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Researcher Writes A Machine Language For The Universe
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 06:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's answer-is-42 department:
Slashdot reader smugfunt shares a blog post from systems scientist George Mobus:

"There is a fundamental language of systems that provides a way to describe both structures and functions that is universal across any kind of system... I am nearing completion of the basic specification of the language and will be presenting my results at the next ISSS conference in Boulder CO this July... This language, which I formally call SL, but privately call "systemese", is like the machine language of the universe. Any system you choose to analyze and model can be described in this language...! The beauty of the approach is that the end product of analysis is a compilable program that is the model of the system. The language does not just cover dynamics (e.g. system dynamics), or agents (agent-based), or evolutionary (e.g., genetic algorithms) models. It incorporates all of the above plus real adaptivity and learning (e.g. biological-like), and real evolvability (as when species or corporations evolve in complex non-stationary environments)... Systemese and mentalese (the language of thought), a concept advanced by philosopher of mind Jerry Fodor, are basically one in the same! That is, our brains, at a subconscious level, use systemese to construct our models of how the world works.

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Lyft Plans Self-Driving Taxi Fleet By 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 04:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's car-talk department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Lyft hopes to launch a self-driving fleet of taxis as soon as next year, according to reports, arriving in the market years before Apple and Google. "There will still be a human 'driver' in the cars, as mandated by law for the time being," writes BGR, adding that eventually the driver will become obsolete. "But said human will be there solely in the event of a malfunction. Otherwise, Lyft's new vehicles will drive themselves."

Meanwhile, Fortune writes that most analysts believe it will be four years before Apple gets a car on the road, though they're moving in that direction and even hired a Tesla executive last month. They add that both Apple and Google are now eyeing at least 400,000 square feet of Bay Area real estate to use in the development of their self-driving fleets.

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Siri Voice Actress Doesn't Use Siri
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 04:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's does-Siri-dream-of-electric-sheep? department:
An anonymous coward writes: Susan Bennett, the actress who provided the voice of Apple's Siri assistant, says she "doesn't really" use Siri herself. "It's too weird," she says in a new interview. While she uses many Apple products, "I'm used to hearing my voice on radio and TV commercials and that sort of thing, but to hear my own voice coming out of this little computer phone is too strange."
Bennett says she recorded every sound combination in the English language one fateful July in 2005, working five days a week, four hours a day, but didn't know it was for Siri until six years later, in 2011, when another voice actor e-mailed,"Hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone. Isn't this you?" Bennett says she was "kind of horrified, because I hadn't been told... On the other hand, I was extremely flattered."

In the interview she also says she felt "dissed" when Siri answered one of her first questions, "What are you doing," with a disgusted "I'm talking to you..." Although on her personal web site, Bennett shares a recording of herself being interviewed by Siri.

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Kobo Customers Losing Books From Their Libraries After Software Upgrade
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 12:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's one-second-it's-here,-at-other-it-isn't department:
Reader Robotech_Master writes: After a recent Kobo software upgrade, a number of Kobo customers have reported losing e-books from their libraries -- notably, e-books that had been transferred to Kobo from their Sony Reader libraries when Sony left the consumer e-book business. One customer reported missing 460 e-books, and the only way to get them back in her library would be to search and re-add them one at a time! Customers who downloaded their e-books and illegally broke the DRM don't have this problem, of course.From the report: A Kobo representative actually chimed in on the thread, telling MobileRead users that they were following the thread and trying to fix the glitches that had been caused by the recent software changes and restore customers' e-books. It's good that they're paying attention, and that's definitely better than my first go-round with Barnes and Noble support over my own missing e-book. Hopefully they'll get it sorted out soon. That being said, this drives home yet again the point that publisher-imposed DRM has made and is making continued maintenance of e-book libraries from commercial providers a big old mess. About the only way you can be sure you can retain the e-books you pay for is to outright break the law and crack the DRM in order to be able to back them up against your company going out of business and losing the purchases you paid for.

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Amazon Bows To Pressure To Bring Same-Day Deliveries To Poor Areas
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 08:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Prime-numbers department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune:
After pressure from lawmakers, Amazon is revamping its same-day delivery service in response to complaints that it failed to provide service to poor, minority neighborhoods. The retail giant said it would bring its same-day delivery service to all Zip Codes in the 27 cities where its offered, not just in the wealthier areas, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday.

