By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
French tech company Sigfox has developed a bite-size tracker that can be inserted into the horns of rhinos to help conservationists monitor and protect the endangered species. From a report: With the dramatic decline of animal species in the past century mostly due to poaching and urban expansion, wildlife organizations have turned to technology to help safeguard species being pushed towards extinction. The global number of rhinos dwindled to about 20,000 a decade ago due to relentless poaching, though they have rebounded to about 29,000 thanks to conservation efforts. Cameras, infrared and motion sensors, electronic bracelets and drones have been used over the years to protect endangered species, but have at times been limited by vast distances and limited resources in the countries concerned. Sigfox, known for building networks that link objects to the internet, has developed sensors able to give the exact location of rhinos using the firm's network over a longer period of time. [...] The sensors can alert park rangers when rhinos approach an area identified as particularly dangerous due to previous instances of poaching. Combined with other warning sensors, they can be used to get rescue teams to the location in real time.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
The developer of the popular image editing tool Paint.NET, Rick Brewster, has shared his vision of what the coming year holds for his software. The 2019 roadmap for Paint.NET is an exciting one, promising migration to .NET Core, support for brushes and pressure sensitivity, and an expanded plugin system.
BetaNews: Changes are on the cards for app icons and improved high-DPI support -- something that may be seen as mere aesthetic by some, but important changes by others. Switching to .NET Core could have big implications for the software, as Brewter explains: "It's clear that, in the long-term, Paint.NET needs to migrate over to .NET Core. That's where all of the improvements and bug fixes are being made, and it's obvious that the .NET Framework is now in maintenance mode. On the engineering side this is mostly a packaging and deployment puzzle of balancing download size amongst several other variables. My initial estimations shows that the download size for Paint.NET could balloon from ~7.5MB (today) to north of 40MB if .NET Core is packaged 'locally'. That's a big sticker shock... but it may just be necessary."
And, for those who're interested: the move to .NET Core will finally enable a truly portable version of Paint.NET since. Proposals for better DDS support and brushes and pressure sensitivity will be welcomed by digital artists, and there can be few users who are not excited at the prospect of an expanded plugin system.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's time-to-reflect department
Several remarkable movies and shows hit the theaters and TV this year. We had "First Man", "Black Panther", new "Incredibles", "Avengers: Infinity War", more "Star Wars" and "Mission: Impossible" hit the cinemas. On TV, we saw the conclusion of "The Americans", continuation of "Westworld" on HBO, and "Homecoming" arrive on Amazon Prime Video. "Money Heist" on Netflix, "Barry" on HBO, and "Detectorists" on AcornTV garnered good reviews from critics, too. What did you like this year?
Also in this year-ender series: Slashdot Asks: What Are Some Good Books You Read This Year?Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
In the Estonian capital of Tallinn, three-day-old Oskar Lunde sleeps soundly in his hospital cot, snuggled into a lime green blanket decorated with red butterflies. Across the room, his father turns on a laptop. "Now we will register our child," Andrejs Lunde says with gravity as he inserts his ID card into the card reader. His wife, Olga, looks on proudly. And just like that, Oskar is Estonia's newest citizen. No paper. No fuss.
From a report: This Baltic nation of 1.3 million people is engaged in an ambitious project to make government administration completely digital to reduce bureaucracy, increase transparency and boost economic growth. As more countries shift their services online, Estonia's experiment offers a glimpse of how interacting with the state might be for future generations. Need a prescription? It's online. Need someone at City Hall? No lines there -- or even at the Department of Motor Vehicles! On the school front, parents can see whether their children's homework was done on time.
