By EditorDavid from Slashdot's judge-dread department
An anonymous reader writes: Judge Stephen Wm. Smith argues that questions about the government's "golden age of surveillance" miss an equally significant trend: that the U.S. Courts are "going dark". In a new editorial, he writes that "Before the digital age, executed search warrants were routinely placed on the court docket available for public inspection," but after the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, more than 30,000 secret court surveillance orders were given just in 2006. He predicts that today's figure is more than double, "And those figures do not include surveillance orders obtained by state and local authorities, who handle more than 15 times the number of felony investigations that the feds do. Based on that ratio, the annual rate of secret surveillance orders by federal and state courts combined could easily exceed half a million."
Judge Smith also cites an increase in cases -- even civil cases -- that are completely sealed, but also an increase in "private arbitration" and other ways of resolving disputes which are shielded from the public eye. "Employers, Internet service providers, and consumer lenders have led a mass exodus from the court system. By the click of a mouse or tick of a box, the American public is constantly inveigled to divert the enforcement of its legal rights to venues closed off from public scrutiny. Justice is becoming privatized, like so many other formerly public goods turned over to invisible hands -- electricity, water, education, prisons, highways, the military." The judge's conclusion? "Over the last 40 years, secrecy in all aspects of the judicial process has risen to literally unprecedented levels. "Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's now-Mario-retires department
An anonymous reader writes:
Standing in front on a Donkey Kong arcade cabinet, Wes Copeland set a new all-time high score on Thursday, playing Donkey Kong for 3 hours, 20 minutes, and scoring 1,218,000 points."It's how he took the title, though that's so staggering," reports Polygon. "Copeland did not lose a single Mario in the game. He took his first life all the way from the first level all the way to the end, cashing in the extra lives to obliterate all comers." Since the game ends after 22 levels, it will be difficult to surpass Copeland's "perfect game".
For comparison, Steve Wiebe set a high score in 2007 with just 695,500 points in the documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," eventually bumping his score up to 1,064,500 by 2010. But Thursday, posting a picture of his new high score on Facebook, Copeland announced that "This will be my last record score. I don't believe I can put up a game any higher than this."Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's cost-cutting department
Not everything is working out at Dropbox, popular cloud storage and sharing service, last valued at $10 billion. Business Insider is reporting a major cost cutting at the San Francisco-based company. As part of it, the publication reports, Dropbox has cancelled its free shuttle in San Francisco, its gym washing service, pushed back dinner time by an hour and curtailed the number of guests to five per month (previously it was unlimited). These cuttings will directly impact Dropbox's profitability. According to a leaked memo, obtained by BI, employee perks alone cost the company at least $25,000 a year for each employee. (Dropbox has nearly 1,500 employees.) From the report: Dropbox isn't the only high-profile startup to unleash a company wide cost-cutting campaign lately. A number of unicorn startups, worth over $1 billion, including Evernote, Jawbone, and Tango, have all gone through some form of cost cuts, whether layoffs, office closures, or reduced employee perks. [...] A lot of this has to do with the slowing venture funding environment in Silicon Valley. Investors have become much more conservative with their money lately, and are losing patience for startups that have failed to generate returns after years of free spending. For Dropbox, the cost cuts may have less to do with the state of the VC market than with its own ambitions. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has repeatedly said in the past that he doesn't need to raise capital in the private market anymore. Instead, Dropbox may want to show investors that its business is strong enough to IPO.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's do-not-pass-Go department
"A new system called 'video visitation' is replacing in-person jail visits with glitchy, expensive Skype-like video calls," reports Tech.Mic. "It's inhumane, dystopian and actually increases in-prison violence -- but god, it makes money."
Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes: In-person costs a lot to administer, while you can charge people to 'visit' via video conferencing. (Charge as in overcharge -- just like they charge up to $14 a minute for normal, audio only telephone calls). This is new, and the few studies that have been done show that doing this increases violence in the prison -- and it's believed to also increase recidivism. But the companies making a ton on it like that -- repeat customers and all. Of course, the service is horrible, often being full of static and dropped calls -- and the company doesn't help you fix the problem.
Meanwhile, the EFF reports that last year Facebook disabled 53 U.S prisoner and 74 U.K. prisoner accounts at the request of the government, and is urging people to report takedown requests for inmate social media to OnlineCensorship.org.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's freshly-minted department
An anonymous reader quotes this report from Distrowatch: Linux Mint 18 will no longer provide separate, codec-free installation media for OEM and magazine distribution. Instead, the distribution will ship without multimedia support while making it easy for users to acquire media codecs during the initial installation of the operating system. "OEM installation disks and NoCodec images will no longer be released. Instead, similar to other distributions, images will ship without codecs and will support both traditional and OEM installations. This will reduce our release cycle to 4 separate events and the production and testing of 12 ISO images. Multimedia codecs can be installed easily: From the welcome screen, by clicking on "Multimedia Codecs", or from the main menu, by clicking on "Menu"->"Sound and Video"->"Install Multimedia Codecs", or during the installation process, by clicking a checkbox option." Additional information on the upcoming release of Linux Mint 18 can be found in the project's monthly newsletter.
