By msmash from Slashdot's in-musk,-we-believe department
Elon Musk reckons there's a 70 percent chance he'll go to Mars, even as he knows there's a good chance he won't survive there. "I'm talking about moving there," the SpaceX and Tesla CEO said in a wide-ranging, but brief interview with Axios on HBO. "We've recently made a number of breakthroughs that I'm just really fired up about."
In the interview, he also spoke about Neuralink, the company he launched last year to build brain-enhancing implants. "The long-term aspiration of Neuralink would be to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence," he said. "If we have billions of people with a high-bandwidth link to an AI extension of themselves, it would actually make everyone hyper-smart."
Musk also revealed that Tesla had been "single-digit weeks" away from death with the company "bleeding" cash as it ramped up Model 3 production. He said he was worried about imploding and that the stress of working seven days a week and sleeping at the Tesla factory was very painful."It hurts my brain and my heart," said Musk, who recently publicly urged people to explore electric cars, even if they come from companies Tesla competes with.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's what's-GNU? department
Richard Stallman doesn't like bitcoin, and has never used it, reports CoinDesk:
To Stallman, bitcoin isn't suitable as a digital payment system. His biggest complaint: bitcoin's poor privacy protections. He told CoinDesk, "What I'd really like is a way to make purchases anonymously from various kinds of stores, and unfortunately it wouldn't be feasible for me with bitcoin." Using a crypto exchange would allow that company and ultimately the government to identify him, he said.... Asked what he thought about so-called privacy coins, Stallman said he'd gotten an expert to assess their potential, and "for each one he would point out some serious problems, perhaps in its security or its scalability." And speaking broadly, Stallman continued: "If bitcoin protected privacy, I'd probably have found a way to use it by now."
Fortunately, Stallman's GNU Project has a better answer:
The GNU Project, which Stallman founded, is working on an alternative digital payments system called Taler, which is based on cryptography but is not -- forgive the hair-splitting -- a cryptocurrency. The Taler project's maintainer Christian Grothoff told CoinDesk that the system is, rather, designed for a "post-blockchain" world.... It's based on blind signatures, a cryptographic technique invented by David Chaum, whose DigiCash was among the first attempts at creating secure electronic money. Plus, Taler's attempt to create a digital money that resists surveillance by governments and payments companies aligns it with many cryptocurrency projects.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's virtual-realities department
An anonymous reader quotes the South China Morning Post:
Since last year, many Chinese cities have cracked down on jaywalking by investing in facial recognition systems and AI-powered surveillance cameras. Jaywalkers are identified and shamed by displaying their photographs on large public screens... Developments are also underway to engage the country's mobile network operators and social media platforms, such as Tencent Holdings' WeChat and Sina Weibo, to establish a system in which offenders will receive personal text messages as soon as they are caught violating traffic rules....
Making a compelling case for change is the recent experience of Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman of China's biggest maker of air conditioners Gree Electric Appliances, who found her face splashed on a huge screen erected along a street in the port city of Ningbo... That artificial intelligence-backed surveillance system, however, erred in capturing Dong's image on Wednesday from an advertisement on the side of a moving bus. The traffic police in Ningbo, a city in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, were quick to recognise the mistake, writing in a post on microblog Sina Weibo on Wednesday that it had deleted the snapshot. It also said the surveillance system would be completely upgraded to cut incidents of false recognition in future.
The article says the mistakenly-accused CEO's company later thanked the traffic police for their hard work, and "called on people to obey traffic rules to keep the streets safe."
"The Chinese government is currently working to combine the operations of more than 170 million public security cameras to strengthen its surveillance network's ability to track and monitor the country's 1.4 billion citizens. Research firm IHS Markit has estimated that the number of surveillance cameras in China could reach 450 million by 2020."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pull-requests department
"Recently, I found a typo in the District of Columbia's legal code and corrected it using GitHub," writes D.C. based "civic hacker" Joshua Tauberer, adding "My feat highlights the groundbreaking way the District manages its legal code."
The District does something with its legal code that no other jurisdiction in the world does (to my knowledge): it publishes the law on GitHub.... This isn't a copy of the DC law. It is an authoritative source. It is where the DC Council stores the digital versions of enacted laws, and this source feeds directly into the Council's DC Code website.... This is a milestone in the advancement of open government and open legal publishing.
