By msmash from Slashdot's for-further-communications department
AmiMoJo writes: Richard Stallman has announced the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines, an effort "to start guiding people towards kinder communication." The Guidelines differ from a Code of Conduct in that it's trying to be proactive about kindness around free software development over being rules with possible actions when breaking them. These new GNU communication guidelines can be found at GNU.org along with Stallman's commentary. From the guidelines: A code of conduct states rules, with punishments for anyone that violates them. It is the heavy-handed way of teaching people to behave differently, and since it only comes into action when people do something against the rules, it doesn't try to teach people to do better than what the rules require. To be sure, the appointed maintainer(s) of a GNU package can, if necessary, tell a contributor to go away; but we do not want to need to have recourse to that. The idea of the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines is to start guiding
people towards kinder communication at a point well before one would even think of saying, "You are breaking the rules." The way we do this, rather than ordering people to be kind or else, is try to help people learn to make their communication more kind. I hope that kind communication guidelines will provide a kinder and less strict way of leading a project's discussions to be calmer, more welcoming to all participants of good will, and more effective.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Mozilla today launched Firefox 63 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The release brings Enhanced Tracking Protection, performance improvements on Windows and macOS, search shortcuts, and Picture-In-Picture on Android. From a report: Firefox 63 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. According to Mozilla, Firefox has about 300 million active users. In other words, it's a major platform that web developers must consider. Firefox 63 for desktop brings support for Enhanced Tracking Protection. [...] Firefox 63's Enhanced Tracking Protection blocks cookies and storage access from third-party trackers, which Mozilla says targets the problem of cross-site tracking without breaking sites and impacting revenue streams like the original Tracking Protection. It does this by preventing known trackers from setting third-party cookies -- the primary method of tracking across sites -- but still gives you the option to block all known trackers (under Firefox Options/Preferences). [...] Search shortcuts essentially pins sites like Google and Amazon on the new tab page. When you click or tap them, you're redirected to Firefox's awesome bar, which automatically fills the corresponding keyword (@google or @amazon in this case) for the search engine. This way, you can type your query, hit enter, and get your search results without having to first load the Google or Amazon homepage. [...] The only major new feature for this Firefox for Android release is a picture-in-picture mode (Android Oreo and up). This means that if you're watching a video in full-screen, when you switch away from Firefox it will move the video into a small floating window, which you can tap to return to the full video player.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tours-of-duty department
"According to CNET, TechCrunch and others, the Trump administration reportedly wants tech giants to make it easy for workers to take leaves of absence to help the government modernize," writes Slashdot reader kimanaw. From a report: White House officials on Monday planned to meet with tech giants including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM, to discuss ways to make it easier for employees to take leaves of absence to help with government projects, according to The Washington Post. The administration reportedly hopes tech industry workers will be able to help modernize state and federal agencies and tackle challenges such as upgrading the veterans' health care system. Attracting tech talent may prove difficult for the Trump administration, which hasn't always seen eye to eye with Silicon Valley on issues such as the president's ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries. However, White House officials believe tech workers are willing to "put politics aside." "This event on Monday is not just about our efforts, it's about our successor, and their successor after that," said one unnamed official, according to the Post. The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's running-up-the-tab department
A bug in the Google News app for Android is reportedly causing the app to use up excessive amounts of background data, leading to overage charges. "According to dozens of posts on the Google News Help Forum, users have been experiencing this issue as early as June," reports The Verge. "The issue was verified and addressed by a Google News community manager in September, stating that the company was investigating and working toward a fix, but the issue is still ongoing." From the report: Verge reader Zach Dowdle emailed in with his experience, and screenshots of his app and Wi-Fi data usage: "The Google News app is randomly using a ridiculous amount of background data without users' knowledge. The app burned through over 12 gigs of data on my phone while I slept and my Wi-Fi had disconnected. It lead to $75 in overage charges."
According to several users, the app burned through mobile data despite having "Download via Wi-Fi" turned on in the settings. In some extreme cases, the Google News app used up to 24GB of data, leading to overage charges of up to $385, users reported. So far, the only solutions seem to be disabling background data, and deleting the app altogether.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's throwing-money-against-the-wall-and-seeing-if-it-sticks department
YouTube is creating a new Learning Fund program where it will invest $20 million toward education content. The announcement was made today by Malik Ducard, global head of learning. The Verge reports: Channels like TED-Ed, dedicated to educational Ted Talks, and Hank and John Green's Crash Course have already secured additional funding, according to YouTube's blog post. The company plans to invest in content from independent creators, like the Green brothers, as well as traditional news sources and educational organizations to broaden its content offering.
