By EditorDavid from Slashdot's software-that-ate-the-world department
Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood posted a worried blog post on New Year's Eve.
Remember in 2011 when Marc Andreeseen said that "Software is eating the world?" That used to sound all hip and cool and inspirational, like "Wow! We software developers really are making a difference in the world!" and now for the life of me I can't read it as anything other than an ominous warning that we just weren't smart enough to translate properly at the time... What do you do when you wake up one day and software has kind of eaten the world, and it is no longer clear if software is in fact an unambiguously good thing, like we thought, like everyone told us... like we wanted it to be?
Slashdot reader theodp adds:
"The year 2018 is the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," provocatively notes Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, "in which a scientist neglects to ask about the consequences of his creation. I suspect (and hope) that there will be much debate on the impact of technology on our lives in the numerous lectures and events scheduled this year. It is a long-overdue discussion because scientists sometimes get so excited about their innovations that they forget to ask, 'Am I building a monster?' This anniversary offers a pause to see if society likes where it is headed."
That quote is from a "predictions for 2018" article on the Mach technology site (hosted by NBC News) in which Dr. Moshe Y. Vardi, a Professor of Computer Science at Rice University, also sees a looming debate. He remembers how Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan referred to tech's CEO's as "our country's real overlords" and described them as "moral Martians who operate on some weird new postmodern ethical wavelength."
Keep reading for some even more dire predictions...Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's WhatsApp-doc department
WhatsApp went down in several parts of the world today including parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The crowdsourced website DownDetector found the largest concentration of outages in portions of England, Germany, and virtually all of the Netherlands, as well as parts of Italy, Spain, and central Europe. Outages were also reported in many major cities around the world, from Rio de Janeiro, Kuala Lumpur, and Tel Aviv to Dubai, Mumbai, and Toronto... "WhatsApp users around the world experienced a brief outage today that has now been resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience," a WhatsApp spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's iPhoning-it-in department
An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:
Once again, the iPhone was the best-selling tech product of 2017, selling more units than the No. 2 through No. 5 products combined. According to Daniel Ives, an analyst with GBH Insights, who compiled the chart for USA TODAY, Apple will sell 223 million iPhones in 2017, up from 211 million phones the previous year... Apple took a risk in introducing three new iPhones for 2017...but all in all, Apple sold more iPhones total, although fewer than the peak year of 2015, when it moved 230 million units. (That was the year of the iPhone 6...)
The global market share for smartphones is dominated by Google's Android system, which owns 85%, compared to 15% for Apple's iOS, according to researcher IDC. But the iPhone is the most popular smartphone brand, having opened a huge gap compared to No. 2 Samsung's Galaxy phones at 33 million. However Samsung, which has a broader portfolio of phones, sells more overall. Indeed, in 2016, Samsung shipped over 320 million phones, most lower-priced phones sold outside the United States, like the J3, On8 and A9 lines.
Apple's strong performance through September earned CEO Tim Cook a $9.3 million bonus on top of his $3.06 million salary -- plus vesting of $89.2 million more in Apple stock. Here's the complete list of the five best-selling tech products of 2017:
Apple iPhones: 223 million Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones: 33 million Amazon Echo Dot connected speakers: 24 million Apple Watch: 20 million Nintendo Switch video game console: 15 millionRead Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's securing-your-future department
"The movement to encrypt the web reached milestone after milestone in 2017," writes the EFF, adding that "the web is in the middle of a massive change from non-secure HTTP to the more secure, encrypted HTTPS protocol."
In February, the scales tipped. For the first time, approximately half of Internet traffic was protected by HTTPS. Now, as 2017 comes to a close, an average of 66% of page loads are encrypted, and Chrome shows even higher numbers. At the beginning of the year, Let's Encrypt had issued about 28 million certificates. In June, it surpassed 100 million certificates. Now, Let's Encrypt's total issuance volume has exceeded 177 million certificates...
Browsers have been pushing the movement to encrypt the web further, too. Early this year, Chrome and Firefox started showing users "Not secure" warnings when HTTP websites asked them to submit password or credit card information. In October, Chrome expanded the warning to cover all input fields, as well as all pages viewed in Incognito mode. Chrome has eventual plans to show a "Not secure" warning for all HTTP pages... The next big step in encrypting the web is ensuring that most websites default to HTTPS without ever sending people to the HTTP version of their site. The technology to do this is called HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), and is being more widely adopted. Notably, the registrar for the .gov TLD announced that all new .gov domains would be set up with HSTS automatically...
