By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-spiral department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: For the last few weeks, I've been performing the same battery test over and over again on 13 phones. With a few notable exceptions, this year's top models underperformed last year's. The new iPhone XS died 21 minutes earlier than last year's iPhone X. Google's Pixel 3 lasted nearly an hour and a half less than its Pixel 2. Phone makers tout all sorts of tricks to boost battery life, including more-efficient processors, low-power modes and artificial intelligence to manage app drain. Yet my results, and tests by other reviewers I spoke with, reveal an open secret in the industry: the lithium-ion batteries in smartphones are hitting an inflection point where they simply can't keep up.
"Batteries improve at a very slow pace, about 5 percent per year," says Nadim Maluf, the CEO of a Silicon Valley firm called Qnovo that helps optimize batteries. "But phone power consumption is growing up faster than 5 percent." Blame it on the demands of high-resolution screens, more complicated apps and, most of all, our seeming inability to put the darn phone down. Lithium-ion batteries, for all their rechargeable wonder, also have some physical limitations, including capacity that declines over time -- and the risk of explosion if they're damaged or improperly disposed. And the phone power situation is likely about to get worse. New ultrafast wireless technology called 5G, coming to the U.S. neighborhoods soon, will make even greater demands on our beleaguered batteries. If you want a smartphone that excels in battery life, you pretty much have two options: Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 and Apple's iPhone XR. According to The Washington Post's tests, the iPhone XR and Note 9 topped the list with times of 12:25 and 12:00, respectively.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's connecting-the-dots department
20th Century Fox is using AI to predict what films people will want to see. According to a recently published paper, researchers from the company are using machine learning to examine trailer footage and compare the objects and events it identifies with data generated for other trailers. "The idea is that movies with similar sets of labels will attract similar sets of people," The Verge reports. From the report: As the researchers explain in the paper, this is exactly the sort of data movie studios love. (They already produce lots of similar data using traditional methods like interviews and questionnaires.) "Understanding detailed audience composition is important for movie studios that invest in stories of uncertain commercial," they write. In other words, if they know who watches what, they will know what movies to make.
To create their "experimental movie attendance prediction and recommendation system" (named Merlin), 20th Century Fox partnered with Google to use the company's servers and open-source AI framework TensorFlow. In an accompanying blog post, the search giant explains Merlin's analysis of Logan. First, Merlin scans the trailer, labeling objects like "facial hair," "car," and "forest" (taking into account how long these objects appear on-screen and when they show up the trailer). By comparing this information with analyses of other trailers, Merlin can try to predict what films might interest the people who saw Logan.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's that-explains-so-much department
A new study conducted at the University of Innsbruck in Austria finds that people who drink their coffee black often has psychopathic or sadistic traits. The study surveyed more than 1,000 adults about their taste preferences with foods and drinks that are bitter. They also took four different personality tests that assessed traits like narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, and aggression. From a report: Researchers found a trend that suggested a correlation between preferences for black coffee, and other bitter tastes, and sadistic or psychopathic personality traits. They also found that people who enjoyed milky or sugary coffee, and other sweet flavors, generally tended to have more "agreeable" personality traits like sympathy, cooperation, and kindness. The closest correlation found in the study was between bitter foods, like radishes and tonic water, and "everyday sadism," or the enjoyment of inflicting moderate levels of pain on others. The researchers went further, suggesting that this association between bitter foods and psychopathic tendencies could "become chronic" and get worse with time.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's poor-voting-security department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ProPublica: As recently as Monday, computer servers that powered Kentucky's online voter registration and Wisconsin's reporting of election results ran software that could potentially expose information to hackers or enable access to sensitive files without a password. The insecure service run by Wisconsin could be reached from internet addresses based in Russia, which has become notorious for seeking to influence U.S. elections. Kentucky's was accessible from other Eastern European countries. The service, known as FTP, provides public access to files -- sometimes anonymously and without encryption. As a result, security experts say, it could act as a gateway for hackers to acquire key details of a server's operating system and exploit its vulnerabilities. Some corporations and other institutions have dropped FTP in favor of more secure alternatives. Officials in both states said that voter-registration data has not been compromised and that their states' infrastructure was protected against infiltration. Still, Wisconsin said it turned off its FTP service following ProPublica's inquiries. Kentucky left its password-free service running and said ProPublica didn't understand its approach to security. "FTP is a 40-year-old protocol that is insecure and not being retired quickly enough," said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., and an advocate for better voting security. "Every communication sent via FTP is not secure, meaning anyone in the hotel, airport or coffee shop on the same public Wi-Fi network that you are on can see everything sent and received. And malicious attackers can change the contents of a transmission without either side detecting the change."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-generation department
Fast Company reports that Apple is working on a 5G iPhone that will come to market in 2020, according to a source familiar with the matter. From the report: Apple plans to use Intel's 8161 5G modem chip in its 2020 phones. Intel hopes to fabricate the 8161 using its 10-nanometer process, which increases transistor density for more speed and efficiency. If everything goes as planned, Intel will be the sole provider of iPhone modems. Intel has been working on a precursor to the 8161 called the 8060, which will be used for prototyping and testing the 5G iPhone.
