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Microsoft's Looking To Reboot Mobile with New Software and Hardware: Sources
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-dead-yet department:
Long time Microsoft watcher Brad Sams, reporting today: Two independent sources inside of Microsoft have told me that there is a new hardware device being tested internally and that there is also a separate branch of Windows Mobile for this device. I have been hearing about the software update for some time and the added hardware component makes sense as the company is pursuing "new experiences" with this device. Additionally, the UI is expected to be different than what we know today as Windows Mobile but the exact changes are still evolving as we are in the early days of development of this experience. There may also be another 'cut' in the support for older applications with the new mobile experience. I have heard, but am not able to fully confirm at this time, that Silverlight applications may not longer work with the updated OS.

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Hotels Now See Online Travel Sites as Rivals
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-dynamics department:
Major hotel chains are engaging in an online turf war with the very travel sites that have helped drive their businesses. From a report: Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental are using extensive marketing campaigns to claw back business from Expedia, Priceline and other travel-booking sites, which steer customers to hotel properties but also take commissions of up to 30% for each reservation. The chains are starting to treat these sites less as valuable business partners and more as gatekeepers standing between them and their customers. Many large hotel brands are offering lower nightly rates and other perks to loyalty members who book directly through their sites instead of online travel agencies. [...] The new battle is the latest episode in a two-decade "frenemy"-style relationship between online travel agencies and the hotel industry. Sites such as Expedia and Priceline were crucial for hotels during down periods such as after 9/11, but they have gradually eaten into the share of overall bookings ever since. Also read: Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains.

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US Supreme Court Protects Consumers' Right To Refill Ink Cartridges In Precedent-Setting Lexmark vs Impression Case
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday companies give up their patent rights when they sell an item, in a ruling that puts new limits on businesses' ability to prevent their products from being resold at a discount. The ruling is a defeat for Lexmark International, which was trying to stop refurbished versions of its printer cartridges from undercutting its U.S. sales. It's also a blow to companies like HP and Canon that sell their printers for a relatively low cost with the idea that they will recoup money on sales of replacement cartridges. From a report: Lexmark originally set its sights on Impression Products, a small company that specializes in remanufacturing print cartridges for resale at prices much lower than what a customer would pay for a "genuine" Lexmark product. These cartridges often have no noticeable difference in performance compared to genuine ink or toner cartridges -- the only real difference is that customers can save a lot of money by going the remanufactured route. This secondary market for cartridges not only has implications for regular Joes looking to save a buck, but also businesses that are always looking to cut costs.

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As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Cheating
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's other-side-of-the-coin department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: College students have flooded into computer science courses across the country, recognizing them as an entree to coveted jobs at companies like Facebook and Google, not to mention the big prize: a start-up worth millions. The exploding interest in these courses, though, has coincided with an undesirable side effect: a spate of high-tech collegiate plagiarism. Students have been caught borrowing computer code from their friends or cribbing it from the internet. "There's a lot of discussion about it, both inside a department as well as across the field," said Randy H. Katz, a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department at the University of California, Berkeley, who discovered in one year that about 100 of his roughly 700 students in one class had violated the course policy on collaborating or copying code. Computer science professors are now delivering stern warnings at the start of each course, and, like colleagues in other subjects, deploy software to flag plagiarism. They have unearthed numerous examples of suspected cheating.

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Instagram CEO On Allegations That His App Has Copied Snapchat
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-they-think department:
It's no secret that Facebook has taken inspiration from Snapchat, an app it couldn't purchase. The flagship features of Snapchat are now available across all of Facebook's owned services. But how do Facebook executives address the accusations that Facebook is copying Snapchat? In a Q&A with WSJ, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said: Stories is definitely similar to Snapchat. I think anyone would say that. The first time you see a product show up somewhere else it feels a lot like copying but imagine a world where the only car was the Ford Model T. I'm really glad there are a lot of car companies producing different cars. Just because they have wheels and windows and AC doesn't mean that you're copying. You've got DreamWorks and Pixar and Disney, they're all doing computer-animated film. That doesn't mean they're copying each other. They're building upon a technology. I would just judge [Stories] based on how many people use it actively, which is over 200 million every day. It clearly provides unique value to people that they're not getting elsewhere.

