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NASA's Scott Kelly Shares What He Discovered After a Year In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 02:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's perception,-endurance department:
Kelly, who returned to Earth after 340 days in space last year, is working on a memoir about his experience in the space since, and how he has been seeing the planet since. Two excerpts from his article on Time: The mission that I prepared for was, for the most part, the mission I flew. The data is still being analyzed, but the scientists are excited about what they are seeing so far. The genetic differences that appeared between my twin brother Mark and me could unlock new knowledge, not only about what spaceflight does to our bodies but also about how we age here on Earth. Emerging results reveal the condition of my telomeres -- the ends of our chromosomes that indicate our genetic age -- actually improved while I was in space compared to Mark's, contrary to expectations. The studies I worked on show promise in helping scientists reach solutions to health problems that emerge in long-duration spaceflight -- problems such as bone loss, muscle deterioration, damage to vision and the effects of extended radiation exposure. [...] Personally, I've learned that nothing feels as amazing as water. The night my plane landed in Houston and I finally got to go home, I did exactly what I'd been saying all along I would do: I walked in the front door, walked out the back door and jumped into the swimming pool, still in my flight suit. I'll never take water for granted again. Russian cosmonaut Misha Kornienko says he feels the same way. I've learned that showing up early, whether it's to a job interview or a spacewalk, is the only way to stay ahead of the game and be successful. "If you're not five minutes early, you're already late."

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Uber Ex-engineer Who Alleged Sexism Retains Lawyer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 01:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's come-at-me-bro department:
Marco della Cava and Jessica Guynn, writing for USA Today: The former Uber engineer whose critical blog post has stirred a storm of controversy for the ride-hailing giant has retained an attorney, charging that her former employer is blaming her for a rash of app deletions. Susan Fowler, whose Feb. 19 essay detailed myriad examples of sexism, tweeted Thursday that "Uber names/blames me for account deletes, and has a different law firm - not Holders (sic) - investigating me."

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AI Scientists Gather to Plot Doomsday Scenarios
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 01:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's preparing-for-that-day department:
Dina Bass, reporting for Bloomberg: Artificial intelligence boosters predict a brave new world of flying cars and cancer cures. Detractors worry about a future where humans are enslaved to an evil race of robot overlords. Veteran AI scientist Eric Horvitz and Doomsday Clock guru Lawrence Krauss, seeking a middle ground, gathered a group of experts in the Arizona desert to discuss the worst that could possibly happen -- and how to stop it. Their workshop took place last weekend at Arizona State University with funding from Tesla co-founder Elon Musk and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Officially dubbed "Envisioning and Addressing Adverse AI Outcomes," it was a kind of AI doomsday games that organized some 40 scientists, cyber-security experts and policy wonks into groups of attackers -- the red team -- and defenders -- blue team -- playing out AI-gone-very-wrong scenarios, ranging from stock-market manipulation to global warfare.

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Google Increases Gmail Attachment Limit To 50MB For Recipients
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 01:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's incremental-changes department:
Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: With Gmail you can now receive attachments up to 50MB in size. It's important to note that the new attachment limit only applies to incoming email. Google would much rather you make use of Google Drive if you want to send large files to people. When it comes to sending files, you are limited to attaching up to 25MB of data in the form of one or many files. If you try to attach files that go over this limit, you'll be prompted to go down the Google Drive route instead. Not much useful, then.

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Instant Messaging App Snapchat-Maker Snap's IPO Opened Trading At $24 a Share, Making the Company Worth $33 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 11:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-they-think department:
Snap, the company behind instant messaging app Snapchat, went public this morning at price that values the loss-making tech company at $33 billion. Here's how the investors are valuing the company: At $33 billion, investors are saying Snap is worth 35 times what it's estimated to generate in sales this year, or about $936 million, according to eMarketer. Compare that with Facebook, which is currently worth about 10.5 times its estimated 2017 revenue. In other words, investors, for the moment, think Snap has three times more potential value than Facebook. That's a big bet. Snap lost $514 million last year on $404 million in revenue. Compare that with Twitter, which lost $79 million the year before its IPO, while Facebook made $1 billion in profit. Snap has 158 million daily active users. Facebook at its IPO had 845 million monthly active users and 483 million daily active users.

