By BeauHD from Slashdot's dancing-in-the-dark department
dryriver writes: BBC Culture reports -- with some neat graphs in the article -- on two different scientific studies that both found that chart-topping pop music has been getting steadily sadder and angrier since the 1950s, and that both song lyrics and the musical tone in hit songs are sadder, more fearful, and angrier than ever before in history. Lior Shamir of Lawrence Technical University found the following trends in his algorithmic analysis of Billboard Hot 100 hit song lyrics: "Expressions of anger and disgust roughly doubled over those 65 years, for instance, while fear increased by more than 50%. Remarkably, today's songs are even more aggressive and fearful than in punk's heyday. One probable reason for this is the growing influence of rap music, which, like punk, has reflected social unrest and feelings of disenfranchisement. Sadness, meanwhile, remained stable until the 80s, then steadily increased until the early 2010s, while joy, confidence and openness all steadily declined."
In the second independent study, Natalia Komarova, a University of California Irvine mathematician who had been shocked by the negativity of her daughter's own music taste, found the following: "Looking through half a million songs released in the UK between 1985 and 2015, Komarova and colleagues found that the tone of the music had become less joyful since 1985 -- just as Lior Shamir's analysis of the lyrics had also suggested. Interestingly, Komarova found that the danceability -- as measured by features of the rhythm -- had increased alongside the negative feelings. So, despite the negative feelings they expressed, the songs were also more likely to get people moving. Just consider Robyn's hit Dancing on my Own -- the pulsing synths and percussion belying the lyrics of loneliness and isolation. In terms of albums, Komarova also points to Beyonce's Lemonade and Charlie XCX's Pop 2 mix-tape as being full of dark but danceable tracks."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-update department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: An Israeli firm accused of supplying tools for spying on human-rights activists and journalists now faces claims that its technology can use a security hole in WhatsApp, the messaging app used by 1.5 billion people, to break into the digital communications of iPhone and Android phone users (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). Security researchers said they had found so-called spyware -- designed to take advantage of the WhatsApp flaw -- that bears the characteristics of technology from the company, the NSO Group.
The spyware was used to break into the phone of a London lawyer who has been involved in lawsuits that accused the company of providing tools to hack the phones of Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident in Canada; a Qatari citizen; and a group of Mexican journalists and activists, the researchers said. There may have been other targets, they said. Digital attackers could use the vulnerability to insert malicious code and steal data from an Android phone or an iPhone simply by placing a WhatsApp call, even if the victim did not pick up the call. As WhatsApp's engineers examined the vulnerability, they concluded that it was similar to other tools from the NSO Group, because of its digital footprint. WhatsApp engineers patched the vulnerability on Monday. "WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices," the Facebook-owned company said in a statement.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-type-of-experience department
At its Accelerate 2019 event in Orlando today, Lenovo previewed "the world's first foldable PC." While we don't know the name, price tag, or ship date, we do know that the foldable PC will be part of Lenovo's flagship ThinkPad X1 line and that it will arrive in 2020. VentureBeat reports: Lenovo backs up its "the world's first foldable PC" claim by saying it looked at laptops sold by major PC manufacturers this month. None shipped more than "1 million units worldwide annually" with foldable screens. Apparently Lenovo is hoping to ship at least 1 million units of its new foldable PC in the first year.
We don't know much about the device yet, and that's on purpose. Tom Butler, Lenovo's ThinkPad marketing director, did say that the company has been working on the device for "several years" with partners Intel, Microsoft and LG. He confirmed that those three have been part of the project from the very beginning. Intel chips and Windows will be powering the foldable ThinkPad. LG is responsible for manufacturing the screen, the highlight of the device. It's a 13.3-inch single OLED 2K display with a 4:3 aspect ratio. It's also a touchscreen and will support pen input. When folded in half, the width of the device is reduced by 50%, as you might expect.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
While the pros and cons of drinking coffee have been debated for decades, new research from the University of South Australia reveals that drinking six or more coffees a day can be detrimental to your health, increasing your risk of heart disease by up to 22 percent. From a report: In Australia, one in six people are affected by cardiovascular disease. It is a major cause of death with one person dying from the disease every 12 minutes. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, yet one of the most preventable. Investigating the association of long-term coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease, UniSA researchers Dr Ang Zhou and Professor Elina Hypponen of the Australian Centre for Precision Health say their research confirms the point at which excess caffeine can cause high blood pressure, a precursor to heart disease.
This is the first time an upper limit has been placed on safe coffee consumption and cardiovascular health. "Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world -- it wakes us up, boosts our energy and helps us focus -- but people are always asking 'How much caffeine is too much?'," Prof Hypponen says. "Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable or perhaps even nauseous -- that's because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached your limit for the time being.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ready-or-not-here-they-come department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Monday, a U.S.-based company named Hermeus announced plans to develop an aircraft that will travel at speeds of up to Mach 5. Such an aircraft would cut travel time from New York to Paris from more than 7 hours to 1.5 hours. Hermeus said it has raised an initial round of funding led by Khosla Ventures, but it declined to specify the amount. This funding will allow Hermeus to develop a propulsion demonstrator and other initial technologies needed to make its supersonic aircraft a reality, Skyler Shuford, the company's chief operating officer, told Ars.
