. Around 25 percent of all internet-connected networks advertise IPv6 connectivity, and the Internet Society suspects that most of the networks that don't are enterprise networks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's oh-shoot department
An anonymous reader quotes the Tampa Bay Times
For more than a year, the state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, potentially allowing drug addicts or people with a mental illness to carry firearms in public... The employee in charge of the background checks could not log into the system, the investigator learned. The problem went unresolved until discovered by another worker in March 2017 -- meaning that for more than a year applications got approved without the required background check.
During that time, which coincided with the June 12, 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 50 dead, the state saw an unprecedented spike in applications for concealed weapons permits. There were 134,000 requests for permits in the fiscal year ending in June 2015. The next 12 months broke a record, 245,000 applications, which was topped again in 2017 when the department received 275,000 applications... There are now 1.8 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida.
The employee with the login issue, who has since been fired, "told the Times she had been working in the mailroom when she was given oversight of the database in 2013. 'I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it.'"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bad-blood department
There's a new surprise from the Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou (author of the Theranos expose Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup). An anonymous reader shares Vanity Fair's summary of their newest podcast interview:
According to Carreyrou, Holmes is currently waltzing around Silicon Valley, meeting with investors, hoping to raise money for an entirely new start-up idea. (My mouth dropped when I heard that, too....) I'm sure she will somehow succeed in convincing someone to hand over millions of dollars, especially if venture capitalists like Tim Draper (an early Theranos investor) are still out there saying the stories by Carreyrou were wrong (they weren't), and that Holmes was on the precipice of saving the world (she wasn't) before the media came after her.
You would think that seeing Holmes's duplicity wrapped up in a neat bow in Carreyrou's book, and in the S.E.C. settlement -- which, incidentally, mentions the term "fraud" seven times -- would force Silicon Valley to perform its own due diligence, and question whether the way C.E.O.s, investors, and the media interact should be re-evaluated. But alas, the tech world doesn't see Theranos as a tech company, but rather a biotech outlier... Of course, there is still a major criminal investigation underway by the F.B.I., one that could end with Holmes behind bars. Carreyou tells another interviewer that Theranos "is a cautionary tale about the hubris in the Valley... there's certainly a lot of innovation there, but there's also an unbelievable amount of arrogance and pretending."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's big-short department
An anonymous reader quotes CNBC:
A bullish call from a Wall Street analyst capped off a rough week for Tesla short sellers, with Nomura Instinet advising clients that the electric car maker's shares could rally 42 percent over the next year. The stock rose 1.7 percent Friday and is now up 10 percent on the week. One of the most shorted stocks in the United States, Tesla shares cost investors betting against the company more than $1 billion in losses on Wednesday alone after the stock rallied 9.7 percent. Adding to the short woes, the stock is up 13.5 percent in June and up 21 percent since April. More than 30 percent of Tesla's floating stock is currently sold short, according to FactSet.
Last week long-time Open Source advocate Bruce Perens (Slashdot reader #3,872) argued this is fueling Musk's anger at the press:
[A] great many investors are desperate to see Tesla's stock reach a much lower price soon, or they'll be forced to buy it at its present price in order to fulfill their short positions, potentially bankrupting many of them and sending some out of the windows of Wall Street skyscrapers. These investors are desperately seeding, feeding, and writing negative stories about Tesla in the hope of depressing the stock price. Musk recently taunted them by buying another 10 million dollars in stock, making it even more likely that there won't be enough stock in the market to cover short positions. If that's the case, short-sellers could end up in debt for thousands of dollars per shorted share -- as the price balloons until enough stockholders are persuaded to sell. Will short-sellers do anything to give Tesla bad press? You bet.... Musk is stuck with a press that feeds negative stories about Tesla seeded by short-sellers, business competitors and the petroleum industry, and even the U.S. Government...
< article continued at Slashdot's big-short department
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's second-languages department
An anonymous reader quotes SD Times