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Another Crowdfunded Startup Takes Customers' Money, Then Shuts Downs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '17 at 12:20 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's money-for-nothing department:
An anonymous reader quotes the Bay Area Newsgroup:
A Bay Area startup that promised to give music lovers state-of-the-art wireless earphones is instead closing its doors, becoming the latest in a string of crowd-funded companies to take customers' money and shut down without shipping a product. San Francisco-based Kanoa ran out of capital and shut down this week, leaving in the lurch scores of customers who paid $150 or more to pre-order high-tech earphones they never received. The company emailed customers on Wednesday to break the bad news, directing them to a letter posted on the Kanoa website...
Kanoa is just the latest local crowdfunded company to disappoint customers. Last summer San Francisco-based startup Skully imploded, to the dismay of 3,000 customers who paid $1,500 each for high-tech motorcycle helmets they never received. In February, Lily Robotics, another San Francisco-based startup, filed for bankruptcy. Unlike Skully and Kanoa, Lily promised to reimburse the more than 60,000 customers who paid for but never received its camera drones.

In a letter online the company claimed they are "in negotiations" with potential investors, "and also large tech companies on an acquisition" -- but unless and until funding materializes, "we do not have enough capital to stay operational..."

"We know you are disappointed, and can only ask that you understand that we genuinely tried."

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Streaming Glitches Delay Massively Hyped Mayweather-McGregor Boxing Match
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 09:40 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's knocked-out department:
"After initial indications the main event would commence at 11:15 p.m ET, it didnâ(TM)t get started until nearly one hour later," reports Variety.
An anonymous reader quotes CNET:
Saturday's much hyped fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC champion Conor McGregor drew fans from all walks of life, even those who'd never typically watch a standard boxing match. But when some of those fans settled in to watch the spectacle, beverage and snacks in hand, they found themselves in a world of hurt. Watching the fight wasn't cheap (nearly $100 on pay-per-view), so naturally, those who had technical issues as fight time neared -- on whatever platform -- were fighting mad. At 6:28 p.m. PT, as the undercard matches preceding the event aired, the UFC admitted on Twitter it was having technical issues with its Fight Pass streaming service due to the overwhelming interest in the bout.

ESPN confirms that the much-hyped event was "delayed due to pay-per-view outages."

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Germany Tests Facial-Recognition Surveillance On 300 Citizens
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 05:43 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's facing-up department:
An anonymous reader quotes DW:
Earlier this year, with no shortage of publicity, Berlin police found volunteers to participate in a test of a prototype facial-recognition system at Sudkreuz station. The system seeks to match images of people on CCTV cameras with pictures of the volunteers in a test database. Volunteers also wear transponders providing information about their whereabouts. Comparing the two sets of data will give a good indication of whether the technology is of any use.
Another DW article reports the six-month test is attracting criticism:
Germany's interior minister is pleased with the initial results, but critics are wary of increased surveillance... The 300 testers who volunteered for the project carry a transponder that apparently only transmits data on ambient temperature, battery status and signal strength, according to the project staff member in the Sudkreuz station control room who explained the technology to [German Interior Minister Thomas] de Maiziere. But [activist Paul] Gerstenkorn contends the angle and acceleration of the testers are recorded as well... For German Data Protection Commissioner Andrea Vosshoff, the fact that active and not passive technology is being used is going too far. Unlike a passive chip, the transponder constantly transmits information that anyone can collect with the help of freeware available on the internet.
< article continued at Slashdot's facing-up department >

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Who's Responsible For IoT Security?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 04:23 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's internet-of-hackable-things department:
"It is much too easy to connect devices and industrial equipment to the internet," writes an anonymous Slashdot reader. But what's the solution -- and who's to blame for the abundance of insecure IoT devices? Network World examined the conclusions in a paper titled "The Internet of Hackable Things" [PDF].

The authors say the IoT security problem is not a technological one; it's cultural... "A security culture is nearly non-existent in our society... developers must be educated to adopt the best practices for securing their IoT devices within the particular application domain; the general public must be educated to take security seriously, too, which among other things will fix the problem of not changing default password."
The anonymous reader who submitted this story argued that "IoT product makers do not need a deeply skilled team because component makers have made it so easy to connect anything to the internet. Maybe the responsibility for strong security should rest with chip makers like Intel, Freescale and Qualcomm." Leave your own opinions in the comments. Who is ultimately responsible for IoT security?

