By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Firefox 65, the latest version of Mozilla's web browser, is now available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android platforms. The release brings simplified Content Blocking controls for Enhanced Tracking Protection, support for WebP image support with the Windows client getting an additional feature: support for AV1 format.
From a report: Across all platforms, Firefox can now handle Google's WebP image format. WebP supports both lossy and lossless compression and promises the same image quality as existing formats at smaller file sizes. Firefox 65 for desktop brings redesigned controls for the Content Blocking section to let users choose their desired level of privacy protection. You can access it by either clicking on the small "i" icon in the address bar and clicking on the gear on the right side under Content Blocking or by going to Preferences, Privacy & Security, and then Content Blocking.
Next, Firefox now supports AV1, the royalty-free video codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media. AV1 improves compression efficiency by more than 30 percent over the codec VP9, which it is meant to succeed. Lastly, Firefox's new Task Manager page (just navigate to about:performance or find it under "Other" in the main menu) is complete. Introduced in Firefox 64, Task Manager now reports memory usage for tabs and add-ons.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
When you want to watch a movie, which streaming service truly delivers? If you want quality, opt for Netflix. If you prefer quantity, peruse Amazon Prime Video. From a report: That's the conclusion from Streaming Observer. The tech news website looked at all of the movies on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO Now as of January 20 and analyzed the films' ratings on movie and TV review site Rotten Tomatoes. Also factored in: data from the streaming providers, as well as third-party search sites Reelgood and JustWatch. The site found Amazon had the most movies (17,461) -- four times that of Netflix (3,839) and many more times the amount on Hulu (2,336) and HBO (815). But Netflix had more movies -- 596, more than 15 percent of its library -- with a "Certified Fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, a designation given to the best-reviewed films.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's potential-privacy-concerns department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Most of the data collected by urban planners is messy, complex, and difficult to represent. It looks nothing like the smooth graphs and clean charts of city life in urban simulator games like "SimCity." A new initiative from Sidewalk Labs, the city-building subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, has set out to change that. The program, known as Replica, offers planning agencies the ability to model an entire city's patterns of movement. Like "SimCity," Replica's "user-friendly" tool deploys statistical simulations to give a comprehensive view of how, when, and where people travel in urban areas. It's an appealing prospect for planners making critical decisions about transportation and land use. In recent months, transportation authorities in Kansas City, Portland, and the Chicago area have signed up to glean its insights. The only catch: They're not completely sure where the data is coming from.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-shiny department
Four new iPad models and a 7th-generation iPod Touch have been found in upcoming iOS 12.2, and seven new iPad models were discovered in the Eurasian Economic Commission Database, reports MacRumors. From the report: Developer Steven Troughton-Smith speculates that the iPad model numbers could be new iPad mini devices, which would be in line with rumors suggesting a new iPad mini 5 is in the works. According to Troughton-Smith, none of the iPads have Face ID, which is what we would expect as a new iPad mini is likely to be positioned as an affordable, lower-end device. There's also a reference to "iPod 9,1," which does not match up with any known iPod touch devices, suggesting it is a new next-generation model. The current sixth-generation iPod touch is "iPod 7,1," for reference. The iPod listed in iOS 12.2 does not appear to have Face ID or Touch ID, which is in line with the current iPod touch.