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An Incorrect Command Entered By Employee Triggered Disruptions To S3 Storage Service, Knocking Down Dozens of Websites, Amazon Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 11:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-it-all-happened department:
Amazon is apologizing for the disruptions to its S3 storage service that knocked down and -- in some cases affected -- dozens of websites earlier this week. The company also outlined what caused the issue -- the event was triggered by human error. The company said an authorized S3 team member using an established playbook executed a command which was intended to remove a small number of servers for one of the S3 subsystems that is used by the S3 billing process. "Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended," the company said in a press statement Thursday. It adds: The servers that were inadvertently removed supported two other S3 subsystems. One of these subsystems, the index subsystem, manages the metadata and location information of all S3 objects in the region. This subsystem is necessary to serve all GET, LIST, PUT, and DELETE requests. The second subsystem, the placement subsystem, manages allocation of new storage and requires the index subsystem to be functioning properly to correctly operate. The placement subsystem is used during PUT requests to allocate storage for new objects. Removing a significant portion of the capacity caused each of these systems to require a full restart. While these subsystems were being restarted, S3 was unable to service requests. Other AWS services in the US-EAST-1 Region that rely on S3 for storage, including the S3 console, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) new instance launches, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes (when data was needed from a S3 snapshot), and AWS Lambda were also impacted while the S3 APIs were unavailable.

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Skin deep? Robots To Wear Real Human Tissue
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 10:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's 'I'll-be-back' department:
Scientists are already growing muscles, bones, and mini-organs in the lab. But these tissues are generally small and simple. That's why two scientists from Oxford University are proposing that we use humanoid robots to grow engineered tissues instead. From a report: Robots dressed in human flesh would benefit people who need tissue transplants, Oxford University researchers have said this week. At present human cells are grown in stationary environments, but moving humanoids could help them develop in a far more healthier way. Robots could "wear" tissue grafts before transplantation, researchers Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr propose in the latest issue of Science Robotics. Today sheets of cells are grown in stagnant tanks, but these "fail to mimic the real mechanical environment for cells," say the scientists. The resulting tissues aren't used to moving, stretching and straining, which make them problematic for use by patients.

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Chevrolet To Offer Unlimited Data Plan With Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 10:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-relief department:
Chevrolet has become the first carmaker to offer an unlimited data plan with its cars. From a report on BBC: The deal, for a 4G LTE data plan, applies to cars sold in the US from 3 March and will cost $20 a month. It is being offered with the help of US carrier OnStar and will see vehicles fitted with a wi-fi hotspot that connects to the web via LTE. Chevrolet said it was offering the deal because in-car data use had grown so fast. Figures gathered by Chevrolet suggest the amount of data used via wi-fi in its cars jumped by 200% last year. In 2016, it said, Chevrolet in-car hotspots had handled about four million gigabytes of data. The LTE-based hotspots are available across the entire range of vehicles made by Chevrolet.

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'Robots Won't Just Take Our Jobs -- They'll Make the Rich Even Richer'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 08:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's storm-is-coming department:
Robotics and artificial intelligence will continue to improve -- but without political change such as a tax, the outcome will range from bad to apocalyptic, writes technology and politics journalist Ben Tarnoff, citing experts and studies, for The Guardian. From the article, shared by six anonymous readers: Despite a steady stream of alarming headlines about clever computers gobbling up our jobs, the economic data suggests that automation isn't happening on a large scale. The bad news is that if it does, it will produce a level of inequality that will make present-day America look like an egalitarian utopia by comparison. The real threat posed by robots isn't that they will become evil and kill us all, which is what keeps Elon Musk up at night -- it's that they will amplify economic disparities to such an extreme that life will become, quite literally, unlivable for the vast majority. A robot tax may or may not be a useful policy tool for averting this scenario. But it's a good starting point for an important conversation. Mass automation presents a serious political problem -- one that demands a serious political solution. Automation isn't new. In the late 16th century, an English inventor developed a knitting machine known as the stocking frame. By hand, workers averaged 100 stitches per minute; with the stocking frame, they averaged 1,000. This is the basic pattern, repeated through centuries: as technology improves, it reduces the amount of labor required to produce a certain number of goods. So far, however, this phenomenon hasn't produced extreme unemployment. That's because automation can create jobs as well as destroy them. What's different this time is the possibility that technology will become so sophisticated that there won't be anything left for humans to do. What if your ATM could not only give you a hundred bucks, but sell you an adjustable-rate mortgage?

