By msmash from Slashdot's an-exploration department
Why do we never utter sentences like "'Cobra Kai' has been certified 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes?" or "'Stranger Things'" was rated 8.9 out of 10 on IMDb"? It's not because the reviews of TV shows aren't aggregated by these websites -- they are. Contrary to what you might think of IMDb, given that its name is Internet Movie Database, TV shows also occupy an essential, if relatively smaller, place than movies there. And the same thing goes for Rotten Tomatoes. An exploration: So if the lack of availability of TV rating sites isn't the issue, why is it that we hardly use critical or audience scores as a way to measure the quality of a TV show to our peers? Here are a few of my theories: There Are Too Many Good Shows Out There It's an odd dilemma to have, but it's true that when it comes to TV shows, there are so many high-quality programs for us to consume. People have been talking about Peak TV for a few years now, and a quick scroll through Rotten Tomatoes' website would seem to confirm that we've been offered an embarrassment of riches. [...] The Price Of Admission Is Higher For Movies Another reason why viewers might care less about a TV show's critical scores than a film's might be the high price of moviegoing. Tickets in metropolitan areas in the US can be extremely expensive, costing up to $25.49 if you're going for an IMAX screening in New York City unless you're subscribed to a service like Moviepass or AMC's new subscription program. Networks And Platforms Market Emmys More Than Critical Scores Compared to critical scores on review websites, networks and platforms seem to place more stock on the Emmys when it comes to the marketing of TV shows. Despite the fact that the Emmy, arguably the best TV award, might not offer shows as big of a ratings boost as it did decades ago, the awards still play a crucial part in helping create social buzz around television shows, especially for shows with smaller audiences.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department
Big U.S. technology companies are involved in the construction of one of the most intrusive citizen surveillance programs in history, HuffingtonPost notes in a new report. From the story: For the past nine years, India has been building the world's biggest biometric database by collecting the fingerprints, iris scans and photos of nearly 1.3 billion people. For U.S. tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, the project, called Aadhaar (which means "proof" or "basis" in Hindi), could be a gold mine. The CEO of Microsoft has repeatedly praised the project, and local media have carried frequent reports on consultations between the Indian government and senior executives from companies like Apple and Google (in addition to South Korean-based Samsung) on how to make tech products Aadhaar-enabled. But when reporters of HuffPost and HuffPost India asked these companies in the past weeks to confirm they were integrating Aadhaar into their products, only one company -- Google -- gave a definitive response. That's because Aadhaar has become deeply controversial, and the subject of a major Supreme Court of India case that will decide the future of the program as early as this month. Launched nine years ago as a simple and revolutionary way to streamline access to welfare programs for India's poor, the database has become Indians' gateway to nearly any type of service -- from food stamps to a passport or a cell phone connection. Practical errors in the system have caused millions of poor Indians to lose out on aid. And the exponential growth of the project has sparked concerns among security researchers and academics that India is the first step toward setting up a surveillance society to rival China.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's unravelling-mysteries department
Research shows sleep deprivation or excessive hours in bed increase risk of coronary artery disease or stroke. From a report: Six to eight hours of sleep a night is most beneficial for the heart, while more or less than that could increase the risk of coronary artery disease or a stroke, researchers have suggested. The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, indicates sleep deprivation and excessive hours in bed should be avoided for optimum heart health. The study's author, Dr Epameinondas Fountas of the Onassis cardiac surgery centre in Athens, said: "Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart. More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations -- all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease." Data from more than a million adults from 11 studies was analysed as part of the research. Compared with adults who got six to eight hours of sleep a night, "short sleepers" had an 11% greater risk, while "long sleepers" had 33% increased risk over the next nine years.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change, argues Louis Hyman, director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at the ILR School at Cornell. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes. From a report: This insight is crucial for anyone concerned about the insecurity and other shortcomings of the gig economy. For it reminds us that far from being an unavoidable consequence of technological progress, the nature of work always remains a matter of social choice. It is not a result of an algorithm; it is a collection of decisions by corporations and policymakers. Consider the Industrial Revolution. Well before it took place, in the 19th century, another revolution in work occurred in the 18th century, which historians call the "industrious revolution." Before this revolution, people worked where they lived, perhaps at a farm or a shop. The manufacturing of textiles, for example, relied on networks of independent farmers who spun fibers and wove cloth. They worked on their own; they were not employees. In the industrious revolution, however, manufacturers gathered workers under one roof, where the labor could be divided and supervised. For the first time on a large scale, home life and work life were separated. People no longer controlled how they worked, and they received a wage instead of sharing directly in the profits of their efforts. This was a necessary precondition for the Industrial Revolution. While factory technology would consolidate this development, the creation of factory technology was possible only because people's relationship to work had already changed. A power loom would have served no purpose for networks of farmers making cloth at home. The same goes for today's digital revolution.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department
