By msmash from Slashdot's It's-a-Facebook-world department
Kashmir Hill, reporting for Gizmodo: Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of "People You May Know," the social network's roster of potential new online friends for me. [...] She showed up on the list after about a month: an older woman, living in Ohio, with whom I had no Facebook friends in common. I did not recognize her, but her last name was familiar. My biological grandfather is a man I've never met, with the last name Porter, who abandoned my father when he was a baby. My father was adopted by a man whose last name was Hill, and he didn't find out about his biological father until adulthood. The Porter family lived in Ohio. Growing up half a country away, in Florida, I'd known these blood relatives were out there, but there was no reason to think I would ever meet them. A few years ago, my father eventually did meet his biological father, along with two uncles and an aunt, when they sought him out during a trip back to Ohio for his mother's funeral. None of them use Facebook. I sent the woman a Facebook message explaining the situation and asking if she was related to my biological grandfather. "Yes," she wrote back. Rebecca Porter, we discovered, is my great aunt, by marriage. She is married to my biological grandfather's brother; she met him 35 years ago, the year after I was born. Facebook knew my family tree better than I did "I didn't know about you," she told me, when we talked by phone. "I don't understand how Facebook made the connection." How Facebook had linked us remained hard to fathom. My father had met her husband in person that one time, after my grandmother's funeral. They exchanged emails, and my father had his number in his phone. But neither of them uses Facebook. Nor do the other people between me and Rebecca Porter on the family tree.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stuck-in-past department
John Lagomarsino, writing for The Outline: Skeuomorphic design, where user interfaces emulate the appearance of physical objects, has been popular for pretty much the history of personal computing. The ideas of "files," "folders," and the "recycle bin" in Windows could be considered skeuomorphs, intended to help transition early computer users from analog to digital, as could the idea of an "inbox" and "outbox" in email and the paperclip that symbolizes attachments. More recently, a lot of early iOS apps were famous for their heavy-handed skeuomorphic elements, with felt textures and chunky drop shadows. But no area of computing has so thoroughly gone for it more than audio software. The first Billboard #1 single that was recorded to a hard drive instead of tape was "Livin' La Vida Loca" in 1999; 18 years later, in 2017, most audio software still looks like the designers attempted to replicate physical equipment piece for piece on a computer screen. Faders, switches, knobs, needles twitching between numbers on a volume meter -- they're all there. Except you have to control them with a mouse. Winamp may have been Patient Zero in this gaudy epidemic, but it has spread far and wide. I spend a lot of my time mixing and editing audio, and that often involves having multiple audio plugins (essentially applications that run inside the main audio program) from multiple vendors running simultaneously. But all audio software, for what I suppose are historical reasons, features the most egregious skeuomorphic design in all of software. Alone, each plugin is hideous in its own unique way. A panel of 3D knobs here, a pixelated oscilloscope there.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In the last five years, dozens of schools have popped up offering an unusual promise: Even humanities graduates can learn how to code in a few months and join the high-paying digital economy. Students and their hopeful parents shelled out as much as $26,000 seeking to jump-start a career. But the coding boot-camp field now faces a sobering moment, as two large schools have announced plans to shut down this year -- despite backing by major for-profit education companies, Kaplan and the Apollo Education Group, the parent of the University of Phoenix. The closings are a sign that years of heady growth led to a boot-camp glut, and that the field could be in the early stages of a shakeout. [...] One of the casualties, Dev Bootcamp, was a pioneer. It started in San Francisco in 2012 and grew to six schools with more than 3,000 graduates. Only three years ago, Kaplan, the biggest supplier of test-preparation courses, bought Dev Bootcamp and pledged bold expansion. It is now closing at the end of the year. Also closing is The Iron Yard, a boot camp that was founded in Greenville, S.C., in 2013 and swiftly spread to 15 campuses, from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. Its main financial backer is the Apollo Education Group. Since 2013, the number of boot camp schools in the United States has tripled to more than 90, and the number of graduates will reach nearly 23,000 in 2017, a tenfold jump from 2013, according to Course Report, which tracks the industry.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's needle-in-the-haystack department
williamyf writes: I have always been of the idea that my TV shall be non-smart, leaving the smarts to connected equipment (in my case my Synology NAS running Plex and a combination of Chromecasts and laptops do the trick). I think that most of my Slashdot brethren are of a similar persuasion. But, over the years finding decent non-smart TVs is becoming harder and harder, unless your are prepared to pay much higher prices for industrial/signage equipment, or are prepared to deal with slightly inferior specs and quality, or get an old (possibly second hand) set, or are prepared to do long, hard internet searches for that needle in the haystack (all slashdot readers can google, but here at least we can hear firsthand experiences from technically-minded people, and not fake-ish reviews).