Estonia has created one platform that supports electronic authentication and digital signatures to enable paperless communications across both the private and public sectors. There are still a few things that you can't do electronically in Estonia: marry, divorce or transfer property -- and that's only because the government has decided it was important to turn up in person for some big life events. This spring, government aims to go even further. If Oskar had been born a few months later, he would have been registered automatically, with his parents receiving an email welcoming him into the nation.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
The Indian government dealt a surprise blow on Wednesday to the e-commerce ambitions of Amazon and Walmart, effectively barring the American companies from selling products supplied by affiliated companies on their Indian shopping sites and from offering their customers special discounts or exclusive products. From a report: If strictly interpreted, the new policies could force significant changes in the India strategies of the retail giants. Amazon might have to stop competing with independent sellers and end its offerings of proprietary products like its Echo smart speakers in India, its top emerging market. For Walmart, which spent $16 billion this year to buy 77 percent of Flipkart, India's leading online retailer, the new rules could hamper its strategy of selling clothing and other products under its own private brands and prevent it from using its supply-chain expertise and clout with retailers to drive down prices for Indian consumers.
[...] The government posted the changes, which go into effect Feb. 1, without warning on Wednesday evening in New Delhi, while much of the business world in both countries was on vacation. [...] Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India initially courted foreign companies to invest more in the country after his 2014 election victory, but his administration has turned protectionist as his party's re-election prospects have dimmed in recent months. Mr. Modi has increasingly sought to bolster Indian firms and curb foreign ones through new policies, including one that requires foreign companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express to store all data about Indians on computers inside the country.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Zimbabwe is too far for many people to visit, but 37-year-old Tawanda Kanhema grew up there before moving to the United States. Thanks to Kanhema, though, you'll soon be able to play virtual tourist, thanks to his work and the magic of Google Street View.
From a report: Kanhema, who left the country to study journalism and documentary film-making at the University of California, Berkeley, spent two weeks back in Zimbabwe shooting the sights and sounds of the coolest places. Areas he covered include the capital's Harare's central business districts, malls, a virtual tour of Victoria Falls, Christmas Pass, the city of Mutare's main business strip as well as the Great Zimbabwe monument and the Eastern Highlands. He's uploaded over 500 miles of coverage, including Street View images uploaded during October and November. It's a lot to pack in, especially over a mere two weeks, but Kanhema got it done with a custom off-the-shelf kit of cameras consisting of the Insta360 Pro 2 and a GoPro Fusion. He particularly liked the Pro 2, which is Street View ready -- meaning he could publish footage to the platform right after shooting it.
CNET:So tell me more about you and why you decided to embark on such a project.
Kanhema: I grew up in Zimbabwe and went to school at the University of California, Berkeley where I studied journalism and documentary film-making. I currently work as a product manager in San Francisco, building news applications and internal tools for newsrooms. I have a background in journalism and documentary photography, so visual storytelling has always been close to my heart and I see a lot of opportunities for storytelling on the Street View platform.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
The final miles of a nearly two-month race across Antarctica -- a lonely effort marked by long days, short nights and stunning endurance -- ended Wednesday with a sprint to the finish.
From a report: Adventurer Colin O'Brady on Wednesday accomplished what he had dubbed "the Impossible First," becoming the first person to complete a solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica. With a push of 32 hours after leaving his last camp on Christmas morning, the 33-year-old American reached the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on Day 54 of his expedition. He had covered almost 80 miles since his last sleep. Briton Lou Rudd, who set off the same day -- Nov. 3 -- on the same quest, on Wednesday had about 70 miles left, according to his expedition's tracking map. It estimated a finish on Saturday.
The full trek is about 935 miles. O'Brady's Instagram post from the finish post read in part: "While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced. I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey." O'Brady had reached the South Pole on Dec. 12, a day ahead of Rudd.
The New York Times story adds: To some following his progress, his decision was unnerving. Under intense stress, the line between lucidity and madness can be fuzzy, and especially so for someone who has been alone for almost two months, trekking miles each day, while doing battle with raging winds, unseasonal snowfall, whiteout visibility and polar temperatures. Could someone in that situation, exhausted and emaciated, be trusted to make sound choices?
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By msmash from Slashdot's in-hindsight department
An anonymous reader shares a column: I've been trying to figure out why the removal of the headphone port bugs me more than other ports that have been unceremoniously killed off, and I think it's because the headphone port almost always only made me happy. Using the headphone port meant listening to my favorite album, or using a free minute to catch the latest episode of a show, or passing an earbud to a friend to share some new tune. It enabled happy moments and never got in the way.