Apple, our source says, has been unhappy with Intel lately. The most likely reason relates to the challenge of solving heat dissipation issues caused by the 8060 modem chip. Many wireless carriers, including Verizon and AT&T in the U.S., will initially rely on millimeter-wave spectrum (between 28 gigahertz and 39 Ghz) to connect the first 5G phones. But millimeter-wave signal requires some heavy lifting from the modem chips and RF chains, our source explains. This causes the release of higher-than-normal levels of thermal energy inside the phone -- so much so that the heat can be felt on the outside of the phone. The problem also affects battery life. The alternative is for Apple to source its modems from Qualcomm, but Fast Company's source "says Apple's current issues with Intel are not serious enough to cause Apple to reopen conversations with Qualcomm." Also, Qualcomm's X50 modem has heat dissipation issues of its own. MediaTek is reportedly a distant "Plan B."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's connect-all-the-things department
iRobot and Google are looking for ways to integrate the Roomba-maker's home maps with Google Assistant to extend instructions to other gadgets. "The collaboration centers on iRobot's Roomba i7+ vacuum models' ability to map home floor plans and remember room names," notes TechCrunch. From the report: As it is, Google Home users or anyone with Google Assistant can give a voice command like, "Hey Google, clean the kitchen," and a Roomba carries out the task. The integration supports the task across multiple rooms that have been assigned a name, such as the bedroom, living room, and other named areas. According to iRobot, the home-mapping data could also be used to make it easier to set up new smart home gadgets and create new ways to automate the home.
In a statement to The Verge, Google said iRobot's maps could help locate wifi-connected lights and automatically assign names and locations to them within the house. Google stressed that Assistant only learns the names people have given to areas in the home so it can then instruct Roomba i7+ to go to that area. Google doesn't receive information about the layout of the home. Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, told the publication that the partnership could help users in future tell Assistant to control other smart home gadgets using the same naming and location information used by the Roomba.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's second-home department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Amazon is in "advanced talks" to open its second headquarters in the Washington DC metropolitan area, the Washington Post, a paper owned by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, reported on Saturday. Amazon, which is headquartered in Seattle, is seriously considering an area known as Crystal City, a large residential and office complex in Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington, the Post reported, citing unidentified sources. The Washington metropolitan area has long been considered a top contender. As well as owning the Post, Bezos has a home in the area. When the company announced a list of 20 top contenders in January, it included Washington and Montgomery county, Maryland, which is just north of the city. Crystal City is served by a mass transit system and major highways, both qualifications Amazon has said are required.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's come-along-and-share-the-data department
An anonymous reader quotes Krebs on Security:
A year after offering free credit monitoring to all Americans on account of its massive data breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 148 million people, Equifax now says it has chosen to extend the offer by turning to a credit monitoring service offered by a top competitor -- Experian. And to do that, it will soon be sharing with Experian contact information that affected consumers gave to Equifax in order to sign up for the service... Equifax says it will share the name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and self-provided phone number and email address with Experian for anyone who signed up for its original TrustedID Premier offering. That is, unless those folks affirmatively opt-out of having that information transferred from Equifax to Experian. But not to worry, Equifax says: Experian already has most of this data. "Experian currently has and is using this information (except phone number and email address) in the fulfillment of the Experian file monitoring which is part of your current service with TrustedID Premier," Equifax wrote in its email.
Krebs also points out the big problem with all credit monitoring services: "while they might let you know when someone has stolen your identity, they're not likely to prevent that from occurring in the first place."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's tomato-tomahto department
There have been three great movements shaping the information technology landscape. There is Agile, which emphasizes collaboration in software development; Lean IT, which promotes delivering software faster, better and cheaper; and DevOps, which seeks to align software development with continuous delivery...
