By msmash from Slashdot's assuming-responsibility department
DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, offers a variety of useful features such as instant answers and bangs. The latter are particularly useful for people who want to use DuckDuckGo to search directly on other sites. Typing '!yt keyword', for instance, will do a direct search on YouTube, while '!w keyword' goes to Wikipedia. This library of bangs has been around for a long time and has grown to more than 10,000 over the years.
From a report: However, a few days ago, roughly 2,000 of these were removed. Interestingly, this included many bangs that link to torrent sites, such as The Pirate Bay, 1337x and RARBG. Similarly, bangs for OpenSubtitles, Sci-Hub and LibGen are gone too. Initially, it was unclear what had happened, but after people started asking questions on Reddit, DuckDuckGo staff explained that this was part of a larger cleanup operation. DuckDuckGo went through its bangs library and removed all non-working versions, as well as verbose ones that were not actively used. In addition, many pirate site bangs were deleted as these are no longer"permitted."
"Bangs had been neglected for some time, and there were tons of broken ones. As part of the bang clean-up, we also removed some that were pointing to primarily illegal content," DuckDuckGo staffer Tagawa explains. The search engine still indexes the sites in question but it feels that offering curated search shortcuts for these sites in their service might cause problems. "It may not seem like so at first blush, but it is very different legally if it is a bang vs. in the search results because the bangs are added to the product by us explicitly, and can be interpreted legally as an editorial decision that is actively facilitating that site and its content," the staff wrote.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department
Though Blockchain has been touted as the answer to everything, a study of 43 solutions advanced in the international development sector has found exactly no evidence of success. From a report: Three practitioners including erstwhile blockchain enthusiast John Burg, a Fellow at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), looked at instances of the distributed crypto ledger being used in a wide range of situations by NGOs, contractors and agencies. But they drew a complete blank. "We found a proliferation of press releases, white papers, and persuasively written articles," Burg et al wrote. "However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims. We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development."
Blockchain vendors were keen to puff the merits of the technology, but when the three asked for proof of success in the field, it all went very quiet. "We fared no better when we reached out directly to several blockchain firms, via email, phone, and in person. Not one was willing to share data on program results, MERL [monitoring, evaluation, research and learning] processes, or adaptive management for potential scale-up. Despite all the hype about how blockchain will bring unheralded transparency to processes and operations in low-trust environments, the industry is itself opaque." Burg was an enthusiastic advocate for blockchain until recently -- as he explained in this Medium post.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-myspace department
Tumblr, the underground social media site known for its pornographic content and tight-knit community, will be instituting a major change to its guidelines in a couple of weeks. The company said in a blog post today that it will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th. The company flatly stated that "adult content will no longer be allowed here." The Verge reports: Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay -- so long as sex acts aren't depicted -- and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.
After December 17th, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying them that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community. "Blogs that have been either self-flagged or flagged by us as 'explicit' per our old policy and before December 17, 2018 will still be overlaid with a content filter when viewing these blogs directly," the blog post reads. "While some of the content on these blogs may now be in violation of our policies and will be actioned accordingly, the blog owners may choose to post content that is within our policies in the future, so we'd like to provide that option..."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up,-up,-and-away department
SpaceX notched its 19th launch of the year Monday, lofting 64 small spacecraft from 34 organizations into low Earth orbit. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast at about 10:34 a.m. local time. The customer was Spaceflight Industries, a Seattle-based company that organized the launch on behalf of several clients. From a report: The Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission includes 15 microsats and 49 cubesats from commercial and government entities, including universities, startups and a middle school, according to the SpaceX press kit. The payloads -- which vary from technology demonstrations and imaging satellites to educational-research endeavors -- are from 17 countries, including the U.S., Brazil, India and South Korea.