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Podcast App Breaker Adds Support For JSON Feed, Believes the RSS Alternative Could Benefit Podcast Ecosystem
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:
Erik Michaels-Ober, the creator of popular podcast app Breaker: The decentralized structure of podcasts creates a chicken-and-egg problem for JSON Feed to gain adoption. There's no incentive for podcasters to publish in JSON Feed as long as podcast players don't support it. And there's no incentive for podcast players to support JSON Feed as long as podcasters don't publish in that format. Breaker is hoping to break that stalemate by adding support for JSON Feed in our latest release. As far as we know, Breaker is the first podcast player to do so. Unlike other features that differentiate Breaker, we encourage our competitors to follow our lead in this area. The sooner all podcast players support JSON Feed, the better positioned the entire podcast ecosystem will be for the decades to come. JSON is more compact than XML, making it faster for computers to transfer and parse, while making it easier for humans to read and write. Updating Breaker to support JSON Feed was fun and easy. It took us less than a day from when we started working on it to when the change was submitted to the App Store.

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Intel's Massive 18-core Core i9 Chip Starts a Bloody Battle For Enthusiast PCs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's need-for-speed department:
With Core i9, the Intel vs. AMD battle rages anew. Announced Tuesday at Computex in Taipei, Intel's answer to AMD's 16-core, 32-thread Threadripper is an 18-core, 36-thread monster microprocessor of its own, tailor-made for elite PC enthusiasts. From a report: The Core i9 Extreme Edition i9-7980XE, what Intel calls the first teraflop desktop PC processor ever, will be priced at (gulp!) $1,999 when it ships later this year. In a slightly lower tier will be the meat of the Core i9 family: Core i9 X-series chips in 16-core, 14-core, 12-core, and 10-core versions, with prices climbing from $999 to $1,699. All of these new Skylake-based parts will offer improvements over their older Broadwell-E counterparts: 15 percent faster in single-threaded apps and 10 percent faster in multithreaded tasks, Intel says. If these Core i9 X-series chips -- code-named "Basin Falls" -- are too rich for your blood, Intel also introduced three new Core i7 X-series chips, priced from $339 to $599, and a $242 quad-core Core i5. All of the new chips are due "in the coming weeks," Intel said. Most of the Core i9 chips will incorporate what Intel calls an updated Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, a feature where the chip identifies not just one, but two cores as the "best" cores, and makes them available to be dynamically overclocked to higher speeds when needed. Detailed story at AnandTech and HotHardware.

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PC Market Could Return To Growth in 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's depends-on-how-define-things department:
IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker offers new insight as to why the firm believes the PC market is set for a growth period a few years from now. From a report: Detachable tablets such as Microsoft's Surface line and Apple's iPad Pro will lead the growth as consumers have turned away from laptops in favor of these more versatile computing devices. Last year, 21.5 million of these devices were shipped and the number of units sold could reach as high as 45.9 million in 2021. Notebook computers and mobile workstations are another category that will see continued growth with shipments rising from 156.8 million units in 2016 to 163.7 million by the year 2021. Desktop computers are still decreasing in popularity and that trend is likely to continue with their sales predicted to decrease by 15 million a year leading up to 2021.

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More Than Half of US Workers Didn't Use Up Their Time Off Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 05:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-we-live department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: Americans, famously, take far less vacation time than their European counterparts: less than 17 days, on average, compared to 30 days in France, for example. But for many Americans, that's apparently all the time they need. More than half of all US employees (54%) didn't use all their days off last year, working a combined total of 662 million more days than required. Of those days, 206 million couldn't be rolled over or cashed out, meaning they were forfeited, costing the equivalent of $66 billion, according to a report (PDF) from Project: Time Off, a group funded by the travel industry. While it's a group with a strong interest in promoting more vacations, their findings are still revealing about America's unhealthy reluctance to take time off. Almost 60% of US workers who don't take their allotted vacation say they fear the amount of work they'll have to return to, according to the survey of 7,331 working Americans. Others (47%) say they stay put because they believe no one else can do their job, or because they want to impress their bosses with their dedication (36%).

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Android Creator Andy Rubin Launches Top-of-the-line Essential Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 03:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-phones department:
The much-anticipated smartphone from Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, is here. It's called the Essential Phone, and it runs a custom version of Android. Priced at $699, the Essential Phone offers top-of-the-line specifications including "an edge-to-edge display that one-ups even the Samsung Galaxy S8 by bringing it all the way to the the top of the phone, wrapping around the front-facing selfie camera." From a report on The Verge: It's a unique take on a big screen that makes the phone stand out -- and it's smart too. Often, the status bar at the top of an Android phone doesn't fill that middle space with icons, so it's efficient. The screen does leave some bezel at the bottom of the phone, but nevertheless it's as close to the whole front of a phone being display as I've seen. Essential is launching the phone in the US to start, and it's filled the phone with radios that should make it work on all major carriers, alongside usual Android flagship internals like a Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. [...] Essential will ship a 360-degree camera that can click in to the top of the phone, and the company will also offer a charging dock. Both connect to the phone with small metal pogo pins. They won't entirely replace USB-C for most people, but Essential is clearly hoping that they could someday. Speaking of ports, there is no traditional 3.5mm headphone jack -- which is a bummer. We're told that it will ship with a headphone dongle in the box.

