By BeauHD from Slashdot's fair-and-square department
hackingbear writes: In a tweet, President Trump said he wanted "5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind." While he did not specifically mention China's Huawei, many interpreted the comments as Mr Trump taking a softer stance on the firm. The U.S. has been pressuring allies to block out the Chinese telecom giant from their future 5G mobile networks, but the tactic meets considerable resistance. "Mr. President. I cannot agree with you more. Our company is always ready to help build the real 5G network in the U.S., through competition," Huawei President Ken Hu replied in a tweet, mocking Trump's frequent usages of the word "real." Huawei is the second biggest holder of 5G patents after Samsung and the top contributor to the 5G standard, and is setting its sight on 6G.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mission-accomplished department
Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the asteroid Ryugu at around 11:30 GMT on Thursday. "Data from the probe showed changes in speed and direction, indicating it had reached the asteroid's surface, according to officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)," reports The Guardian. From the report: The probe was due to fire a bullet at the Ryugu asteroid, to stir up surface matter, which it will then collect for analysis back on Earth. The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born. The complicated procedure took less time than expected and appeared to go without a hitch, said Hayabusa 2 mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa. The spacecraft is seeking to gather 10g of the dislodged debris with an instrument named the Sampler Horn that hangs from its underbelly. Whatever material is collected by the spacecraft will be stored onboard until Hayabusa 2 reaches its landing site in Woomera, South Australia, in 2020 after a journey of more than three billion miles. UPDATE: JAXA says it successfully fired a "bullet" into Ryugu, collecting the disturbed material. "JAXA scientists had expected to find a powdery surface on Ryugu, but tests showed that the asteroid is covered in larger gravel," reports CNN. "As a result the team had to carry out a simulation to test whether the projectile would be capable of disturbing enough material to be collected by [the Sampler Horn]. The team is planning a total of three sampling events over the next few weeks."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's astronomical-fees department
Frontier Communications reportedly charged a cancellation fee of $4,302.17 to the operator of a one-person business in Wisconsin, even though she switched to a different Internet provider because Frontier's service was frequently unusable. From the report: Candace Lestina runs the Pardeeville Area Shopper, a weekly newspaper and family business that she took over when her mother retired. Before retiring, her mother had entered a three-year contract with Frontier to provide Internet service to the one-room office on North Main Street in Pardeeville. Six months into the contract, Candace Lestina decided to switch to the newly available Charter offering "for better service and a cheaper bill," according to a story yesterday by News 3 Now in Wisconsin. The Frontier Internet service "was dropping all the time," Lestina told the news station. This was a big problem for Lestina, who runs the paper on her own in Pardeeville, a town of about 2,000 people. "I actually am everything. I make the paper, I distribute the paper," she said. Because of Frontier's bad service, "I would have times where I need to send my paper -- I have very strict deadlines with my printer -- and my Internet's out."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has launched yet another graphics card today based on the company's new Turing GPU. This latest GPU, however, doesn't support NVIDIA's RTX ray-tracing technology or its DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) image quality tech. The new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti does, however, bring with it all of the other GPU architecture improvements NVIDIA Turing offers. The new TU116 GPU on board the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti supports concurrent integer and floating point instructions (rather than serializing integer and FP instructions), and it also has a redesigned cache structure with double the amount of L2 cache versus their predecessors, while its L1 cache has been outfitted with a wider memory bus that ultimately doubles the bandwidth. NVIDIA's TU116 has 1,536 active CUDA cores, which is a decent uptick from the GTX 1060, but less than the current gen RTX 2060. Cards will also come equipped with 6GB of GDDR6 memory at 12 Gbps for 288GB/s of bandwidth. Performance-wise, the new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is typically slightly faster than a previous gen GeFore GTX 1070, and much faster than a GTX 1060. Cards should be available at retail in the next few days, starting at $279.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
A group of Microsoft workers have addressed top executives in a letter demanding the company drop a controversial contract with the U.S. army. The Verge reports: The workers object to the company taking a $479 million contract last year to supply tech for the military's Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS. Under the project, Microsoft, the maker of the HoloLens augmented reality headset, could eventually provide more than 100,000 headsets designed for combat and training in the military. The Army has described the project as a way to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy." "We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country's government 'increase lethality' using tools we built," the workers write in the letter, addressed to CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith. "We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used."
