By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Rakhim Davletkaliyev, a software developer, writer and podcaster, recently launched two new podcasts. One of the things he was asked by people following the launches was "but how do I subscribe, it's not on iTunes/Google Podcasts?" He writes: Podcasts are simply RSS feeds with links to media files (usually mp3s). A podcast is basically a URL. And podcast clients are special browsers. They check that URL regularly and download new episodes if the content of the URL changes (new link added). That's it, no magic, no special membership or anything else required. The technology is pretty "stupid" in a good way. Ever since tech companies started waging war against RSS, podcast distribution became visually RSS-free. What do you do to subscribe? Easy, just search in the app! For the majority of iOS users that app is Apple Podcasts, and recently Google made their own "default client" for Android -- Google Podcasts. It looks like podcast clients are similar to web browsers and just provide a way to consume content, but the underlying listings make them very different. Corresponding services are actually isolated catalogs. When you perform a search on Apple Podcasts, you aren't searching for podcasts. You are searching for Apple-approved podcasts. And if the thing you're looking for is not there, then... well, you get nothing. Most Podcast clients still accept RSS. Apple Podcasts, iTunes, PocketCasts, OverCast, PodcastAddict. Google Play Music doesn't say anything explicitly, but you can just put RSS URL into the search field and it works. For now. I won't be surprised if these apps gradually and silently remove this feature.Read Replies (0)
LibreOffice 6.1 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
The Document Foundation said on Wednesday it is releasing LibreOffice 6.1, the latest major update to its productivity suite. It is available to download for Linux, Windows, and macOS platforms. The new version offers, among other features, Colibre, a new icon theme for Windows based on Microsoft's icon design guidelines, which it says, makes the office suite visually appealing for users coming from the Microsoft environment. The Document Foundation also reworked the image handling feature on LibreOffice to make it "significantly faster and smoother thanks to a new graphic manager and an improved image lifecycle, with some advantages also when loading documents in Microsoft proprietary formats." Other new features and changes include: The reorganization of Draw menus with the addition of a new Page menu, for better UX consistency across the different modules. A major improvement for Base, only available in experimental mode: the old HSQLDB database engine has been deprecated, though still available, and the new Firebird database engine is now the default option (users are encouraged to migrate files using the migration assistant from HSQLDB to Firebird, or by exporting them to an external HSQLDB server). Significant improvements in all modules of LibreOffice Online, with changes to the user interface to make it more appealing and consistent with the desktop version. An improved EPUB export filter, in terms of link, table, image, font embedding and footnote support, with more options for customizing metadata. Online Help pages have been enriched with text and example files to guide the users through features, and are now easier to localize. LibreOffice 6.1's new features have been developed by a large community of code contributors: 72% of commits are from developers employed by companies sitting in the Advisory Board like Collabora, Red Hat and CIB and by other contributors such as SIL and Pardus, and 28% are from individual volunteers. In addition, there is a global community of individual volunteers taking care of other fundamental activities such as quality assurance, software localization, user interface design and user experience, editing of help system text and documentation, plus free software and open document standards advocacy at a local level. You can read the full changelog here. Here's a video that walks through the new features and changes that LibreOffice is receiving with v6.1.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it's-worth department
After earning the moniker "tech's most secretive startup" from Wired and telling Forbes in 2016 it was going to ship its system "soon-ish," the company is finally releasing the $2,295 Magic Leap One. For now, it will be available for purchase in limit U.S. markets. CNET: It includes a high-powered, moon pie-shaped computer called the Lightpack, a handheld remote called Control and a steampunk-inspired headset with round lenses and patented optics. That's called Lightwear. There's just one thing: Regular folks like us aren't the intended audience. At least not yet. This "Creator Edition," says CEO Abovitz, is part of a "controlled market release" in just a handful of cities in the United States for the developers and creative types Magic Leap will woo this year and next. The goal: for those makers to dream up the experiences (aka content) it needs to convince us to become Leapers. The company is already showing investors and partners prototypes of its smaller (and hopefully less expensive) Magic Leap Two and Magic Leap Three, but won't say when they'll be released. Magic Leap, valued at $6.3 billion as of two months ago, counts Google, Alibaba, Warner Bros, AT&T, and several top Silicon Valley venture capital firms and about a dozen other big names as its investors. More about the product going on sale here.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's skipping-a-beat department
