By msmash from Slashdot's inner-workings department
The West African nation of Mauritania lost all internet access for 48 hours due to an undersea cable break, according to infrastructure analysts. From a report: The break, which took place a couple weeks ago, provides a reminder of how much internet users rely on the cables that connect their countries. According to Dyn, the Oracle-owned internet performance firm, the African Coast to Europe (ACE) cable was cut near Noukachott in Mauritania on March 30. It's not clear what caused the break, but six countries entirely rely on that one cable for their connectivity, and all -- Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and the Gambia -- saw a big impact. The impact in Mauritania was the worst, with its two-day outage, while Sierra Leone also had big problems. The latter country also had a big outage on April 1, but that may well have been down to government action -- African governments are notorious for interfering with citizens' internet access, particularly around election time or during periods of unrest.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's ahead-of-the-D-day department
An anonymous reader writes: It goes without saying that no tech CEO ever wants to make the trek down to Washington D.C. and appear before congress. And Zuckerberg -- at a surface level -- seems particularly ill-suited for the task. Though clearly an incredible mind, remember that Zuckerberg is a tech-minded programmer and far from a savvy and political operator. That being the case, many people are curious as to how the Facebook founder, who it's worth noting is just 33 years old, will fare when confronted with hard hitting questions from politicians. In an effort to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that Zuckerberg's appearance goes off without a hitch, The New York Times is reporting that Facebook recently hired a team of experts and coaches tasked with ensuring that Zuckerberg has the tools to deftly navigate the potentially deep waters of Congress. Of particular interest is that Zuckerberg has been learning how to be charming and exhibit humility in the face of heavy-handed and probing questions. The report says, "It [ Facebook] has also hired a team of experts, including a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, to put Mr. Zuckerberg, 33, a cerebral coder who is uncomfortable speaking in public, through a crash course in humility and charm. The plan is that when he sits down before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg will have concrete changes to talk about, and no questions he can't handle."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, writing for CNN: Two years ago, Brendan Tyne pleaded with the Food and Drug Administration to approve a drug that he was hopeful could finally bring his mother some peace. She could no longer move without assistance and had fallen victim to the debilitating and frightening psychosis that haunts many people with Parkinson's disease. "She thinks there are people in the house and animals are trying to get her," he told an FDA advisory committee. He believed that a new medication called Nuplazid, made by San Diego-based Acadia Pharmaceuticals, was the answer. Nuplazid's review was being expedited because it had been designated a "breakthrough therapy" -- meaning that it demonstrated "substantial improvement" in patients with serious or life-threatening diseases compared to treatments already on the market. Congress created this designation in 2012 in an effort to speed up the FDA's approval process, which has long been criticized for being too slow. Around 200 drugs have been granted this designation since its creation. [...] The committee voted 12-2 and recommended that the FDA approve Nuplazid for the treatment of Parkinson's disease psychosis based on a six-week study of about 200 patients. It hit the market in June 2016. As caregivers and family members rushed to get their loved ones on it, sales climbed to roughly $125 million in 2017 [...] In November, an analysis released by a nonprofit health care organization, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, warned that 244 deaths had been reported to the FDA between the drug's launch and March 2017. [...] Since the institute released its analysis, FDA data shows that the number of reported deaths has risen to more than 700. As of last June, Nuplazid was the only medication listed as "suspect" in at least 500 of the death reports.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's open-book department
In a wide-ranging interview with MSNBC and Recode, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that everyone should know how much data they're sharing and what can be inferred about us from that information. He added that privacy "is a human right" and said he's worried about how advertisers and others can abuse access to our data. "To me it's creepy when I look at something and all of a sudden it's chasing me all the way across the web," Cook said. "I don't like that." CNET reports: The comments came as part of a wide-ranging interview between Cook, MSNBC's Chris Hayes and Recode's Kara Swisher. MSNBC broadcast the special, named "Revolution: Apple changing the world" at 5 p.m. PT on Friday. The interview was taped the day after Apple's education event in Chicago, where the company introduced a new 9.7-inch iPad and tools for teachers. The two publications released some early clips and comments from Cook over the past couple of weeks. That included remarks he made about Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cook noted that Apple purposely chose not to make "a ton of money" off its customers' data and that Facebook failed to effectively regulate itself, prompting a need for government intervention. Along with Facebook and its privacy issues, Cook talked up DACA and immigration, tax reform, the changing job landscape and the need for everyone to learn coding, among other topics.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nail-in-the-coffin department
Emil Protalinski via VentureBeat argues that "Windows Mail is unusable, and instead of improving it, Microsoft is looking to drive users away": Microsoft started forcing Mail to use Edge for email links in Windows 10 build 17623 last month. This week, the company started including Office 365 ads right at the bottom of the app. But even these poor decisions are just extra nails in the coffin. Windows Mail has difficulty sending and receiving email. No, I'm not exaggerating for effect. If you have an email open and Windows Mail detects that a new email has hit your inbox, you'll get a notification. Standard stuff. If, however, you then click on said notification, Windows Mail will take you to the open email message, rather than the one that you just clicked on. That's half of the time. The other half of the time this happens, Windows Mail will crash altogether. Apparently having one email open and trying to open another one that just came in is overwhelming for Windows Mail. But that's not the end of it.