No one should expect that editing the law on GitHub is going to become the new normal, however. My edit wasnâ(TM)t substantive. This sort of "technical correction," as lawyers would call it, didnâ(TM)t need to be passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor. I also happen to have expertise in this particular law, GitHub, XML, and the Councilâ(TM)s new publishing process created by the Open Law Library.... GitHub's pull-request feature isn't going to replace public hearings, expert testimony, negotiations between stakeholders, votes by elected representatives, etc.âS -- âSand it shouldn't. Yet Open Law Library's new legal publishing process is groundbreaking. The Open Law Library is changing how we change the law...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's down-and-dirty department
MinutePhrase shares an article from ScienceAlert:
There's a forest in Massachusetts that for nearly 30 years has hosted the world's longest running soil-warming experiment, measuring how hotter temperatures impact the tiny life-forms that live in the dirt... "Our goal was to isolate bacteria directly from the environment to understand how microbial communities are changing in response to soil warming," says biologist Jeff Blanchard from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass)... In this oversized outdoor research laboratory, scientists have made an unexpected discovery, finding 16 rare 'giant' viruses that are completely new to science...
These giant viruses were only discovered this century, and up until now they've usually been found in aquatic habitats. For that reason alone the Harvard Forest discovery is remarkable, as this represents the first time giant viruses have been discovered in a terrestrial ecosystem, and all from a single clump of dirt... "We recovered 16 distinct giant virus genomes in this study," says one of the team, bioinformaticist Frederik Schulz from the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute," but we are merely scratching the surface. If we sample more at the same site this number would easily double, triple, or even quadruple."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's switch-statements department
Slashdot reader theodp shares some thoughts from Virginia-based cloud architect Forrest Brazeal, who believes that switching jobs or teams makes you -- at least temporarily -- a worse programmer:
"When you do take a new job," Brazeal writes, "everybody else will know things you don't know. You'll expend an enormous amount of time and mental energy just trying to keep up. This is usually called 'the learning curve'. The unstated assumption is that you must add new knowledge on top of the existing base of knowledge you brought from your previous job in order to succeed in the new environment.
"But that's not really what's happening. After all, some of your new coworkers have never worked at any other company. You have way more experience than they do. Why are they more effective than you right now? Because, for the moment, your old experience doesn't matter. You don't just need to add knowledge; you need to replace a wide body of experiences that became irrelevant when you turned in your notice at the old job. To put it another way: if you visualize your entire career arc as one giant learning curve, the places where you change jobs are marked by switchbacks."
He concludes, "I'm not saying you shouldn't switch jobs. Just remember that you can't expect to be the same person in the new cubicle. Your value is only partly based on your own knowledge and ingenuity. It's also wrapped up in the connections you've made inside your team: your ability to help others, their shared understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and who knows what else. You will have to figure out new paths of communication in the new organization, build new backlogs of code references pertaining to your new projects, and find new mentors who can help you continue to grow. You will have to become a different programmer.
"There is no guarantee you will be a better one."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's magic-internet-money department
An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:
Last year at this time, bitcoin was in the middle of a 217-percent rally that saw its value peak in December near $20,000. Now the largest cryptocurrency can't stay above $4,000 -- losing almost 32 percent in value this week and briefly hitting its lowest level since September 2007 at $3,477.58 on Sunday, according to data from CoinDesk... Other cryptocurrencies also languished. XRP fell 10.4 percent from its 24-hour open, while Ethereum was down 7.5 percent. Litecoin lost 6.7 percent, according to CoinDesk. This week's sell-off marked the largest one-week decline since April 2013 when bitcoin lost over 44 percent of its value, according to CoinDesk...
Year to date in 2018, bitcoin has declined more than 71 percent... The cryptocurrency jumped from $6,088.35 in mid-November 2017 to $19,326.49 on Dec. 17, 2017... Citing three unnamed sources, Bloomberg News also reported last week that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating if market manipulation caused bitcoin's 2017 rally.
Earlier this week, one financial advisory firm's CEO told CNN that they were still bullish on bitcoin. "Savvy investors understand that digital currencies are the future of money and, as such, they will be capitalizing on the lower prices in order to build their portfolios and shore-up their positions."