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Fed Up Indian IT Professionals Want To Be Able To Leave Their Jobs Sooner
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 08:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's let-me-go department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: India's major IT firms have long required their employees to give a three-month, "non-negotiable" notice before leaving the company, but they could be soon forced to change that. Fed-up IT professionals from across India have reached out to the government, complaining that it is "unrealistic" for anyone to plan that far ahead. Over 28,000 professionals have signed a petition, addressed to the ministry of labor, to take immediate action on the matter. Part of the problem is that many companies are unwilling to wait for three months to have a person join them, many cited in the report say. Some of India's top IT firms including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, HCL, Accenture and IBM impose the three-month notice period policy on their employees.

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Laid-Off IT Workers Worry US Is Losing Tech Jobs To Outsourcing
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 07:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
An anonymous reader shares a CIO article: Sixty-three-year-old Bob Zhang is worried about the future of tech jobs in the U.S. Will the high-paying positions be a thing of the past? Zhang thinks it's already starting to happen. He's one of 79 IT workers from the University of California, San Francisco, who've been laid off. Tuesday was their last day on the job. To replace them, the school is outsourcing some of their work to an Indian firm. "Usually, they outsource the low-paying jobs," he said at a gathering outside a school building. "But now they use H-1B (visa) and use foreign workers to replace the high-paying jobs. This trend is dangerous." It was a sentiment shared among the laid-off IT workers, who've tried to push the school to save their positions, to no avail. Now they fear other publicly-funded universities will take the same approach, and replace U.S. employees with foreign workers. "Once you send out the manufacturing jobs, once you send out the service jobs, once you send out the research jobs, what's left? There's nothing left," said Tan, who's 55 and now looking for a new job. Kurt Ho, another laid-off worker, said he was paid an annual salary of about US$110,000, but the new workers replacing his position will fraction that amount. "In two years, I could be at another company, and I could be facing the same thing," he said.

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A Norwegian Website Is Making Readers Pass a Quiz Before Commenting
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 07:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Joseph Lichterman, writing for Nieman Lab: Two weeks ago, NRKbeta, the tech vertical of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, published an explainer about a proposed new digital surveillance law in the country. Digital security is a controversial topic, and the conversation around security issues can become heated. But the conversation in the comments of the article was respectful and productive: Commenters shared links to books and other research, asked clarifying questions, and offered constructive feedback. The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they're allowed to post a comment. The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it.

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Netflix Uses AI in Its New Codec To Compress Video Scene By Scene
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 07:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
An anonymous reader shares a Quartz report: Annoying pauses in your streaming movies are going to become less common, thanks to a new trick Netflix is rolling out. It's using artificial intelligence techniques to analyze each shot in a video and compress it without affecting the image quality, thus reducing the amount of data it uses. The new encoding method is aimed at the growing contingent of viewers in emerging economies who watch video on phones and tablets. "We're allergic to rebuffering," said Todd Yellin, a vice president of innovation at Netflix. "No one wants to be interrupted in the middle of Bojack Horseman or Stranger Things." Yellin hopes the new system, called Dynamic Optimizer, will keep those Netflix binges free of interruption when it's introduced sometime in the next "couple of months." He was demonstrating the system's results at "Netflix House," a mansion in the hills overlooking Barcelona that the company has outfitted for the Mobile World Congress trade show. In one case, the image quality from a 555 kilobits per second (kbps) stream looked identical to one on a data link with half the bandwidth.

