Can We Decentralize the Web?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '18 at 10:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's building-a-new-internet department
This week the Internet Archive hosted an amazing Decentralized Web Summit, which united the makers who want to build a web "that's locked open for good." [Watch the videos here.] Vint Cerf was there, as was the technical product development leader for Microsoft's own decentralized identity efforts, several companies building the so-called punk rock Internet, "along with a handful of venture capitalists looking for opportunities." One talk even included Mike Judge, the creator of HBO's Silicon Valley, which recently included the decentralized web in its ongoing storyline.
Computing highlighted remarks by Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, and Mitchell Baker, the chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation.
The ideology of the web's early pioneers, according to Baker, was free software and open source. "Money was considered evil," she said. So when companies came in to commercialize the internet, the original architects were unprepared. "Advertising is the internet's original sin," Kahle told the packed room. "Advertising is winner-take-all, and that's how we've ended up with centralization and monopolies."
At the conference, attendees presented utopian visions of how the future of the internet could look. Civil, a new media startup, proposed crowd-supported journalism using cryptocurrency micro-payments. Mastodon, a decentralized and encrypted social network, was commonly referenced as an alternative to Twitter. As Facebook and Google continue to monopolize the digital advertising ecosystem -- recent estimates say that the two companies control over 70% of digital advertising spending globally -- the promise of a decentralized web, free from the shackles of advertiser demands is fun to imagine.
< article continued at Slashdot's building-a-new-internet department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's on-the-grid department
An anonymous reader quotes Fast Company:
In seven years, the island nation of Samoa plans to run on 100% renewable electricity. Over the last year, the local utility has worked with Tesla to install a key piece of that plan -- battery storage, and also a software system that can control Samoa's entire electricity supply. In the past, like many islands, the country ran mostly on imported, expensive, and polluting diesel power. As recently as 2012, the country brought in 95 million liters of diesel.
Spurred by the cost and the threat of climate change -- Samoa is at particular risk from sea level rise and new outbreaks of climate-related diseases -- the country has been ramping up the use of renewables, with five large solar plants, a wind farm, and hydropower plants. But as renewable energy grew, the grid struggled with reliability.
"It had gotten to the point where just the solar, combined, could provide over half of the entire peak demand for the island, but they were having quite a few challenges managing that efficiently," says JB Straubel, Tesla's chief technical officer.... Tesla installed two of its "Powerpack" battery systems, and also developed and implemented island grid controller software that can control both the batteries and all of the power plants. "If a big cloud comes over the island and the solar drops very quickly, we can control the battery to make up the difference so we don't have to start a generator immediately, and we don't have to keep a generator running even when it might not be needed," says Straubel.Read Replies (0)
With any major version release, it is not unexpected for breaking changes to be introduced and that's certainly the case for TypeScript 3.0. One obvious change is that with "unknown" becoming a new type, it is now a reserved type name and can no longer be used in type declarations. Otherwise, there's a range of API breaking changes due to a number of functions and internal methods being deprecated or being made internal. On the plus side, TypeScript 3.0 reportedly has improved error messages, along with project references that let TypeScript projects have dependencies on other TypeScript projects.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's move-slow-and-fix-things department
Jonathan Edwards has been programming since 1969 (starting on a PDP-11/20). "Programming today," he writes, "is exactly what you'd expect to get by paying an isolated subculture of nerdy young men to entertain themselves for fifty years. You get a cross between Dungeons & Dragons and Rubik's Cube, elaborated a thousand-fold."
theodp summarizes the rest:
To be a 'full stack' developer, Edwards laments, one must master the content of something like a hundred thousand pages of documentation. "Isn't the solution to design technology that doesn't require a PhD...?" he asks. "What of the #CSForAll movement? I have mixed feelings. The name itself betrays confusion -- what we really want is #ProgrammingForAll. Computer science is not a prerequisite for most programming, and may in fact be more of a barrier to many. The confusion of computer science with programming is actually part of the problem, which seems invisible to this movement."
It wasn't always this way, Edwards notes, citing spreadsheets, HyperCard, and the many incarnations of Basic as examples of how programming technology can be vastly easier and more accessible. "Unfortunately application programming got trampled in the internet gold rush," Edwards explains. "Suddenly all that mattered was building large-scale systems as fast as possible, and money was no object, so the focus shifted to 'rock star' programmers and the sophisticated high-powered tools they preferred. As a result the internet age has seen an exponential increase in the complexity of programming, as well as its exclusivity."
