By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-longer-needed department
AT&T is planning to cut another 1,800 jobs from its wireline division. "Last week, AT&T declared more than 1,800 jobs nationwide as 'surplus,' meaning they are slated to be eliminated in August or September," reports Ars Technica, citing the Communications Workers of America (CWA). From the report: "They've been cutting their employment massively in the past year and a half or so," with cuts affecting both union and non-union jobs, CWA Communications Director Beth Allen told Ars. Under union contracts, AT&T can declare a surplus of jobs each quarter, she said. But even by AT&T standards, last week's surplus declaration "was a very large number," Allen said. Jobs that are declared "surplus" are taken off the payroll, CWA says. AT&T told Ars that most affected union workers will be able to stay at the company in other positions. But letters from AT&T to the CWA say that only 27 of about 550 employees declared "surplus" in the Southwest division will be given so-called "follow-the-work" opportunities in which they can take nearly identical jobs in other locations. Follow-the-work offers are given when an employee's specific job is consolidated with another position or moved to another geographic location, AT&T said. This is different from the job-offer guarantee that ensures "surplus" employees will be offered a different type of job in the company; AT&T didn't say exactly how many surplus employees will get those offers. The 1,800 newly announced AT&T job cuts affect wireline technicians who fix customer problems, install new service, and who work on AT&T's fiber expansion, Allen said. Over the past four years, AT&T expanded its fiber-to-the-home network to 12.5 million customer locations to meet a government mandate imposed on its purchase of DirecTV. But AT&T is apparently slowing its fiber deployments now that it has finished the government-mandated buildout.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unannounced-plans department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: The latest Windows preview from the 20H1 branch, build 18917, has some hidden components that signal a future where the Windows Shell UI parts, such as Action Center, will be separate from the rest of Windows and can be updated with shell packages. A developer who uses the Twitter handle Albacore gave a breakdown of a new component in Build 18917 called 'Shell Update Agent,' which he notes is "capable of obtaining and updating the shell on demand."
That capability may mean nothing to most Windows 10 users. However, for Windows watchers it could be an interesting development of Microsoft's unannounced plans for Windows Core OS, in which Windows is modularized and calls on a range of shells that target different form factors, from HoloLens to Surface and dual-screen devices like the recently revealed Centaurus laptop, whose shell is called Santorini. Albacore goes on to explain that the Shell Update Agent references 'Package Family Names,' which suggests that the "shell will indeed be a separate, packaged component." Those shell packages can be acquired from both external and internal sources, which could mean shell components like the Start Menu, Action Center and Taskbar could be selectively built, based on these acquired packages. Finally, one more shell-related change noted relates to a new method for syncing settings. "The new one should support syncing more advanced and previously 'legacy' options such as File Explorer configuration," Albacore notes.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ctrl-z department
Adobe and UC Berkeley researchers are working on tool that can tell if a photo has been manipulated in Adobe Photoshop. The goal is to cut down on fake content and "to increase trust and authority in digital media." TheINQUIRER reports: A bunch of images were created using Photoshop's "Face Aware Liquify" tool, and mixed with a set of expertly human-doctored photographs. When humans were shown the original image and the doctored version, they spotted the fakes 53 percent of the time, but the artificial intelligence hit 99 percent. That's pretty good -- changing a coin toss guess into near certainty, but the AI isn't quite done showboating. As well as being able to point out what areas might have been changed, the AI can also predict what methods have been used to change the image.