Multiple people on live streams and social media reported a mass shooting at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, this morning. The Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office confirmed that law enforcement was en route to the scene but had no further information early this afternoon. From a report: In the video, two competitors are playing when someone starts screaming off camera. As the first of nine shots break out, they abandon their stations and others are heard fleeing. Then a man is heard crying out, "What did he shoot me with?" Three more shots are fired and screaming can be heard. This weekend at Jacksonville Landing downtown was the first of four qualifier events for the Madden Classic series sponsored by EA Sports. CNN: "Multiple fatalities at the scene, many transported. #TheLandingMassShooting," according to Jacksonville Sheriff's twitter page, which urged people to "stay far away from the area" as the area is not safe at this time. "One suspect is dead at the scene, unknown at this time if we have a second suspect. Searches are being conducted," according to another tweet from the sheriff's office In a statement issued moments ago, EA Sports Madden NFL said, "This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved." Top competitor Drini Gjoka, who was at the event and reported the terrifying scene, said, "The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng and never coming back. I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb. I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second. Update: LA Times reports that the shooter was a gamer who was competing in the tournament and lost, according to Steven "Steveyj" Javaruski, one of the competitors.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
An anonymous reader writes: In massive and groundbreaking research, a team of eleven scientists from the University of Florida, Stony Brook University, and Samsung Research America, have looked into what types of AT commands, or the Hayes command set, are currently supported on modern Android devices. The research team analyzed over 2,000 Android firmware images from eleven Android OEMs such as ASUS, Google, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, LineageOS, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE. They say they discovered that these devices support over 3,500 different types of AT commands, some of which grant access to very dangerous functions. These AT commands are all exposed via the phone's USB interface, meaning an attacker would have to either gain access to a user's device, or hide a malicious component inside USB docks, chargers, or charging stations. Once an attacker is connected via the USB to a target's phone, s/he can use one of the phone's secret AT commands to rewrite device firmware, bypass Android security mechanisms, exfiltrate sensitive device information, perform screen unlocks, or even inject touch events solely through the use of AT commands.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's no-longer-a-dominant department
According to the research firm Canalys, Google shipped 5.4 million Google Home speakers in the quarter, compared to 4.1 million for Echo. It's the second quarter in a row that Echo took a backseat to Google. From a report: Things have changed dramatically from the year ago figures. Then, Amazon had an 82% market share of the connected speaker market, to Google's 17%. For the second quarter of this year, Google leads with 32% share and a 449 percent growth, to 24.5% for Amazon. What's behind the turnaround? Voicebot.ai, a newsletter that tracks the connected speaker market, chalks it up to Google having more languages available in international markets for the Google Home speaker than Amazon does for Echo, so Google is available in more countries. And growth is coming from global. Only 16% of the new volume growth came from the U.S. in Q2 2018, says Canalys.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's side-note department
It is well-established established that Bitcoin mining -- aka, donating one's computing power to keep a cryptocurrency network up and running in exchange for a chance to win some free crypto -- uses a lot of electricity. Companies involved in large-scale mining operations know that this is a problem, and they've tried to employ various solutions for making the process more energy efficient. But, according to testimony provided by Princeton computer scientist Arvind Narayanan to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, no matter what you do to make cryptocurrency mining harware greener, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the overall network's flabbergasting energy consumption. From a report: Instead, Narayanan told the committee, the only thing that really determines how much energy Bitcoin uses is its price. "If the price of a cryptocurrency goes up, more energy will be used in mining it; if it goes down, less energy will be used," he told the committee. "Little else matters. In particular, the increasing energy efficiency of mining hardware has essentially no impact on energy consumption." In his testimony, Narayanan estimates that Bitcoin mining now uses about five gigawatts of electricity per day (in May, estimates of Bitcoin power consumption were about half of that). He adds that when you've got a computer racing with all its might to earn a free Bitcoin, it's going to be running hot as hell, which means you're probably using even more electricity to keep the computer cool so it doesn't die and/or burn down your entire mining center, which probably makes the overall cost associated with mining even higher.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