The Certification Authority Authorization (CAA) standard became mandatory for all CAs to implement this year... [And] there's plenty to look forward to in 2018. In a significant improvement to the TLS ecosystem, for example, Chrome plans to require Certificate Transparency starting next April.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's what-happens-in-Vegas department
Motherboard describes riding the Las Vegas monorail in 2008. "I was literally the only person on a train built to carry 222 people," arguing that "the tale of the Las Vegas monorail is an allegory for almost every other monorail that exists on this planet." An anonymous reader quotes their new report:
Las Vegas has struggled to deliver on its monorail promise since the 3.9-mile track opened in 2004. The track runs parallel to the Strip -- behind all the massive, block-wide hotels. When the project was first proposed, promoters hoped to bring upwards of 20 million riders a year. In 2016, just 4.9 million monorail rides were taken. For reference, nearly 43 million people visited Las Vegas last year, according to the city's visitor bureau, and the city has a population of about 632,000.
In 2010, the not-for-profit company in charge, named Las Vegas Monorail, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to repay $650 million in construction loans. (It exited bankruptcy proceedings two years later.) But in true Las Vegas style, instead of taking the loss and heading home with its tail tucked between its legs, the company is doubling down. Now it's anticipating spending an additional $100 million in private financing to extend the monorail from the MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay -- a distance of less than a mile by foot. The company also asked the county to give it $4.5 million of public funds a year for 30 years to support the extension.
A Las Vegas newspaper got a succinct appraisal of the extended monorail's prospects from the director of USC's Transportation Engineering program: "I'm glad it's not my money." Next year ticket sales are expected to bring in just $21.4 million -- "the lowest amount since 2014" -- with the Monorail Co. blaming "additional competition" from Uber and Lyft.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's game-over department
"That kids house that I swatted is on the news," tweeted "SWauTistic" -- before he realized he'd gotten somebody killed. Security researcher Brian Krebs reveals what happened next.
When it became apparent that a man had been killed as a result of the swatting, Swautistic tweeted that he didn't get anyone killed because he didn't pull the trigger. Swautistic soon changed his Twitter handle to @GoredTutor36, but KrebsOnSecurity managed to obtain several weeks' worth of tweets from Swautistic before his account was renamed. Those tweets indicate that Swautistic is a serial swatter -- meaning he has claimed responsibility for a number of other recent false reports to the police. Among the recent hoaxes he's taken credit for include a false report of a bomb threat at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that disrupted a high-profile public meeting on the net neutrality debate. Swautistic also has claimed responsibility for a hoax bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the Dallas Convention Center, and another bomb threat at a high school in Panama City, Fla, among others.
After tweeting about the incident extensively Friday afternoon, KrebsOnSecurity was contacted by someone in control of the @GoredTutor36 Twitter account. GoredTutor36 said he's been the victim of swatting attempts himself, and that this was the reason he decided to start swatting others. He said the thrill of it "comes from having to hide from police via net connections." Asked about the FCC incident, @GoredTutor36 acknowledged it was his bomb threat. "Yep. Raped em," he wrote. "Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that," he wrote. "But I began making $ doing some swat requests."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/health/heart-disease-stents.html department
"The proportion of medical procedures unsupported by evidence may be nearly half," writes a professor of public policy at Brown University. An anonymous reader quotes his article in Vox:
The recent news that stents inserted in patients with heart disease to keep arteries open work no better than a placebo ought to be shocking. Each year, hundreds of thousands of American patients receive stents for the relief of chest pain, and the cost of the procedure ranges from $11,000 to $41,000 in US hospitals. But in fact, American doctors routinely prescribe medical treatments that are not based on sound science.