YouTube's Learning Fund has a nice ring to it, but it isn't a philanthropic charity. An FAQ about the program states that "successful applicants must enter into a written agreement with YouTube. This agreement will contain more details about required deliverables, payment timelines, and other terms and conditions." Creators must maintain a minimum of 25,000 subscribers. Those applying to the program also don't need to have a degree or proper certification in their field, "but successful applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have expertise and/or that the content they produce is verified by an expert in the field."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bus-stop department
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday ordered the French transportation company Transdev to stop transporting schoolchildren in a self-driving vehicle in Florida. Ars Technica reports: Transdev's pilot project in Babcock Ranch, a planned community, was quite modest. On Fridays, Transdev's electric shuttle would take a group of elementary-aged children to school, then take them home later in the day. The vehicle had a safety driver on board. The route was short enough that kids walked or rode their bikes to school the other four days of the week, according to a spokeswoman for Babcock Ranch. "The shuttle travels at a top speed of 8mph, with the potential to reach speeds of 30mph once the necessary infrastructure is complete," an August press release stated.
So why did the feds shut down this project while allowing lots of others to continue with minimal oversight? NHTSA points to two factors. One is that Transdev is a French company. Different countries have different safety standards, so vehicles designed overseas often can't be used in the U.S. without special permission from U.S. regulators. NHTSA granted Transdev a temporary importation authorization to test its driverless shuttle in the United States. "Transdev requested permission to use the shuttle for a specific demonstration project, not as a school bus," NHTSA said in its Friday statement. "Transdev failed to disclose or receive approval for this use." The other issue, of course, is that the project involves kids. For obvious reasons, federal regulators are going to be extra wary of testing experimental technology on schoolchildren.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's middle-finger-to-surveillance department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: [O]ne UK grassroots internet service provider is currently testing a data only SIM card that blocks any non-Tor traffic from leaving the phone at all, potentially providing a more robust way to use Tor while on the go. "This is about sticking a middle finger up to mobile filtering, mass surveillance," Gareth Llewelyn, founder of Brass Horn Communications, told Motherboard in an online chat. Brass Horn is a non-profit internet service provider with a focus on privacy and anti-surveillance services. Tor is a piece of software and a related network run by volunteers. When someone runs Tor on their computer or phone, it routes their traffic through multiple servers before reaching its final destination, such as a website. That way, the website owner can't tell who is visiting; only that someone is connecting from Tor. The most common way people access Tor is with the Tor Browser Bundle on desktop, or with the Orbot app on Android.
But, in some cases, neither of these totally guarantee that all of your device's traffic will be routed through Tor. If you're using the Tor Browser Bundle on a laptop, and then go to use another piece of software, that app is probably not going to use Tor. The same might stand for Orbot running on older iterations of Android. Nathan Freitas, from The Guardian Project which maintains Orbot, said with newer versions of Android, you can lock down device traffic to only work if a specific VPN is activated, including Orbot's. This SIM card, however, is supposed to provide a more restricted solution in the event that other approaches don't quite work. The UK-exclusive SIM card requires that users create a new access point name on their device. It also requires Orbot to be installed and running on the device itself.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's adding-to-the-pile department
According to a press release posted today, Netflix is planning to raise $2 billion to help fund new content, including "content acquisitions, production and development, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions." TechCrunch reports: The funds will be raised in the form of senior unsecured notes, denominated in U.S. dollars and euros, it said. This debt offering is the sixth time in under four years that Netflix is raising $1 billion or more through bonds, noted Variety, which was among the first to report the news. As of September 30, Netflix's long-term debt had reached $8.34 billion, up 71% from $4.89 billion in the year ago quarter, it said during its last earnings, Variety's report also noted. Netflix recently explained during its Q3 2018 earnings that it needs to continue to invest in original programming in order to remain competitive. "Content companies such as WarnerMedia and Disney/Fox are moving to self-distribute their own content; tech firms like Apple, Amazon and others are investing in premium content to enhance their distribution platforms," the letter also stated. "Amid these massive competitors on both sides, plus traditional media firms, our job is to make Netflix stand out so that when consumers have free time, they choose to spend it with our service," it had said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's boom-boom-boom department
