By msmash from Slashdot's filtering-stuff department
Microsoft's Chinese-language AI chat bot filters certain topics, the company confirmed Monday, although it did not clarify whether that included interactions deemed politically sensitive. From a report on Fortune: Last week, CNNMoney and China Digital Times reported that Xiaoice would not directly respond to questions surrounding topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese state. References to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 or "Steamed Bun Xi," a nickname of Chinese President Xi Jinping, would draw evasive answers or non sequiturs from the chat bot, according to the report. "Am I stupid? Once I answer you'd take a screengrab," read one answer to a question that contained the words "topple the Communist Party." Even the mention of Donald Trump, the American President-elect, drew an evasive response from the chat bot, according to reports. "I don't want to talk about it," Xiaoice said, reports CNN Money. In response to inquiries from Fortune, Microsoft confirmed that there was some filtering around Xiaoice's interaction. "We are committed to creating the best experience for everyone chatting with Xiaoice," a Microsoft spokesperson tells Fortune. "With this in mind, we have implemented filtering on a range of topics." The tech giant did not further elaborate to which specific topics the filtering applied.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's finding-holes department
Huge numbers of VAT fraudsters are illegally selling goods tax-free to British shoppers on Amazon and eBay, despite new government efforts to crack down on this ballooning 1bn pound VAT evasion crisis, reports the Guardian. From the article: A Guardian investigation found a wide variety of popular goods being illegally sold without VAT on Britain's leading shopping sites. They range from cheap Christmas tree lights, electric toothbrushes and thermal socks to expensive laptops, iPads, music keyboards, violins and pingpong tables. In some cases, VAT fraudsters offer unbeatable prices. Mostly, however, their prices remain in line with law-abiding competitors and the proceeds of evasion disappear overseas, often to China. Guardian investigations found many tax-evading sellers were trading without displaying VAT numbers on Amazon or eBay. Others were showing made up numbers, or numbers cloned, without authorisation, from unsuspecting legitimate businesses.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's Microsoft-loves-Linux department
An anonymous reader shares a Softpedia article: Microsoft has finally acknowledged the potential that the open-source world in general, and Linux in particular, boasts, so the company is exploring its options to expand in this area with every occasion. Most recently, an episode posted on Channel 9 and entitled "Improvements to Bash on Windows and the Windows Console" with senior program manager Rich Turner calls for Linux developers to give up on their platforms for Windows 10. "Fire up a Windows 10 Insiders' build instance and run your code, run your tools, host your website on Apache, access your MySQL database from your Java code," he explained. Turner went on to point out that the Windows subsystem for Linux is there to provide developers with all the necessary tools to code just like they'd do it on Linux, all without losing the advantages of Windows 10. "Whatever it is that you normally do on Linux to build an application: whether it's in Go, in Erlang, in C, whatever you use, please, give it a try on Bash WSL, and importantly file bugs on us. It really makes our life a lot easier and helps us build a product that we can all use and be far more productive with, he continued. Editor's note: The original title from Softpedia was edited because it was misleading. A Microsoft employee doesn't represent the entire company (at least in this instant he wasn't speaking for the company), and at no point has he asked "all Linux developers" to "give up" on Linux.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's all-about-real-estate department
Despite all the advancements smartphone companies have made on the phone, desktop platforms continue to be their preferred way to buy stuff online. CNET spoke with a number of people who not only confirmed that they bought things using a laptop or a desktop computer, but also listed the reasons why they don't use their smartphones to do big transactions. From the report: For now, though, buying stuff on a phone is often terrible, so at least for this Cyber Monday you're likely still buying stuff on a laptop, with its big screen and full physical keyboard. While people are buying on mobile websites and apps a lot more -- up 65 percent from last year -- consumers are three times more likely to complete a purchase on a PC than a phone, according to an Adobe mobile retail report released last month. That's resulted in PCs bringing in 75 percent of retailers' online sales this year, versus just 16 percent from phones, the report said. To consumers, phone screens are too small, pinch-to-zoom features aren't available in mobile apps, it's hard to find things easily, and checkout using that tiny touchscreen keyboard is a pain. When people do buy on mobile, they make smaller purchases than on desktops, Adobe found. Retailers stand to lose billions of dollars in sales if they don't get their act together, Adobe said. And consumers will continue to be frustrated when trying to buy.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shady-app-store department
Over the years, Apple may have improved security, filters, and screening process of apps for its Mac's App Store, but even today things the quality of fraudulent apps continue to not only seep through its gatekeepers, but often times outnumber the good apps. How To Geek did some investigation over this and published the findings yesterday in a story titled, "Don't Be Fooled: The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams". It didn't take long for the publication to find scam apps on Apple's marquee app store for Mac computers. A search for "Microsoft Excel", for instance, returns "Office Bundle" made by a third-party. The app offers templates -- and just that -- for $30. Same is the case with any Office suite application. This might not seem as a real problem to many, but as How to Geek points out, there is one more problem: almost all these apps have icons and title names that are similar to those of Microsoft's, and Apple has had no issues with that. From the article: Let's be blunt: these customers were ripped off, and Apple pocketed $10 each (Editor's note: Apple charges 30 percent on all transactions on App Store(. And you'll only see these comments if you scroll past the two five star reviews that mention the word "app" numerous times. All of these fakes use Microsoft brands like Office, Word, and Excel in the product names. The logos aren't one-to-one copies of Microsoft's official logos, but they're almost always the correct color and letter (blue "W" for Word, green "E" for Excel, etcetera).Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's TDD-vs-HDD department
marekkirejczyk, the VP of Engineering at development shop Daftcode, shares a warning about hype-driven development:
Someone reads a blog post, it's trending on Twitter, and we just came back from a conference where there was a great talk about it. Soon after, the team starts using this new shiny technology (or software architecture design paradigm), but instead of going faster (as promised) and building a better product, they get into trouble. They slow down, get demotivated, have problems delivering the next working version to production.
