By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-tenth-the-code department
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmag: MIT's new Swarm chip could help unleash the power of parallel processing for up to 75-fold speedups, while requiring programmers to write a fraction of the code that is usually necessary for programs to take full advantage of their hardware. Swarm is a 64-core chip developed by Prof. Daniel Sanchez and his team that includes specialized circuitry for both executing and prioritizing tasks in a simple and efficient manner. Neowin reports: "For example, when using multiple cores to process a task, one core might need to access a piece of data that's being used by another core. Developers usually need to write code to avoid these types of conflict, and direct how each part of the task should be processed and split up between the processor's cores. This almost never gets done with normal consumer software, hence the reason why Crysis isn't running better on your new 10-core Intel. Meanwhile, when such optimization does get done, mainly for industrial, scientific and research computers, it takes a lot of effort on the developer's side and efficiency gains may sometimes still be minimal." Swarm is able to take care of all of this, mostly through its hardware architecture and customizable profiles that can be written by developers in a fraction of the time needed for regular multi-core silicon. The 64-core version of Swarm came out on top after MIT researchers tested it out against some highly-optimized parallel processing algorithms, offering three to 18 times faster processing. The most impressive result was when Swarm achieved results 75 times better than the regular chips, because that particular algorithm had failed to be parallelized on classic multi-core processors. There's no indication as to when this technology will be available for consumer devices.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's let-me-put-you-on-hold department
HughPickens.com writes: Getting caught in a tech support loop -- waiting on hold, interacting with automated systems, talking to people reading from unhelpful scripts and then finding yourself on hold yet again -- is a peculiar kind of aggravation that mental health experts say can provoke rage in even the most mild-mannered person. Now Kate Murphy writes at the NYT that just as you suspected, companies are aware of the torture they are putting you through as 92 percent of customer service managers say their agents could be more effective and 74 percent say their company procedures prevented agents from providing satisfactory experiences. "Don't think companies haven't studied how far they can take things in providing the minimal level of service," says Justin Robbins, who was once a tech support agent himself and now oversees research and editorial at ICMI. "Some organizations have even monetized it by intentionally engineering it so you have to wait an hour at least to speak to someone in support, and while you are on hold, you're hearing messages like, 'If you'd like premium support, call this number and for a fee, we will get to you immediately.'" Mental health experts say there are ways to get better tech support or maybe just make it more bearable. First, do whatever it takes to control your temper. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Losing your stack at a consumer support agent is not going to get your problem resolved any faster and being negative in your dealings with others can quickly paint you as a complainer no one wants to work with. Don't bother demanding to speak to a supervisor, either. You're just going to get transferred to another agent who has been alerted ahead of time that you have come unhinged. To get better service by phone, dial the prompt designated for "sales" or "to place an order," which almost always gets you an onshore agent, while tech support is usually offshore with the associated language difficulties. Finally customer support experts recommended using social media, like tweeting or sending a Facebook message, to contact a company instead of calling. You are likely to get a quicker response, not only because fewer people try that channel but also because your use of social media shows that you know how to vent your frustration to a wider audience if your needs are not met.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's poor-investment-decisions department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from GulfNews: A new analysis from Bankrate.com found that a median-income household in the U.S. could not afford the average price of a new vehicle in any of the 50 largest cities in the country, though cars are more affordable in some cities than others. The average price of a new car or light truck in 2016 is about $34,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. That's in part because new cars are loaded with helpful but expensive safety features like collision-avoidance systems. Bankrate calculated an "affordable" purchase price for major cities, using median incomes from U.S. census data, and factoring in costs for sales taxes and insurance. In San Jose, California -- the heart of Silicon Valley -- the median income is about $84,000, and an "affordable" new car purchase price is about $33,000 -- close to, but still below, the average new car price. In lower-income cities, however, affordable purchase prices for a typical family are far below the average cost of a new car. In Hartford, Connecticut, where the median income is about $29,000, an affordable purchase price is about $8,000 -- about a quarter of the average new-car price. Experian Automotive said the number of new cars bought with financing rose to more than 86 percent (Source: may be paywalled) in the first quarter of this year. The average loan amount topped $30,000, with the average term for a new-car loan in the 68-month range -- some stretch as long as seven years.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's interesting-moves department
From a TorrentFreak report: Blizzard Entertainment is suing Bossland, the maker of the popular Overwatch cheat tool "Watchover Tyrant" and several other game cheats. Among other things, the developer accuses the German company of various forms of copyright infringement and unfair competition. Blizzard is not happy with the Overwatch cheat and has filed a lawsuit against the German maker, Bossland GMBH, at a federal court in California. Bossland also sells cheats for various other titles such as World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and Heroes of the Storm, which are mentioned in the complaint as well. The game developer accuses the cheat maker of various forms of copyright infringement, unfair competition, and violating the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision. According to Blizzard these bots and cheats also cause millions of dollars in lost sales, as they ruin the games for many legitimate players. "Moreover, by releasing 'Overwatch Cheat' just days after the release of 'Overwatch,' Defendants are attempting to destroy or irreparably harm that game before it even has had a chance to fully flourish."Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's food-for-thought department
