By msmash from Slashdot's love-for-books department
I once sneered at lifetime reading plans. Two decades later, I'm more aware that reading time, like all time, is precious, writes journalist Nilanjana Roy. From her column on the Financial Times (might be paywalled), shared by a reader: As the new year approaches, I sort my bookshelves and reboot my lifetime reading plan. Like a good road map, the plan makes the difference between dreaming of visiting 50 places before you die, and actually getting to 10 or 11 of those in the year ahead. In my twenties, arrogant with the faith of a speed-reader who had plunged recklessly into reading the classics of Bengali and Hindi literature alongside English, I sneered at lifetime reading plans. So earnest. So stuffy. Who wanted a map when you could freewheel down the highway, veering from JM Coetzee to Ursula K Le Guin, reading Stephen King alongside Beowulf or The Mahabharata, reading Tamil pulp fiction in translation one week, Japanese crime thrillers the next? Two decades later, I'm more aware that the years pass swiftly, that reading time, like all time, is precious. In a thoughtfully planned survey for Literary Hub, writer Emily Temple plotted the number of books an average reader in the US might finish in a lifetime. She analysed trends for women and men across different age groups, and broke down the results into three categories: the average reader (about 12 books a year), the voracious reader (50 books a year) and the super reader (80 books a year). At the age of 25, even a super reader with a long life expectancy will finish a mere 4,560-4,880 books before they die.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's files-you-want-to-believe department
An anonymous reader shares a Newsweek report: The existence of UFOs had been "proved beyond reasonable doubt," according the head of the secret Pentagon program that analyzed the mysterious aircrafts. In an interview with British broadsheet The Telegraph published on Saturday, Luis Elizondo told the newspaper of the sightings, "In my opinion, if this was a court of law, we have reached the point of 'beyond reasonable doubt.'" "I hate to use the term UFO but that's what we're looking at," he added. "I think it's pretty clear this is not us, and it's not anyone else, so no one has to ask questions where they're from." Elizondo led the U.S. Defense Department's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, investigating evidence of UFOs and alien life, from 2007 to 2012, when it was shuttered. Its existence was first reported by The New York Times this month.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
An anonymous reader writes: A North Carolina judge sentenced a Washington man this week to 37 months in prison for threatening a company with attacks unless they fire one of their employees and hire him instead. According to court documents obtained by Bleeping Computer, on April 18, 2016, Todd Michael Gori sent an email to TSI Healthcare, a healthcare software vendor based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Gori, a 28-year-old resident of Wenatchee, Washington, threatened the company with cyber attacks by him and unnamed friends if the company did not fire one of its employees and hire him instead. "I am giving you, TSI healthcare two choices," Gori wrote in the email. "You either lay-off [identity redacted] and replace her with me, an operator 100x better that she is oppressing. Or I will take out your entire company along with my comrades via a cyber attack. Again you have two choices. Get ride of her and hire me. Or slowly be chipped away at until you are gone. She is a horrible operator that can only manage 2 screens with an over inflated travel budget. I fly at least 10x as many places as this loon on 1/5th of the budget," the email reads. "I have petitioned for a job with you guys with her as a reference as I am a felon with computer skills and need assistance getting work as technically I have 'no work history'. She declines everytime and burries me even further."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's modest-proposal department
Hunter Walk: I don't really understand most of the proposals to "regulate" Facebook. There are some concrete proposals on the table regarding political ads and updating antitrust for the data age, but other punditry is largely consumer advocacy kabuki. For example, blunting the data Facebook can use to target ads or tune newsfeed hurts the user experience, and there's really no stable way to draw a line around what's appropriate versus not. These experiences are too fluid. But while I want keep the government out of the product design business, there's an alternate path which has merit: establish a baseline for the control a person has over their data on these systems. Today the platforms give their users a single choice: keep your account active or delete your account. Sure, some expose small amounts of ad targeting data and let you manipulate that, but on the whole they provide limited or no control over your ability to "start over." Want to delete all your tweets? You have to use a third party app. Want to delete all your Facebook posts? Good luck with that. Nope, once you're in the mousetrap, there's no way out except account suicide. But is that really fair? Over multiple years, we all change. Things we said in 2011 may or may not represent us today. And these services evolve -- did we think we'd be using Facebook as a primary source of news consumption and private messaging back when you were posting baby photos? Did you think they'd also own Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and so on when you created accounts on those services? We're the frogs, slow boiling in the pot of water.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's run-run-Rudolph department
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget:
Dive into the Easter egg section on your EV and you'll discover a reindeer button that invokes a Santa Mode. To say it brings a Christmas vibe to your car would be an understatement. It turns your car into Santa's sleigh on the dash display (and other cars into reindeer), but that's really just the start of the flourishes. The new mode plays the late, great Chuck Berry's version of "Run Rudolph Run" when it first kicks in, for one thing. You'll also hear sleigh bells when you invoke a turn signal. And if you're fortunate enough to have a car with Autopilot, the road ahead will suddenly turn icy.