Women who suffer from heart attacks may be at a higher risk of death in the emergency room if they see a male physician rather than a female one, a new study suggests. The study doesn't jump to conclusions, but doctors and cardiologists have a few theories. There could be a systematic bias where male physicians are not listening to female patients' complaints as readily as [those of] a man, or there could be a bias that favors men in the medical literature, leading to misdiagnoses in women. It may also be that female doctors do a better job than their male counterparts. "In the new study everyone was more likely to survive if they saw a female physician, and a study published last year [...] indicated all patients of female physicians had lower mortality and hospital readmission rates," reports Scientific American. From the report: Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women, but the latter are significantly less likely to survive heart attacks. According to 2016 American Heart Association statement, 26 percent of women will die within a year of a heart attack compared with just 19 percent of men. The gap widens with time: By five years after a heart attack almost half of women die, compared with 36 percent of men. The reason has eluded researchers for years, but the authors of the new study point to the disparity in male and female representation in emergency doctors as a potential source of answers. The researchers analyzed a Florida Agency for Health Care Administration database containing every heart attack case from every ER in the state (excluding Veterans Affairs hospitals) between 1991 and 2010. The researchers divided 500,000-plus cases into four categories: male doctors treating men; male doctors treating women; female doctors treating men; and female doctors treating women. "All of those are statistically indistinguishable except for male doctor -- female patient," says Brad Greenwood, an author on the study and a data scientist at the University of Minnesota. If a heart attack patient is a woman and her emergency physician is a man, he says, her risk of death suddenly rises by about 12 percent. Put another way, a heart attack patient dies in the ER about 11.9 percent of the time overall -- but the research team found women with heart attacks will die about 12.4 percent of the time if their cases are handled by male doctors. This means approximately one out of every 66 women with heart attacks dies in the emergency room if she sees a male doctor rather than a female one.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's JEDI-mine-trick department
Oracle has filed an official complaint with the U.S. government over plans to award the Pentagon's lucrative cloud contract to a single vendor. Rebecca Hill writes via The Register: The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which has a massive scope, covering different levels of secrecy and classification across all branches of the military, will run for a maximum of 10 years and is worth a potential $10 billion. In spite of this pressure from vendors and the tech lobby -- as well as concerns from Congress -- the US Department of Defense (DoD) refused to budge, and launched a request for proposals (RFP) at the end of last month. Oracle is less than impressed with the Pentagon's failure to back down, and this week filed a bid protest to congressional watchdog the Government Accountability Office asking for the RFP to be amended.
In the protest, the database goliath sets out its arguments against a single vendor award -- broadly that it could damage innovation, competition, and security. Reading between the lines, it doesn't want either of Amazon or Microsoft or Google to get the whole pie to itself, and thus endanger Oracle's cosiness with Uncle Sam. Summing up its position in a statement to The Register, Oracle said that JEDI "virtually assures DoD will be locked into legacy cloud for a decade or more" at a time when cloud technology is changing at an unprecedented pace.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-secret department
The location for Amazon's second headquarters is shrouded in secrecy, so much so that many city leaders are unaware of the financial incentives their cities used to entice Amazon (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). The New York Times reports: Across the country, the search for HQ2, as the project has been nicknamed, is shrouded in secrecy. Even civic leaders can't find out what sort of tax credits and other inducements have been promised to Amazon. And there is a growing legal push to find out, because taxpayers could get saddled with a huge bill and have little chance to stop it. A primary reason for the information blackout is that, in many cases, the bids were handled by local private Chamber of Commerce affiliates or economic development groups that aren't required to make their negotiations public. Many of the groups are also not covered by Freedom of Information Act or state open-records requests. But another reason is gamesmanship. Some cities say they want their Amazon proposals to remain confidential to avoid showing their hand to rivals. And Amazon required the finalists to sign nondisclosure agreements that forbid the local groups to release proprietary information about the company. With so much secrecy -- and bids like Austin's that involve unelected officials making promises -- there is the risk that taxpayers and their civic leaders will be forced to accept the proposed terms or live with turning down an enormously lucrative opportunity. Amazon, which is expected to make $235 billion in revenue this year, promises to bring the winning location up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment in construction.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's copy-+-paste department
Five years ago, researchers set out to replicate experiments from 50 high-impact cancer biology papers. Now, due to various challenges relating to a lack of funding and expertise, the project only expects to complete just 18 studies. Science Magazine reports: The Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology (RP:CP) began in October 2013 as an open effort to test replicability after two drug companies reported they had trouble reproducing many cancer studies. The work was a collaboration with Science Exchange, a company based in Palo Alto, California, that found contract labs to reproduce a few key experiments from each paper. Funding included a $1.3 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, enough for about $25,000 per study. Experiments were expected to take 1 year.