In view of the recent story about Samsung TVs being bricked by a firmware update, I ask the Slashdot crowd to amass our collective knowledge and see: What TV makers make decent non-smart TV sets? Which are these sets? Requirements: non-smart, no apps on the TV, no app on the smartphone, no nothing -- the dumber the better. OTA tuner optional. 1080p50/60 or higher (1333x768 was barely adequate in 2008, but KRAP in 2017). 16:9 or 21:9. From 35 inches (for the master bedroom) to 70 inches (for the middle class living room in an apartment complex). Real remote (not app in a phone) with at least volume up/down, input change and sleep function, plus all needed to configure the set. Lots of HDMI 2.0 (or higher) ports. A decent assortment of legacy ports (including component, composite, S-Video). HDR capable. Good build quality. Good price (Ideally slightly lower than similar smart TVs, since we are forgoing the hardware needed for the smart part, as well as the ongoing support cost for firmware updates). Good image quality. Decent warranties. Reputable manufacturers. Reputable sellers.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-soon department
Apple is planning to unveil an upgraded Apple TV set-top box that can stream 4K video and highlight live television content such as news and sports. Bloomberg reports: The updated box, to be revealed alongside new iPhone and Apple Watch models at an event in September, will run a faster processor capable of streaming the higher-resolution 4K content, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren't yet public. The 4K designation is a quality standard that showcases content at twice the resolution of 1080P high-definition video, meaning the clarity is often better for the viewer. Apple is also testing an updated version of its TV app, which first launched in 2016, that can aggregate programming from apps that already offer live streaming. Apple is seeking to revive its video ambitions with the new product. In order to view 4K video, users will need to attach the updated Apple TV to a screen capable of showing the higher-resolution footage. In order to play 4K and HDR content, Apple will need deals with content makers that can provide video in those formats. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has begun discussions with movie studios about supplying 4K versions of movies via iTunes, according to people familiar with the talks. The company has also discussed its 4K video ambitions with content companies that already have apps on Apple TV, another person said. Popular video apps on the Apple TV that support 4K on other platforms include Vevo and Netflix.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sensitive-information department
Documents published by Wikileaks reveal a secret project to siphon out data through its technical liaison service, dating back to 2009. The Verge reports: The program, called ExpressLane, is designed to be deployed alongside a biometric collection system that the CIA provides to partner agencies. In theory, those partners are agreeing to provide the CIA with access to specific biometric data -- but on the off-chance those partners are holding out on them, ExpressLane gives the agency a way to take it without anyone knowing. ExpressLane masquerades as a software update, delivered in-person by CIA technicians -- but the documents make clear that the program itself will remain unchanged. Instead, the program siphons the system's data to a thumb drive, where agents can examine it to see if there's anything the partner system is holding back. If the partners refuse the phony update, there's a hidden kill-switch that lets agents shut down the entire system after a set period of time, requiring an in-person visit to restore the system.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's discriminatory-practices department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T is facing a complaint alleging that it discriminates against poor people by providing fast service in wealthier communities and speeds as low as 1.5Mbps in low-income neighborhoods. The formal complaint filed today with the Federal Communications Commission says that AT&T is violating the Communications Act's prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination. That ban is part of Title II, which is best known as the authority used by the FCC to impose net neutrality rules. But as we've explained before, Title II also contains important consumer protections that go beyond net neutrality, such as a ban on discrimination in rates, practices, and offerings of services.
"This complaint, brought by Joanne Elkins, Hattie Lanfair, and Rachelle Lee, three African-American, low-income residents of Cleveland, Ohio alleges that AT&T's offerings of high-speed broadband service violate the Communications Act's prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination," the complaint says. AT&T is not immune to the ban on discrimination "merely because its discrimination is based on investment decisions," the complaint also says.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Reddit user beaston02 was determined to find the true ceiling of Amazon's cloud storage plan, which was killed off in June. He decided to push its limits with a petabyte of porn. For reference, a petabyte is one million gigabytes. "It is nearly entirely porn," he told me in a Reddit message. "Ever since I got into computers, I found myself learning more, and faster when it was something more interesting. Call me crazy, but women interest me more than most other things on the internet and there is a huge amount of data being created daily, so it was a good fit for the project." He said it took five or six months to collect one petabyte of porn, and he stopped collecting just shy of 1.8 petabytes. How long would it take one to consume 1.8 petabytes of porn? 1.8 petabytes is about 23.4 years of HD-TV video, but webcam streams are nowhere near that quality. A few good folks crunched the numbers: 720p is about two gigabytes per hour, and at 900,000 hours, that's 102 years of straight calendar time. If the videos are even lower quality, say, 480p, that's around 0.7 gigabytes per hour, or 293 years and six months.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-investments department
CEO Tim Cook said on Thursday that Apple will invest at least $1.3 billion in the first phase of an Iowa data center project. The data center will be built near Waukee, Iowa, creating 50 permanent jobs with more than 550 jobs supported by construction, Apple said in a statement. CNBC reports: "Apple is going to continue to invest in that future, for Waukee, for Iowa and for America," Cook said. It will get $208 million in state and local tax benefits, according to The Associated Press. "Apple has been searching for the perfect location and I am so proud to say that they found it right here in Iowa," Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said, noting the state's educated workforce, stable climate and low-cost, renewable energy. "Iowa workers give companies a leg up at the start.... it is just a blessing to be in the heartland of America." The 400,000-square-foot data center will "strengthen the relationships" in Iowa, where 30 Apple suppliers, including 3M and Qorvo, already operate, Cook said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-concerns department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: When Elon Musk announced last fall that all of Tesla's cars would be capable of "full autonomy," engineers who were working on the suite of self-driving features, known as Autopilot, did not believe the system was ready to safely control a car, according to the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ report sheds more light on the tension that exists between the Autopilot team and Musk. CNN previously reported in July that Musk "brushed aside certain concerns as negligible compared to Autopilot's overall lifesaving potential," and that employees who worked on Autopilot "struggled" to make the same reconciliation.
A major cause of this conflict has apparently been the way Musk chose to market Autopilot. The decision to refer to Autopilot as a "full self-driving" solution -- language that makes multiple appearances on the company's website, especially during the process of ordering a car -- was the spark for multiple departures, including Sterling Anderson, who was in charge of the Autopilot team during last year's announcement. Anderson left the company two months later, and was hit with a lawsuit from Tesla that alleged breach of contract, employee poaching, and theft of data related to Autopilot, though the suit was eventually settled. A year before that, a lead engineer warned the company that Autopilot wasn't ready to be released shortly before the original rollout. Evan Nakano, the senior system design and architecture engineer at the time, wrote that development of Autopilot was based on "reckless decision making that has potentially put customer lives at risk," according to documents obtained by the WSJ.Read Replies (0)