"It is long past time to return to designing tools not just for rock stars at Google but the vast majority of programmers and laypeople with simple small-scale problems," the essay concludes, arguing we need new institutions to fund changes in both the technology and culture of programming. "We've done it before so we can do it again, even better this time."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blame-the-messenger department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: This week Cox's problems doubled after a group of high profile record labels filed a new piracy liability lawsuit against the Internet provider. Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music, Warner Bros Records, and several others accuse the company of turning a blind eye to pirating subscribers. The labels argue that Cox has knowingly contributed to the piracy activities of its subscribers and that it substantially profited from this activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders. "Indeed, for years, Cox deliberately refused to take reasonable measures to curb its customers from using its Internet services to infringe on others' copyrights -- even once Cox became aware of particular customers engaging in specific, repeated acts of infringement," the complaint reads. To stop the infringing activities, the music companies sent hundreds of thousands of notices to the Internet provider. This didn't help much, they claim, noting that Cox actively limited the number of notices it processed.
< article continued at Slashdot's blame-the-messenger department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-breath-this department
Researchers say air pollution is linked to changes in the structure of the heart of the sort seen in early stages of heart failure. "The findings could help explain the increased number of deaths seen in areas with high levels of dirty air," reports The Guardian. From the report: "What we don't know is what is the mechanism behind it, why is air pollution leading to increased risk of heart attack and stroke?" said Dr Nay Aung, a cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London and first author of the research. The latest study helps to unpick the conundrum. Writing in the journal Circulation, Aung and colleagues report that they found exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5 and PM10 particles, is linked to an increase in the size of two of the chambers of the heart, the left and right ventricle. PM particles are commonly emitted by motor vehicles, among other sources. The authors add that similar changes can affect the performance of the heart and are often seen before heart failure takes hold.
The team used data from almost 4,000 volunteers who were part of a wider research effort known as the UK Biobank. These participants were aged between 40 and 69 years old, had been at the same address for the whole study, and were free from cardiovascular disease at the outset. Crucially, their data included cardiac MRI scans, which offer detailed images of the structure and function of the heart. The study also involved estimates of the outdoor concentrations of different pollutants at participants' home addresses at about five years prior to the scan. After controlling for factors including age, sex, income and smoking history, the team found that higher exposure to PM2.5 particles, PM10 particles and nitrogen dioxide were each linked to a greater volume of both the right and left ventricles after they had filled with blood.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Microsoft has declined to comment on an expert's many complaints about the quality of its recent patches and cadence of Windows 10 feature updates. Earlier, Susan Bradley, a Microsoft MVP who for the past 18 years has volunteered her time helping Windows users, took a survey of over 1,800 respondents regarding the Windows 10 Update experience. She then sent an open letter to Microsoft [OneDrive link] executives summarizing the results of this survey and providing thoroughly researched material regarding the poor update experience Windows 10 users have been experiencing. In return, Microsoft argued in a blog that it gives admins all the tools they need to test and provide feedback before it releases Patch Tuesday updates. From a report: Microsoft's John Wilcox, who helps promote why organizations should move to Windows 10's Windows-as-a-service model has, at the behest of Windows pros, offered an explanation of its monthly Windows 10 quality update servicing cadence and terminology. As noted by ZDNet's Ed Bott recently, IT admins who'd spent years learning about Windows Update needed to "prepare to do some unlearning" due to the many changes introduced by Microsoft's shift to a Windows 10-as-a-service model. "With Windows 10, Microsoft has completely rewritten the Windows Update rulebook. For expert users and IT pros accustomed to having fine-grained control over the update process, these changes might seem wrenching and even draconian," he noted. [...] Wilcox outlines that Microsoft's guiding principles to its monthly Windows service updates are built around being "simple and predictable", "agile", and "transparent." Wilcox doesn't directly address patching expert Bradley's major complaints about Microsoft's patches of late, but said Microsoft's predictability meant IT managers should be able to handle its "simple, regular and consistent patching cadence."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-with-tech department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Hampered by an internet shutdown in Cameroon's troubled English-speaking regions in January 2017, Zuo Bruno, a young ethical hacker, was inspired to develop a car-tracking application using SMS. The application named Zoomed, whose adoption has been fast in Cameroon, is now on the verge of spreading across the continent. Cameroon has been interrupting internet intermittently in those regions over the last 20 months in an attempt to stifle dissent following mass protests by English-speaking teachers and lawyers which erupted in 2016, first tampered with internet connectivity on Jan. 17, 2017. The internet shutdown lasted 94 days. The internet was again plug off in October same year, taking the duration of the shutdown to a record 230 days, according to Access Now. [...] The Zoomed app does car-tracking based solely on specific SMS commands which gives it an advantage in a continent where shaky internet connection and low penetration makes internet-based solutions less effective. Bruno prices it at FCFA 120,000 ($ 212) and takes less than an hour to get the app installed into an auto-mobile.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department