Better still, it'll have a stab at undoing the vandalism, and returning the image to its former untampered glory. Not perfectly, but well enough to impress the researchers all the same: it's like having an undo button on someone else's work, and who hasn't always wanted one of those? "It might sound impossible because there are so many variations of facial geometry possible," said Professor Alexei A. Efros of UC Berkeley. "But, in this case, because deep learning can look at a combination of low-level image data, such as warping artifacts, as well as higher level cues such as layout, it seems to work."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-for-concern department
In a case that could have potential implications for social media, the Supreme Court has ruled that a nonprofit running public access channels isn't bound by governmental constraints on speech. "The case, which the conservative wing of the court decided in a split 5-4 ruling, centered around a Manhattan-based nonprofit tasked by New York City with operating public access channels in the area," reports The Verge. "The organization disciplined two producers after a film led to complaints, which the producers argued was a violation of their First Amendment speech rights. The case turned on whether the nonprofit was a 'state actor' running a platform governed by First Amendment constraints." From the report: In a decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the conservative justices ruled that the First Amendment constraints didn't apply to the nonprofit, which they considered a private entity. Providing a forum for speech wasn't enough to become a government actor, the justices ruled. Nowhere is the internet or social media discussed in the ruling, but the idea that the decision could be used to penalize social media companies was raised by groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The groups argued that too broad of a decision could prevent other private entities like YouTube and Twitter from managing their platforms by imposing new constraints them. The Internet Association, a trade group, said last year that such a decision could mean the internet "will become less attractive, less safe and less welcoming to the average user." But today's decision seems to assuage those concerns. The liberal justices on the court, in a dissenting ruling, argued instead that the terms under which the nonprofit ran the channels for the city should have bound it to First Amendment constraints. The nonprofit, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "stepped into the City's shoes and thus qualifies as a state actor, subject to the First Amendment like any other."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pushing-it-forward department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: At the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt, Germany this week, Santa Clara-based chipmaker Nvidia announced that it will support processors architected by British semiconductor design company Arm. Nvidia anticipates that the partnership will pave the way for supercomputers capable of "exascale" performance -- in other words, of completing at least a quintillion floating point computations ("flops") per second, where a flop equals two 15-digit numbers multiplied together. Nvidia says that by 2020 it will contribute its full stack of AI and high-performance computing (HPC) software to the Arm ecosystem, which by Nvidia's estimation now accelerates over 600 HPC applications and machine learning frameworks. Among other resources and services, it will make available CUDA-X libraries, graphics-accelerated frameworks, software development kits, PGI compilers with OpenACC support, and profilers. Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang pointed out in a statement that, thanks to this commitment, Nvidia will soon accelerate all major processor architectures: x86, IBM's Power, and Arm. "As traditional compute scaling has ended, the world's supercomputers have become power constrained," said Huang. "Our support for Arm, which designs the world's most energy-efficient CPU architecture, is a giant step forward that builds on initiatives Nvidia is driving to provide the HPC industry a more power-efficient future."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-problem department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In the heart of Boston, Tufts Medical Center treats scores of health conditions, from administering measles vaccines for children to pioneering next-generation tools that can eradicate the rarest of cancers. But doctors, administrators and other hospital staff struggled to contain a much different kind of epidemic one April morning last year: a wave of thousands of robocalls that spread, like a virus, from one phone line to the next, disrupting communications for hours to come.
For most Americans, such robocalls represent an unavoidable digital-age nuisance, resulting in constant interruptions targeting their phones each month. For hospitals, though, the spam calls amount to a literal life-or-death challenge, one that increasingly is threatening doctors and patients in a setting where every second can count. At Tufts Medical Center, administrators registered more than 4,500 calls between about 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on April 30, 2018, said Taylor Lehmann, the center's chief information security officer. Many of the messages seemed to be the same: Speaking in Mandarin, an unknown voice threatened deportation unless the person who picked up the phone provided their personal information.
Such calls are common, widely documented scams that seek to swindle vulnerable foreigners, who may surrender their private data out of fear their families and homes are at risk. But it proved especially troubling at Tufts, which is situated amid Boston's Chinatown neighborhood, Lehmann said. Officials there couldn't block the calls through their telecom carrier, Windstream, which provides phone and web services to consumers and businesses. "There's nothing we could do," Lehmann said Windstream told them.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-random-is-random department
Cloudflare, along with a group of individual and academic partners, is forming a new coalition that will provide truly random, unpredictable numbers for a variety of applications, including election systems and lotteries. From a report: The problem of producing truly random numbers on a consistent basis has been a thorny one for cryptographers for many years. There have been plenty of efforts to establish sources of randomness, with some success, but one of the drawbacks is that any single randomness generator can be a target for abuse by privileged insiders or outside attackers. This is especially true in high-value applications that require random numbers, such as lottery or election systems. Also, if a given source of random numbers fails for any reason, the applications that rely on it can be crippled, as well.