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The Pirate Bay Now Blocked In Chrome, Firefox, And Safari
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 05:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's malvertising-suspected department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari are actively blocking direct access to The Pirate Bay. Kickass Torrents suffered such a similar incident last month, because of the intermediary confirmation screen that appeared every time users navigated away from the site. The reason why these three browsers block access to The Pirate Bay is unknown, but it could be related to a malvertising campaign that has plagued the site for more than two weeks. Two weeks ago, the malvertising campaign intensified right when season six of Game of Thrones premiered.
Meanwhile, HBO is contacting sites asking them to remove Game of Thrones torrents, and sending thousands of copyright infringement warnings to ISPs, urging them to remind pirates that they can stream HBO content legally after purchasing a subscription to HBO.

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Ask Slashdot: Should I Expect Tracking When Subscribing To News Sites?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 04:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's clean-Slate department:
Long-time Slashdot reader robot5x writes: I'm a fan of online privacy and, where possible, don't automatically permit cookies and tend to set Ghostery to block all trackers in my browser. This rarely causes a problem -- I have lots of subscriptions to various sites which require me to login and have only rarely encountered minor issues. Recently I had a present of a Slate Plus membership. I really like their content and was keen on supporting it financially. Activating it from the email they sent required me to first register as a user. I clicked on the icon, and nothing happened. Ghostery picked up 7 trackers which I had blocked.
Assuming that one of these was the cause, I activated each in turn and reloaded. None of them made any difference, except a single tracker from JanRain. Accepting this tracker let everything work perfectly. Reading more about JanRain though -- and particularly its interaction with Adobe analytics (which it also tries to load) -- I discovered that they wanted to "create a holistic view of your business by collecting, analyzing and reporting all customer interactions. To derive the most actionable insights, you must link your customers' actions with who they are and what their interests are. Janrain bridges the gap by connecting demographic and psychographic data, collected through traditional and social login, with Adobe's behavioral data, so you understand the whole customer journey". I do not want them to do any of this, and don't think I should have to. Interactions with Slate's 'support' were excruciating and -- while they at least didn't ask me to restart my computer -- they actually ended up saying that allowing these trackers is tied to their login process and I have to either accept or get a refund.
Robot 5x asks: Is it unacceptable to have to accept being tracked as a paying customer for new sites? "Or am I just being a big baby?"

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Tucows Bans Pop-Up Ads, Goes Ad-Free
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 03:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-than-one department:
HughPickens.com writes: Tucows began as a software downloads site nearly 25 years ago and has since evolved beyond that early core business and into domain names, mobile phone service and symmetrical gigabit fiber Internet in select towns and cities in the US. Now Tucows has announced that as a gesture of goodwill, Tucows has banned deceptive ads, hidden download buttons, pop-ups, flypaper, toolbars and other such Internet nastiness from the the nearly 40,000 software titles it hosts for users on it's download sites. "On the Tucows downloads site today, you'll find no flashing ads. No toolbars. No pop-ups," says CEO Elliot Noss. "You might see a few plugs for other Tucows services, but nothing too egregious and certainly not anything that's pretending to be a download button." With Tucows' success in domain names, mobile phone service (Ting) and fiber Internet (Ting Internet), Tucows' revenue from downloads has become less relevant when looking at the balance sheet. "We don't lightly walk away from opportunities or revenue," says Noss. "In the end, though, we'd rather have the Tucows name associated with good; with a belief in the power of the Internet to affect positive change. An ad-heavy site that packages browser toolbars along with every download isn't something we want people to think of when they hear 'Tucows,'."

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The House of Representatives Is Blocking All Apps Using Google's Appspot.com
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 01:51 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's block-it-if-you-don't-understand-it department:
New reader calewithac writes: In an attempt to stop ransomware attacks, the House's security team has banned all apps hosted on appspot.com from being used on its servers. This means that all appspot hosted apps are inaccessible inside Congress. According to Ted Henderson, the founder of the Cloakroom -- an anonymous messaging app for Capitol Hill staffers -- all of his apps are effectively not available to their target audience.

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Legendary Sound Designer Jory Prum Passes Away At 41
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 01:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moment-of-silence department:
New submitter loren writes: It is with much sadness that I report that legendary sound designer Jory K. Prum, who worked on more than 120 video game titles, passed away April 22, 2016, at age 41, from injuries suffered in a March traffic accident. (Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of Jory and his family.) Here are some personal recollections from family, friends and colleagues... Also, a list of his game credits are on MobyGames. This post doesn't do him justice, but I found news of his loss conspicuously absent on Slashdot.
Back in 2006 a Slashdot article about the game Bone apparently drew a comment from Jory himself ("Funny, I'm recording the dialog for Bone 2 right as I read this!") and in 2004 the same account weighed in on an article about long hours at Electronic Arts. Wikipedia also reports that in 2001 Jory created a voice for Pixar's Oscar-winning short "For the Birds," and in 2014 recovered the aging audio for the classic point-and-click adventure game Grim Fandango.