SpaceX said a series of six deployments would occur about 13 to 43 minutes after takeoff, then Spaceflight would command its own deployment sequences over a period of six hours. The Falcon 9's first stage has flown twice before: in May 2018 and again in August. SpaceX recovered it Monday on "Just Read the Instructions," a droneship in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX also attempted to recover the rocket's fairing, which encloses the payload, with Mr. Steven, a boat designed to capture it in a massive net.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-on department
An anonymous reader shares a report: "We've launched our last satellite," John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, said in a meeting with analysts on Nov. 29. The AT&T executive effectively declared the end of the satellite-TV era with that statement. AT&T owns DirecTV, the US's largest satellite company -- and second largest TV provider overall, behind Comcast. DirecTV will continue offering satellite-TV service -- it had nearly 20 million satellite video subscribers as of September, per company filings. But the company will focus on growing its online video business instead, Donovan said. It has a new set-top box, where people can get the same TV service they'd get with satellite, through an internet-connected box they can install themselves. It expects that box to become a greater share of its new premium-TV service installations in the first half of 2019. It also sells cheaper, TV packages with fewer channels through its DirecTV Now and WatchTV streaming services, which work with many smart TVs and streaming media players like Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices. The practice of getting TV through satellite dishes propped up in backyards and perched on rooftops first took hold in the US in the last 1970s and early 1980s, after TV networks like HBO and Turner Broadcasting System started sending TV signals to cable providers via satellites. People in areas without cable or broadcast TV began putting up their own dishes to receive the TV signals, and that grew into a TV business of its own.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Trailrunner7 writes: Like real estate, we're not making any more IPv4 addresses. But instead of trying to colonize Mars or build cities under the sea, the Internet's architects developed a separate address scheme with an unfathomably large pool of addresses. IPv6 has an address space of 2^128, compared to IPv4's 2^32, and as the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space began to approach, registries started allocating IPv6 addresses and there now are billions of those addresses active at any given time. But no one really knows how many or where they are or what's behind them or how they're organized.
A pair of researchers decided to tackle the problem and developed a suite of tools that can find active IPv6 addresses both in the global address space and in smaller, targeted networks. Known as ipv666, the open source tool set can scan for live IPv6 hosts using a statistical model that the researchers built. The researchers, Chris Grayson and Marc Newlin, faced a number of challenges as they went about developing the ipv666 tools, including getting a large IPv6 address list, which they accumulated from several publicly available data sets. They then began the painful process of building the statistical model to predict other IPv6 addresses based on their existing list.
That may seem weird, but IPv6 addresses are nothing at all like their older cousins and come in a bizarre format that doesn't lend itself to simple analysis or prediction. Grayson and Newlin wanted to find as many live addresses as possible and ultimately try to figure out what the security differences are between devices on IPv4 and those on IPv6.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's wait-and-watch department
Apple plans to hold off until at least 2020 before offering an iPhone that can connect to the next generation of high-speed phone services coming next year, Bloomberg reported Monday. From the report: The delay may make it easier for rivals like Samsung Electronics to win over consumers to phones that connect to 5G networks, which will provide a leap forward in mobile data speeds when they are introduced in 2019. As with 3G and 4G, the two previous generations of mobile technology, Apple will wait as long as a year after the initial deployment of the new networks before its main product gets the capability to access them, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the company's plans.
Apple's previous calculations -- proven correct -- were that the new networks and the first versions of rival smartphones would come with problems such as spotty coverage, making consumers less compelled to immediately make the jump. This time, 5G boosters argue the switch is a much bigger speed upgrade, making Apple's decision to wait riskier. The networks will open the floodgates to new types of mobile computing, 5G advocates say.Read Replies (0)
Who'd Go To University Today?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 03 '18 at 06:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Are students being short-changed by their $60,000 degree courses? And does a university education in 2018 represent good value for money? A slew of recent government and think-tank reports aim to tackle these questions. And the answers they give are not encouraging. From a report: The Public Accounts Committee announced this month that the value of the UK's student-loan system is falling. Last year, the government sold a tranche of the student-loan book at a major loss. The portfolio had a face value of $4.4 billion, but was sold for just $2.1 billion: a return of 48p in the pound, according to the public-spending watchdog. Clearly, the current method of funding higher education represents a bad deal for the taxpayer.