Previous rumors have indeed suggested Apple is working on a 7th-generation iPod touch, an iPad mini 5, and a new version of the lower-cost 9.7-inch iPad, which may actually be upgraded to 10 inches in its next iteration. There's been mixed information about what to expect from an iPad mini update. A case leak suggested a vertical camera and quad speakers, but a photo of an unreleased iPad mini, which could be the new iPad mini, featured an older A9 processor and a design that's similar to the fourth-generation iPad mini.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quantum-physics department
"University of Toronto Engineering professor Hoi-Kwong Lo and his collaborators have developed a prototype for a key element for all-photonic quantum repeaters, a critical step in long-distance quantum communication," reports Phys.Org. This proof-of-principle device could serve as the backbone of a future quantum internet. From the report: In light of [the security issues with today's internet], researchers have proposed other ways of transmitting data that would leverage key features of quantum physics to provide virtually unbreakable encryption. One of the most promising technologies involves a technique known as quantum key distribution (QKD). QKD exploits the fact that the simple act of sensing or measuring the state of a quantum system disturbs that system. Because of this, any third-party eavesdropping would leave behind a clearly detectable trace, and the communication can be aborted before any sensitive information is lost. Until now, this type of quantum security has been demonstrated in small-scale systems. Lo and his team are among a group of researchers around the world who are laying the groundwork for a future quantum Internet by working to address some of the challenges in transmitting quantum information over great distances, using optical fiber communication. Because light signals lose potency as they travel long distances through fiber-optic cables, devices called repeaters are inserted at regular intervals along the line. These repeaters boost and amplify the signals to help transmit the information along the line. But quantum information is different, and existing repeaters for quantum information are highly problematic. They require storage of the quantum state at the repeater sites, making the repeaters much more error prone, difficult to build, and very expensive because they often operate at cryogenic temperatures. Lo and his team have proposed a different approach. They are working on the development of the next generation of repeaters, called all-photonic quantum repeaters, that would eliminate or reduce many of the shortcomings of standard quantum repeaters. "We have developed all-photonic repeaters that allow time-reversed adaptive Bell measurement," says Lo. "Because these repeaters are all-optical, they offer advantages that traditional -- quantum-memory-based matter -- repeaters do not. For example, this method could work at room temperature."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's things-to-look-forward-to department
Recode's Rani Molla shares the findings of a new study from the Brookings Institution, which finds that automation will impact men at a higher rate than women. Here's an excerpt from the report: Young people -- especially those in rural areas or who are underrepresented minorities -- will have a greater likelihood of having their jobs replaced by automation. Meanwhile, older, more educated white people living in big cities are more likely to maintain their coveted positions, either because their jobs are irreplaceable or because they're needed in new jobs alongside our robot overlords. The Brookings study also warns that automation will exacerbate existing social inequalities along certain geographic and demographic lines, because it will likely eliminate many lower- and middle-skill jobs considered stepping stones to more advanced careers. These jobs losses will be in concentrated in rural areas, particularly the swath of America between the coasts.
However, at least in the case of gender, it's the men, for once, who will be getting the short end of the stick. Jobs traditionally held by men have a higher "average automation potential" than those held by women, meaning that a greater share of those tasks could be automated with current technology, according to Brookings. That's because the occupations men are more likely to hold tend to be more manual and more easily replaced by machines and artificial intelligence. Of course, the real point here is that people of all stripes face employment disruption as new technologies are able to do many of our tasks faster, more efficiently, and more precisely than mere mortals. The implications of this unemployment upheaval are far-reaching and raise many questions: How will people transition to the jobs of the future? What will those jobs be? Is it possible to mitigate the polarizing effects automation will have on our already-stratified society of haves and have-nots?Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's vague-abusive-behavior-policies department
According to a report from Reason magazine, Twitter users who comment the "learn to code" advice at journalists who just lost their jobs might be treated as "abusive behavior," which is a violation of the social media site's terms of service. The rumor comes from Jon Levine, Media Editor at The Wrap. From the report: The Wrap's Jon Levine said representatives for the social media company had backed away from the position they related to him earlier, which was that the phrase "learn to code" itself constituted abusive behavior. The new position seems to be that "learn to code" is not de facto harassment, but could be considered harassment if tweeted aggressively as part of campaign to intimidate a specific user, in accordance with Twitter's somewhat vague abusive behavior policy. In an email to Reason, a Twitter spokesperson said: "Twitter is responding to a targeted harassment campaign against specific individuals -- a policy that's long been against the Twitter Rules." Last week, journalists from BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Yahoo, AOL, and others, were let go. BuzzFeed founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, said the company "would reduce headcount by 15%, or about 250 jobs, to around 1,100 employees globally," reports The Guardian. "At the same time, Verizon said it would trim 7% of headcount, about 800 people, from its media unit, which includes HuffPost, Yahoo and AOL. The job losses followed sales or cuts at Mic, Refinery29 and elsewhere."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fundamental-changes department
Snapchat is considering changes to its Snapchat app, know for disappearing photos and videos, that could make users' public posts longer lasting or permanent. The company is also weighing an option to reveal the identities of Snapchat users who make public posts. Reuters reports: Together the changes would mark a big step in Snap's effort to lure and keep users by making content shared publicly via the "Our Story" section, more available outside Snapchat. They could also create a new revenue source for money-losing Snap, which has seen its user base shrink and executives flee the company. But such changes to Snapchat, which launched in 2011 and became an instant hit among teenagers and millennials, could trigger backlash from users who cherish their privacy, especially as rival Facebook has been plagued by scandals over how it handles user data. Snap is carefully weighing the privacy, technical and legal considerations of revealing user identities on public posts, said the person familiar with Snap's plans.