Softpedia points out that they're using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as the package base, meaning "more hardware devices and components are now supported."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's answer-is-42 department
Slashdot reader smugfunt shares a blog post from systems scientist George Mobus:
"There is a fundamental language of systems that provides a way to describe both structures and functions that is universal across any kind of system... I am nearing completion of the basic specification of the language and will be presenting my results at the next ISSS conference in Boulder CO this July... This language, which I formally call SL, but privately call "systemese", is like the machine language of the universe. Any system you choose to analyze and model can be described in this language...! The beauty of the approach is that the end product of analysis is a compilable program that is the model of the system. The language does not just cover dynamics (e.g. system dynamics), or agents (agent-based), or evolutionary (e.g., genetic algorithms) models. It incorporates all of the above plus real adaptivity and learning (e.g. biological-like), and real evolvability (as when species or corporations evolve in complex non-stationary environments)... Systemese and mentalese (the language of thought), a concept advanced by philosopher of mind Jerry Fodor, are basically one in the same! That is, our brains, at a subconscious level, use systemese to construct our models of how the world works.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's does-Siri-dream-of-electric-sheep? department
An anonymous coward writes: Susan Bennett, the actress who provided the voice of Apple's Siri assistant, says she "doesn't really" use Siri herself. "It's too weird," she says in a new interview. While she uses many Apple products, "I'm used to hearing my voice on radio and TV commercials and that sort of thing, but to hear my own voice coming out of this little computer phone is too strange."
Bennett says she recorded every sound combination in the English language one fateful July in 2005, working five days a week, four hours a day, but didn't know it was for Siri until six years later, in 2011, when another voice actor e-mailed,"Hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone. Isn't this you?" Bennett says she was "kind of horrified, because I hadn't been told... On the other hand, I was extremely flattered."
In the interview she also says she felt "dissed" when Siri answered one of her first questions, "What are you doing," with a disgusted "I'm talking to you..." Although on her personal web site, Bennett shares a recording of herself being interviewed by Siri.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's clean-Slate department
Long-time Slashdot reader robot5x writes: I'm a fan of online privacy and, where possible, don't automatically permit cookies and tend to set Ghostery to block all trackers in my browser. This rarely causes a problem -- I have lots of subscriptions to various sites which require me to login and have only rarely encountered minor issues. Recently I had a present of a Slate Plus membership. I really like their content and was keen on supporting it financially. Activating it from the email they sent required me to first register as a user. I clicked on the icon, and nothing happened. Ghostery picked up 7 trackers which I had blocked.
Assuming that one of these was the cause, I activated each in turn and reloaded. None of them made any difference, except a single tracker from JanRain. Accepting this tracker let everything work perfectly. Reading more about JanRain though -- and particularly its interaction with Adobe analytics (which it also tries to load) -- I discovered that they wanted to "create a holistic view of your business by collecting, analyzing and reporting all customer interactions. To derive the most actionable insights, you must link your customers' actions with who they are and what their interests are. Janrain bridges the gap by connecting demographic and psychographic data, collected through traditional and social login, with Adobe's behavioral data, so you understand the whole customer journey". I do not want them to do any of this, and don't think I should have to. Interactions with Slate's 'support' were excruciating and -- while they at least didn't ask me to restart my computer -- they actually ended up saying that allowing these trackers is tied to their login process and I have to either accept or get a refund.
Robot 5x asks: Is it unacceptable to have to accept being tracked as a paying customer for new sites? "Or am I just being a big baby?"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-than-one department
HughPickens.com writes: Tucows began as a software downloads site nearly 25 years ago and has since evolved beyond that early core business and into domain names, mobile phone service and symmetrical gigabit fiber Internet in select towns and cities in the US. Now Tucows has announced that as a gesture of goodwill, Tucows has banned deceptive ads, hidden download buttons, pop-ups, flypaper, toolbars and other such Internet nastiness from the the nearly 40,000 software titles it hosts for users on it's download sites. "On the Tucows downloads site today, you'll find no flashing ads. No toolbars. No pop-ups," says CEO Elliot Noss. "You might see a few plugs for other Tucows services, but nothing too egregious and certainly not anything that's pretending to be a download button." With Tucows' success in domain names, mobile phone service (Ting) and fiber Internet (Ting Internet), Tucows' revenue from downloads has become less relevant when looking at the balance sheet. "We don't lightly walk away from opportunities or revenue," says Noss. "In the end, though, we'd rather have the Tucows name associated with good; with a belief in the power of the Internet to affect positive change. An ad-heavy site that packages browser toolbars along with every download isn't something we want people to think of when they hear 'Tucows,'."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moment-of-silence department
New submitter loren writes: It is with much sadness that I report that legendary sound designer Jory K. Prum, who worked on more than 120 video game titles, passed away April 22, 2016, at age 41, from injuries suffered in a March traffic accident. (Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of Jory and his family.) Here are some personal recollections from family, friends and colleagues... Also, a list of his game credits are on MobyGames. This post doesn't do him justice, but I found news of his loss conspicuously absent on Slashdot.
Back in 2006 a Slashdot article about the game Bone apparently drew a comment from Jory himself ("Funny, I'm recording the dialog for Bone 2 right as I read this!") and in 2004 the same account weighed in on an article about long hours at Electronic Arts. Wikipedia also reports that in 2001 Jory created a voice for Pixar's Oscar-winning short "For the Birds," and in 2014 recovered the aging audio for the classic point-and-click adventure game Grim Fandango.Read Replies (0)