By msmash from Slashdot's difficult-decisions department
Joe Mullin, writing for Ars Technica:A campaign to pardon NSA leaker Edward Snowden, launched in combination with a fawning Oliver Stone film about him, hasn't made any headway. The request spurred the entire membership of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, 13 Republicans and nine Democrats, to send a letter to President Barack Obama urging against a pardon. "He is a criminal," they stated flatly. Obama weighed in on the matter on Friday. During his European tour, he was interviewed by Der Spiegel -- the largest newspaper in Germany, a country where Snowden is particularly popular. After discussing a wide range of issues, he was asked: Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden? Obama replied: "I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something that I would comment on at this point." He continued: I think that Mr. Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community. If everybody took the approach that I make my own decisions about these issues, then it would be very hard to have an organized government or any kind of national security system. At the point at which Mr. Snowden wants to present himself before the legal authorities and make his arguments or have his lawyers make his arguments, then I think those issues come into play. Until that time, what I've tried to suggest -- both to the American people, but also to the world -- is that we do have to balance this issue of privacy and security.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's emulation-love department
Mary Jo Foley, reporting for ZDNet:Since January 2016 (and maybe before), there's been talk that Microsoft was working on bringing x86 emulation to ARM processors. Sources of mine are now saying that this capability is coming to Windows 10, though not until "Redstone 3" in the Fall of 2017. Here's why this matters: Microsoft officials continue to claim that Continuum -- the capability that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to connect to external displays and keyboards -- is going to be a key for the company, its partners and its customers. There's been one very big limitation to Continuum so far, however: It only allows users to run Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and not full-fledged x86 apps. What if an ARM64-based device could run x86 apps via emulation, the same way that the WOW (Windows on Windows) emulator allowed 32-bit apps to run on 64-bit Windows? That would make Windows 10 Mobile, which as of now, continues to support ARM only, and Continuum a lot more interesting, especially to business users who need certain Win32/line-of-business apps.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's dilemma department
The New York Times ran a strong opinion piece that talks about one critical reason why everyone should quit social media: your career is dependent on it. The other argues that by spending time on social media and sharing our thoughts, we are demeaning the value of our work, our ideas. (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source.) Select excerpts from the story follows:In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business. Professional success is hard, but it's not complicated. The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about. [...] Interesting opportunities and useful connections are not as scarce as social media proponents claim. In my own professional life, for example, as I improved my standing as an academic and a writer, I began receiving more interesting opportunities than I could handle. As you become more valuable to the marketplace, good things will find you. To be clear, I'm not arguing that new opportunities and connections are unimportant. I'm instead arguing that you don't need social media's help to attract them. My second objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless. Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it's engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it's designed to be used -- persistently throughout your waking hours -- the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom. Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won't tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate -- the skill on which I make my living. A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's foiling-foodborne-diseases department
An anonymous reader quotes a Bloomberg article about Walmart:
Like most merchants, the world's largest retailer struggles to identify and remove food that's been recalled. When a customer becomes ill, it can take days to identify the product, shipment and vendor. With the blockchain, Wal-Mart will be able to obtain crucial data from a single receipt, including suppliers, details on how and where food was grown and who inspected it... "If there's an issue with an outbreak of E. coli, this gives them an ability to immediately find where it came from. That's the difference between days and minutes," says Marshal Cohen, an analyst at researcher NPD Group Inc...."
In October, Wal-Mart started tracking two products using blockchain: a packaged produce item in the U.S., and pork in China. While only two items were included, the test involved thousands of packages shipped to multiple stores... If Wal-Mart adopts the blockchain to track food worldwide, it could become of the largest deployments of the technology to date.
America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates roughly their recalls affect roughly 48 million people annually, according to the article, "with 128,000 hospitalized and 3,000 dying."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's forbidden-photos department
An anonymous reader writes:
OnlineCensorship.org just released a new report "to provide an objective, data-driven voice in the conversation around commercial content moderation." They're collecting media reports about censorship on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and Google+, and have now analyzed 294 reports of content takedowns -- 74% of which pertained to Facebook. (Followed by Instagram with 16% and Twitter with 7%.) 47% of all the takedowns were nudity-related, while the next two most frequent reasons given were "real name" violations and "inappropriate content".