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Sorry, Apple, the Headphone Jack Isn't Going Anywhere
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 06:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's defy-space-and-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Rob Pegoraro via Yahoo Finance: Two things unite almost every phone on display here at Mobile World Congress 2017: Android and a headphone jack. Apple doesn't exhibit its wares at this trade show, so the domination of Google's operating system is predictable. But the headphone jack's persistence did not look so inevitable when Apple cut it from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last September. Lenovo's Motorola subsidiary had already shipped a phone without a headphone hack, the Moto Z, and Apple's influence over the rest of the smartphone industry remains formidable -- indeed, within months, the Chinese firm LeEco had debuted a lineup of Android phones devoid of headphone jacks. As my colleague David Pogue predicted in a post approving Apple's move: "Other brands worldwide will be following suit." The hardware on display here at the world's largest mobile tech conference, though, suggests otherwise. Two days of walking around the show floor showed companies expressing a consistent unwillingness to abandon the humble headphone jack, even on models as thin as, or thinner than, the iPhone 7. The MWC floor revealed only one company willing to do away with the headphone jack: HTC. The Taiwan-based firm, which has struggled financially for years despite shipping such well-reviewed models as the HTC 10, used its exhibit to showcase the U Ultra and the U Play, which rely on their USB-C ports for audio output. Unlike, Apple, though, the company didn't make the move to save space, but rather to incorporate its "USonic" feature, which lets the phones' headphones calibrate themselves to your ears and provide noise cancellation.

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Google Chrome Users On Apple MacOS Get Enhanced Safe Browsing Protection
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 03:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-first department:
BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: As more and more consumers buy Mac computers, evildoers will have increased incentive to write malware for macOS. Luckily, users of Apple's operating system that choose to use Google Chrome for web surfing will soon be safer. You see, the search giant is improving its Safe Browsing initiative to better warn macOS users of malicious websites and attempts to alter browser settings. "As part of this next step towards reducing macOS-specific malware and unwanted software, Safe Browsing is focusing on two common abuses of browsing experiences: unwanted ad injection, and manipulation of Chrome user settings, specifically the start page, home page, and default search engine. Users deserve full control of their browsing experience and Unwanted Software Policy violations hurt that experience," says Google. The search giant further explains, "The recently released Chrome Settings API for Mac gives developers the tools to make sure users stay in control of their Chrome settings. From here on, the Settings Overrides API will be the only approved path for making changes to Chrome settings on Mac OSX, like it currently is on Windows. Also, developers should know that only extensions hosted in the Chrome Web Store are allowed to make changes to Chrome settings. Starting March 31 2017, Chrome and Safe Browsing will warn users about software that attempts to modify Chrome settings without using the API."

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Can Technology Prevent Cops From Forgetting To Turn On Their Body Cameras?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's forgot-my-keys department:
tedlistens writes from a report via Fast Company: Axon, Taser's growing police camera division, has announced a new wireless sensor for gun and Taser holsters that can detect when a weapon is drawn and automatically activate all nearby cameras. The sensor, Signal Sidearm, is part of a suite of products aimed at reducing the possibility that officers will fail to switch on their cameras during encounters with the public. It happens more than it should: Last year in Chicago, for instance, an officer apparently forgot to turn on his camera before fatally shooting and killing an unarmed 18-year-old named Paul O'Neal. Taser isn't alone in trying to address this and other technical and procedural issues with cameras, but reformers emphasize that just as body cameras won't solve problems with policing, new sensors won't prevent officers from failing to record. Fast Company adds: "Automatically-activated cameras won't be completely effective at providing oversight of police encounters: As happened when Baton Rouge police shot Alton Sterling last year, cameras can fall off during physical encounters, a problem that Taser has worked to address. They can also malfunction, or videos can be deleted. And civil liberties advocates complain that cameras are only as effective as the rules that guide their use: [...] the ACLU has complained that current city policy allowing officers to switch cameras off for privacy reasons gives police too much discretion over when to record. Other issues with cameras being resolved at the local level include the heavy costs of cloud video storage, and the question of whether officers are allowed to view their footage immediately after violent encounters -- a privilege not extended to the public."