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Microsoft Claims PowerShell Now More Secure
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 03:04 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's because-now-your-breaches-are-logged department:
An anonymous reader quotes Wired:
Last year, well over a third of the incidents assessed by security firm Carbon Black and its partners involved some sort of PowerShell component. But as network defenders catch on to Microsoft's recent release of additional PowerShell protections, the attack sequences that exploit PowerShell are finding some long-overdue resistance... PowerShell 5.0, released last year, added a full suite of expanded logging tools... While it's no panacea, and doesn't keep attackers out, the renewed focus on logging aids flagging and detection. It's a baseline step that helps remediation and response after an attack is over, or if it persists long-term... And PowerShell's recent defense improvements go beyond logs. The framework also recently added "constrained language mode," to create even more control over what commands PowerShell users can execute... The security industry at large has also made strides to determine what baseline normal activity for PowerShell looks like, since deviations could indicate malicious behavior.

Lee Holmes, Microsoft's principal software design engineer for PowerShell, says they've been "laser-focused on security since the very first version," adding that they're now moving towards a more enlightened approach.

"You can focus harder on protecting against breaches and defense in depth, but the enlightened approach is to assume breach and build the muscle on detection and remediation -- make sure that you're really thinking about security end-to-end in a holistic manner."

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New Kind of Gravitational Wave Source Detected?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 03:04 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-a-black-hole department:
"Scientists possibly detected an entirely different type of gravitational wave [source]," writes schwit1. "Gossip over potential detection of colliding neutron stars has astronomers in a tizzy," reports Nature:
Astrophysicists may have detected gravitational waves last week from the collision of two neutron stars in a distant galaxy -- and telescopes trained on the same region might also have spotted the event. Rumours to that effect are spreading fast online, much to researchers' excitement. Such a detection could mark a new era of astronomy: one in which phenomena are both seen by conventional telescopes and 'heard' as vibrations in the fabric of space-time. "It would be an incredible advance in our understanding," says Stuart Shapiro, an astrophysicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign...
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington state has three times detected gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of space-time -- emerging from colliding black holes. But scientists have been hoping to detect ripples from another cosmic cataclysm, such as the merger of neutron stars, remnants of large stars that exploded but were not massive enough to collapse into a black hole.
One astronomer tweeted last week that "merging neutron-neutron star is the initial call," while Nature adds that the same rumor had already been circulating privately, according to "some astronomers who do not want to be identified."
Friday Ligo announced cautiously that "We are working hard to assure that the candidates are valid gravitational-wave events, and it will require time to establish the level of confidence needed to bring any results to the scientific community and the greater public. We will let you know as soon we have information ready to share."

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New Kind of Gravitational Wave Detected?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 01:43 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-a-black-hole department:
"Scientists possibly detected an entirely different type of gravitational wave," writes schwit1. "Gossip over potential detection of colliding neutron stars has astronomers in a tizzy," reports Nature:
Astrophysicists may have detected gravitational waves last week from the collision of two neutron stars in a distant galaxy -- and telescopes trained on the same region might also have spotted the event. Rumours to that effect are spreading fast online, much to researchers' excitement. Such a detection could mark a new era of astronomy: one in which phenomena are both seen by conventional telescopes and 'heard' as vibrations in the fabric of space-time. "It would be an incredible advance in our understanding," says Stuart Shapiro, an astrophysicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign...
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington state has three times detected gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of space-time -- emerging from colliding black holes. But scientists have been hoping to detect ripples from another cosmic cataclysm, such as the merger of neutron stars, remnants of large stars that exploded but were not massive enough to collapse into a black hole.
One astronomer tweeted last week that "merging neutron-neutron star is the initial call," while Nature adds that the same rumor had already been circulating privately, according to "some astronomers who do not want to be identified."
Friday Ligo announced cautiously that "We are working hard to assure that the candidates are valid gravitational-wave events, and it will require time to establish the level of confidence needed to bring any results to the scientific community and the greater public. We will let you know as soon we have information ready to share."

