By BeauHD from Slashdot's reduced-relevancy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: It's just as you suspected; the information age has changed the general attention span. A recently published study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggests the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. Released on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study shows people now have more things to focus on -- but often focus on things for short periods of time.
The researchers studied several modes of media attention, gathered from several different sources, including (but not limited to): the past 40 years in movie ticket sales; Google books for 100 years; and more modernly, 2013 to 2016 Twitter data; 2010 to 2018 Google Trends; 2010 to 2015 Reddit trends; and 2012 to 2017 Wikipedia attention time. The researchers then created a mathematical model to predict three factors: the "hotness" of the topic, its progression throughout time in the public sphere and the desire for a new topic, said Dr Philipp Hovel, an applied mathematics professor of University College Cork in Ireland. The empirical data found periods where topics would sharply capture widespread attention and promptly lose it just as quickly, except in the cases of publications like Wikipedia and scientific journals. For example, a 2013 Twitter global trend would last for an average of 17.5 hours, contrasted with a 2016 Twitter trend, which would last for only 11.9 hours.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's facing-fierce-competition department
Amazon announced today that it will close its marketplace in China in the coming months, meaning Amazon customers in the country will no longer be able to buy goods from Chinese merchants. "Amazon did not explain why it was withdrawing its marketplace service, saying only it will instead focus on selling goods shipped from other countries into China," reports CNN. From the report: "We are notifying sellers we will no longer operate a marketplace on Amazon.cn, and we will no longer be providing seller services on Amazon.cn effective July 18," the company said in a statement. Amazon's platform competes for Chinese sellers with Tmall, owned by the country's e-commerce leader Alibaba.
Users logging onto Amazon's Chinese site after July 18 will see products sold from its global store, the company said. "Over the past few years, we have been evolving our China online retail business to increasingly emphasize cross-border sales, and in return we've seen very strong response from Chinese customers," Amazon said. It will retain its other operations in China, such as cloud computing services. It will also continue to sell its Kindle e-readers and content in the country. "Amazon's commitment to China remains strong. We have built a solid foundation here in a number of successful businesses and we will continue to invest and grow in China," the company added.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's playing-the-long-game department
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a new bill today that would block all tobacco and vape purchases for Americans under 21 years old, citing widespread public health risks. Surprisingly, vaping companies don't appear to be too concerned, as Juul's CEO Kevin Burns issued this statement supporting the measure: "JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world and to accomplish that goal, we must restrict youth usage of vapor products. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem -- sharing by legal-age peers -- and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth usage rates." The Verge says it all has to do with Big Vape's image: Over the past year, Juul has come under the FDA's fire for its massive popularity among young people. So supporting a higher minimum age could help its image and take some of the regulatory pressure off. From an industry perspective, the move is fairly low risk since the product is already embedded in the population, and people under age 21 may already be addicted, says Kathleen Hoke, a law professor at the University of Maryland. "We can change this age to 21 but we're going to have to work extraordinarily hard at the state and local level to actually get cigarettes or vape products or chew out of the hands of the 18 to 20 year olds," she says.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department
You can now download the source code of every Infocom text adventure game, thanks to archivist Jason Scott who uploaded the code to GitHub. "There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game," reports Ars Technica. "Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games -- plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker's sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron's The Abyss." From the report: The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of textfiles.com. His website describes itself as "a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them" -- in particular those of the 1980s. He announced the GitHub uploads on Twitter earlier this week. The games were written in the LISP-esque "Zork Implementation Language," or ZIL, which you could be forgiven for not being intimately familiar with already. Fortunately, Scott also tweeted a link to a helpful manual for the language on archive.org. Gamasutra, which first reported the news, notes that Activision still owns the rights to Infocom games and could request a takedown if it wanted.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the global air travel network. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington, to satisfy that demand. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s new airliner is testing the skies just as rivals are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats. Boeing is set to buy 80 percent of the Embraer SA's commercial operations in a joint venture, while Bombardier last year sold control of its C Series airliner project to Airbus SE and is exploring "strategic options" for its regional-jet operations. At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is $135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development Corp.