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New Scientific Test Finds Up To 75 Liters of Urine In Public Pools
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what's-that-smell department:
Scientists have developed a test designed to estimate how much urine has been covertly added to a large volume of water. "The test works by measuring the concentration of an artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium (ACE), that is commonly found in processed food and passed through the body unaltered," reports The Guardian. The findings are published in the American Chemical Society journal. From the report: After tracking the levels of the sweetener in two public pools in Canada over a three-week period they calculated that swimmers had released 75 liters of urine -- enough to fill a medium-sized dustbin -- into a large pool (about 830,000 liters, one-third the size of an Olympic pool) and 30 liters into a second pool, around half the size of the first. Although the researchers were unable to confirm exactly what fraction of visitors were choosing to quietly relieve themselves in the water rather than making the shivery trip to the changing rooms, the results suggest that the urine content was being topped up several times each day. The findings make for unwelcome reading, but swimmers might find some comfort in the measurements from eight hot tubs, which were found to have far higher urine levels. One hotel Jacuzzi had more than three times the concentration of sweetener than in the worst swimming pool. In total, the team sampled 31 different pools and tubs in two Canadian cities and found ACE to be present in 100% of the samples, with concentrations up to 570 times the background level in tap water samples. They used the average ACE concentration in Canadian urine to convert their measurements into approximate volumes of urine.

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Marissa Mayer Is Giving Yahoo Employees Her Annual Bonus To Make Up For Massive Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-than-nothing department:
Following two separate security breaches revealed last year that compromised the personal information of more than 1.5 billion users, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced today via her Tumblr page that she will be redistributing her annual bonus and equity stock grant to Yahoo employees. The Verge reports: Relevant to Mayer's admission here, an independent committee Yahoo brought on to investigate the hacks found the company to be at fault for not sufficiently responding to the security incidents. "While significant additional security measures were implemented in response to those incidents, it appears certain senior executives did not properly comprehend or investigate, and therefore failed to act sufficiently upon, the full extent of knowledge known internally by the company's information security team," reads the committee's findings, which are contained in Yahoo's 10-K report for 2016. As a result of the hacks, Yahoo's top lawyer, Ron Bell, has been fired, Recode reported today. Mayer has accumulated about $162 million during the five years she's spent as the company's CEO in both salary and stock awards, according to CNN. She's also due about $55 million in severance if she decides to leave the company following its acquisition by Verizon. So it's safe to say her bonus would involve a hefty amount of money now going to Yahoo employees who have weathered the storm throughout Mayer's tumultuous tenure.

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Court Throws Out $533 Million Verdict Against Apple Over Data Storage Patent
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-the-window department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made a decision today to throw out the verdict of a two-year old legal case against Apple based on data storage patents. The original verdict reached by a Texas jury stuck Apple with $533 million in damages. Smartflash LLC targeted game developers who largely all settled out of court in 2014, but Apple defended its use of data storage management and payment processing technology in court. Reuters has more on the new developments: "The trial judge vacated the large damages award a few months after a Texas federal jury imposed it in February 2015, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said on Wednesday the judge should have ruled Smartflash's patents invalid and set aside the verdict entirely. A unanimous three-judge appeals panel said Smartflash's patents were too 'abstract' and did not go far enough in describing an actual invention to warrant protection."

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Yahoo Says Forged Cookie Attack Accessed About 32 Million Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gets-worse-before-it-gets-better department:
It looks like Yahoo has yet to reach its lowest point. The company revealed today via a regulatory filing that about 32 million user accounts were accessed by hackers in the past two years using forged cookies that allowed them to log into their accounts without passwords. According to Yahoo, the attack is likely connected to the "same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the 2014 [breach]," which resulted in the theft of user information from 500 million user accounts. CNET reports: "Based on the investigation, we believe an unauthorized third party accessed the company's proprietary code to learn how to forge certain cookies," Yahoo said in its annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company went on to say that forged cookies have been invalidated to prevent further use on accounts. Yahoo revealed the attack in December but the news was largely overlooked because the company announced at the same time it had identified a separate security breach that took place in 2013 in which hackers stole information on 1 billion Yahoo accounts. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer also revealed today that she is giving yahoo employees her annual bonus to make up for the massive hacks.

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