Windows Mail is also notorious for not sending emails. Multiple times a week, I open an email, hit reply, type out a quick message, hit send, and alt-tab back to Chrome or Word. Any normal email client will send the message despite the app not being the active window. With Windows Mail, countless times I have wondered why I never got heard back to a specific reply, only to discover hours later, and completely by accident, that the message is still a draft. It's not even sitting in my outbox -- it's just a fucking draft. I end up debating whether to send the email hours late, or if it doesn't make sense to send it anymore. That's not a decision I should have to make. There are of course small features I would like to see added to Windows Mail, like being able to set formatted signatures (as opposed to just plain text), but that's hardly a priority. Windows Mail is unusable, which means Windows 10 doesn't come with an email client. That's incredibly sad.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-for-all department
In a news bulletin, University of California, Berkeley announces that its "Foundations of Data Science" course is "being offered free online this spring for the first time through the campus's online education hub, edX." From the report: The course -- Data 8X (Foundations of Data Science) -- covers everything from testing hypotheses, applying statistical inferences, visualizing distributions and drawing conclusions, all while coding in Python and using real-world data sets. One lesson might take economic data from different countries over the years to track global economic growth. The next might use a data set of cell samples to create a classification algorithm that can diagnose breast cancer. (Learn more from a video on the Berkeley data science website.) The online program is based on the Foundations of Data Science course that Berkeley launched on campus in 2015 and now has more than 1,000 students enrolling every semester. The Foundations of Data Science edX Professional Certificate program is a sequence of three five-week courses taught by three winners of Berkeley's top teaching honor, the Distinguished Teaching Award: DeNero, statistics professor Ani Adhikari and computer science professor David Wagner. The first of the three parts has already started (9 a.m. on April 2), but enrollment will remain open after the course begins. Furthermore, anyone in the world can enroll for free but those who want to earn the certificate will need to pay.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-connected department
The New York Times reports of the Indian government's intent to build an identification system of unprecedented scope. The country is reportedly "scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents (alternative source) and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones." Here's an excerpt from the report: Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell's Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it's more like "big brother," a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help. For other countries, the technology could provide a model for how to track their residents. And for India's top court, the ID system presents unique legal issues that will define what the constitutional right to privacy means in the digital age. The government has made registration mandatory for hundreds of public services and many private ones, from taking school exams to opening bank accounts.
Technology has given governments around the world new tools to monitor their citizens. In China, the government is rolling out ways to use facial recognition and big data to track people, aiming to inject itself further into everyday life. Many countries, including Britain, deploy closed-circuit cameras to monitor their populations. But India's program is in a league of its own, both in the mass collection of biometric data and in the attempt to link it to everything -- traffic tickets, bank accounts, pensions, even meals for undernourished schoolchildren.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's enlightening-discoveries department
A scientist in England discovered that the bills of Atlantic puffins glow like freshly cracked glow sticks when under a UV light. CBC.ca reports of how ornithologist Jamie Dunning stumbled upon the discovery: Dunning normally works with twites, another type of bird, but he had been wondering if puffins had Day-Glo beaks for a while, since crested auklets -- seabirds in the same family -- also have light-up bills. So one January day, while having a "troubling" time in the lab, he threw off the lights and shone a UV light on a puffin carcass. "What happened was quite impressive, really," he said. The two yellow ridges on the puffin's bill -- called the lamella and the cere -- lit up like a firefly. And it's real fluorescence, Dunning emphasizes: something about those parts of the puffin bill is allowing that UV light to be absorbed and re-emitted as a bright glowing light. The fact some birds have this quality and some birds don't indicates the fluorescence certainly has some use for the puffins, Dunning said, but he's not sure what that use might be. "The bill of a puffin is forged by generations, hundreds and thousands of years, of sexual selection. There's a lot going on there. That's why it's so colorful and pretty." But the radiant color is almost certainly not being used as a headlight, he said. He said whatever's making the beak glow is reacting with the UV light waves, and those light waves aren't around in the dark.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's go-figure department
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be questioned about user privacy protections next week by members of the House and Senate committees, but as USA Today notes, many of these members were also "some of the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from Facebook employees directly and the political action committee funded by employees." An anonymous reader shares the report: The congressional panel that got the most Facebook contributions is the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which announced Wednesday morning it would question Zuckerberg on April 11. Members of the committee, whose jurisdiction gives it regulatory power over Internet companies, received nearly $381,000 in contributions tied to Facebook since 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The center is a non-partisan, non-profit group that compiles and analyzes disclosures made to the Federal Election Commission.
The second-highest total, $369,000, went to members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which announced later that it would have a joint hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Zuckerberg on Tuesday. Judiciary Committee members have received $235,000 in Facebook contributions. On the House committee, Republicans got roughly twice as much as Democrats, counter to the broader trend in Facebook campaign gifts. Of the $7 million in contributions to all federal candidates tied to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network, Democrats got 65% to Republicans' 33%. Of the 55 members on the Energy and Commerce Committee this year, all but nine have received Facebook contributions in the past decade. The average Republican got $6,800, while the average Democrat got $6,750.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's technical-debt-relief department
Long-time Slashdot reader johnpagenola writes:
In the middle 1970's I had to choose between focusing on programming or accounting. I chose accounting because organizations were willing to pay for good accounting but not for good IT.
Forty years later the situation does not appear to have changed. Target, Equifax, ransomware, etc. show pathetically bad IT design and operation. Why does this pattern of underinvestment in and under-appreciation of IT continue?
Long-time Slashdot reader dheltzel argues that the problem is actually bad hiring practices, which over time leads to lower-quality employees. But it seems like Slashdot's readership should have their own perspective on the current state of the modern workplace.
So share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments. Are companies under-investing in IT?Read Replies (0)