But do universities offer good value for students? Not when you consider the fact less than half the money that students pay in tuition fees is actually spent on teaching, according to a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute. The rest of the money from tuition fees goes into other services and parts of the administration. These include admissions procedures, marketing, vice-chancellor pay and programmes to boost access for poorer students, as well as therapeutic services like mental-health provision and exam-stress counselling.
Universities today have far too much bureaucracy, fat-cat VC's salaries are far too high, and a great deal of what administrators spend money on is a hindrance to education. University bureaucracy is often at the forefront of coddling students, encouraging them to see exams and hard work as threats to their mental health. It is troubling to see that students are not only plunging themselves into debt at such a young age, but also that much of that debt does not go towards their actual education.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's instant-calls department
Evan Polman, writing for HBR: In my research with Yi Liu and Yongfang Liu of East China Normal University in China and Jiangli Jiao of Xinjiang Normal University in China, we looked at how people make decisions for themselves and for others. We were interested in the process and quantity of information a decision maker uses when choosing for others versus choosing for the self. We wanted to know: Is more information searched in the process when people choose for others versus for themselves, and does the way they evaluate that information change based on whom they are choosing for?
To test our hypotheses, we performed eight studies with over a thousand participants. Throughout the series of randomized tests, participants were given a list of restaurants, or job options, or dating profiles -- each with detailed information and then participants were asked to make choices for themselves or for someone else based on that information.
What we found was two-fold: Not only did participants choose differently when it was for themselves rather than for someone else, but the way they chose was different. When choosing for themselves, participants focused more on a granular level, zeroing in on the minutiae, something we described in our research as a cautious mindset. Employing a cautious mindset when making a choice means being more reserved, deliberate, and risk averse. Rather than exploring and collecting a plethora of options, the cautious mindset prefers to consider a few at a time on a deeper level, examining a cross-section of the larger whole.
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Hundreds of military service members reportedly got caught up in a sextortion scam run by prison inmates using cellphones, according to a release issued by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). From a report: Military agents from multiple criminal investigation groups have served summons and issued warrants for arrests related to the scheme. According to the NCIS, South Carolina and North Carolina prison inmates, assisted by outside accomplices, sought out service members through dating sites and social media, then took on false identities, feigned romantic interest, and exchanged photos.
Once the inmates had successfully catfished their targets, they would then pose as the father of the fake persona, insisting their child was underage and that the target had therefore committed a crime by exchanging photos. In some situations, the "father" claimed he wouldn't press charges if the target gave him money. Sometimes the catfisher would pose as law enforcement requesting money for the family.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Celebrity physicians often catapult to fame via their mastery of traditional media, like television or radio or books or magazines, and we're used to seeing medical advice and expertise there. What you may have yet to encounter, or haven't fully noticed yet, is the growing group of current medical students who are perhaps on track to achieve even greater fame, through their prodigious and aggressive use of social media, particularly Instagram. Even before receiving their medical degrees, these future doctors are hard at work growing their audiences (many have well into the thousands of followers), arguably in ways even more savvy than the physicians on social media today.
I first learned of the medical student Instagram influencer community a few months ago, when a friend shared links to a few of these accounts with me, asking if this is what medical school was really like. Curated and meticulously organized, these accounts posted long reflections after anatomy lab sessions, video stories of students huddled around a defibrillator during a CPR training session, pictures of neat study spaces featuring board-prep textbooks next to cups of artisan coffee, and 5 a.m. selfies taken in the surgery locker-room before assisting with a C-section. Initially, I cringed. Sure, they looked vaguely familiar -- they were (literally) rose-tinted, glamorized snapshots of relatable moments dispersed over the past few years of my life. But interspersed, and even integrated, into those relatable moments were advertisements and discount codes for study materials and scrub clothing brands. Something about that, in particular, felt impulsively antithetical to my (perhaps wide-eyed) interpretation of medicine's ideals, of service to others over self-promotion.
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