The article includes a video showing that the voice command to enable Santa mode is -- of course -- "Ho ho ho."
Engadget calls it "one of the perks of owning a Tesla in the first place. The combination of all-digital displays and frequent software updates lets Tesla add little delights that you couldn't get if you had to stare at an old-school instrument cluster."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's island-of-misfit-games department
An anonymous reader quotes TechSpot:
Every three years the US Copyright Office reviews and renews the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions at which time it considers exemptions to the law. It is currently looking at a proposal for allowing museums, libraries and archives to circumvent the DRM on abandoned online games such as FIFA World Cup, Nascar and The Sims.
The proposal was initiated by The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE). The Made is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a physical museum located in Oakland, California. The gallery "is the only all-playable video game museum in the world, [and] houses over 5,300 playable games." The Made is concerned that certain multiplayer and single-player games that require a server to run will be lost if exemptions are not made to the DMCA. It is not looking to circumvent current games but instead is looking to preserve titles that have already been shut down by the producer -- City of Heroes (and Villains) would be a good example.
"Although the Current Exemption does not cover it, preservation of online video games is now critical," a Made representative wrote to the Copyright Office. "Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity. For example, an estimated fifty-three percent of gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week, and spend, on average, six hours a week playing with others online." The number of abandoned games is not insignificant, either. According to the Electronic Arts "Online Services Shutdown" list, more than 300 titles and servers dropped out of service just in the last four years. These games are not played anymore because they require an active server.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Happy-Xmas-(War-is-Over) department
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
The U.S. military command that is charged with protecting the airspace for North America is on alert this Christmas weekend for a man with a white beard and a red suit. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is tracking a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer around the world as it heads for U.S. airspace Sunday night. The public can access NORAD's official Santa Tracker to watch Santa Claus' voyage... [NOTE: The site will request access to your physical location before revealing Santa's whereabouts...]
The public can also call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) and speak live with NORAD trackers. People stuck in the car on the way to Grandmother's house, and with an OnStar subscription, can access the tracker by hitting their OnStar button... Marine Col. Bob Brodie of the 601st Air Operations Center said fighter jets will "fly along (Santa's) wing" in a "close escort," and that the center will "monitor him with our satellites and even have infrared trackers to follow Rudolph."
CNN reports NORAD first began tracking Santa in 1955 when a Sears ad misprinted the telephone number for children to call for updates on Mr. Claus's progress. "On December 24, 1955, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup was on duty, and instead of hanging up on countless children that night, Shoup checked the radar and updated the eager children on jolly old Saint Nick's location." But Gizmodo reports a different origin story: that one child had simply dialed the number incorrectly (in November), and weeks later that gave NORAD the idea for "one of the most successful military PR campaigns of the last century."
This year fifteen of the children's calls to NORAD were remotely answered by President Trump and first lady Melania.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's knowing-when-the-hold-'em department
2017 began with an AI named "Libratus" defeating four of the world's best poker players. Now the AI's creators reveal how exactly they did it. An anonymous reader quotes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
First, the AI made the game easier to understand. There are 10**161 potential outcomes in the game of poker -- that's a one followed by 161 zeros, potential outcomes in a game of poker. Libratus grouped similar hands, like a King-high flush and a Queen-high flush, and similar bet sizes to cut down that number. Libratus then created a detailed strategy for how it would play the early rounds of the game and a less-refined strategy for the final rounds. As the game nears the end, Libratus refined the second strategy based on how the game had gone.