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Employers Want More Open Source Workers, Says Linux Foundation Study
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 12:23 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sharing-the-software department:
As in past years, "Open source is professionalizing, and employers are seeking staff with demonstrable skills," says the executive director of the Linux Foundation, describing the results of a new study with Dice.com. An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
According to the two groups' 2017 Open Source Jobs Survey and Report, "Not only do 89 percent of hiring managers report difficulty in finding qualified talent for open source roles, but 58 percent report needing to hire more open source professionals in the next six months than in the six months prior"... Seventy percent of employers, up from 66 percent in 2016, are hunting for workers with cloud experience. Web technologies placed second, with 67 percent of hiring managers hunting for workers with JavaScript and related skills. This is up five percent from last year's 62 percent. The demand for Linux talent remains strong. Sixty-five percent of hiring managers are looking for Linux experts. That's down slightly from 2016's 71 percent.

The three most common positions that they're looking to fill are developer, DevOps engineer, and systems administrator, according to the study, and "a growing number of companies (60 percent) are looking for full-time hires, compared with 53 percent last year.

"Nearly half (47 percent) of companies will pay for employees to become open-source certified."

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Tasers Implicated In Far More Deaths Than We Previously Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 12:23 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's seriously-don't-tase-me-bro department:
tedlistens writes: Independent studies have showed that when deployed correctly -- according to "guidelines" manufacturer Axon offers to police -- Tasers reduce injuries among both officers and the people they subdue. But amid a lack of official data about their use and effects, a new report by Reuters found 1,005 incidents in the U.S. in which people died after police stunned them with the electrical weapons, most since the early 2000s. The Taser was ruled to be a cause or contributing factor in 153 of those deaths -- far more than the 24 cases the company has counted. Reuters found that 9 in 10 of those who died were unarmed and one in four suffered from mental illness or neurological disorders; In 9 of every 10 incidents reviewed, the deceased was unarmed; More than 100 of the fatal encounters began with a 911 call for help during a medical emergency. Earlier this year, Axon rebranded, dropping the name Taser International to underscore its focus on body cameras and digital evidence, which is meant in part to add new transparency to fatal police encounters.

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China Plans To Launch the World's First 'Unhackable' Quantum Communication Network
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 11:03 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's great-firewall department:
An anonymous reader quotes Phys.org:
China is about to launch the Jinan Project, the world's first unhackable computer network, and a major milestone in the development of quantum technology... the network is planned to be fully operational by the end of August 2017... By launching the network, China will become the first country worldwide to implement quantum technology for a real life, commercial end. It also highlights that China is a key global player in the rush to develop technologies based on quantum principles, with the EU and the United States also vying for world leadership in the field.
The network, known as a quantum key distribution (QKD) network, is more secure than widely used electronic communication equivalents. Unlike a conventional telephone or internet cable, which can be tapped without the sender or recipient being aware, a QKD network alerts both users to any tampering with the system as soon as it occurs. This is because tampering immediately alters the information being relayed, with the disturbance being instantly recognisable. Once fully implemented, it will make it almost impossible for other governments to listen in on Chinese communications... It will be the world's longest land-based quantum communications network, stretching over 2,000 km.

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Amazon Tests Two-Hour Booze Delivery In 12 US Cities
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 11:03 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's drinking-without-driving department:
An anonymous reader quotes SFGate:
Thanks to the Prime Now service, Amazon will now deliver booze to the home, failing house party, mundane family brunch, or other occasion of Prime members in the Bay Area. While Prime Now (a delivery service that comes with a $99 annual Prime membership) is available in 30 different cities across the U.S., the alcohol delivery service can only be accessed in a select 12 of those 30, including San Francisco... Two-hour delivery on booze is free of charge, but if you find yourself in a truly desperate situation, one-hour delivery is available for an extra $7.99. ID's are checked upon delivery by couriers. A minimum of $30 is required for a delivery, which shouldn't be a problem to hit seeing that prices are slightly higher than standard for what you'd find in your corner liquor store. $26 for a 12-pack of Coronas, $15 for a six-pack of Angry Orchard, and $23 for a bottle of chardonnay, for example... Delivery hours match those of regular Prime Now services, which run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Amazon is competing with local liquor-delivery services in the Bay Area, according to the article, as well local services in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Amazon began testing liquor deliveries in March in two Ohio cities, then slowly began rolling it out to more, according to Food & Wine magazine (which has a complete list of the 12 cities). "Unlike other markets such as Seattle, which was the first to get alcohol delivery via Prime Now back in 2015, and Manhattan, which just got Prime Now alcohol delivery this past June, Portland can only order beer and wine, and not spirits, through the service. If Portlanders want spirits in a hurry, they'll have to hunt it down a different way like some sort of bourbon-loving caveman."

Amazon is also testing two-hour liquor deliveries in Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Richmond, Virginia.