One key lesson from the recent T-Mobile and several other breaches: our phone numbers, that serve as a means to identity and verify ourselves, are increasingly getting targeted, and the companies are neither showing an appetite to work on an alternative identity management system, nor are they introducing more safeguards to how phone numbers are handled and exchanged. From a report: Identity management experts have warned for years about over-reliance on phone numbers. But the United States doesn't offer any type of universal ID, which means private institutions and even the federal government itself have had to improvise. As cell phones proliferated, and phone numbers became more reliably attached to individuals long term, it was an obvious choice to start collecting those numbers even more consistently as a type of ID. But over time, SMS messages, biometric scanners, encrypted apps, and other special functions of smartphones have evolved into forms of authentication as well. "The bottom line is society needs identifiers," says Jeremy Grant, coordinator of the Better Identity Coalition, an industry collaboration that includes Visa, Bank of America, Aetna, and Symantec. "We just have to make sure that knowledge of an identifier can't be used to somehow take over the authenticator. And a phone number is only an identifier; in most cases, it's public." Think of your usernames and passwords. The former are generally public knowledge; it's how people know who you are. But you keep the latter guarded, because it's how you prove who you are. The use of phone numbers as both lock and key has led to the rise, in recent years, of so-called SIM swapping attacks, in which an attacker steals your phone number. When you add two-factor authentication to an account and receive your codes through SMS texts, they go to the attacker instead, along with any calls and texts intended for the victim. Sometimes attackers even use inside sources at carriers who will transfer numbers for them.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-up-with-that department
Videogames have gotten harder to turn off, mental-health experts and parents say, raising concerns about the impact of seemingly endless gaming sessions on players' lives. From a report: Game developers for years have tweaked the dials not only on how games look and sound but how they operate under the hood, and such changes have made videogames more pervasive and enthralling, industry observers say. The World Health Organization in June added "gaming disorder" to an updated version of its International Classification of Diseases, warning about a condition in which people give up interests and activities to overly indulge in gaming despite negative consequences. It is expected to be formally classified in January 2022. Many games today are free, available on multiple devices, and double as social networks. Where once games were played and put away for a while, now game companies are routinely delivering new content aimed at keeping players constantly engaged. Some new content is available only for a limited time, a maneuver that tugs at people's fears of missing out, psychologists say. "Videogames are engineered specifically to keep people playing," said Douglas A. Gentile, a research scientist focused on the impact of media on children and adults. "They're designed to hit the pleasure centers of the brain in some of the same ways that gambling can."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's wisdom-of-Harvard-dropouts department
"Not enough people are paying attention to this economic trend," writes Bill Gates, challenging the widespread use of forecasts and policies based on a "supply and demand" economic model. An anonymous reader quotes the Gates Notes blog:
Software doesn't work like this. Microsoft might spend a lot of money to develop the first unit of a new program, but every unit after that is virtually free to produce. Unlike the goods that powered our economy in the past, software is an intangible asset. And software isn't the only example: data, insurance, e-books, even movies work in similar ways.
The portion of the world's economy that doesn't fit the old model just keeps getting larger. That has major implications for everything from tax law to economic policy to which cities thrive and which cities fall behind, but in general, the rules that govern the economy haven't kept up. This is one of the biggest trends in the global economy that isn't getting enough attention. If you want to understand why this matters, the brilliant new book Capitalism Without Capital by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake is about as good an explanation as I've seen.... They don't act like there's something evil about the trend or prescribe hard policy solutions. Instead they take the time to convince you why this transition is important and offer broad ideas about what countries can do to keep up in a world where the "Ec 10" supply and demand chart is increasingly irrelevant.
"What the book reinforced for me is that lawmakers need to adjust their economic policymaking to reflect these new realities," Gates writes, adding "a lot has changed since the 1980s. It's time the way we think about the economy does, too."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's detention-of-the-dead department
18-year-old high school student Sean Small was arrested in Indiana on Tuesday and charged with a misdemeanor for posting a videogame clip to social media. An anonymous reader quotes Yahoo Lifestyle:
The clip in question is Sean playing The Walking Dead: Our World, which is an augmented reality game that animates characters into a real-world setting. In this case, players kill zombies. Along with Sean's video he wrote, "Finally something better than Pokemon Go," which is also an augmented reality game....
Sean, who is a member of the Indiana National Guard, pleaded not guilty to an intimidation charge. He was released on $1,000, and his school expulsion hearing is set for next week. The video featured other students walking through the halls as Sean allegedly attempted to kill the zombies the game placed among them.
Realistic footage of shootings in the high school's hallways apparently alarmed the off-duty sheriff's deputy hired to work at the high school -- who then filed the misdemeanor intimidation charge with the county prosecutor.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's can't-lose-for-winning department
Sportsbooks have closed 50,000 betting accounts just in the U.K. -- and placed strict limits on 50,000 more, according to gaming experts contacted by ESPN. "Bookmakers from London to Las Vegas are refusing to take bets from a growing number of customers whose only offense might be trying to win."
Banning or limiting sophisticated players has been a regular part of Las Vegas sports betting for decades, and, like in the U.K., there's absolutely nothing illegal about it. Bettors say the practice is increasing and has even occurred in some of the new states (such as New Jersey) that have entered into the now-legal bookmaking game in recent months. "Americans should be worried," said Brian Chappell, a founder for the U.K. bettor advocacy group Justice for Punters. "It's coming."