The letter, which organizers say included dozens of employee signatures at publication time, argues Microsoft has "crossed the line into weapons development" with the contract. "Intent to harm is not an acceptable use of our technology," it reads. The workers are demanding the company cancel the contract, stop developing any weapons technology, create a public policy committing to not build weapons technology, and appoint an external ethics review board to enforce the policy. While the letter notes the company has an AI ethics review process called Aether, the workers say it is "not robust enough to prevent weapons development, as the IVAS contract demonstrates." "As employees and shareholders we do not want to become war profiteers," the letter sent today concludes. "To that end, we believe that Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the U.S. Army's ability to cause harm and violence."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Instagram is threatening to attack Pinterest just as it files to go public the same way the Facebook-owned app did to Snapchat. Code buried in Instagram for Android shows the company has prototyped an option to create public "Collections" to which multiple users can contribute. Instagram launched private Collections two years ago to let you Save and organize your favorite feed posts. But by allowing users to make Collections public, Instagram would become a direct competitor to Pinterest. Instagram public Collections could spark a new medium of content curation. People could use the feature to bundle together their favorite memes, travel destinations, fashion items, or art. That could cut down on unconsented content stealing that's caused backlash against meme "curators" like F*ckJerry by giving an alternative to screenshotting and reposting other people's stuff. Instead of just representing yourself with your own content, you could express your identity through the things you love -- even if you didn't photograph them yourself.
The "Make Collection Public" option was discovered by frequent TechCrunch tipster and reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong. It's not available to the public, but from the Instagram for Android code, she was able to generate a screenshot of the prototype. It shows the ability to toggle on public visibility for a Collection, and tag contributors who can also add to the Collection. Previously, Collections was always a private, solo feature for organizing your bookmarks gathered through the Instagaram Save feature Instagram launched in late 2016. Currently there's nothing in the Instagram code about users being able to follow each other's Collections, but that would seem like a logical and powerful next step.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's expect-the-unexpected department
schwit1 shares a report from MIT Technology Review: Early last month, the security team at Coinbase noticed something strange going on in Ethereum Classic, one of the cryptocurrencies people can buy and sell using Coinbase's popular exchange platform. Its blockchain, the history of all its transactions, was under attack. An attacker had somehow gained control of more than half of the network's computing power and was using it to rewrite the transaction history. That made it possible to spend the same cryptocurrency more than once -- known as "double spends." The attacker was spotted pulling this off to the tune of $1.1 million. Coinbase claims that no currency was actually stolen from any of its accounts. But a second popular exchange, Gate.io, has admitted it wasn't so lucky, losing around $200,000 to the attacker (who, strangely, returned half of it days later).
Just a year ago, this nightmare scenario was mostly theoretical. But the so-called 51% attack against Ethereum Classic was just the latest in a series of recent attacks on blockchains that have heightened the stakes for the nascent industry. [...] In short, while blockchain technology has been long touted for its security, under certain conditions it can be quite vulnerable. Sometimes shoddy execution can be blamed, or unintentional software bugs. Other times it's more of a gray area -- the complicated result of interactions between the code, the economics of the blockchain, and human greed. That's been known in theory since the technology's beginning. Now that so many blockchains are out in the world, we are learning what it actually means -- often the hard way.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's only-a-matter-of-time department
Earlier this week, Disney, Nestle and others pulled its advertising spending from YouTube after a blogger detailed how comments on Google's video site were being used to facilitate a "soft-core pedophilia ring." Some of the videos involved ran next to ads placed by Disney and Nestle.
