By BeauHD from Slashdot's checks-and-balances department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: More than 100 U.S. mayors have signed a pledge to hold internet service providers accountable for net neutrality violations, despite the FCC's vote to repeal the regulations late last year. The pledge, initiated by Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York City, Steve Adler of Austin, and Ted Wheeler of Portland, promises that cities will refuse to do business with ISPs that violate net neutrality standards. The mayors, brought together by a coalition of open internet advocates, including Free Press, Demand Progress, and Daily Kos, have accused FCC Chairman Ajit Pai of caving to corporate interests by giving companies such as AT&T and Verizon the power to "block, throttle and slow access to sites and services at will." A complete list of the cities taking the pledge is available on the campaign's website. At time of writing, nearly 80,000 letters have been sent urging mayors across the country to participate.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-battlefield department
john of sparta shares a report from Yahoo: American forces in Syria are increasingly facing attacks from Russian and Syrian electronic warfare weapons, as Moscow uses the conflict to test its future arsenal. General Raymond Thomas, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said that Syria has become "the most aggressive electronic warfare environment on the planet," Breakingdefense.com reported. Speaking at a geospatial intelligence conference in Florida, Gen. Thomas said that Russian and Syrian regime forces "are testing us everyday, knocking our communications down, disabling our [EC-130 aircraft]."
The Lockheed Martin EC-130 Compass Call is one of America's most advanced electronic warfare weapons. Based on the C-130 Hercules, the plane was developed to disrupt enemy communications, radar and command operations. The craft's presence in Syrian skies gives Russia the chance to test its weapons against the best the U.S. has to offer, whether directly or through its Syrian allies. Earlier this month, four anonymous officials told NBC News that Russia has also been regularly targeting smaller U.S. surveillance drones. One of those quoted said Russian operations were having a significant impact on U.S. capabilities. The sophisticated attacks were even successful against encrypted signals and anti-jamming devices, the official said. Slashdot reader john of sparta adds, "Well, it's war; not a surprise..."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-deceoption department
Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin sheds some light on the world of paid impersonators on dating apps like Tinder. Here's an excerpt from the report: Every morning I wake up to the same routine. I log into the Tinder account of a 45-year-old man from Texas -- a client. I flirt with every woman in his queue for 10 minutes, sending their photos and locations to a central database of potential "Opportunities." For every phone number I get, I make $1.75. I'm what's called a "Closer" for the online-dating service ViDA (Virtual Dating Assistants). Men and women (though mostly men) from all over the world pay this company to outsource the labor and tedium of online dating. The matches I speak to on behalf of the Texan man and other clients have no idea they're chatting with a professional.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that these ghostwriting services exist. Tinder alone produces more than 12 million matches a day, and if you're a heterosexual American, you now have a one in three chance of meeting your future husband or wife online. But as e-romance hits an all-time high, our daily dose of rejection, harassment, and heartbreak creeps upward, too. Once you mix in the vague rules of netiquette and a healthy fear of catfishing scams, it's easy to see why someone might want to outsource their online-dating profile to a pro, if only to keep themselves sane. But where does the digital social assistant end and the con artist begin?Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's red-light-green-light department
The Trump administration plans to freeze Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards starting in 2021, according to a report from The Washington Post. The report says the Trump administration "would go even further by restricting a state's ability to set its own fuel standards, which would be a strike against California and its strict state-specific emissions rules," reports The Verge. From the report: The proposal has been reportedly drafted by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, and the plan right now is to freeze standards for cars and light trucks at levels set for the year 2021 and keep them their for five years. The Obama administration's rules, which involved a partnership with California and car makers, set standards at 50 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2025. Obama also, through the Clean Air Act, granted California a waiver to set its own, higher standards. That way, if automobile manufacturers wanted to maintain a presence in the lucrative California market, they'd have to abide by the new rules. The Trump administration now says a separate law overrules that arrangement, The Washington Post reports.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's artificially-suppressed department
A new study, published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that exposure to the kind of blue light emitted by outdoor LEDs, smartphones and tablets may increase your risk of breast or prostate cancer. The study compared previous exposure to artificial lights at night between approximately 2,000 breast or prostate cancer patients and approximately 2,000 controls living in Barcelona and Madrid. Slashdot reader al0ha writes: This study seems to say that exposure to LED light temperatures higher than 3,000 Kelvin suppresses melatonin because it contains increased blue light, and at least one city (Davis, California) has gone to the expense of removing higher temperature LED lights and replacing them with ones that have lower color temperatures. Specifically, the study found that "those exposed to high levels of outdoor blue light at night had around a 1.5-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer and a twofold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, compared with those who were less exposed," reports CNN. "Men exposed to high levels of indoor artificial light also had 2.8-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the study."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's apples-and-oranges department