A third strategy was at work as well. In real-time, Libratus created another model based on how its play stacked up against the play of the humans. If the humans did something unexpected to Libratus, the AI accounted for it and built it into the strategy. Instead of trying to exploit weaknesses in the play of the human, Libratus focused on improving its play.
The AI was created by a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and his Ph.D. student, who argue in a new paper that "The techniques that we developed are largely domain independent and can thus be applied to other strategic imperfect-information interactions, including non-recreational applications."
"Due to the ubiquity of hidden information in real-world strategic interactions, we believe the paradigm introduced in Libratus will be critical to the future growth and widespread application of AI."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ho-ho-ho department
Long-time Slashdot reader Billly Gates brings news about beta 4 of Redstone (the Spring version of Windows 10's Creators Update for 2018):
- Beta 4 of Redstone aka Build 17063 includes BSD utilities bsdtar and curl from the command prompt and Unix sockets (AF_Unix). These are also rumored to be part of a future version of Windows Server.
- WSL will now run background tasks and will continue to run them even after the command prompt window is closed...
- A previous story mentioned a discovered OpenSSH for Windows... OpenSSH and VPN can now be accessed via PowerShell in remote connections via the PSRemote commandlet. With the extra background support added you can for example keep a Secure Shell session open on a server/client and reconnect later.
- Also a tool is available called WSLPath to convert Linux to Windows path options
There will also be some graphical Windows Shell improvements with Microsoft's design language, and "Timeline," a new way to resume past activities...Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's seasons-greetings department
Wired's transportation editor just published what he's calling "Elon Musk's Christmas letter" touting the accomplishments of Musk's "family" of companies, "thanks to an anonymous tipster." (Though the story's photo caption suspiciously calls it "an absolutely real and totally not made up holiday message," and at the vert bottom of the piece it's tagged as "satire" -- a word which also appears at the end of its URL.)
SpaceX (age 15) Man these companies grow up fast. SpaceX didn't just successfully launch its 12th resupply mission to the International Space Station this summer, it upped its ambitions with a pretty detailed plan for colonizing Mars. (OK, as long as it comes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas!) The scheme involves an Interplanetary Transport System the company calls the BFR, or Big Fucking Rocket (you wonder where they get their sense of humor!), which it will definitely have built in just five years.
Tesla (age 14) After promising to start deliveries of its affordable Model 3 sedan this summer, my little automaker went all the way to production hell to make it happen. And boy is the car a wonder, with its huge glass roof, innovative touchscreen interface (so long, dashboard), and all the acceleration you know to expect from Tesla. I'm sure the 400,000 people who have pre-ordered one will agree whenever they get theirs...!
OpenAI and Neuralink (ages 2, 1) I've always thought we should merge our brains with computers, and I'm so glad two of my youngest are dedicated to making it happen... Maybe it'll even find the time to help big brother Tesla with that AI chip it's making for Autopilot.
The Boring Company (age 1) Celebrated its first birthday this month...! Boring knows my views on public transit, and has reassured me these tunnels will be for fancy hyperloops and private cars on electric sleds, only...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's following-protocols department
An anonymous reader writes:
"There are indications that telecommunications operators and traditional ISPs in the country are frustrating adoption of Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) by other networks," reports Nigeria's Guardian newspaper, citing Nigeria CommunicationsWeek. The magazine found 32 networks with IPv6 addresses -- but only three which are using them. And the newspaper cites "a network engineer with a university who does not want to be named" frustrated that their ISP's network isn't IPv6-compatible, so the university can't use its own IPv6 address. "Mohammed Rudman, chairman, IPv6 Council Nigeria, said that most telecommunications operators and internet service providers in the country have not adopted IPv6 which raises the issue of compatibility with other networks."
Firefox has a fast-fallback-to-IPv4 option, which you can disable in about:config (as well as an option to disable IPv6 altogether). But "the Chrome browser supports IPv6 natively and doesn't allow users to decide which protocol to use," reports TechGlimpse.com.