But not everyone seems convinced. "I bought $10 of bitcoin a year ago. Just to see how it goes," posted Austin-based technology reporter Mike Melanson on Twitter, adding "It's worth $3.45 now. Quite the investment!"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's who-goes-there? department
Earlier this week software developer Tim Cotten discovered a serious glitch in Gmail. An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer:
Tampering with the 'From:' header by replacing some text with an , <script> or <img> tag causes the interface to show a blank space instead of the sender's address.... Opening the email does not help, either, as the sender's address continues to remain hidden and shows no info even when hovering on it, an action that typically reveals the details.... Trying to reply to the message is also of no help. Cotten attempted this thinking that Gmail would read the original email headers and determine the destination. "Wrong again! Gmail is at a complete loss at what to do!" Cotten writes in a blog post that details his new finding....
Using the Show Original option, which allows users with more experience to trace an email, the desired detail is still unavailable in the user-friendly view. Looking at the raw info, however, shows the source address buried at the end of the <img> tag Cotten used in his experiment. He didn't even have to spell correctly the data type to trigger the bug. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that the average Gmail user will be able to navigate to this area and determine who the apparently anonymous message is coming from. Due to this, for these users the risk of phishing is high.
Cotten's bug report "relies on his previous discovery that proved how a malformed 'From:' header allows placing an arbitrary email address in the sender field," the article points out, also noting a third recently-reported Gmail bug that "allows fraudsters to create a 'mailto:' link that populates the destination field in the app with whatever address they want; the latter was reported about 19 months ago to Google and is still present in the Gmail app for Android."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's asking-about-asking department
Slashdot reader Thelasko says his wife manages a small eight-person business -- but remains unhappy with the company's IT consultant:
She's had endless problems with Windows 10 Pro's update system causing downtime. Anytime she calls the IT consultant, they don't resolve issues to her satisfaction, and the company gets stuck with a large bill. She's resorted to researching and providing support for the company network herself.
The contract is up at the end of the year, and she wants to find a new consultant. The company owner however, doesn't want to switch because all of the work the consultant provided is covered under a "warranty" for 3 years (the company typically gets charged). I don't work in IT myself, and am unable to provide advice. What should they do? How would Slashdot find a reputable consultant?
Leave your best answers in the comments. How can you find a good IT consultant?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's interpreting-languages department
An anonymous reader writes:
Meanwhile, when it comes to frameworks, "only React has both a high satisfaction ratio and a large user base, although Vue is definitely getting there." Elsewhere the report notes Vue has already overtaken React for certain metrics such as total GitHub stars. "Angular on the other hand does boast a large user base, but its users don't seem too happy," the announcement adds, although later the report argues that Angular's poor satisfaction ratio "is probably in part due to the confusion between Angular and the older, deprecated AngularJS (previous surveys avoided this issue by featuring both as separate items)."
94% of the survey's respondents were male, and "Years of experience" for the respondents seemed to cluster in three cohorts in the demographics breakdown: 27.8% of respondents reported they had 2-5 years of experience, while 28% reported 5-10 years, and 24% reported 10-20 years.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sniff-me-not department
An anonymous reader writes: Alphabet's cybersecurity division Jigsaw has designed a new open source private VPN aimed at journalists and the people sending them data. "Their work makes them more vulnerable to attack," said Santiago Andrigo, Jigsaw's product manager. "It can get really scary when they're outed and you're passing over information."
Unscrupulous VPN providers can steal your identity, peek in on your data, inject their own ads on non-secure pages, or analyze your browsing habits and sell that information to advertisers, says one Jigsaw official. And you can't know for sure whether you can trust them, no matter what they say in the app store. "Journalists should be aware that their online activities might be subject to surveillance either by government agencies, their internet service providers or a hacker with malicious intent," said Laura Tich, technical evangelist for Code for Africa, a resource for African journalists. "As surveillance becomes ubiquitous in today's world, journalists face an increasing challenge in establishing secure communication in the digital space."
The new private VPN, dubbed "Outline", is specifically designed to be resistant to censorship — because it's harder to detect as a VPN (and therefore is less likely to be blocked). Outline uses an encrypted socks5 proxy that looks like normal internet traffic. Once the user chooses a server location, Outline spins up a DigitalOcean server on Ubuntu, installs Docker, and imports an image of the actual server.