The announcement follows three years after another company, Boom Supersonic, declared its own intentions to develop faster-than-sound aircraft. As of January 2019, Boom had raised more than $140 million toward development of its Overture airliner, envisioned to travel at Mach 2.2, which is about 10 percent faster than the Concorde traveled. Officials with Boom Supersonic have said its planes could be ready for commercial service in the mid-2020s, and they added that Virgin Group and Japan Airlines have preordered a combined 30 airplanes.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-new-features department
Apple's VP of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, announced new NFC tags that will let iPhone users make purchases simply by tapping their phones against the stickers, without the need to download a special app first. "The company is partnering with Bird scooters, Bonobos clothing store, and PayByPhone parking meters for the initial rollout," reports 9to5Mac. From the report: Apple also announced that inside the Wallet app, users will soon be able to sign up for loyalty cards in one tap, presumably presented to users as recommendations when they make eligible purchases. Right now, physical Apple Pay transactions require bulky terminals like those you find at retail store checkouts. With the new support, an iPhone will know how to read a specially-encoded NFC tag (that can be as inert as a sticker) and automatically show the Apple Pay purchase interface when a user holds their device near it. No third-party apps or other set up required.
The obvious example is a user can ad-hoc top up their miles on a hired electric scooter simply by tapping their phone or watch to a NFC sticker on the bike. For Bonobos, it will enable simpler self-service shopping with the ability to place NFC tags directly onto clothing rails. The new Apple Pay features will be rolling out later this year, presumably with more partners onboard now that the news is public. This is yet another step towards Apple's goal of replacing the wallet.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-the-good-fight department
Carl Malamud believes in open access to government records, and he has spent more than a decade putting them online. You might think states would welcome the help. From a report: But when Mr. Malamud's group posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the state sued for copyright infringement. Providing public access to the state's laws and related legal materials, Georgia's lawyers said, was part of a "strategy of terrorism." A federal appeals court ruled against the state, which has asked the Supreme Court to step in. On Friday, in an unusual move, Mr. Malamud's group, Public.Resource.Org, also urged the court to hear the dispute, saying that the question of who owns the law is an urgent one, as about 20 other states have claimed that parts of similar annotated codes are copyrighted.
The issue, the group said, is whether citizens can have access to "the raw materials of our democracy." The case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, No. 18-1150, concerns the 54 volumes of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, which contain state statutes and related materials. The state, through a legal publisher, makes the statutes themselves available online, and it has said it does not object to Mr. Malamud doing the same thing. But people who want to see other materials in the books, the state says, must pay the publisher.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
California is embarking on a new era of privacy on the internet, and Xavier Becerra can't stop thinking about the failed debut of Obamacare. From a report: Back in 2013, Becerra, then a Democratic congressman from Los Angeles, watched as technical problems with the website marred the rollout of President Barack Obama's signature law, delaying sign-ups for health insurance and denting the public's faith in the new offering. Now, as California's attorney general, Becerra is worried that a similarly halting start awaits the California Consumer Privacy Act, a far-reaching law that would put some of the world's strictest rules on how tech companies -- many of which call the state home -- handle and collect user data.
The rest of the country is watching closely. No other state has attempted such an ambitious privacy law, and since before the dawn of the internet, Congress hasn't either. The law has numerous parts. It forces companies to reveal what data they collect. It gives users the right to delete that data and prevent its sale. And it will likely restrict how data can be used for online ads. Becerra, whose office will be responsible for enforcing the law when it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020, said he might not have enough staff to carry out the job, and that as a result the law could collapse under its own weight.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department
According to data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is over 415 parts per million (ppm), far higher than at any point in the last 800,000 years, since before the evolution of homo sapiens. From a report: Holthaus spotted the new high on Sunday when it was tweeted out by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which measures daily CO2 rates at Mauna Loa along with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Measurements have been ongoing since the program was started in 1958 by the late Charles David Keeling, for whom the Keeling Curve, a graph of increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, is named. "This is the first time in human history our planet's atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2," Holthaus said in a widely shared tweet. "Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago," added Holthaus.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Indian video streaming giant Hotstar, owned by Disney, today set a new global benchmark for the number of people an OTT service can draw to a live event. From a report: Some 18.6 million users simultaneously tuned into Hotstar's website and app to watch the deciding game of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. The streaming giant, which competes with Netflix and Amazon in India, broke its own "global best" 10.3 million concurrent views milestone that it had set last year. Hotstar topped the 10 million concurrent viewership mark a number of times during this year's 51-day IPL season. More than 12.7 million viewers huddled to watch an earlier game in the tournament, a spokesperson for the four-year-old service said. In mid-April, Hotstar said that the cricket series had already garnered a 267 million overall viewership, creating a new record for the streamer. (Last year's IPL had clocked a 202 million overall viewership.) These figures coming out of India, the fastest-growing internet market, are astounding to say the least. In comparison, a 2012 live stream of skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumping from near-space to the Earth's surface, remains the most concurrently viewed video on YouTube. It amassed about 8 million concurrent viewers.Read Replies (0)