Costs rose and delays ensued as organizers realized they needed more information and materials from the original authors; a decision to have the proposed replications peer reviewed also added time. Organizers whittled the list of papers to 37 in late 2015, then to 29 by January 2017. In the past few months, they decided to discontinue 38% or 11 of the ongoing replications, Errington says. (Elizabeth Iorns, president of Science Exchange, says total costs for the 18 completed studies averaged about $60,000, including two high-priced "outliers.") One reason for cutting off some replications was that it was taking too long to troubleshoot or optimize experiments to get meaningful results... So far, the project has published replication results for 10 of the 18 studies. "Five were mostly repeatable, three were inconclusive, and two studies were negative, but the original findings have been confirmed by other labs," reports Science Magazine. "In fact, many of the initial 50 papers have been confirmed by other groups, as some of the RP:CB's critics have pointed out."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's marked-as-read department
tacarat shares a report from The Next Web with the caption, "Oops": A GitHub with the handle i5xx, believed to be from the village of Tando Bago in Pakistan's southeastern Sindh province, created a GitHub repository called Source-Snapchat. At the time of writing, the repo has been removed by GitHub following a DMCA request from Snap Inc, so we can't take a closer look and see what it contains. That said, there are a few clues to its contents. The repository has a description of "Source Code for SnapChat," and is written in Apple's Objective-C programming language. This strongly suggests that the repo contained part or whole of the company's iOS application, although there's no way we can know for certain. It could just as easily be a minor component to the service, or a separate project from the company.
The most fascinating part of this saga is that the leak doesn't appear to be malicious, but rather comes from a researcher who found something, but wasn't able to communicate his findings to the company. According to several posts on a Twitter account believed to belong to i5xx, the researcher tried to contact SnapChat, but was unsuccessful. "The problem we tried to communicate with you but did not succeed In that we decided [sic] Deploy source code," wrote i5xx. The account also threatened to re-upload the source code. "I will post it again until you reply :)," he said. A Snap spokesperson said in a statement: "An iOS update in May exposed a small amount of our source code and we were able to identify the mistake and rectify it immediately. We discovered that some of this code had been posted online and it has been subsequently removed. This did not compromise our application and had no impact on our community." According to Motherboard, some researchers appear to be trading the data privately.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
NEC, a Japanese IT and networking company, announced plans to provide a large-scale facial recognition system for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. "The system will be used to identify over 300,000 people at the games, including athletes, volunteers, media, and other staff," reports The Verge. From the report: NEC's system is built around an AI engine called NeoFace, which is part of the company's overarching Bio-IDiom line of biometric authentication technology. The Tokyo 2020 implementation will involve linking photo data with an IC card to be carried by accredited people. NEC says that it has the world's leading face recognition tech based on benchmark tests from the US's National Institute of Standards and Technology. NEC demonstrated the technology in Tokyo today, showing how athletes and other staff wouldn't be able to enter venues if they were holding someone else's IC card. The company even brought out a six-foot-eight former Olympic volleyball player to demonstrate that the system would work with people of all heights, though he certainly had to stoop a bit. It worked smoothly with multiple people moving through it quickly; the screen displayed the IC card holder's photo almost immediately after.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Europe's heatwave -- which led to wildfires in Greece and Sweden, droughts in central and northern parts, and made the normally green UK look brown from space -- is forcing nuclear plants to shut down or curtail the amount of power they produce, local media reports. From a report: French utility EDF shut four reactors at three power plants on Saturday, Swedish utility Vattenfall shut one of two reactors at a power plant earlier last week, and nuclear plants in Finland, Germany, and Switzerland have cut back the amount of power they produce. Thermal power plants, such as nuclear or coal, use high-temperature steam to turn turbines, which convert heat energy into electricity. In the process, the steam's temperature falls, so it can no longer be used to move the turbine again. [...] Europe's heatwave, however, hasn't just increased air temperatures but also water temperatures.