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Hacker Magazine Phrack Returns After Four-year Hiatus
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 12:22 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Phrack-is-back department:
Earthquake Retrofit quotes this report from The Register:
More than four years since its previous issue, iconic hacker zine Phrack has published a new issue. Phrack issue number 69 contains articles from researchers Aaron Portnoy and Alisa Esage, as well as articles on OS X rootkits and exploiting Ruby on Rails... First released in 1985 via BBS, Phrack has been staffed by dozens of editors and contributors in its three-plus decades. The long-running zine has also hosted a number of notable articles, including the famed Hacker Manifesto and Smashing The Stack For Fun And Profit.

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Researchers Are Reconstructing Babbage's Analytical Engine
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 11:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's legacy-code department:
Slashdot reader RockDoctor brings an update on a project to build Babbage's Analytical Engine:

Between 1822 and 1847, Charles Babbage worked on a number of designs for general-purpose programmable computing engines, some parts of which were built during his lifetime and after.
Since 2011 a group under the name of "Plan-28" have been working towards building a full version of the machine known as the Analytical Engine. (The group's name refers to the series of Babbage's plans which they are working to -- versions 1 to 27 obviously having problems.) This week, they've released some updates on progress on their blog. Significant progress includes working on the machine's "internal microcode" (in today's terminology; remember, this is a machine of brass cogs and punched cards!) [and] archive work to bring the Science Museum's material into a releasable form (the material is already scanned, but the metadata is causing eyestrain). "One of the difficulties in understanding the designs is the need to reverse engineer logical function from mechanical drawings of mechanisms -- this without textual explanation of purpose or intention..." Progress is slow, but real.
Last year marked the bicentennial of Ada Lovelace, who wrote programs for the Analytical Engine and it's predecessor, the Difference Engine, and whose position as "the world's first programmer" is celebrated in the name of the programming language Ada.

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Disposable Lasers Created Using Inkjet Printer
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 09:43 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's light-reading department:
An anonymous reader quotes this report from The Daily Mail:
Researchers have invented a way to print lasers that's so cheap, easy and efficient they believe the core of the laser could be disposed of after each use. The disposable organic lasers amplify light with carbon-containing materials and they are produced using a simple inkjet printer...

"The low-cost and easiness of laser chip fabrication are the most significant aspects of our results," said Sebastien Sanaur, an associate professor in the Center of Microelectronics in Provence at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne in France... One obstacle that has held back organic lasers is the fact that they degrade relatively quickly -- but that hurdle might be less daunting if the lasers are so cheap they could be tossed when they fail. Sanaur's research team produced their ultra-low-cost organic laser using a familiar technology: an inkjet printer... They estimate it could be produced for only a few cents. Like the replaceable blades in a razor, the lasing capsule could be easily swapped out when it deteriorates.

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NVIDIA Unveils GeForce GTX 1080, GTX 1070, Faster Than Titan X For a Lot Less
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 09:43 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-powerful-GPU department:
MojoKid writes (edited and condensed): NVIDIA has unveiled its next-generation Pascal-based GeForce graphics cards -- known as the GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1070. NVIDIA's Pascal architecture is based on 16nm FinFET technology, similar to that of NVIDIA's high-end data center Tesla P100 processing engine though the GeForce cards are targeted at the consumer gaming market. NVIDIA's GP104 GPU at the heart of the new GeForce cards is comprised of some 8 billion transistors and features a 256-bit memory interface with 8GB of Micron GDDR5X graphics memory on the GeForce GTX 1080. The GTX 1070, however, employs standard GDDR5. The core clock speed of the GeForce GTX 1080 hit 2.1GHz at one point during the demonstration, though GTX 1070 clocks were not disclosed. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claimed the new GeForce GTX 1080 is faster than a pair of GeForce GTX 980 cards in SLI and faster than the company's very expensive Titan X graphics card but at half the price. The new GeForce GTX 1080 will be offered in two versions, a standard card with an MSRP of $599 or a highly-overclockable Founders Edition for $699. The standard GTX 1070 will arrive at $379, while a Founders Edition will be priced at $449. Availability for the GTX 1080 is slated for May 27th and the GTX 1070 for June 10. Anand Tech has more information.

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Does Free Comic Book Day Help Retailers?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 08:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's which-side-are-you-on? department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Today comic book stores around the world celebrate "Free Comic Book Day," offering free comic books to anyone who pays them a visit. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the event is offering 50 free titles this year, including Doctor Who, Serenity, The Simpsons, Love and Rockets, and a brand new comic from Stan Lee. Marvel is giving away both an Avengers/Civil War comic and a separate one featuring Captain America, and there's also comics with Grumpy Cat, The Tick, and even a Street fighter V comic.