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Get Real, Microsoft: If the New Surface Pro Is a Laptop, Bundle It With a Type Cover
Posted by News Fetcher on May 30 '17 at 12:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's chatter-in-the-hallway department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: If Microsoft sold cars like it's trying to sell its Surface Pro (2017), it would charge extra for wheels -- and would be laughed out of the market. But Microsoft's using this tactic to sell its new Windows tablet as a "laptop," and we're still trying to figure out why. Microsoft's Surface Pro is clearly a Windows tablet, just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. Nevertheless, devices chief Panos Panay calls it a "laptop" no fewer than three times in his blog post, including the very first sentence. No "laptop" or notebook PC forgoes a keyboard, however, as the Surface Pro does. Long-time Surface fans may know that Microsoft charges $129 to $159 more for that accessory, but does the average buyer get it? That's where the confusion starts.

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China To Implement Cyber Security Law From Thursday
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 09:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-here department:
China, battling increased threats from cyber-terrorism and hacking, will adopt from Thursday a controversial law that mandates strict data surveillance and storage for firms working in the country, the official Xinhua news agency said. From a report: The law, passed in November by the country's largely rubber-stamp parliament, bans online service providers from collecting and selling users' personal information, and gives users the right to have their information deleted, in cases of abuse. "Those who violate the provisions and infringe on personal information will face hefty fines," the news agency said on Monday, without elaborating.

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Wikipedia's Switch To HTTPS Has Successfully Fought Government Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 05:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's problem-solved department:
Determining how to prevent acts of censorship has long been a priority for the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, and thanks to new research from the Harvard Center for Internet and Society, the foundation seems to have found a solution: encryption. From a report: HTTPS prevents governments and others from seeing the specific page users are visiting. For example, a government could tell that a user is browsing Wikipedia, but couldn't tell that the user is specifically reading the page about Tiananmen Square. Up until 2015, Wikipedia offered its service using both HTTP and HTTPS, which meant that when countries like Pakistan or Iran blocked the certain articles on the HTTP version of Wikipedia, the full version would still be available using HTTPS. But in June 2015, Wikipedia decided to axe HTTP access and only offer access to its site with HTTPS. [...] The Harvard researchers began by deploying an algorithm which detected unusual changes in Wikipedia's global server traffic for a year beginning in May 2015. This data was then combined with a historical analysis of the daily request histories for some 1.7 million articles in 286 different languages from 2011 to 2016 in order to determine possible censorship events. [...] After a painstakingly long process of manual analysis of potential censorship events, the researchers found that, globally, Wikipedia's switch to HTTPS had a positive effect on the number censorship events by comparing server traffic from before and after the switch in June of 2015.

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India's Ethical Hackers Rewarded Abroad, Ignored at Home
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's other-side-of-India department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: Kanishk Sajnani did not receive so much as a thank you from a major Indian airline when he contacted them with alarming news -- he had hacked their website and could book flights anywhere in the world for free. It was a familiar tale for India's army of "ethical hackers," who earn millions protecting foreign corporations and global tech giants from cyber attacks but are largely ignored at home, their skills and altruism misunderstood or distrusted. India produces more ethical hackers -- those who break into computer networks to expose, rather than exploit, weaknesses -- than anywhere else in the world. The latest data from BugCrowd, a global hacking network, showed Indians raked in the most "bug bounties" -- rewards for red-flagging security loopholes. Facebook, which has long tapped hacker talent, paid more to Indian researchers in the first half of 2016 than any other researchers. Indians outnumbered all other bug hunters on HackerOne, another registry of around 100,000 hackers. One anonymous Indian hacker -- "Geekboy" -- has found more than 700 vulnerabilities for companies like Yahoo, Uber and Rockstar Games. Most are young "techies" -- software engineers swelling the ranks of India's $154-billion IT outsourcing sector whose skill set makes them uniquely gifted at cracking cyber systems.

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Startup Uses AI To Create Programs From Simple Screenshots
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-things department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: A new neural network being built by a Danish startup called UIzard Technologies IVS has created an application that can transform raw designs of graphical user interfaces into actual source code that can be used to build them. Company founder Tony Beltramelli has just published a research paper that reveals how it has achieved that. It uses cutting-edge machine learning technologies to create a neural network that can generate code automatically when it's fed with screenshots of a GUI. The Pix2Code model actually outperforms many human coders because it can create code for three separate platforms, including Android, iOS and "web-based technologies," whereas many programmers are only able to do so for one platform. Pix2Code can create GUIs from screenshots with an accuracy of 77 percent, but that will improve as the algorithm learns more, the founder said.