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Science Fiction Author Brian Aldiss Dies Aged 92
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 09:43 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cultural-breaks department:
Long-time Slashdot reader Freshly Exhumed writes:

Acclaimed Science Fiction author Brian Aldiss, first published in the 1950s, has died at the age of 92. Aldiss wrote such science fiction classics as Non-Stop, Hothouse and Greybeard, as well as the Helliconia trilogy, winning the Hugo and Nebula prizes for science fiction and fantasy, an honorary doctorate from the University of Reading, the title of grand master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and an OBE for services to literature. Tributes from contemporaries and younger authors have been plentiful.

In 1969 Aldiss published the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" (1969), which after decades of work became the basis for the Stanley Kubrick-developed Steven Spielberg movie A.I. in 2001.

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How Open Source Advocates Celebrated The 26th Anniversary of Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 08:23 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 26-years-young department:
To celebrate Linux's 26th anniversary, the Linux Foundation tweeted a picture of Tux on a birthday cake, and linked to an essay on OpenSource.com by FreeDOS founder Jim Hall:
My first Linux distribution was Softlanding Linux System (SLS) 1.03, with Linux kernel 0.99 alpha patch level 11. That required a whopping 2MB of RAM, or 4MB if you wanted to compile programs, and 8MB to run X windows... To celebrate, I reinstalled SLS 1.05 to remind myself what the Linux 1.0 kernel was like and to recognize how far Linux has come since the 1990s.
"Getting X windows to perform was not exactly easy..." Hall writes, adding "the concept of a desktop didn't exist yet." Meanwhile Phoronix celebrated by republishing that fateful email Linus Torvalds sent on August 25, 1991. And Fossbytes shared the most recent statistics about modern-day Linux's 20 million lines of code from the Linux Foundation:
During the period between the 3.19 and 4.7 releases, the kernel community was merging changes at an average rate of 7.8 patches per hour; that is a slight increase from the 7.71 patches per hour seen in the previous version of this report, and a continuation of the longterm trend toward higher patch volumes.

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Burger King Now Has Its Own Cryptocurrency - the 'Whoppercoin' - in Russia
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 07:04 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dollar-menus department:
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:According to New York Magazine (via local Russian news reports), the Russian subdivision of Burger King has launched its own cryptocurrency, aptly called "Whoppercoin"... For each Whopper burger customers purchase, they'll receive one Whoppercoin in a special cryptocurrency wallet. While the coins' wider use is unclear, some reports suggest that the Whoppercoin will be accepted as payment at Burger Kings across Russia... Burger King has reportedly issued one billion Whoppercoin tokens to date on Waves Platform, though it is possible that there will be more to come.

Burger King Russia is now also reportedly accepting bitcoin as a form of payment.

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Elon Musk's Neuralink Gets $27 Million To Build Brain Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 05:43 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's matrix department:
An anonymous reader writes: Neuralink, the startup co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has taken steps to sell as much as $100 million in stock to fund the development of technology that connects human brains with computers. The San Francisco-based company has already gotten $27 million in funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk said via Twitter on Friday that Neuralink isn't seeking outside investors. In June, Musk said Neuralink is a priority after much more demanding commitments to his automotive and rocket companies. "Boring Co. is maybe 2 percent of my time; Neuralink is 3 percent to 5 percent of my time; OpenAI is going to be a couple of percent; and then 90-plus percent is divided between SpaceX and Tesla," said Musk at the electric-car maker's annual shareholder meeting.

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Ex-Valve Writer Reveals What Might Have Been Half-Life 2: Episode 3's Story
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coulda-shoulda-woulda department:
New submitter stikves shares a report from Eurogamer: Ex-Valve writer Marc Laidlaw, who worked on Half-Life, Half-Life 2 and its episodic expansions, has published a summary of the series' next chapter on his blog. Titled, "Epistle 3," it details Gordon Freeman's next adventure. Except, likely for copyright issues, the whole story has been genderswapped. So Laidlaw's tale speaks of Gertrude Fremont, Alex instead of Alyx, Elly instead of Eli, and so on. Naturally, Laidlaw's blog is currently down due to traffic, although you can read a backup of the page on Archive.org, or on Pastebin, where the names have been corrected.