Over the weekend, seven-time winner Jonas Neubauer showed up at the Classic Tetris World Championship in Portland, Oregon like he has every year since it moved there in 2011. Instead of adding another championship to his name, he finished in second place this time, bested by 16-year-old Joseph Saelee who went on an amazing three-game tear. From a report: "The kid played with pure heart, the most clutch Tetris that we've seen from anyone," Neubauer said after the dust had settled. "He just really had the ability, had the natural ability, and let it shine as bright as he could in his first tournament. [It's] truly an honor to pass the torch to the new generation of Tetris players." The veteran stood on stage holding a silver trophy, his first since losing to Harry Hong in 2014, and the unlikely Saelee, tears still in his eyes, hoisted the gold to applause from the crowd at Sunday's Retro Game Expo crowd. Though Tetris came out on the NES in 1989, the Classic World Championship tournament as it exists today didn't get started until 2010 after the game's competitive scene spent most of the aughts trading strategies, high scores, and footage evidence throughout a scattered network of forums and websites. Now, top players from around the world compete annually at the Expo using the original game and controllers played on old CRTs to see who can get the highest score in individual head-to-head matchups.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services, followed Apple's lead in calling the for the retraction of Bloomberg's story about spy chips being embedded in servers. "They offered no proof, story kept changing, and showed no interest in our answers unless we could validate their theories," Jassy wrote in a tweet on Monday. "Reporters got played or took liberties. Bloomberg should retract." Apple CEO Tim Cook told Buzzfeed on Friday that the scenario Bloomberg reported never happened and that the October story in Bloomberg Businessweek should be retracted. Bloomberg alleged data center hardware used by Apple and AWS, and provided by server company Super Micro, was under surveillance by the Chinese government, even though almost all the companies named in the report denied Bloomberg's claim. Bloomberg published a denial from AWS alongside its own report, and AWS refuted the report in a more strongly worded six-paragraph blog post entitled "Setting the Record Straight on Bloomberg Businessweek's Erroneous Article." Further reading is available via The Washington Post. "Sources tell the Erik Wemple Blog that the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Post have each sunk resources into confirming the story, only to come up empty-handed," the Washington Post reports. "(The Post did run a story summarizing Bloomberg's findings, along with various denials and official skepticism.) It behooves such outlets to dispatch entire teams to search for corroboration: If, indeed, it's true that China has embarked on this sort of attack, there will be a long tail of implications. No self-respecting news organization will want to be left out of those stories. 'Unlike software, hardware leaves behind a good trail of evidence. If somebody decides to go down that path, it means that they don't care about the consequences,' Stathakopoulos says.'"Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
An anonymous reader writes: Undoubtedly in response to this politically motivated sort of claptrap, SQLite has released their own Code of Conduct. From the preamble: Having been encouraged by clients to adopt a written code of conduct, the SQLite developers elected to govern their interactions with each other, with their clients, and with the larger SQLite user community in accordance with the "instruments of good works" from chapter 4 of The Rule of St. Benedict. This code of conduct has proven its mettle in thousands of diverse communities for over 1,500 years, and has served as a baseline for many civil law codes since the time of Charlemagne. Not everyone has found SQLite's attempt informative or funny (though many did). A developer wrote, for instance, "So is the SQLite CoC thing a joke or not? If it's not a joke, f*ck this. If it is a joke, that's even worse. Your CoC should be taken seriously." A security researcher, chimed in, "This sort of stunt will make actual code of conduct discussions harder. It's not funny, helpful, or wise."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Brines suffused with the life-giving gas could offer hope for past and even present microbes on the Red Planet, according to a new study. From a report: New research suggests our neighboring world could hide enough oxygen in briny liquid water near its surface to support microbial life, opening up a wealth of potentially habitable regions across the entire planet. Although the findings do not directly measure the oxygen content of brines known to exist on the Red Planet, they constitute an important step toward determining where life could exist there today. Aerobic respiration, which relies on oxygen, is a key component of present-day life on Earth. In this process, cells take in oxygen and break it down to produce energy to drive metabolism. Mars's very low levels of atmospheric oxygen have led many scientists to dismiss the