To help address this problem, Cloudflare has teamed up with the University of Chile, the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne, and several individual researchers to form a consortium of randomness beacons distributed around the world. The system is based on the drand randomness beacon developed by Nicholas Gailly, a researcher at Protocol Labs, a research lab for network protocols, and the aim is to have a distributed network of beacons that will always be available. "Our founding members are contributing their individual high-entropy sources to provide a more random and unpredictable beacon to generate publicly verifiable random values every sixty seconds. The fact that the drand beacon is decentralized and built using appropriate, provably-secure cryptographic primitives, increases our confidence that it possesses all the aforementioned properties," Dina Kozlov, a product manager at Cloudflare, said.
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By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department
Microsoft has released To-Do for Mac, finally giving Apple users access to the task management tool on their desktops. The Mac app will allow users to work offline, view their upcoming tasks under "My Day," share to-do lists with friends and colleagues and see flagged emails. From a report: "Today, we'd like to announce the arrival of a new family member -- that's right, the moment many of you have been waiting for is here -- say hello to the Mac app. If you've already been using our app on Android, iOS, Windows, or web, then the Mac app will feel very familiar. Sign in and all your tasks will be waiting for you, ready to be checked off. You can work offline, add tasks to My Day, see your flagged email in your Flagged email list, and share your lists with colleagues or friends and family. The Planner integration isn't available yet, but we're already working on bringing the Assigned to Me list to you," says Polly Davidson, Social Media Strategist, Microsoft.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Over a quarter of all the major content management systems (CMSs) use the old and outdated MD5 hashing scheme as the default for securing and storing user passwords. From a report: Some of the projects that use MD5 as the default method for storing user passwords include WordPress, osCommerce, SuiteCRM, Simple Machines Forum, miniBB, MyBB, SugarCRM, CMS Made Simple, MantisBT, Phorum, Observium, X3cms, and Composr. The MD5 algorithm has been cracked for years now, meaning all passwords stored in this format can be reversed back to their plaintext version. This means that unless website owners changed these default settings by modifying the CMS source code, most websites built on top of these CMSs puts user passwords at risk in the case a hacker steals the site's database. This revelation is just one of the many observations that came out of an extensive academic research project at the University of Piraeus, in Greece. Academics examined 49 commonly used CMSs and 47 popular web application frameworks and looked at their default password storage mechanism, namely their password hashing schemes.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
In just three pages, a Russian mathematician has presented a better way to color certain types of networks than many experts thought possible. From a report:
A paper posted online last month has disproved a 53-year-old conjecture about the best way to assign colors to the nodes of a network. The paper shows, in a mere three pages, that there are better ways to color certain networks than many mathematicians had supposed possible. Network coloring problems, which were inspired by the question of how to color maps so that adjoining countries are different colors, have been a focus of study among mathematicians for nearly 200 years. The goal is to figure out how to color the nodes of some network (or graph, as mathematicians call them) so that no two connected nodes share the same color. Depending on the context, such a coloring can provide an effective way to seat guests at a wedding, schedule factory tasks for different time slots, or even solve a sudoku puzzle.