Now every time I want to use my headphones, I just find myself annoyed. Bluetooth? Whoops, forgot to charge them. Or whoops, they're trying to pair with my laptop even though my laptop is turned off and in my backpack. Dongle? Whoops, left it on my other pair of headphones at work. Or whoops, it fell off somewhere, and now I've got to go buy another one. I'll just buy a bunch of dongles, and put them on all my headphones! I'll keep extras in my bag for when I need to borrow a pair of headphones. That's just like five dongles at this point, problem solved! Oh, wait: now I want to listen to music while I fall asleep, but also charge my phone so it's not dead in the morning. That's a different, more expensive splitter dongle (many of which, I've found, are poorly made garbage).Read Replies (0)
Tech is Killing Street Food
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '18 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
In San Francisco and Bangalore, street-vendor unions and nonprofits are helping informal food workers eke out a living -- but their future is still uncertain. From a report: Bangalore and the Bay Area have a lot in common. They are the tech centers of the world's second- and third-most-populous countries, respectively, and they both sometimes feel like they're bursting at the seams. Some economists argue that when tech companies move to cities with rigid housing markets, the value of real wages goes down as the cost of living jumps. [...] In both places, many street vendors are migrants -- Bangalore's come from other parts of India, while in the Bay Area many hail from Latin America. They and their livelihoods offer a warning about the fate of immigrant service labor in the tech economy: When space is at a premium, the high-profile, high-margin industries tend to take it up, while the low-paid, already precarious jobs that keep them humming are threatened.
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By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department
Three decades ago, David Rumelhart, Geoffrey Hinton, and Ronald Williams wrote about a foundational weight-calculating technique -- backpropagation -- in a monumental paper titled "Learning Representations by Back-propagating Errors." Backpropagation, aided by increasingly cheaper, more robust computer hardware, has enabled monumental leaps in computer vision, natural language processing, machine translation, drug design, and material inspection, where some deep neural networks (DNNs) have produced results superior to human experts. Looking at the advances we have made to date, can DNNs be the harbinger of superintelligent robots? From a report: Demis Hassabis doesn't believe so -- and he would know. He's the cofounder of DeepMind, a London-based machine learning startup founded with the mission of applying insights from neuroscience and computer science toward the creation of artificial general intelligence (AGI) -- in other words, systems that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human can. "There's still much further to go," he told VentureBeat at the NeurIPS 2018 conference in Montreal in early December. "Games or board games are quite easy in some ways because the transition model between states is very well-specified and easy to learn. Real-world 3D environments and the real world itself is much more tricky to figure out ... but it's important if you want to do planning."
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Scientists in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Guam have found that whale shark tourism in Tan-awan, Oslob, the Philippines, has led to degradation of the local coral reef ecosystem. They reported their findings in Environmental Management. From a report: Oslob, a small municipality on the south coast of Cebu, the Philippines, has become a domestic and international tourism hotspot since 2011, attracting over 300,000 visitors to the village of Tan-awan in 2015. The mass tourism phenomenon is fueled by the year-round presence of whale sharks along the local shallow reef. This unusual aggregation is maintained by the local tourism association feeding the whale sharks with up to 50 tons of shrimps annually.
In this study, scientists from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the University of Guam, and the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE) have demonstrated that whale shark tourism has had a detrimental effect on the local reef ecosystem off the coast of Tan-awan. They found that Tan-awan had higher macroalgae and lower coral density, as well as a less diverse coral community dominated by weedy corals and stress-tolerant corals, in comparison to a reference site further south of the coast.
[...] The researchers added that reef degradation in Tan-awan requires immediate attention, given that reef health underpins the ecosystem services afforded to the local communities, including the important tourism sector. As whale shark tourism is projected to grow continuously in the foreseeable future, the research team urges the need for local authorities to implement proper management strategies to mitigate the problems and risks associated with the rapid tourism development.Read Replies (0)