Only Snapchat photo and video content shared to "Our Story," which shares the snaps publicly to a wider audience and not just a user's friends, would be affected and users would still have the option of deleting those stories, said the person. Snap has already extended the shelf life of public stories, but making them last even longer or revealing more about the users who create them would be a further departure from Snapchat's hallmark features.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
"The BBC has an article detailing new efforts to replace plastics used in products and construction with newer, less environmentally harmful alternative materials," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. The new products mentioned in the report include: Stone Wool: To transform one of the world's most abundant resources into something with utility and sustainability takes a special kind of alchemy. Stone wool comes from natural igneous rock -- the kind that forms after lava cools -- and a steelmaking byproduct called slag; these substances are melted together and spun into fibers, a little like candyfloss. Mycotecture: Mushrooms aren't just a flavor-packed addition to ravioli or ragu (or a sparkplug to the occasional psychedelic adventure); soon, tree-hugging fungi and forest-floor toadstools may replace materials like polystyrene, protective packaging, insulation, acoustic insulation, furniture, aquatic materials and even leather goods. Urine Bricks: Cement, concrete's primary ingredient, accounts for about 5% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Researchers and engineers are working to develop less energy-intensive alternatives, including bricks made with leftover brewery grains, concrete modeled after ancient Roman breakwaters (Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock to form mortar, a highly stable material), and bricks made of, well, urine. As part of his thesis project, Edinburgh College of Art student Peter Trimble was working on an exhibit that was supposed to feature a module on sustainability. Almost by accident, he created "Biostone": a mixture of sand (incidentally, one of Earth's most abundant resources), nutrients, and urea -- a chemical found in human urine. A greener particleboard: Despite what it sounds like, particleboard -- those rigid panels made of compressed and veneered wood chips and resin used in furniture and kitchen cabinetry throughout the world -- hasn't actually a place in the green-building pantheon. That's because the glue that binds particleboard's wood fibers traditionally contain formaldehyde, a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical and known respiratory irritant and carcinogen. That means your faux-wood Ikea shelf is quietly "off-gassing" toxins into the air. One company, NU Green, created a material made from 100% pre-consumer recycled or recovered wood fibre called "Uniboard." Uniboard saves trees and avoids landfill, while also generating far fewer greenhouse gases than traditional particleboard, and contains no toxins. That's because Uniboard has pioneered the use of renewable fibers like corn stalks and hops, as well as no added formaldehyde (NAF) resin instead of glue.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's games-on-demand department
According to a new report from Cheddar, Apple is planning a Netflix-like subscription service for games. "The service would function like Netflix for games, allowing users who pay a subscription fee to access a bundled list of titles," reports Cheddar. "Apple began privately discussing a subscription service with game developers in the second half of 2018, said the people, all of whom requested anonymity to discuss unannounced plans." From the report: It's unclear how much the subscription will cost or what kind of games Apple will offer. The service is still in the early stages of development, and Apple could ultimately decide to abandon it. The company has also discussed partnering with developers as a publisher, according to two people familiar with the talks, which could signal Apple's ambition to assume distribution, marketing, and other related costs for select games. While it's unclear what kinds of games would be included, a subscription service for App Store games could provide a boost to Apple's recurring revenue at a time when iPhone sales are slowing and gaming and esports are booming. Mobile gaming is expected to become a $100 billion industry by 2021, according to the gaming and esports intelligence firm Newzoo.