By msmash from Slashdot's need-for-change department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Happy Public Domain Day, every-some of you! In New Zealand and Canada, published works by artists who died in 1967 -- Rene Magritte, Dorothy Parker, John Coltrane, and many others -- have entered the public domain; Kiwis and Canadians can now freely distribute, perform, and remix a wealth of painting, writing, and music. In Europe, work published by artists who died in 1947 are now public domain. In the United States, well, we get nothing for the 20th year in a row, with one more to go. Our public domain drought is nearly old enough to drink. American copyrights now stretch for 95 years. Since 1998, we've been frozen with a public domain that only applies to works from before 1923 (and government works). Jennifer Jenkins is a clinical professor of law at Duke Law School, which hosts the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. In an email she explained what changed and why nothing has entered American public domain for two decades. "Until 1978, the maximum copyright term was 56 years from the date of publication -- an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years," she wrote. "In 1998, Congress added 20 years to the copyright term, extending it to the author's lifetime plus 70 years, or 95 years after publication for corporate 'works made for hire.'"Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department
Artificial Intelligence is now being used to scan millions of pictures taken by Google Street View to glean insights like income or voting patterns, The New York Times reports. In a Stanford project, computers scanned millions of pictures of parked cars to predict voting patterns and pollution. From the report: The Stanford project gives a glimpse at the potential. By pulling the vehicles' makes, models and years from the images, and then linking that information with other data sources, the project was able to predict factors like pollution and voting patterns at the neighborhood level. "This kind of social analysis using image data is a new tool to draw insights," said Timnit Gebru, who led the Stanford research effort. The research has been published in stages, the most recent in late November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the end, the car-image project involved 50 million images of street scenes gathered from Google Street View. In them, 22 million cars were identified, and then classified into more than 2,600 categories like their make and model, located in more than 3,000 ZIP codes and 39,000 voting districts.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's having-a-happy-new-year department
NBC asked 15 "top science and tech leaders" for their predictions for 2018. Despite arguments that technology has "created a monster," one anonymous reader sees their answers as a reason for hope:
NBC notes the detection of gravitational waves in 2017 (predicted almost a century ago by Einstein) and the creation of genetically modified human embryos. And a professor of molecular medicine at The Scripps Research Institute points out that in 2018, more than 10 different medical conditions are now also moving forward in gene-editing clinical trials, including rare eye diseases, hemophilia, and sickle cell anemia. He predicts that in 2018, deep machine learning "will start to take hold in the clinic, first in ways to improve diagnostic accuracy and efficiency of doctors' workflow."
Former ICANN head Esther Dyson predicts we'll also begin using big data not only to reduce healthcare costs, but also social problems like unemployment, depression, and crime. "With big data, and more data available through everything from health records and fitness apps to public data such as high school graduation rates and population demographics, we are increasingly able to compare what happens with what would have happened without a particular intervention...with luck, some communities will lead by example, and policy-makers will take note."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's performance-reviews department
An anonymous reader writes:
A long-time Unix sys-admin is suggesting 18 different New Year's resolutions for Linux systems adminstrators. And #1 is to automate more of your boring stuff. "There are several good reasons to turn tedious tasks into scripts. The first is to make them less annoying. The second is to make them less error-prone. And the last is to make them easier to turn over to new team members who haven't been around long enough to be bored. Add a small dose of meaningful comments to your scripts and you have a better chance of passing on some of your wisdom about how things should be done."
Along with that, they suggest learning a new scripting language. "It's easy to keep using the same tools you've been using for decades (I should know), but you might have more fun and more relevance in the long run if you teach yourself a new scripting language. If you've got bash and Perl down pat, consider adding Python or Ruby or some other new language to your mix of skills." Other suggestions include trying a new distro -- many of which can now be run in "live mode" on a USB drive -- and investigating the security procedures of cloud services (described in the article as "trusting an outside organization with our data").
"And don't forget... There are now only 20 years until 2038 -- The Unix/Linux clockpocalypse."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's analytics-from-GitHub department
An anonymous reader writes:
The i-Programmer site revisits one of its top stories of 2017, about researchers who used data from GitHub for a large-scale empirical investigation into static typing versus dynamic typing. The team investigated 20 programming languages, using GitHub code repositories for the top 50 projects written in each language, examing 18 years of code involving 29,000 different developers, 1.57 million commits, and 564,625 bug fixes.
The results? "The languages with the strongest positive coefficients - meaning associated with a greater number of defect fixes are C++, C, and Objective-C, also PHP and Python. On the other hand, Clojure, Haskell, Ruby and Scala all have significant negative coefficients implying that these languages are less likely than average to result in defect fixing commits."
Or, in the researcher's words, "Language design does have a significant, but modest effect on software quality. Most notably, it does appear that disallowing type confusion is modestly better than allowing it, and among functional languages static typing is also somewhat better than dynamic typing."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's out-of-Africa department
On Saturday Engadget wrote:
Authoritarian leaders are fond of severing communications in a bid to hold on to power, and that tradition sadly isn't going away. The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has ordered telecoms to cut internet and SMS access ahead of planned mass protests against President Joseph Kabila, whose administration has continuously delayed elections to replace him. Telecom minister Emery Okundji told Reuters that it was a response to "violence that is being prepared," but people aren't buying that argument. Officials had already banned demonstrations, and the country has history of cutting communications and blocking social network access in a bid to quash dissent.
And today in the wake of deadly protests, Congo announced that the internet shutdown will continue "indefinitely." The New York Times reports:
At least eight people were killed and a dozen altar boys arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday after security forces cracked down on planned church protests against President Joseph Kabila's refusal to leave office before coming elections... Congolese security forces set up checkpoints across Kinshasa, and the government issued an order to shut down text messaging and internet services indefinitely across the country for what it called "reasons of state security."Read Replies (0)
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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