Describing behind-schedule teams that "just need a few more days to sort it all out," he blames all the hype surrounding React.js, microservices, NoSQL, and that "Test-Driven Development Is Dead" blog post by Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson. ("The list goes on and on... The root of all evil seems to be social media.") Does all this sound familiar to any Slashdot readers? Has your team ever succumbed to hype-driven development?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's how-you-get-there-is-the-worthier-part department
Slashdot reader tiqui tells us that Emmy-nominated actor Ron Glass has died.
The actor was 71 and the family has not released more details of his death, but Firefly/Serenity fans can follow this link to the Hollywood Reporter for more information.
Firefly creator Joss Whedon posted on Twitter that Glass "got there with grace, humor and enormous heart. He was, among so many other things, my Shepherd. Raise, appropriately, a glass. Rest, Ron." And Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Reynolds on Firefly, posted an appropriate quote on Instagram. ("Shepard, don't move." "Won't go far...") The actor's Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor came in 1974, for his role on the TV series Barney Miller. Interestingly, one of Glass's co-stars on that show was Abe Vigoda, who also died earlier this year at age 94 -- a full 34 years after his death was mistakenly reported by People magazine.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-Google-Maps-wrong-again department
An anonymous reader quotes a Digital Trends story about a suspicious malfunction on Google Maps:
At some point yesterday, Donald Trump's Fifth Avenue home was given a rather unceremonious rechristening, and a search for "Trump Tower" revealed a pin for "Dump Tower" instead. It was rather tricky to find for some, and required zooming in on the building itself at just the right angle (which is perhaps how the culprit got away with the stunt in the first place). At a separate angle, someone else (or perhaps the same person) transliterated the skyscraper's name in Russian Cyrillic, perhaps meant to be a jab at Trump's alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin and company... While the team [at Google Maps] managed to put out this first fire, another quickly arose to take its place (as is often the case on the internet), and later in the day on Saturday, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Columbus Circle was renamed Dump International Hotel and Tower.
Meanwhile, another anonymous reader writes:
Earlier this week Donald Trump emailed his supporters selling a $149 collectible "Make America Great Again" Christmas ornament finished with 14k gold, to raise money for both his campaign and the Republican party. But Yahoo News reports that it's now getting some suspicious negative (and politically-charged) reviews on its page on Amazon. ("One Star. "It tried to put my nativity figures into an internment camp.") And another reviewer even wrote a satirical story about how their family decided on the ornament for the tree. "During our family meeting we overwhelmingly chose the other ornament but somehow we still ended up with this one. We're not sure what happened."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's watching-WikiLeaks department
Long-time Slashdot reader cstacy noticed Saturday that Julian Assange hadn't made any communications or public appearances in six weeks. But today an anonymous reader writes:
Julian Assange is still not dead, reports The Inquisitr, noting "the WikiLeaks founder made his first appearance in weeks, speaking with an interviewer for a conference in Beirut" including comments about the recent death of Fidel Castro.
Assange is also in the running to be chosen as "Person of the Year" in Time magazine's annual online reader's poll, and last Monday even moved briefly into first place, inching past Donald Trump. "It's worth noting that the poll presents people alphabetically," Time reported, "so Assange is the first option participants consider and Trump comes near the end of the poll."
I think the poll's being hacked by state actors, since Vladimir Putin now leads with 38%, followed by Theresa May (16%) and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (13%), and Donald Trump is locked in a tie for fourth place with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 9%. Time worked with Opentopic and IBM's Watson to assemble the initial list for reader's votes, which also included Apple CEO Tim Cook and FBI director James Comey. Surprisingly, a few celebrities also turned up on the list too, including comedian Samantha Bee, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's telnetting-for-dollars department
An anonymous reader writes: Two hackers are renting access to a massive Mirai botnet, which they claim has more than 400,000 infected bots, ready to carry out DDoS attacks at anyone's behest. The hackers have quite a reputation on the hacking underground and have previously been linked to the GovRAT malware, which was used to steal data from several US companies. Renting around 50,000 bots costs between $3,000-$4,000 for 2 weeks, meaning renting the whole thing costs between $20,000-$30,000. After the Mirai source code leaked, there are countless smaller Mirai botnets around, but this one is [believed to be the one] accounting for more than half of all infected IoT devices...that supposedly shut down Internet access in Liberia. The original Mirai botnet was limited to only 200,000 bots because there were only 200,000 IoT devices connected online that had their Telnet ports open. The botnet that's up for rent now has received improvements and can also spread to IoT devices via SSH, hence the 400,000 bots total.
Interestingly, the article claims the botnet's creators had access to the Mirai source code "long before it went public."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sugar-coating-the-truth department
Nutritionists suspected that artificial sweeteners weren't really helping people lose weight, according to a new article submitted by schwit1. Now there's hints of proof in a new aspartame study by the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase," explains Professor Hodin. IAP is produced in the small intestine. "We previously showed [this enzyme] can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome [a disease characterized by a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, a metabolic disorder and insulin resistance]. So, we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP...."
The researchers confirmed their suspicions via a variety of tests on mice. In one case, they fed IAP directly to mice, who were also on a high-fat diet. It turned out that the IAP could effectively prevent the emergence of the metabolic syndrome. It also helped relieve symptoms in animals that were already suffering from the obesity-related illness.Read Replies (0)