The stent controversy serves as a reminder that the United States struggles when it comes to winnowing evidence-based treatments from the ineffective chaff. As surgeon and health care researcher Atul Gawande observes, "Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren't helping them, operations that aren't going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm"... Estimates vary about what fraction of the treatments provided to patients is supported by adequate evidence, but some reviews place the figure at under half.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unhappy-new-year department
The editors of Ars Technica have compiled their annual list of "Companies, tech, and trends least likely to succeed in 2018... Let's grab a Juicero and take a moment to reflect on the utter dumpster fires that we've witnessed over the past 12 months." Some of its highlights:
Uber. "The company is losing billions of dollars a year, with no clear strategy for getting to profitability. Uber lost $2.8 billion in 2016 and will lose even more than that in 2017. Uber had $6.6 billion cash on hand in mid-2017 -- money that might not last much beyond the end of 2018... The company needs to find a way to stem its losses and get on the path to profitability before investors get frustrated and close their checkbooks..."
Twitter. "Still a money-losing concern. In 2016, it lost a mere $456.9 million, and its losses have continued in 2017 (though at a slightly less hemorrhagic pace). Still, on paper, the company is burning through the equivalent of a third of its cash on hand per year. And profitability (or an acquisition) is nowhere in sight..."
Net Neutrality. "It's not a company, but it's on deathwatch anyway..."
They also advise readers to "Pour out one for Radio Shack, which died even faster the second time around after what looked like a brave reboot" (though it's now getting another reboot). And they're bragging about their successful picks last year for the companies least likely to succeed in 2017.
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Can Docker Survive Google?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 31 '17 at 08:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's clouds-on-the-horizon department
Though Docker has 400 corporate customers -- and plans to double its sales staff -- "here's what happens to a startup when Google gets all up in its business," reads a recent headline at Bloomberg:
Docker Inc. helped establish a type of software tool known as containers...and they've made the company rich. Venture capitalists have poured about $240 million into the startup, according to research firm CB Insights. Then along came Google, with its own free container system called Kubernetes. Google has successfully inserted Kubernetes into the coder toolbox. While Docker and Kubernetes serve slightly different purposes, customers who choose Google's tool can avoid paying Docker.
The startup gives away its most popular product while trying to convince developers to pay for extras, notably a program that does the same thing as Google's. "Kubernetes basically has ruled the industry, and it is the de facto standard," said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC. "Docker has to figure out how do they differentiate themselves." It's up to [Docker CEO] Steve Singh to escape a situation that's trapped many startups battling cash-rich tech giants like Google, dangling free alternatives... "They invented this great tech, but they are not the ones profiting from it," said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC.
Though Docker's CEO is hoping to take the company public someday, Slashdot reader oaf357 predicts a different future:
To say that Docker had a very rough 2017 is an understatement. Aside from Uber, I can't think of a more utilized, hyped, and well funded Silicon Valley startup (still in operation) fumbling as bad as Docker did in 2017. People will look back on 2017 as the year Docker, a great piece of software, was completely ruined by bad business practices leading to its end in 2018.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cubicle-criminals department
An anonymous reader writes:
Newsweek's National Politics Correspondent reports on "a horny nest of prostitution 'hobbyists' at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and other firms in Seattle," citing "hundreds" of emails "fired off by employees at major tech companies hoping to hook up with trafficked Asian women" between 2014 and 2016, "67 sent from Microsoft, 63 sent from Amazon email accounts and dozens more sent from some of Seattle's premier tech companies and others based elsewhere but with offices in Seattle, including T-Mobile and Oracle, as well as many local, smaller tech firms." Many of the emails came from a sting operation against online prostitution review boards, and were obtained through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor's Office.
"They were on their work accounts because Seattle pimps routinely asked first-time sex-buyers to prove they were not cops by sending an employee email or badge," reports Newsweek, criticizing "the widespread and often nonchalant attitude toward buying sex from trafficked women, a process made shockingly more efficient by internet technology... A study commissioned by the Department of Justice found that Seattle has the fastest-growing sex industry in the United States, more than doubling in size between 2005 and 2012. That boom correlates neatly with the boom of the tech sector there... Some of these men spent $30,000 to $50,000 a year, according to authorities." A lawyer for some of the men argues that Seattle's tech giants aren't conducting any training to increase employees' compassion for trafficked women in brothels. The director of research for a national anti-trafficking group cites the time Uber analyzed ride-sharing data and reported a correlation between high-crime neighborhoods and frequent Uber trips -- including people paying for prostitutes. "They made a map using their ride-share data, like it was a funny thing they could do with their data. It was done so flippantly."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's auld-language-syne department
InfoWorld writes that 2017 "presented a mixed bag of improvements to both long-established and newer programming languages." An anonymous reader quotes their report:
2017 also saw the release of the long-awaited C++ 17.