But the Los Angeles Times notes there's different opinions about whether the event creates repeat business (though one comic shop owner told them "as far as that one day goes, it's a great day.") Another store owner says he even stopped participating temporarily because "It's just the hyenas looking for free stuff," while a third described it instead as a way to give back to the community of comic book readers.

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Amid Data Breach, Google, Mail.ru and Yahoo Claim 98% of Leaked Credentials Bogus
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's false-alarm department:
Hundreds of millions of email login credentials -- affecting Gmail, Yahoo, Mail.ru (Russia's most popular email service), and Hotmail among other websites -- were being traded earlier this week in Russia's criminal underground. According to a report on Ars Technica, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Mail.ru have now assured that the vast majority of leaked credentials are invalid. For instance, "More than 98% of the Google account credentials in this research turned out to be bogus," Google said. Dan Goodin reports: What has been clear all along to anyone paying attention is that the plaintext credentials recovered by Hold Security almost certainly didn't come from hacks on the e-mail providers. Instead, they most likely were collected by hackers who hit dozens, hundreds or thousands of third-party Web services over the years and dumped the account databases into a single list.

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Creator of Online Money Gets 20 Years in Prison
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 06:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Patriot-Act-strikes-again department:
An anonymous reader quotes this report from CNN:
Before the virtual currency Bitcoin there was Liberty Reserve -- and its founder just got sentenced to 20 years in prison. Arthur Budovsky, 42, ran an online digital money business out of Costa Rica called Liberty Reserve. The U.S. government contended that the whole thing was just a massive, $6 billion money laundering operation. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote sentenced him to two decades in federal prison. She said Budovsky did not show "genuine remorse," according to the Department of Justice...

The U.S. government used the Patriot Act to go after this payment processor. The U.S. Treasury Department labeled it a money laundering organization, and cut it off from the American financial system. In 2013, American investigators took over the website and shut it down. In 2014, Budovsky and several coworkers were arrested in Spain. Then Budovsky was extradited to the United States to face trial for money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

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Homeland Security Wants To Subpoena Techdirt Over The Identity Of A Hyperbolic Commenter
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 05:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-amendment department:
Techdirt is in hot water with the Department of Homeland Security all thanks to a commenter known as Digger. Techdirt's Tim Cushing published a story about the Hancock County, IN Sheriff's Department officers who stole $240,000 under color of asset forfeiture. In response to the story, Digger wrote, "The only 'bonus' these criminals [the Sheriff's Department officers] are likely to see could be a bullet to their apparently empty skulls." The Department of Homeland Security then contacted Techdirt to ask whom they should send a subpoena to in order to identify Digger. Masnick is worried the subpoena could come with a gag order. "Normally, we'd wait for the details before publishing, but given a very similar situation involving commenters on the site Reason last year, which included a highly questionable and almost certainly unconstitutional gag order preventing Reason from speaking about it, we figured it would be worth posting about it before we've received any such thing," Masnick writes.

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Streaming Surpasses CD Sales At Warner Music
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 02:53 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department:
An anonymous reader writes: The times are a changin'. "Warner Music Group has become the first major record company to report that streaming has become its largest source of revenue, surpassing sales of physical formats such as CDs and vinyl," reports Financial Times. Last year, Warner's streaming revenue surpassed its sales for downloads. It goes to show just how much of an impact streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are having on the music industry. Warner is the third-largest record company and has embraced streaming more quickly than the rest of the industry. "This rapid transformation is evidence of our ability to sign, develop and market artists that thrive in the streaming world," said Stephen Cooper, Warner's chief executive. The company reports that total recorded music revenue grew 10 percent to $610 million in the first three months of the year. Overall digital revenue increased 20 percent to $328 million, offsetting declines in physical formats like CDs.

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Microsoft Sees Over 10 Million Cyberattacks Per Day On Its Online Infrastructure
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 12:13 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's be-afraid-very-afraid department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's user identity management systems, made up by Microsoft Account (formerly Live ID, for home users) and Azure Active Directory (for its cloud/corporate services), see over 13 billion user logins per day, with 1.3 billion for AAD. The company says that over 10 million (per day) of these login attempts are cyber-attacks, which the company is able to detect. This information comes via Microsoft's most recent Security Intelligence Report, which also reveals details about a new cyber-espionage group named Platinum and that hackers are still using the same vulnerability (CVE-2010-2568) even today, which was used in the Stuxnet attacks. According to Pew Research Center, there's an increasingly growing fear among Americans about cyberattacks. In fact, it's the second most feared entity to them, the first being ISIS.

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