In a think piece for Vice's Motherboard Ernie Smith argues that the invention of air conditioning in 1902 has had a big impact on the innovation we've made since. Smith, citing several studies and articles on the matter, states that it is because of air conditioners that we have things like skyscrapers, clean rooms for building advanced computer chips, shopping malls, and multiplexes. But on the other hand, air conditioners have somewhat limited our creativity in home and office designing. From the article:See, prior to the air conditioner reaching homes around the country, architects had to think more creatively about keeping people cool when options were more limited. This meant taking advantage of breezes, room design, and dimensional layout in a way that maximized the heat when it was necessary kept things cool when it wasn't. And it meant taking advantage of foliage around the home to build in some natural shade, as well as to build porches, which were often much cooler than the insides of homes during warm days.The article, among other things, also mentions that we are currently looking for ways to curtail the energy wastage that incurs because of ACs. But Smith points out that it took us a while -- generations, actually -- before we started to see a problem and began working on it. From the article:"One of the many ways in which we have become cognitively lazy is to accept our initial impression of the problem that [we encounter]. Once we settle on an initial perspective we don't seek alternative ways of looking at the problem," author Michael Michalko wrote. "Like our first impressions of people, our initial perspective on problems and situations are apt to be narrow and superficial. We see no more than we expect to see based on our past experiences in life, education and work." [...] It's hard to even get mad at architects who chose simple efficiency over complexity, or (to highlight a contemporary example) early carmakers that went with gasoline instead of something better for the environment. Because of human nature, it just makes sense that despite all the other advantages that came with air conditioning, the more challenging things that came with the invention -- the fact that conservation and efficiency still have their place -- didn't initially get their due.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's speeds-and-feeds department
An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard report: Advertising agencies go to great lengths to spread their clients' messages. Now, researchers have uncovered a new approach: malware. This month, cybersecurity company Check Point reports that a Chinese group called Yingmob has distributed mobile device malware on a massive scale, apparently alongside a legitimate advertising analytics business. Listed as based in Beijing's Chaoyang District, Yingmob, a subsidiary of MIG Unmobi Technology Inc., markets itself like any other advertising firm. Its professional-looking website claims its easy-to-deploy ads support text, pictures, and video, and don't affect the user experience. It offers pop-up, sidebar, and in-app adverts. But Check Point's report claims that part of the company -- the "Development Team for Overseas Platform," which employs a staff of 25 people -- is responsible for malware it has dubbed HummingBad. This malware allows the injection of adverts into victims' devices. Whenever someone clicks on one of these adverts, Yingmob gets paid, just like a typical advertising campaign. The first infection method Check Point came across was a "drive-by-download," whereby Yingmob's malware targets a victim when they visit a malicious website, then proceeds to download malicious apps onto their device. In its analysis, Check Point writes that nearly 10 million people are using malicious Android apps made by Yingmob.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's finding-life-elsewhere department
Work has finished on the world's largest radio telescope, which will hunt for extraterrestrial life and explore space, reports Chinese news agency Xinhua. The world's most populated nation fitted the final of 4,450 panels into the centre of the 500m-wide Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, over the weekend. The telescope, which cost $180 million -- and took five years to build -- will be switched on from September. Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy Sciences said:The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.Gizmodo adds:FAST is almost twice as large as the next biggest radio telescope, which is in Puerto Rico. It will be used for early-stage research by Chinese scientists for a couple years, and then be used more widely. FAST is capable of detecting gravitational waves, pulsars and, eventually, amino acids on other planets.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Independence-Day department
An anonymous reader writes:
As America headed into its "Independence Day weekend," the U.S. Congress passed -- and President Obama signed -- the "FOIA Improvements Act of 2016". It now establishes a "presumption of disclosure" by law, and will even allow the disclosure of "deliberative process" records after 25 years, meaning those records from the Reagan (and prior) administrations should now become open, according to the Washington Post. In addition, the law also creates a comprehensive new "online request portal" for requesting records from all agencies, and even requires those agencies to make digital copies available for any records requested three or more times.
"By updating FOIA for the digital age, our law puts more government information than ever before online in a format familiar and accessible to the American people," said Senator Leahy, who sponsored the legislation. On the 50th anniversary of America's original Freedom of Information Act, Leahy added that "a government of, by, and for the people cannot be one that is hidden from them... "
It's the law's 50th anniversary, and Leahy imagined a world 50 years in the future, when the next generation "will look back at this moment and gauge our commitment to the founding principles of our democracy. Let them see that we continued striving for a 'more perfect union' by strengthening the pillar of transparency that holds our government accountable to "We the People.' "Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's American-evolution department
CRBE has released their annual list of the top tech cities in the U.S., analyzing 13 metrics (including salaries and housing costs) to "gauge the competitive advantage of markets and their ability to attract, grow and retain tech-talent pools." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Geekwire:
Seattle is the third best tech market in North America, trailing only the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington D.C.... Seattle passed New York for third this year on the back of a growing, well-paid and well-educated class of tech employees and a strong roster of big companies...with New York and Austin rounding out the top five.
The report shows a big divide in Seattle between a prosperous tech community and everyone else. Tech workers in Seattle make $110,999 on average, and their wages have increased close to 20 percent since 2010... The 177,380 people who work in other professional fields like finance, sales and marketing make an average of $57,603 per year and their wages have only increased 6.3 percent since 2010. During that same time period, apartment rents increased 39 percent to an average of $1,619 a month.
San Francisco had the highest annual salary for tech workers -- $123,921 -- followed by Seattle, which also had the highest percentage of workers with at least a bachelor's degree -- 59%. And there's also an interesting second list of the top small tech markets, which is led by Columbus, Ohio followed by Charlotte, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon.Read Replies (0)