With the company facing similar problems over the years, often being "caught in a game of whack-a-mole to fix them," Matt Rosoff from CNBC writes that it's only a matter of time until YouTube faces a scandal that actually alienates users, as happened with Facebook in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. From the report: To be fair, YouTube has taken concrete steps to fix some problems. A couple of years ago, major news events were targets for scammers to post misleading videos about them, like videos claiming shootings such as the one in Parkland, Florida, were staged by crisis actors. In January, the company said it would stop recommending such videos, effectively burying them. It also favors "authoritative" sources in search results around major news events, like mainstream media organizations. And YouTube is not alone in struggling to fight inappropriate content that users upload to its platform. The problem isn't really about YouTube, Facebook or any single company. The problem is the entire business model around user-generated content, and the whack-a-mole game of trying to stay one step ahead of people who abuse it.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's patent-trolls department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Apple has confirmed its plans to close retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas -- a move that will allow the company to better protect itself from patent infringement lawsuits, according to Apple news sites 9to5Mac and MacRumors which broke the news of the stores' closures. Apple says that the impacted retail employees will be offered new jobs with the company as a result of these changes. The company will shut down its Apple Willow Bend store in Plano, Texas as well as its Apple Stonebriar store in Frisco, Texas, MacRumors reported, and Apple confirmed. These stores will permanently close up shop on Friday, April 12. Customers in the region will instead be served by a new Apple store located at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall, which is expected to open April 13. "The Eastern District of Texas had become a popular place for patent trolls to file their lawsuits, though a more recent Supreme Court ruling has attempted to crack down on the practice," the report adds. "The court ruled that patent holders could no longer choose where to file." One of the most infamous patent holding firms is VirnetX, which has won several big patent cases against Apple in recent years. A spokesperson for Apple confirmed the stores' closures, but wouldn't comment on the company's reasoning: "We're making a major investment in our stores in Texas, including significant upgrades to NorthPark Center, Southlake and Knox Street. With a new Dallas store coming to the Dallas Galleria this April, we've made the decision to consolidate stores and close Apple Stonebriar and Apple Willow Bend. All employees from those stores will be offered positions at the new Dallas store or other Apple locations."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-intelligence-anyway department
Sean Dorrance Kelly, a philosophy professor at Harvard, writes for MIT Technology Review: Human creative achievement, because of the way it is socially embedded, will not succumb to advances in artificial intelligence. To say otherwise is to misunderstand both what human beings are and what our creativity amounts to. This claim is not absolute: it depends on the norms that we allow to govern our culture and our expectations of technology. Human beings have, in the past, attributed great power and genius even to lifeless totems. It is entirely possible that we will come to treat artificially intelligent machines as so vastly superior to us that we will naturally attribute creativity to them. Should that happen, it will not be because machines have outstripped us. It will be because we will have denigrated ourselves.
[...] My argument is not that the creator's responsiveness to social necessity must be conscious for the work to meet the standards of genius. I am arguing instead that we must be able to interpret the work as responding that way. It would be a mistake to interpret a machine's composition as part of such a vision of the world. The argument for this is simple. Claims like Kurzweil's that machines can reach human-level intelligence assume that to have a human mind is just to have a human brain that follows some set of computational algorithms -- a view called computationalism. But though algorithms can have moral implications, they are not themselves moral agents. We can't count the monkey at a typewriter who accidentally types out Othello as a great creative playwright. If there is greatness in the product, it is only an accident. We may be able to see a machine's product as great, but if we know that the output is merely the result of some arbitrary act or algorithmic formalism, we cannot accept it as the expression of a vision for human good.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Instead of trying to sell American ideas to a foreign audience, it's aiming to sell international ideas to a global audience. From an op-ed: In 2016, the company expanded to 190 countries, and last year, for the first time, a majority of its subscribers and most of its revenue came from outside the United States. To serve this audience, Netflix now commissions and licenses hundreds of shows meant to echo life in every one of its markets and, in some cases, to blend languages and sensibilities across its markets. In the process, Netflix has discovered something startling: Despite a supposed surge in nationalism across the globe, many people like to watch movies and TV shows from other countries. "What we're learning is that people have very diverse and eclectic tastes, and if you provide them with the world's stories, they will be really adventurous, and they will find something unexpected," Cindy Holland, Netflix's vice president for original content, told me.