Graph coloring problems tend to be simple to state, but they are often enormously hard to solve. Even the question that launched the field -- Do four colors suffice to color any map? -- took more than a century to answer (the answer is yes, in case you were wondering). The problem tackled in the new paper seemed, until now, to be no exception to this rule. Unsolved for more than 50 years, it concerns tensor products -- graphs made by combining two different graphs (call them G and H) in a specific way. The tensor product of G and H is a new, larger graph in which each node represents a pair of nodes from the original graphs -- one from G and one from H -- and two nodes in the tensor product are connected if both their corresponding nodes in G and their corresponding nodes in H are connected.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's cook-says department
Apple CEO Tim Cook said Sunday in a commencement address at Stanford University that technology companies need to take responsibility for the "chaos" they create. From a report: He did not name specific companies in his speech, but referenced several reasons that tech firms, particularly social media platforms, have come under scrutiny in recent months. He also made an apparent reference to embattled health startup Theranos. "Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation -- the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility," Cook said, according to videos posted online of his speech. "We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood," he added. "Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes, but whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create define who you are. It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can't dodge responsibility for the chaos."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's cost-of-ban department
China's Huawei has taken a harder-than-expected hit from a U.S. ban, the company's founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said, and slashed revenue expectations for the year. From a report: Ren's downbeat assessment that the ban will hit revenue by $30 billion, the first time Huawei has quantified the impact of the U.S. action, comes as a surprise after weeks of defiant comments from company executives who maintained Huawei was technologically self-sufficient. [...] Huawei had not expected that U.S. determination to "crack" the company would be "so strong and so pervasive," Ren said, speaking at the company's Shenzhen headquarters on Monday. Two U.S. tech experts, George Gilder and Nicholas Negroponte, also joined the session. "We did not expect they would attack us on so many aspects," Ren said, adding he expects a revival in business in 2021.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's data-on-developers department
The report surveyed about 7,000 developers worldwide, and revealed Python is the most studied programming language, the most loved language, and the third top primary programming language developers are using... The top use cases developers are using Python for include data analysis, web development, machine learning and writing automation scripts, according to the JetBrains report. More developers are also beginning to move over to Python 3, with 9 out of 10 developers using the current version.
The JetBrains report also found while Go is still a young language, it is the most promising programming language. "Go started out with a share of 8% in 2017 and now it has reached 18%. In addition, the biggest number of developers (13%) chose Go as a language they would like to adopt or migrate to," the report stated...
JetBrains (which designed Kotlin in 2011) also said that 60% of their survey's respondents identified themselves as professional web back-end developers (while 46% said they did web front-end, and 23% developed mobile applications). 41% said they hadn't contributed to open source projects "but I would like to," while 21% said they contributed "several times a year."
"16% of developers don't have any tests in their projects. Among fully-employed senior developers though, that statistic is just 8%. Like last year, about 30% of developers still don't have unit tests in their projects."
Other interesting statistics:
52% say they code in their dreams.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's long-live-the-king department
There's now a new $175 million remake of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. I loved it, Msmash walked out of it, and BeauHD didn't bother to go see it. The movie performed poorly at the box office, but I'm not the only person who still likes Godzilla. There's also a new anime version on Netflix. And critic Matt Zoller Seitz (once a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism) is calling the new film "a frequently astounding movie... its imperfections are compensated by magnificence."
For all its crash-and-bash action, this is a real science fiction movie that goes to the trouble of not merely creating a world, but thinking about the implications of its images and predicaments. It cares what the people in it must feel and think about their situation, and how it might weigh on them every day even when they aren't talking about it amongst themselves. It's also suffused with a spiritual or theological awareness, and takes it all as seriously as recent DC films took their comparisons of caped wonders to figures from the Old Testament and ancient mythology...
[A]t the level of image, sound and music, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" is a frequently brilliant film that earnestly grapples with the material it presents... It deploys state-of-the-art moviemaking tools to try to return audiences to a stage of childlike terror and delight. Arthur C. Clarke famously observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This movie is magic.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Microsoft-meets-IBM department
Every day 5.7 million people ride the subway in New York City -- and are subjected to both "the whims of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the unheard-of reliability of a marginally successful operating system from the early 1990s."
martiniturbide shared this report from Tedium:
OS/2 and MTA consultant Neil Waldhauer said in an email, "For a few years, you could bet your career on OS/2." To understand why, you need to understand the timing. Waldhauer continues, "The design is from a time before either Linux or Windows was around. OS/2 would have seemed like a secure choice for the future." So for a lack of options, the MTA went with its best one. And it's worked out for decades, as one of the key software components of a quite complex system...
Despite the failure of OS/2 in the consumer market, it was hilariously robust, leading to a long life in industrial and enterprise systems -- with one other famous example being ATMs. Waldhauer said, "Thinking about all the operating systems in use [in the MTA], I'd have to say that OS/2 is probably the most robust part of the system, except for the mainframe." It's still in use in the NYC subway system in 2019. IBM had long given up on it, even allowing another company to maintain the software in 2001. (These days, a firm named Arca Noae sells an officially supported version of OS/2, ArcaOS, though most of its users are in similar situations to the MTA.)Read Replies (0)