Google wants to get back into China, and is laying the groundwork for a key part of the initiative: bringing its cloud business to the world's second-largest economy. Bloomberg: The internet giant is in talks with Tencent Holdings, Inspur Group and other Chinese companies to offer Google cloud services in the mainland, according to people familiar with the discussions. They asked not to be identified discussing private matters. The talks began in early 2018 and Google narrowed partnership candidates to three firms in late March, according to one of the people. Trade tensions between China and the U.S. now loom over the effort. It's unclear if the plans will proceed, this person said. The goal is to run Google internet-based services -- such as Drive and Docs -- via the domestic data centers and servers of Chinese providers, similar to the way other U.S. cloud companies access that market. In most of the rest of the world, Google Cloud rents computing power and storage over the internet, and sells a collection of workplace productivity apps called G Suite that are run on its own data centers. China requires digital information to be stored in the country and Google has no data centers in the mainland, so it needs partnerships with local players. Further reading: Google Plans To Launch Censored Search Engine In China, Leaked Documents Reveal.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's broadband-deployment department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission today approved new rules that could let Google Fiber and other new [ISPs] gain faster access to utility poles. The FCC's One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) rules will let companies attach wires to utility poles without waiting for the other users of the pole to move their own wires. Google Fiber says its deployment has stalled in multiple cities because Comcast and AT&T take a long time to get poles ready for new attachers. One Touch Make Ready rules let new attachers make all of the necessary wire adjustments themselves. Comcast urged the FCC to "reject 'one-touch make-ready' proposals, which inure solely to the benefit of new entrants while unnecessarily risking harm to existing attachers and their customers." FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rejected this argument, saying that startups are unnecessarily delayed when they have to wait for incumbent ISPs before hanging wires. Here's what Pai had to say: "For a competitive entrant, especially a small company, breaking into the market can be hard, if not impossible, if your business plan relies on other entities to make room for you on those poles. Today, a broadband provider that wants to attach fiber or other equipment to a pole first must wait for, and pay for, each existing attacher to sequentially move existing equipment and wires. This can take months, and the bill for multiple truck rolls adds up. For companies of any size, pole-attachment problems represent one of the biggest barriers to broadband deployment."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's keep-scrolling department
Google Maps has been updated to present you with a 3D globe of the planet when you zoom out. Previously, Maps would have shown you a flat map of the world. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a report from VentureBeat: About two weeks ago, however, Google quietly rolled out (hehe) a change so that the service now presents you with a 3D globe. You can manipulate the globe as you'd expect -- spin it, zoom in, and zoom back out. Google Earth, watch out -- Google Maps is coming for you. Globe mode only works on desktop, but all major browsers are supported, we're told. We tested it on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge -- they all showed the globe just fine. This is all thanks to WebGL.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bad-at-keeping-secrets department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TheStreet: General Electric stock was little changed on Friday, August 3, as a GE engineer with ties to China who has been accused of stealing proprietary power-turbine technology has been released on bond. Xiaoqing Zheng, 56, has been in custody since Wednesday when the FBI raided his home in Niskayuna, New York, near Albany. A federal judge on Thursday set a $100,000 bond; Zheng offered his family's home as collateral and was released on Friday. He was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device and limit his travel, according to multiple media reports.
Zheng, who is a U.S. citizen, was hired by GE in 2008 to work as a principal engineer for the company's power division, according to an affidavit by an FBI agent filed in federal court in Albany. Zheng is "suspected of taking/stealing, on multiple occasions via sophisticated means, data files from GE's laboratories that contain GE's trade secret information involving turbine technology," the FBI said in its affidavit. He also took "elaborate means" to conceal the removal of GE data files. "The primary focus of this affidavit is Zheng's action in 2018 in which he encrypted GE data files containing trade secret information, and thereafter sent the trade secret information from his GE work computer to Zheng's personal e-mail address hidden in the binary code of a digital photograph via a process known as steganography," the FBI said. "Additionally, the secondary focus of this affidavit is Zheng's actions in 2014 in which he downloaded more than 19,000 files from GE's computer network onto an external storage device, believed by GE investigators to have been a personal thumb drive." Zheng's attorney disputed the allegations, saying Zheng "transmitted information on his own patents to himself and to no one else."Read Replies (0)