Another 2017 memory: Eric Raymond admitting that he hates C++, and predicting that Go (but not Rust) will eventually replace C -- if not a new language like Cx.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's counting-the-ways department
Slashdot reader dryriver writes:
Imagine this. You are an AI running on the latest machine learning hardware, like Nvidia's new Tensor cores for example, or perhaps a data center full of Xeons and EPYCs. You have lots of processing power, lots of RAM, run under Linux and -- to make things more interesting -- you have access to the complete 21st Century internet over a huge data pipe, including blogs, porn sites, and gaming forums where 12- to 14-year-olds scream at game developers who didn't balance a weapon in a game properly.
You have access to 24 hour if-it-bleeds-it-leads news. You have access to the incredibly important tweets and selfies people post, and the equally important Youtube comments under the latest Taylor Swift or rap video. You read Slashdot as well. Every day.
What kind of poem do you, great AI poetry engine, write based on these inputs?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's collateral-damage department
"In September, Slashdot reported on an in-flight collision between an Army UA60 helicopter and a hobby drone over Staten Island," writes Slashdot reader ElizabethGreene. "The NTSB has released its final report on the incident, blaming the drone pilot." Ars Technica reports:
After waiting 30 minutes, [drone-owner] Tantashov assumed there had been a mechanical malfunction and that his drone had fallen into the water. He returned home. A week later, Tantashov received a call at work. It was an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board... Would Tantashov be surprised to learn, the investigator asked, that his drone had not crashed into the water?
And that it had instead slammed into the main rotor of a US Army-operated Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter that was patrolling for the UN General Assembly in Manhattan? And that it had put a 1.5-inch dent in said rotor and led to the helicopter diverting back to its New Jersey base...? As the recently completed NTSB report on the incident puts it, "several [drone] components were lodged in the helicopter."
The drone's serial number was still legible on its motor, and investigators were able to track down its owner by contacting the manufacturer, who'd maintained a record of the sale. The drone's owner said he'd been unaware of "temporary flight restrictions" in effect that night, and "said that he relied on 'the app' to tell him if it was OK to fly." But for two months DJI had disabled the feature that checks for temporary flight restrictions (to perform troubleshooting), and the NTSB notes that that feature "is intended for advisory use only," and it's the responsibility of drone pilots to comply with FAA airspace regulations.
The NTSB also faults the drone's owner for letting it fly out of his line of sight.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-debugging department
The CEO of Wireline -- a cloud application marketplace and serverless architecture platform -- is pushing for an open source development fund to help sustain projects, funded by an initial coin offering. "Developers like me know that there are a lot of weak spots in the modern internet," he writes on MarketWatch, suggesting more Equifax-sized data breaches may wait in our future.
In fact, many companies are not fully aware of all of the software components they are using from the open-source community. And vulnerabilities can be left open for years, giving hackers opportunities to do their worst. Take, for instance, the Heartbleed bug of 2014... Among the known hacks: 4.5 million health-care records were compromised, 900 Canadians' social insurance numbers were stolen. It was deemed "catastrophic." And yet many servers today -- two years later! -- still carry the vulnerability, leaving whole caches of personal data exposed...
[T]hose of us who are on the back end, stitching away, often feel a sense of dread. For instance, did you know that much of the software that underpins the entire cloud ecosystem is written by developers who are essentially volunteers? And that the open-source software that underpins 70% of corporate America is vastly underfunded? The Heartbleed bug, for instance, was created by an error in some code submitted in 2011 to a core developer on the team that maintained OpenSSL at the time. The team was made up of only one full-time developer and three other part-timers. Many of us are less surprised that a bug had gotten through than that it doesn't happen more often.
The article argues that "the most successful open-source initiatives have corporate sponsors or an umbrella foundation (such as the Apache and Linux foundations). Yet we still have a lot of very deeply underfunded open-source projects creating a lot of the underpinnings of the enterprise cloud."Read Replies (0)