These three movements have their own advocates, methodologies and terminology. But when you think about Agile, Lean IT and Agile, aren't these all the same thing, essentially? They all have the same goals, which is to deliver high-quality software on a continuous basis, collaboratively. Is it time to chuck the terminology and semantics and bring these three activities under the same roof?
Their article cites "advocates" -- two authors who have both written books about Lean It -- who are pushing for the concepts to all be brought together into a single mold. But it'd be interesting to get some opinions and real-world anecdotes from Slashdot's readers. So leave your own thoughts in the comments.
Are DevOps, Agile, and Lean IT the same thing?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's falling-backwards department
"One hundred years after Congress passed the first daylight saving legislation, more and more people are doubting the wisdom of changing the clocks," writes PBS, noting that it actually makes Americans use more electricity and consume more gasoline.
"If you can find anyone who supports this, they're probably just trolling you," writes Inc magazine's contributor editor, adding "Literally everyone hates it... It's almost impossible to find anyone who still supports this insane, anachronistic idea, which is leftover from a German coal conservation idea during World War I, and our heck-we'll-try-anything panic during the energy crisis of the 1970s." In fact, one study found that while consumer spending increases a bit at the start of daylight savings, it drops a full 3.5 percent in the wrong direction when it ends. (Which will happen tonight in most U.S. states at 2:00 a.m.)
And now USA Today points out that hospital software "still can't handle daylight saving time:
Epic Systems, one of the most popular electronic health records software systems used by hospitals, can delete records or require cumbersome workarounds when clocks are set back for an hour -- prompting many hospitals to opt for paper records for part of the night shift. And it happens every year... Dr. Steven Stack, a past president of the American Medical Association, called the glitches "perplexing" and "unacceptable," considering that hospitals spend millions of dollars on these systems, and Apple and Google seem to have dealt with seasonal time changes long ago...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's learning-to-fly department
Can researchers built a new kind of battery powerful enough to fuel an electric airplane? MIT's Technology Review profiles a company co-founded by MIT materials science professor Yet-Ming Chiang:
He and his colleague, Venkat Viswanathan, are taking a different approach to reach their next goal, altering not the composition of the batteries but the alignment of the compounds within them. By applying magnetic forces to straighten the tortuous path that lithium ions navigate through the electrodes, the scientists believe, they could significantly boost the rate at which the device discharges electricity. That shot of power could open up a use that has long eluded batteries: meeting the huge demands of a passenger aircraft at liftoff. If it works as hoped, it would enable regional commuter flights that don't burn fuel or produce direct climate emissions...
The initial plan is to develop a battery that could power a 12-person plane with 400 miles (644 kilometers) of range -- enough to make trips from, say, San Francisco to Los Angeles, or New York to Washington. In a second phase, they hope to enable an electric plane capable of carrying 50 people the same distance.... Last year, the company announced plans to deliver a line of "hybrid to electric" aircraft with room for 12 passengers in 2022. At launch, the company intends to offer a hybrid plane with a gas turbine and two battery packs capable of flying around 700 miles (1,127 kilometers), as well as an all-electric version with three battery packs and a range of less than 200 miles....But crucially, the plane itself is expected to feature an open architecture that allows owners to switch out these modules over time, enabling them to upgrade to better batteries developed in the future or shift from hybrid to all-electric operation.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's blinded-by-the-light department
Silicon Cali is now selling a massive device that uses a two-watt, 445 nanometer laser to light the bowl of a bong, according to an article shared by dmoberhaus:
This is about 400 times more powerful than the average laser pointer, which has an output of about five milliwatts. Silicon Cali even sells special glasses that are meant to protect your eyes while looking directly at the laser when you take a hit. "The laser is not that dangerous, it's not going to cut your finger off or anything crazy like that," Justin Zelaya, the founder of Silicon Cali, told me in an email. "It may sting a little bit if you get your hand in the way but kind of like a magnifying glass."
Zelaya told me that he worked with five other people to produce the bong and that their backgrounds range from "Bitcoin core developer to a mad scientist, like myself...." The glass, which is custom blown in California, is lined with color-changing LEDs. The entire thing is controlled by a phone app.
Each laser bong is being sold for $2,400 -- which as far as I can see is worth every damn penny.
The company only plans to sell 45 of these "limited edition" devices...Read Replies (0)