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Is China Outsmarting America in AI?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-are-panning-out department:
An anonymous reader shares an NYTimes article: Beijing is backing its artificial intelligence push with vast sums of money. Having already spent billions on research programs, China is readying a new multibillion-dollar initiative to fund moonshot projects, start-ups and academic research (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), all with the aim of growing China's A.I. capabilities, according to two professors who consulted with the government on the plan. China's private companies are pushing deeply into the field as well, though the line between government and private in China sometimes blurs. Baidu -- often called the Google of China and a pioneer in artificial-intelligence-related fields, like speech recognition -- this year opened a joint company-government laboratory partly run by academics who once worked on research into Chinese military robots. China is spending more just as the United States cuts back. This past week, the Trump administration released a proposed budget that would slash funding for a variety of government agencies that have traditionally backed artificial intelligence research.

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ARM's New Processors Are Designed To Power the Machine-Learning Machines
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: Official today, the ARM Cortex-A75 is the new flagship-tier mobile processor design, with a claimed 22 percent improvement in performance over the incumbent A73. It's joined by the new Cortex-A55, which has the highest power efficiency of any mid-range CPU ARM's ever designed, and the Mali-G72 graphics processor, which also comes with a 25 percent improvement in efficiency relative to its predecessor G71. The efficiency improvements are evolutionary and predictable, but the revolutionary aspects of this new lineup relate to artificial intelligence: this is the first set of processing components designed specifically to tackle the challenges of onboard AI and machine learning. Plus, last year's updates to improve performance in the power-hugry tasks of augmented and virtual reality are being extended and elaborated. [...] ARM won't just be powering machine learning with its new chips, it'll benefit from ML too. The new designs benefit from an improved branch predictor that uses neural network algorithms to improve data prefetching and overall performance.

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India Tech Giant Warns Trump's 'Radical Shift' to Hurt Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's 'radical-shift' department:
The vice chairman at Tech Mahindra, one of India's largest technology services companies warned that U.S. President Donald Trump's visa policies will damage the industry as his company reported weak earnings and his stock fell the most in almost two years. From a report: Tech Mahindra said net income was 5.9 billion rupees ($91 million) in the fourth quarter, compared with the average analyst estimate of 7.8 billion, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. is tightening the criteria for visa programs that Tech Mahindra and other outsourcing companies use to bring skilled foreign workers into the country. Trump and other politicians have criticized the programs for hurting American workers and allowing companies to use cheaper employees from abroad. Tech services companies, including Cognizant Technology Solutions, have been cutting positions in India. Some workers have blamed Trump for prompting the job losses and exacerbating problems in the industry.

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Apple Co-founder Thinks Apple Is Now Too Big a Company To Come Up With the Next Big Thing
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
When it comes to the next great tech breakthroughs, Steve Wozniak isn't betting on the company he founded. Instead, he believes Tesla is at the forefront of anticipating the world to come. From a report: Interviewed by Bloomberg on what are likely to be the biggest tech breakthroughs in the coming years, and which companies are likely to make them, Woz didn't list Apple as a contender. He said, "look at the companies like Google and Facebook and Apple and Microsoft that changed the world -- and Tesla included. They usually came from young people. They didn't spring out of big businesses." Small businesses, he argued, take bigger risks -- and their founders create the products they really want, without the dilution that occurs with multiple decision-makers. "I think Tesla is on the best direction right now. They've put an awful lot of effort into very risky things. I'm going to bet on Tesla," he added.

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UK Tech Visas Quadruple After Applications Soar
Posted by News Fetcher on May 29 '17 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's as-expected department:
James Timcomb, writing for The Telegraph: Technology industry demands for special measures to let companies hire foreign workers after Brexit have been boosted by a surge in demand for technology visas. Tech City UK, the government organisation that processes applications for the dedicated "Tier 1 Exceptional Talent" visa, said successful applications had more than quadrupled in the last 12 months, with 260 endorsed in the last fiscal year. It follows fears in the British tech community that access to skilled computer coders would be hit by restrictions to freedom of movement when the UK leaves the EU. David Cameron introduced the tech visa scheme in 2014 in a bid to make London the technology capital of Europe and rival Silicon Valley as a destination for start-ups, and amid fears of a shortage of skilled coders in the UK. The "Tech Nation" visa scheme allows Tech City UK to endorse applications from non-EU workers, and lets successful applicants stay in the country for five years, after which they can apply to settle. Just a handful of visas were granted in its first few months, due to what were seen as onerous requirements, and the rules were relaxed in 2015. Applications have soared since then, and rose again after the Brexit vote.

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