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's something-doesn't-add-up-here department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Verizon "grossly overstated" its 4G LTE coverage in government filings, potentially preventing smaller carriers from obtaining funding needed to expand coverage in underserved rural areas, a trade group says. The Federal Communications Commission last year required Verizon and other carriers to file maps and data indicating their current 4G LTE coverage. The information will help the FCC determine where to distribute up to $4.5 billion in Mobility Fund money over the next 10 years. The funds are set aside for "primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G," the FCC says. If Verizon provided the FCC with inaccurate data, the company's rural competitors might not be able to get that government funding. "Verizon's claimed 4G LTE coverage is grossly overstated," the Rural Wireless Association (RWA), which represents rural carriers, told the FCC in a filing yesterday. "Verizon should not be allowed to abuse the FCC challenge process by filing a sham coverage map as a means of interfering with the ability of rural carriers to continue to receive universal service support in rural areas," the RWA wrote. "RWA's members are in the middle of the Challenge Process but are expending enormous time and financial resources in their efforts due to inaccurate data submitted by Verizon," the group said. "RWA requests that the Commission investigate the 4G LTE coverage claimed by Verizon and require re-filing of Verizon's data to correct its overstated coverage."
According to the RWA, Verizon claims to cover almost all of the Oklahoma Panhandle, an area of 14,778.47 square kilometers, but estimates that the actual coverage area should be approximately 6,806.49 square kilometers. "[That's] not even half of the LTE coverage area Verizon publicly claims to serve," the RWA wrote.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
An anonymous reader shares a report: CloudMagic, the makers of Newton, today announced that Newton Mail is being discontinued. The company is no longer allowing new users to purchase Newton Mail which costs $100 a year, and existing users will be provided with refunds. For those using the monthly subscription plan, it will immediately stop automatically renewing. And for those on the yearly subscription, you will be given a refund on a pro-rata basis. "We explored various business models but couldn't successfully figure out profitability & growth over the long term. It was hard; the market for premium consumer mail apps is not big enough, and it faces stiff competition from high-quality free apps from Google, Microsoft, and Apple," said Rohit Nadhani, the founder and CEO of CloudMagic. All of that makes sense -- when we have companies like Microsoft and Google making brilliant free email clients like Outlook Mobile and Inbox, there really is no space for paid apps like Newton on the market.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's basking-in-Elon's-musk department
Elon Musk said he's thinking about taking Tesla private. More specifically, he said he may buy back the company for $71.3 billion (at a share price of $420), and already has the funding to do so. From a report: Musk, the CEO and largest shareholder of the electric car maker, said on Twitter on Tuesday that he has secured funding from a private buyer. He implied that the funding values the company at $420 a share. The stock had been worth about $342 a share before Musk's tweet, and shares quickly jumped as high as $371.
The stock had climbed slightly earlier in the day after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia has quietly built a big stake in Tesla. Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. About an hour and 20 minutes after the Musk tweet, trading in Tesla stock was suspended because the company was expected to release news. TechCrunch: Musk's hope, he later tweeted, is that "all current investors remain with Tesla even if we're private. Would create special purpose fund enabling anyone to stay with Tesla. Already do this with Fidelity's SpaceX investment." Musk, who said he would stay on as CEO, also seems willing to have a provision for retail investors, who have held Tesla shares prior to Dec. 31, 2016, to convert their shares into private shares. Musk, in response to a tweet, said he's "super appreciative of Tesla shareholders" and "will ensure their prosperity in any scenario." Musk has publicly mused about taking Tesla private before, saying in a 2017 Rolling Stone profile: "I wish we could be private with Tesla," Musk murmurs as they exit. "It actually makes us less efficient to be a public company."Read Replies (0)