How does your browser perform? Long-time Slashdot reader ourlovecanlastforeve shared a link to Test-IPv6.com, which detects whether "when given the choice, your browser decided it would prefer to use IPv4 instead of IPv6."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's roasting-on-an-open-fire department
An anonymous reader quotes Kotaku:
He's been this way for over an hour, and as word's gotten out the audience has swelled to over 30,000... The Twitch stream opened a couple hours ago on an empty chair. A few minutes later Kaplan walked in and sat down. He's been there ever since, sometimes crossing his legs, sometimes uncrossing them, and always looking, watching, waiting. And lest anyone think the stream is somehow a small segment of footage on loop, there have been a few weird moments sprinkled throughout, including one where Jeff gets booped by an off camera boom mic. In the other, less action filled parts, you can feel time passing as the rate of Jeff blinking changes. Three different blinking speeds, we'll call them long stare, short stare, and turbo eye lash flicking, have taken shape in the stream like the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future...
It's boring to the point of being impossible to look away. It's actually the opposite of what this time of year's supposed to be about. You should be having human interactions with other people. Catching up with family and friends. Not sitting with your phone or laptop transfixed by a motionless Jeff Kaplan...so far he's just continued to sit and stare, perhaps pondering the future of the game or that email he forgot to respond to from a few days ago or maybe just the fact the how many Christmas Eves ago he never imagined where he'd be on December 24, 2017.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's this-is-CS50 department
Harvard computer science professor David J. Malan "is pretty amazing!" says long-time education-watcher theodp. And he's sharing a link to the online version of Malan's famous CS50 class, "if you can't pony up the estimated $63,025-a-year sticker price to take 'the quintessential Harvard (and Yale!) course' on campus." KQED's education site "MindShift" reports:
Malan's class attracts students who have never taken computer science before, as well as kids who have been coding a long time. His goal with this diverse group of learners is to create a community that's equal and collaborative. One way he does this is by asking students to self-identify by comfort level. Those groups become different section levels, and they sometimes get different homework, but harder assignments are not worth more credit. Malan said recently that the "less comfortable" group has dominated his 700-person course. "At the end of the day all students are treated with the same expectations," said Malan, speaking at the Building Learning Communities conference in Boston.
Students are graded based on each individual's growth; Malan and his team of teaching assistants don't use absolute measures when assigning grades. Instead, they look at scope, how hard the student tried, correctness, how right the work was, style, how aesthetic the code is, and design, which is the most subjective. When it's time to assign grades, Malan and his teaching fellows have lots of in-depth conversations about how each student has improved relative to where he or she started...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's war-of-the-acronyms department
Dog of the South writes: When the Pentagon -- famous for its painful procurement process and its penchant for producing tech systems that are obsolete before they're fielded -- decided to develop and deploy artificial intelligence to a combat zone within just six months, the idea sounded like a failure waiting to happen. Remarkably, Project Maven has met its goals and won rave reviews -- and may have changed the Pentagon's whole approach to tech innovation. But is the Defense Department ready for the enormous challenges that lie at the intersection of military power and artificial intelligence?
The project "focuses on analysis of full-motion video data from tactical aerial drone platforms," according to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
, which reports that the Pentagon has already spent "tens of billions of dollars" developing them.
"A single drone with these sensors produces many terabytes of data every day. Before AI was incorporated into analysis of this data, it took a team of analysts working 24 hours a day to exploit only a fraction of one drone's sensor data."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Christmas-presents department
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
Call it a Christmas miracle -- albeit of a rather perverse sort. Theranos, the digraced medical-technology startup that infamously inflated the capabilities of its devices, has secured $100 million in new funding in the form of a loan. The loan, reported by the Wall Street Journal, will come from Fortress Investment Group. Fortress, whose other underdog bets include a private passenger rail line under construction in Florida, is set to be acquired by Japan's SoftBank. Theranos was reportedly on the verge of bankrutpcy...
By the end of 2016, the company reportedly still had $200 million in cash on hand, but had sharply limited prospects for attracting more capital. It has since settled a major lawsuit with Walgreens, a former client, for an undisclosed but likely substantial sum. According to the Journal, the Fortress loan is expected to keep Theranos solvent through 2018. That will give the company more time for its ongoing effort to reboot as a medical device manufacturer, rather than a testing service.
The loan is conditional on "achieving certain product and operational milestones," notes Fortune, adding "It's unclear whether those might include positive outcomes for the multiple investigations and lawsuits still facing the company."Read Replies (0)