It's been named Outline because in places where internet use may be restricted — it gives you a line out.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's riding-remotely department
In 2009 GM equipped 17,000 of its units with "remote ignition block," a kill switch that can turn off the engine if the car is stolen. But that was just the beginning, according to a story shared by long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo:
Imagine this: You're leaving work, walking to your car, and you find an empty parking spot -- someone stole your brand new Tesla (or whatever fancy autonomous car you're driving). When you call the police, they ask your permission for a "takeover," which you promptly give them. Next thing you know, your car is driving itself to the nearest police station. And here's the kicker -- if the thief is inside he will remain locked inside until police can arrest them.
This futuristic and almost slapstick scenario is closer than we think, says Chief Innovation Officer Hans Schönfeld who works for the Dutch police. Currently, his team has already done several experiments to test the crime-halting possibilities of autonomous cars. "We wanted to know if we can make them stop or drive them to certain locations," Schönfeld tells me. "And the result is: yes, we probably can."
The Dutch police tested Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, and Toyota vehicles, he reports, adding "We do this in collaboration with these car companies because this information is valuable to them, too.
"If we can hack into their cars, others can as well."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cosmic-coding department
Long-time Microsoft programmer Raymond Chen recently shared a memory about an unusual single-line instruction that was once added into the Windows kernel code -- accompanied by an "incredulous" comment from the Microsoft programmer who added it:
; Invalidate the processor cache so that any stray gamma
; rays (I'm serious) that may have flipped cache bits
; while in S1 will be ignored.
; Honestly. The processor manufacturer asked for this.
; I'm serious.
"Less than three weeks later, the INVD instruction was commented out," writes Chen. "But the comment block remains.
"In case we decide to resume trying to deal with gamma rays corrupting the the processor cache, I guess."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cures-worse-than-diseases department
Friday Greg Kroah-Hartman released stable point releases of Linux kernel 4.19.4, as well as 4.14.83 and 4.9.139. While they were basic maintenance updates, the 4.19.4 and 4.14.83 releases are significant because they also reverted the performance-killing Spectre patches (involving "Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors", or STIBP) that had been back-ported from Linux 4.20, according to Phoronix:
There is improved STIBP code on the way for Linux 4.20 that by default just applies STIBP to SECCOMP threads and processes requesting it via prctl() but otherwise is off by default (that behavior can also be changed via kernel parameters). Once that code is ready to go for Linux 4.20, we may see it then back-ported to these stable trees.
Aside from reverting STIBP, these point releases just have various fixes in them as noted for 4.19.4, 4.14.83, and 4.9.139.
Last Sunday Linus Torvalds complained that the performance impact of the STIPB code "was clearly way more expensive than people were told," according to ZDNet:
"When performance goes down by 50 percent on some loads, people need to start asking themselves whether it was worth it. It's apparently better to just disable SMT entirely, which is what security-conscious people do anyway," wrote Torvalds. "So why do that STIBP slow-down by default when the people who *really* care already disabled SMT?"Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's things-to-look-forward-to department
PHP 7.3 RC6 was released earlier this week. Phoronix ran some benchmarks and compared the performance of v7.3 RC6 with releases going back to the v5.5 series. From the story: I ran some fresh benchmarks over the past day on PHP 5.5.38, PHP 5.6.38, PHP 7.0.32, PHP 7.1.24, PHP 7.2.12, and the PHP 7.3.0-RC6 test release. All of the PHP5/PHP7 builds were configured and built in the same manner. All tests happened from the same Dell PowerEdge R7425 dual EPYC server running Ubuntu 18.10 Linux.
Besides continuing to evolve the performance of PHP7, the PHP 7.3 release is also delivering on FFI (the Foreign Function Interface) to access functions / variables / data structures from the C language, a platform-independent manner for obtaining information on network interfaces, an is_countable() call, WebP support within GD's image create from string, updated SQLite support, improved PHP garbage collection performance, and many other enhancements. PHP 7.3 is just shy of 10% faster than PHP 7.2 in the popular PHPBench. PHP 7.3 is 31% faster than PHP 7.0 or nearly 3x the speed of PHP5.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's exploring-ideas department
The US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator is working hard to update his copyright enforcement plans. In a written submission, Hollywood's MPAA shared a few notable ideas. The group calls for more cooperation from Internet services, including hosting providers, who should filter infringing content and block referral traffic from pirate sites, among other things. From a report: Besides processing takedown notices and terminating repeat infringers, as they are required to do by law, the MPAA also wants hosting companies to use automated piracy filters on their servers. "Hosting providers should filter using automated content recognition technology; forward DMCA notices to users, terminate repeat infringers after receipt of a reasonable number of notices, and prevent re-registration by terminated users," the MPAA suggests.