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Selling Alterable Versions of Star Wars Is Still Infringement, Says Court
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '17 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's video-on-demand department:
A federal court ruled that video-on-demand streaming service, VidAngel, which enables the filtering of objectionable content to make it family friendly, is breaking U.S. copyright law. Ars Technica reports: VidAngel buys movie discs and decrypts and rips them. It then streams versions that allow customers to filter out nudity, profanity, and violence. In doing so, it breached the performance rights of Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers, the court ruled. VidAngel purchased a disc for every stream it sold, some 2,500 titles in all. "Star Wars is still Star Wars, even without Princess Leia's bikini scene," the opinion said. Just because objectionable content is removed, that doesn't necessarily transform the content enough to allow this type of behavior under a fair use analysis, the court wrote Thursday. VidAngel also unsuccessfully argued that it was protected under the Family Movie Act (FMA) of 2005. That legislation allows the cracking of encryption to remove objectionable content so long as no fixed copy of the altered version is created. The court didn't agree, however, because VidAngel didn't have the permission in the first place to stream the content.

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Alaska's Permafrost Is Thawing
Posted by News Fetcher on August 25 '17 at 08:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-landscape department:
Henry Fountain reports via The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages. But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state. Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, it contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter -- plants that took carbon dioxide from the atmosphere centuries ago, died and froze before they could decompose. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities. In Alaska, nowhere is permafrost more vulnerable than here, 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle, in a vast, largely treeless landscape formed from sediment brought down by two of the state's biggest rivers, the Yukon and the Kuskokwim. Temperatures three feet down into the frozen ground are less than half a degree below freezing. This area could lose much of its permafrost by midcentury.

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Ancient Tablet Reveals Babylonians Discovered Trigonometry
Posted by News Fetcher on August 25 '17 at 07:05 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-evidence department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Trigonometry, the study of the lengths and angles of triangles, sends most modern high schoolers scurrying to their cellphones to look up angles, sines, and cosines. Now, a fresh look at a 3700-year-old clay tablet suggests that Babylonian mathematicians not only developed the first trig table, beating the Greeks to the punch by more than 1000 years, but that they also figured out an entirely new way to look at the subject. However, other experts on the clay tablet, known as Plimpton 322 (P322), say the new work is speculative at best. Consisting of four columns and 15 rows of numbers inscribed in cuneiform, the famous P322 tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, antiquities dealer, and diplomat Edgar Banks, the inspiration for the fictional character Indiana Jones.

Now stored at Columbia University, the tablet first garnered attention in the 1940s, when historians recognized that its cuneiform inscriptions contain a series of numbers echoing the Pythagorean theorem, which explains the relationship of the lengths of the sides of a right triangle. (The theorem: The square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the square of the other two sides.) But why ancient scribes generated and sorted these numbers in the first place has been debated for decades. Mathematician Daniel Mansfield of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) realized that the information he needed was in missing pieces of P322 that had been reconstructed by other researchers. He and UNSW mathematician Norman Wildberger concluded that the Babylonians expressed trigonometry in terms of exact ratios of the lengths of the sides of right triangles, rather than by angles, using their base 60 form of mathematics, they report today in Historia Mathematica.

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Your Personal Information Is Now the World's Most Valuable Commodity
Posted by News Fetcher on August 25 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-new-sheriff-in-town department:
"Data is clearly the new oil," says Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and the author of Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. While oil was the world's most valuable resource, it has been surpassed by data, as evidenced by the five most valuable companies in the world today -- Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google's parent company Alphabet. CBC.ca reports: What "the big five" are selling -- or not selling, as in the case of free services like Google or Facebook -- is access. As we use their platforms, the corporate giants are collecting information about every aspect of our lives, our behavior and our decision-making. All of that data gives them tremendous power. And that power begets more power, and more profit. On one hand, the data can be used to make their tools and services better, which is good for consumers. These companies are able to learn what we want based on the way we use their products, and can adjust them in response to those needs. Access to such sweeping amounts of data also allows these giants to spot trends early and move on them, which sometimes involves buying up a smaller company before it can become a competitive threat. Pasquale points out that Google/Alphabet has been using its power "to bully or take over rivals and adjacent businesses" at a rate of about "one per week since 2010." But it's not just newer or smaller tech companies that are at risk, says Taplin. "When Google and Facebook control 88 per cent of all new internet advertising, the rest of the internet economy, including things like online journalism and music, are starved for resources." Traditionally, this is where the antitrust regulators would step in, but in the data economy it's not so easy. What we're seeing for the first time is a clash between the concept of the nation state and these global, borderless corporations. A handful of tech giants now surpass the size and power of many governments.

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