possibility of aerobic respiration there today, but the new research brings this possibility back into play. The study appears in the October 22 edition of Nature Geoscience. "Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do, implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen," says lead study author Vlada Stamenkovic, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "We have the potential now to understand the current habitability." Although Mars is today a freeze-dried desert, it possesses abundant reserves of subsurface water ice, as well as some amount of liquid water in the form of brines. The brines' high salt content lowers the temperature at which they freeze, allowing them to remain liquid even on Mars's frigid surface. In their new study, Stamenkovic and his colleagues coupled a model of how oxygen dissolves in brines with a model of the Martian climate. Their results revealed that pools of salty liquid at or just beneath the surface could capture the meager amounts of oxygen from the Red Planet's atmosphere, creating a reservoir that microbes might metabolically utilize. According to the research, Martian brines today could hold higher concentrations of oxygen than were present even on the early Earth -- which prior to about 2.4 billion years ago harbored only trace amounts of the gas in its air.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
If it seems as though the app you deleted last week is suddenly popping up everywhere, it may not be mere coincidence. From a report: Companies that cater to app makers have found ways to game both iOS and Android, enabling them to figure out which users have uninstalled a given piece of software lately -- and making it easy to pelt the departed with ads aimed at winning them back. Adjust, AppsFlyer, MoEngage, Localytics, and CleverTap are among the companies that offer uninstall trackers, usually as part of a broader set of developer tools. Their customers include T-Mobile US, Spotify Technology, and Yelp. Critics say they're a fresh reason to reassess online privacy rights and limit what companies can do with user data. "Most tech companies are not giving people nuanced privacy choices, if they give them choices at all," says Jeremy Gillula, tech policy director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocate. Some providers say these tracking tools are meant to measure user reaction to app updates and other changes. Jude McColgan, chief executive officer of Boston's Localytics, says he hasn't seen clients use the technology to target former users with ads. Ehren Maedge, vice president for marketing and sales at MoEngage Inc. in San Francisco, says it's up to the app makers not to do so. "The dialogue is between our customers and their end users," he says. "If they violate users' trust, it's not going to go well for them." Adjust, AppsFlyer, and CleverTap didn't respond to requests for comment, nor did T-Mobile, Spotify, or Yelp. Uninstall tracking exploits a core element of Apple's and Google's mobile operating systems: push notifications. Developers have always been able to use so-called silent push notifications to ping installed apps at regular intervals without alerting the user -- to refresh an inbox or social media feed while the app is running in the background, for example. But if the app doesn't ping the developer back, the app is logged as uninstalled, and the uninstall tracking tools add those changes to the file associated with the given mobile device's unique advertising ID, details that make it easy to identify just who's holding the phone and advertise the app to them wherever they go.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
A group of twentysomethings leveraged their huge YouTube audiences and actually won seats in Brazil's federal and state elections. What happens next is anyone's guess. Ryan Broderick, writing for BuzzFeed News: Kim Kataguiri is known in Brazil for a lot of things. He's been called a fascist. He's been called a fake news kingpin. Is he a YouTuber? He definitely uses YouTube. He's definitely a troll. A troll with a consistent message, though, he points out. Maybe he's Brazil's equivalent of Milo Yiannopoulos. His organization, Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL) -- the Free Brazil Movement -- is like the Brazilian Breitbart. Or maybe it's like the American tea party. Maybe it's both. Is it a news network? Kataguiri says it isn't. But it's not a political party, either. He says MBL is just a bunch of young people who love free market economics and memes. One thing is very clear: His YouTube channel, the memes, the fake news, and MBL's army of supporters have helped Kataguiri, 22, become the youngest person ever elected to Congress in Brazil. He's also trying to become Brazil's equivalent of speaker of the House. [...] Kataguiri's political awakening is a textbook example of the way algorithms beget more algorithms. During his last year of high school, his teacher started a debate about welfare programs in Brazil. So Kataguiri started googling. He discovered Ron Paul and the Brazilian libertarian YouTuber Daniel Fraga. "Then I did a video to my teacher and my friends at school to talk about what I had found out," Kataguiri says. "There was one problem: I posted this video on YouTube. So it was public and it went viral." He says people kept asking for more videos, but he didn't know anything. So he went back to googling, and then made more videos about what he learned.Read Replies (0)