In addition, hosting providers should not challenge suspension court orders, when copyright holders go up against pirate sites. Going a step further, hosts should keep an eye on high traffic volumes which may be infringing, and ban referral traffic from pirate sites outright. The MPAA wants these companies to "implement download bandwidth or frequency limitations to prevent high volume traffic for particular files" to "remove files expeditiously" and "block referral traffic from known piracy sites."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's in-the-age-of-internet department
How and why a 1,500-year-old game has conquered the internet. From a report: Two years ago, the world chess championship match drew about 10 million online viewers, while this year's competition between Magnus Carlsen and Fabio Caruana, currently underway in London, is expected to draw more attention yet. Worldwide, chess claims about 600 million fans, which makes it one of the most popular games or sports.
It is noteworthy that China, one of the two most important countries in the world, has decided to invest heavily in chess. This year Chinese teams won both the men's and women's divisions at the Chess Olympiad, a first. That would not have happened without the active support of the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. is stepping up too, with the aid of chess patron Rex Sinquefield. In recent times America has placed three players in the world's top 10, including Caruana, currently No. 2.
It turns out that chess is oddly well-suited for a high-tech world. Chess does not make for gripping television, but the option of live viewing online, supplemented by computer analysis or personal commentary, has driven a renaissance of the game. For one thing, computer evaluations have made watching more intelligible. Even if you barely understand chess, you can quickly get a sense of the state of play with the frequently changing numerical evaluations ("+ 2.00," for instance, means white has a decisive advantage, whereas "0.00" signals an even position). You also can see, with each move, whether the player will choose what the computer finds best.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's funny-how-that-works department
This year's report contains many of the same findings cited in the previous National Climate Assessment, published in 2014. From a report: More and more of the predicted impacts of global warming are now becoming a reality. For instance, the 2014 assessment forecast that coastal cities would see more flooding in the coming years as sea levels rose. That's no longer theoretical: Scientists have now documented a record number of "nuisance flooding" events during high tides in cities like Miami and Charleston, S.C.
"High tide flooding is now posing daily risks to businesses, neighborhoods, infrastructure, transportation, and ecosystems in the Southeast," the report says. As the oceans have warmed, disruptions in United States fisheries, long predicted, are now underway. In 2012, record ocean temperatures caused lobster catches in Maine to peak a month earlier than usual, and the distribution chain was unprepared.Read Replies (0)
The Fax is Not Yet Obsolete
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '18 at 04:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stop-writing-its-obit department
Fax, once at the forefront of communications technologies but now in deep decline, has persisted in many industries. From a report: Law-enforcement agencies remain heavily reliant on fax for routine operations, such as bail postings and return of public-records requests. Health care, too, runs largely on fax. Despite attempts to replace it, a mix of regulatory confusion, digital-security concerns, and stubbornness has kept fax machines droning around the world.
An early facsimile message was sent over telegraph lines in London in 1847, based on a design by the Scottish inventor Alexander Bain. There is some dispute over whether it was the first fax: Competing inventors, including Bain in the United Kingdom and Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell across the Atlantic, sought to father facsimile technology, which was a kind of white whale for inventors. Telegraphs already allowed messages to be passed across distances, one letter at a time using Morse code. But the dream of transmitting copies of messages and images instantly over wires was very much alive.
Writing in 1863, Jules Verne imagined that the Paris of the 1960s would be replete with fax machines, or as he called them, "picture-telegraphs." The technology did eventually lead to a revolution in communication, though it didn't happen until years later. It first became known to many Americans after the 1939 New York World's Fair, where a fax machine transmitted newspaper images from around the world at a rate of 18 minutes per page -- lightning speed for the time. Further reading: 'You Had to Be There': As Technologies Change Ever Faster, the Knowledge of Obsolete Things Becomes Ever Sweeter.Read Replies (0)