In Nevada, refusing to take bets from any customer, from card counters to wise-guy sports bettors, is completely within any casino's legal rights. From Caesars Palace to the Venetian to more local spots like Station Casinos, every bookmaker in town will tell you -- albeit somewhat quietly -- that they've 86'd customers for one reason or another. Seasoned bettors are concerned, though, that the practice of banning or limiting accounts is not only increasing, but the reasoning behind the decisions is becoming more and more suspect. Many believe that the only thing betting intelligently will get you at some shops is a one-way ticket to being thrown out...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's California-coincidence department
An anonymous reader writes:
Verizon testified Friday before a California State Assembly committee about why its "throttling" of county firefighters was completely unrelated to net neutrality. Then they surprised everyone by announcing that they were lifting all data caps on public safety workers with unlimited data plans, including federal justice agencies like the FBI, CIA and Secret Service.
Verizon claimed this was completely unrelated to the fact that 13 California Congressmen are now demanding that the FTC investigate Verizon's throttling of firefighters battling California's 290,692-acre wildfire. "It is unacceptable for communications providers to deceive their customers," the Congressmen wrote, "but when the consumer in question is a government entity tasked with fire and emergency services, we can't afford to wait a moment longer."
Meanwhile, the California Professional Firefighters, which represents more than 30,000 firefighters and emergency personnel, came out in support of a strict new California law that restores net neutrality provisions, saying their group had "come to conclude that if net neutrality is not restored, the effect could be disastrous to the public's safety." One county fire chief even testified this was the third time in eight months they've been throttled by Verizon.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's package-mismanagement department
Since April, according to the company, npm users have run 50 million automatic scans and have deliberately invoked the command 3.1 million times. And they're running 3.4 million security audits a week. Across all audits, 51 per cent found at least one vulnerability and 11 per cent identified a critical vulnerability. In a phone interview with The Register, Adam Baldwin, head of security at NPM, said he didn't have data on how many people are choosing to fix flagged flaws. "But what we've seen from pull requests suggests it's gaining traction," he said.
Incidentally, npm's thinking about security is finding similar expression elsewhere in the industry. Earlier this year, GitHub began alerting developers when their code contains insecure libraries. During a recent media briefing, GitHub's head of platform Sam Lambert said he hoped that the process could be made more automated through the mechanized submission of git pull requests that developers could simply accept to replace flawed code.
Baldwin said NPM might implement something similar, an intervention rather than a simple notification. "Currently it's not proactive policy enforcement," he said. "But it's something we're considering." That would appeal to NPM's growing enterprise constituency. "Enterprises for sure want the compliance and control," said Baldwin. "They want that ability to know the open source they're bringing in is safe or meets a certain set of criteria."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's get-off-of-my-cloud department
SpzToid quotes Vanity Fair:
The controversy involves a plan to move all of the Defense Department's data -- classified and unclassified -- on to the cloud. The information is currently strewn across some 400 centers, and the Pentagon's top brass believes that consolidating it into one cloud-based system, the way the CIA did in 2013, will make it more secure and accessible. That's why, on July 26, the Defense Department issued a request for proposals called JEDI, short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. Whoever winds up landing the winner-take-all contract will be awarded $10 billion -- instantly becoming one of America's biggest federal contractors.
But when JEDI was issued, on the day Congress recessed for the summer, the deal appeared to be rigged in favor of a single provider: Amazon. According to insiders familiar with the 1,375-page request for proposal, the language contains a host of technical stipulations that only Amazon can meet, making it hard for other leading cloud-services providers to win -- or even apply for -- the contract. One provision, for instance, stipulates that bidders must already generate more than $2 billion a year in commercial cloud revenues -- a "bigger is better" requirement that rules out all but a few of Amazon's rivals... Much of the language of JEDI, in fact, seems specifically tailored for Jeff Bezos. "Everybody immediately knew that it was for Amazon," says a rival bidder who asked not to be named. To even make a bid, a provider must maintain a distance of at least 150 miles between its data centers and provide "32 GB of RAM" -- specifications that few providers other than Amazon can meet.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's science-fiction-in-San-Jose department
AmiMoJo quotes the Verge:
The 2018 Hugo Awards were held Sunday night at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California. The Hugo award, voted on by members of the fan community, is considered the highest honour for science fiction and fantasy literature... N.K. Jemisin took home the top honor for The Stone Sky, the third installment of her Broken Earth trilogy. Other winners include Martha Wells for her first Murderbot novella All Systems Red, Suzanne Palmer for her novelette "The Secret Life of Bots," and Rebecca Roanhorse for her short story "Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience." [Those last two links apparently let you read the entire story online!] Roanhorse also took home the John W. Campbell Jr. Award for Best New Writer.
Ursula K. Le Guin also posthumously won an award for "Best Related Work" for her collection of blog posts No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters.
And Zack Snyder finally won something, when Blade Runner 2049 lost in the "Best Dramatic Presentation -- Long Form" category to Wonder Woman ("screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuch.")Read Replies (0)