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By msmash from Slashdot's final-months department
In the final months of Theranos, before the blood testing start-up was debunked and its founders charged with fraud, then-CEO Elizabeth Holmes brought a puppy, who she insisted was a wolf to others, with a penchant for peeing into the mix, according to Vanity Fair, which has detailed the chaos that ensued in the waning days of the startup, once valued at $9 billion. The 35-year-old Stanford University dropout has also met with filmmakers who she hopes would make a documentary about her "real story," the outlet reported. She also "desperately wants to write a book." An excerpt from the story: Holmes brushed it off when the scientists protested that the dog hair could contaminate samples. But there was another problem with Balto (name of the dog), too. He wasn't potty-trained. Accustomed to the undomesticated life, Balto frequently urinated and defecated at will throughout Theranos headquarters. While Holmes held board meetings, Balto could be found in the corner of the room relieving himself while a frenzied assistant was left to clean up the mess. [...]
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A new take on the age-old question: Should you rewrite your application from scratch, or is that "the single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make"? Turns out there are more than two options for dealing with a mature codebase. Herb Caudill: Almost two decades ago, Joel Spolsky excoriated Netscape for rewriting their codebase in his landmark essay Things You Should Never Do . He concluded that a functioning application should never, ever be rewritten from the ground up. His argument turned on two points: The crufty-looking parts of the application's codebase often embed hard-earned knowledge about corner cases and weird bugs. A rewrite is a lengthy undertaking that keeps you from improving on your existing product, during which time the competition is gaining on you.
For many, Joel's conclusion became an article of faith; I know it had a big effect on my thinking at the time. In the following years, I read a few contrarian takes arguing that, under certain circumstances, it made a lot of sense to rewrite from scratch. For example:
Sometimes the legacy codebase really is messed up beyond repair, such that even simple changes require a cascade of changes to other parts of the code. The original technology choices might be preventing you from making necessary improvements. Or, the original technology might be obsolete, making it hard (or expensive) to recruit quality developers.
The correct answer, of course, is that it depends a lot on the circumstances. Yes, sometimes it makes more sense to gradually refactor your legacy code. And yes, sometimes it makes sense to throw it all out and start over. But those aren't the only choices. Let's take a quick look at six stories, and see what lessons we can draw.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-revelations department
Millions of smartphone users confess their most intimate secrets to apps. Unbeknown to most people, in many cases that data is being shared with someone else: Facebook. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; an alternative source was not immediately available.] The Wall Street Journal reports: The social-media giant collects intensely personal information from many popular smartphone apps just seconds after users enter it, even if the user has no connection to Facebook, according to testing done by The Wall Street Journal. The apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure, the testing showed. [...] In the case of apps, the Journal's testing showed that Facebook software collects data from many apps even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn't a Facebook member.
In the Journal's testing, Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on Apple's iOS, made by California-based Azumio, sent a user's heart rate to Facebook immediately after it was recorded. Flo Health's Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, which claims 25 million active users, told Facebook when a user was having her period or informed the app of an intention to get pregnant, the tests showed. Real-estate app Realtor.com, owned by Move, a subsidiary of Wall Street Journal parent News Corp, sent the social network the location and price of listings that a user viewed, noting which ones were marked as favorites, the tests showed. None of those apps provided users any apparent way to stop that information from being sent to Facebook.Read Replies (0)