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Piracy isn't always the vile market bogeyman it's portrayed to be by the entertainment industry, a new joint study by Indiana University has found. Indiana University Researchers like Antino Kim say that online piracy can sometimes have a positive impact on markets, and being overly-aggressive in the policing and punishing of pirates may sometimes be counterproductive. As an example, Kim's study ("The 'Invisible Hand' of Piracy: An Economic Analysis of the Information-Goods Supply Chain") points to the hit HBO show Game Of Thrones, which routinely breaks piracy records thanks to heavy file sharing on BitTorrent. The researchers found that piracy often acts as a form of invisible competition, keeping both the manufacturer (HBO) and the cable operator (say, Comcast) from raising prices quite as high as they might otherwise. Raise prices too high, for example, and users will just flee to piracy, creating even higher losses. The researchers are clear to note their findings have their limits, and that they're not openly advocating for companies to fully embrace piracy. They do, however, argue that if you understand the benefits of piracy as a form of invisible competition, you'll find that overly-aggressive anti-piracy efforts can actually harm the market. "Our results do not imply that the legal channel should, all of a sudden, start actively encouraging piracy," researchers said. "The implication is simply that, situated in a real-world context, our manufacturer and retailer should recognize that a certain level of piracy or its threat might actually be beneficial and should, therefore, exercise some moderation in their anti-piracy efforts."Read Replies (0)
Google Glass is Still Around
Posted by News Fetcher on January 28 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-not-done-yet department
Google may have discontinued the sale of Google Glass years ago, but die hard fans have not given up. From a report: Glassholes still exist, just not as boogeymen haunting the tech section of your newspaper. There's a small group of fans still talking and updating and buying and selling on Reddit. Somebody who picked up a pair for $150 and wants help using the device to display sheet music; somebody with questions about installing an older operating system onto Glass Enterprise; another person looking for foldable frames; somebody else trying to fix a broken device; people looking to buy, as well as a number of people asking if it's even worth it to spend any money on the now-defunct tech. (Spoiler: survey says it's not.) There is also, weirdly, somebody asking if Google nixed Google Glass "because 'someone' was made aware of the book 'The Circle' by Dave Eggers?"
Reading through the forum, it seems wrong to regard the dwindling frequenters of /r/googleglass as Glassholes. On the contrary, they seem to bust out their devices at incredibly appropriate moments. "I pretty much only use Glass for taking pictures/video while running/hiking or anywhere I don't have access to a phone or don't want to carry one," writes one Redditor. "It's a great way to capture highlights of a marathon, for instance, without having to stop and pull out a phone." "Text notifications. Phone calls whilst driving, pix and video while on the go," writes another.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
It's been nearly two years since news blog MusicBusinessWorld kicked off a global conversation over 'fake artists' on Spotify. That debate is about to roar back into life. From a report: Multiple Spotify users have been complaining that their official listening history on Spotify appears to have been infiltrated by acts that they don't simply recognize. The trend was spotted by the BBC, which reported on Friday that plays of 'mystery' tracks from artists such as Bergenulo Five, Bratte Night, DJ Bruej and Doublin Night were being credited within individual Spotify user accounts -- despite these same users knowing nothing about this music.
"Apart from being musically unremarkable, they generally have a few things in common: short songs with few or no lyrics, illustrated with generic cover art, and short, non-descriptive song titles," said the Beeb of these acts -- some of whom had managed to rack up tens of thousands of plays. Albums from these artists contained more than 40 songs apiece, with each track just a minute or two in duration. After the BBC alerted Spotify to the trend, all of these artists disappeared from its platform entirely.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road? department
The FBI, together with authorities from several European countries, have seized the domains and servers of xDedic, a notorious online marketplace where cyber-criminals would sell and buy access to hacked servers. From a report: The site has been around since 2014, but it became widely known after a Kaspersky report published in June 2016. According to the report, the site was operating as a registration-based online marketplace where several criminal groups would either put up for sale or buy hacked servers, usually in the form of compromised RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) accounts. At the time, Kaspersky said the site listed nearly 70,000 hacked servers, for prices as little as $8 per server. [...] In Europol and FBI press releases published today, authorities announced that they've seized both the domains and the servers hosting the marketplace, effectively shutting down the site and gaining access to its list of customers.Read Replies (0)