For the second year in a row, a study found that Google's digital assistant is smarter than Amazon's assistant, Alexa. The study does note that Alexa is catching up and was far and away the most improved from 2017 and 2018. CNET reports the findings: Digital marketing company Stone Temple released the results of its 2018 smart speaker quiz earlier this week. It did a similar test last year in which it asked digital assistants roughly 5,000 questions to see which assistants answer the most correctly. For the first time this year, Stone Temple asked the questions separately to Google Assistant on the company's Home smart speaker, and an Assistant-equipped phone. The study found that Google Assistant attempts the most responses, and gets the most attempted responses correct. Strangely, Assistant performed even better on a phone than on a smart speaker. Surprisingly, Microsoft's Cortana took second place, with Alexa trailing both and Siri lagging far behind the rest. Alexa doubled the number of questions it was able to answer from 2017 and Microsoft's assistant improved as well, with Google holding relatively steady at the top while its competition catches up.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Three babies with a rare genetic disorder have been spared the worst effects of their condition thanks to an experimental injection they received in utero, researchers report this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. The success marks the first time a genetic disorder has been partially reversed by such a treatment prior to birth. The in utero injections treated a rare, recessive genetic condition called X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (XLHED), which affects the development of skin, hair, nails, and teeth. People with the disorder have sparse body and head hair, dry eyes, mouths, and airways, and few teeth, which are usually pointy. But most dangerously, the condition also disrupts development of sweat glands throughout the body. People with XLHED have fewer sweat glands and/or poorly functioning ones. This leaves individuals vulnerable to high fevers and over-heating (hyperthermia), which can be life-threatening and lead to medical complications.
For the new experimental treatment, the researchers realized that it all came down to timing. Humans develop sweat glands much earlier in their development, generally between the 20th and 30th week of pregnancy. To prevent XLHED from wreaking havoc, the researchers needed to deliver the protein prior to birth. After testing the idea for safety and efficacy in mice and monkeys, doctors in Germany got a compassionate-use approval to try it in a 38-year-old pregnant woman. She had a family history of XLHED, a young son with the condition, and was found to be carrying twin boys with it, too. [...] The researchers will track the babies' development to see if the effects are permanent, but data from animals suggests that they will be.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Carmakers have big plans for their next generation of factories: smarter designs, artificial intelligence and collaborative robots building a wide range of vehicles on the same line. From a report: The plants will also feature a component they say is the secret ingredient to flexible manufacturing: humans. SAIC-GM's factory in Shanghai, which opened in 2016, is one of the world's most advanced auto plants, assembling Buick minivans and Cadillac sedans and SUVs, including the CT-6 plug-in hybrid for U.S. consumers. GM's Shanghai plant is expected to eventually produce new electric vehicles, primarily for the Chinese market, executives have said. The plant, which GM operates with Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, feels almost like a scene from a Star Wars film, with battalions of machines quietly working in self-directed harmony. Collaborative robots, or "cobots," painted matte green and unrestrained by the steel cages that surround their larger industrial cousins, are being programmed to work alongside humans on the line. One unusual operation advanced models now handle is installing gears in transmissions.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's winging-it department
On the sidelines of Gmail's big refresh push, Google also released a new app called Google Tasks. It's a simple app that aims to help users manage their work and home tasks. But it's being talked about for one more reason. From a blog post: Unlike most of their other apps, though, Tasks uses an inconsistent mix of Roboto, their old brand typeface, and Product Sans, their new one. The two faces don't look good together -- it's like when Apple shipped apps that used both Helvetica and Lucida Grande. According to their announcement of Product Sans and their new logo, the typeface was supposed to be used in promotional materials and lockups, but there's no mention of it being used for product UIs. In fact, the only other product I can find that has this same inconsistent mix is the new Gmail.com, also previewed today. It isn't just about what these typefaces look like, either, but how they're used. For example, when entering a new task, the name of the task is set in Product Sans; when it is added to the list, it becomes Roboto. Tapping on the task takes you to a details view where, now, the name of the task is in Product Sans. There are three options to add more information: if you want to add details, you'll do it in Roboto, but adding a due date will be in Product Sans. The "add subtasks" button -- well, text in the same grey as everything else except other buttons that are blue -- is set in Product Sans, but the tasks are set in Roboto.Read Replies (0)