Noting "a more visible public debate" over content moderation, the report acknowledges that 4.7 billion Facebook posts are made every day. (It also reports the "consistent refrain" from services apologizing for issues -- that "our team processes millions of reports each week...") But the most bizarre incident they've identified was the tech blogger in India who was locked out of his Facebook account in October because he shared a photo of a cat in a business suit. "It might sound stupid but this just happened to me," he told Mashable India, which reports Facebook later apologized and said it had made a mistake.
Their report -- part of the EFF's collaboration with Visualizing Impact -- urges platforms to clarify their guidelines (as well as applicable laws), to explain the mechanisms being used to evaluate content and appeals, and to share those criteria when notifying users of take-downs. For example, in August Facebook inexplicably removed a 16-century sketch by Erasmus of Rotterdam detailing a right hand.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Google-home-addresses department
Slashdot reader troublemaker_23 shares a post from ITWire
An Android user has been locked out of his Google account apparently because he moved... The explanation offered by Google support staff was that since his address details differed, billing information with Google wasn't current and hence the user's purchases could look fraudulent... During his interactions with Google support to find out why he had been locked out, he was told that "It is our policy to not discuss the specific reasons for an account closure"...
He was initially directed by Google staff to a site where he had to scan his driver's license and credit card and told that he would have to wait 24 hours to get his account unlocked. But after this time passed, he was told that the account would not be unlocked and Google would not tell him why. He was advised to abandon his old account and start a fresh one. However, this meant he could not use the credit card that he had used on the old account...
The affected user called this "a warning to others not to put all your eggs in one basket, because these days, you have no rights over that basket whatsoever." But Friday the user posted an update on Reddit, quoting a Google staffer as saying "we routinely monitor account behavior on Google Play and take action on potentially suspicious activity. Unfortunately, in your case, your account was wrongly flagged and suspended. I have just reopened your account... I sincerely apologize for the stress and inconvenience this has caused you."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's can't-see-the-forest department
"There are about 21 million acres of trees spread across California's 18 national forests, and the latest figures show 7.7 million of them -- more than one-third -- are dead." An anonymous reader quotes the San Francisco Chronicle:
California's lingering drought has pushed the number of dead trees across the state past 100 million, an ecological event experts are calling dangerous and unprecedented in underlining the heightened risk of wildfires fueled by bone-dry forests. In its latest aerial survey released Friday, the U.S. Forest Service said 62 million trees have died this year in California, bringing the six-year total to more than 102 million.
Scientists blame five-plus years of drought on the increasing tree deaths -- tree "fatalities" increased by 100 percent in 2016 -- but the rate of their demise has been much faster than expected, increasing the risk of ecologically damaging erosion and wildfires even bigger than the largest blazes the state's seen this year.
An ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey says that on the bright side, this gives scientists a good chance to study how trees die.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's noxious-notifications department
"A number of popular Twitter accounts suddenly wanted to help you add more followers," joked Engadget. An anonymous reader writes:
Early Saturday morning, due to a breach of the Twitter Counter analytics service, the compromised Twitter accounts started posting images touting services that sell Twitter followers. The affected accounts include @PlayStation, @Viacom, @XboxSupport, @TheNewYorker, @TheNextWeb, and @Money (Time's finance magazine) as well as @NTSB (the National Transportation Safety Board) and @ICRC (the Red Cross), and the Twitter accounts of famous individuals include astronaut Leland Melvin, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, and actor Charlie Sheen. "We can confirm that our service has been hacked; allowing posts on behalf of our user," Twitter Counter posted Saturday, announcing minutes later that "hackers CANNOT post on our users' behalf anymore."
"Apologies for the spam, everyone," tweeted the account for Xbox support, adding "We're cleaning things up now."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's doing-no-evil department
Hundreds of Google users just lost access to their emails, photos, documents, "and anything else linked to their Google identity," writes the Guardian, reporting on "hundreds of people who took advantage of a loophole in US sales tax to make a small profit on Pixel phones" -- and got all of the Google accounts suspended. Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor writes:
"The Google customers had all bought the phones from the company's Project Fi mobile carrier, and had them shipped directly to a reseller in New Hampshire, a US state with no sales tax. In return, the reseller split the profit with the customers," the Guardian adds.
People might ask, in a hurt tone of voice, "why are you doing this to me?" To which the obvious answer is "because we can, and you agreed to these (link to 3000 pages of text) terms and conditions, including our ability to do this"... The only question has been "When?", never "If?"
One webmaster described Google's move as a "digital death penalty".Read Replies (0)