With few seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing's 737 or Airbus's A320. The MRJ has a range of about 2,000 miles, while a smaller variant can haul up to 76 people for about the same distance. A longtime supplier of aircraft components to Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy is developing the MRJ to emerge from its customer's shadow. After spending at least $2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings. Mitsubishi expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft President Hisakazu Mizutani.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nice-try department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed denying China Mobile USA's application to offer telecom services in the U.S., saying the Chinese government-owned company poses a security risk. The FCC is scheduled to vote on an order to deny the application at its open meeting on May 9, and Pai yesterday announced his opposition to China Mobile entering the U.S. market. "After reviewing the evidence in this proceeding, including the input provided by other federal agencies, it is clear that China Mobile's application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks," Pai said. "Therefore, I do not believe that approving it would be in the public interest. I hope that my colleagues will join me in voting to reject China Mobile's application."
China Mobile filed its application in 2011, and has repeatedly complained about the government's lengthy review process. According to Pai's announcement, China Mobile's application sought authority "to provide international facilities-based and resale telecommunications services between the U.S. and foreign destinations." In simpler terms, the company was seeking "a license to connect calls between the United States and other nations" and "was not seeking to provide domestic cell service and compete in the country with businesses like AT&T and Verizon," The New York Times wrote yesterday. An FCC official told reporters that such calls "could be intercepted for surveillance and make the domestic network vulnerable to hacking and other risks," the Times wrote.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's everything-has-a-cost department
If we're going to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need an energy revolution. But there's a big problem. Making that future a reality will, among other things, require a lot of batteries: batteries to charge our electric cars; batteries to store solar power collected while the sun's up and wind power harnessed when it's gusty out. And as a new report by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney warns, that's likely to drive demand for the metals used to build green batteries -- as well as wind turbines and solar panels -- through the roof.
From a report: In other words the clean tech boom is, at least in the short term, likely to fuel a mining boom. And that won['t come without cost. "We already know about the environmental, social, and human rights impacts extraction is posing to front line communities right now," Payal Sampat, mining program director at Earthworks, which commissioned the new report, told Earther. "It's kind of unimaginable to think about... how it would be considered sustainable to scale up those impacts that many fold and still be reaping benefits."
Much like our smartphones and computers, the high-tech energy infrastructure of tomorrow requires a host of metals and minerals from across the periodic table and the planet. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs and energy storage require not just lithium, but often cobalt, manganese, and nickel. Electric vehicle engines rely on rare earths, as do the permanent magnet-based generators inside some wind turbines. Solar panels gobbles up a significant share of the world's supply of tellurium, and gallium, along with a sizable fraction of mined silver and indium. Most renewable technologies demand heaps of copper and aluminum.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
An internet milestone known as "768k Day" is getting closer and some network administrators are shaking in their boots fearing downtime caused by outdated network equipment. From a report: The fear is justified, and many companies have taken precautions to update old routers, but some cascading failures are still predicted. The term 768k Day comes from the original mother of all internet outages known as 512k Day. [...] Many legacy routers received emergency firmware patches that allowed network admins to set a higher threshold for the size of the memory allocated to handle the global BGP routing table. Most network administrators followed documentation provided at the time and set the new upper limit at 768,000 -- aka 768k.
CIDR Report, a website that keeps track of the global BGP routing table, puts the size of this file at 773,480 entries; however, their version of the table isn't official and contains some duplicates. A Twitter bot named BGP4-Table, which has also been tracking the size of the global BGP routing table in anticipation of 768K Day, puts the actual size of the file at 767,392, just a hair away from overflowing. ZDNet spoke today with Aaron A. Glenn, a networking engineer with AAGICo Berlin, and Jim Troutman, Director at the Northern New England Neutral Internet Exchange (NNENIX). Both estimate 768K Day happening within the next month. But unlike many network admins, they don't expect the event to cause internet-wide outages like in 2014. However, both Glenn and Troutman expect some companies and smaller, local ISPs to be affected. "I would be mildly surprised if there was any interruption or outage at any real scale," Glenn told ZDNet.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department
Google's Chrome browser will get a Reader Mode, similar to the one found in competing browsers like Firefox and the old Microsoft Edge. From a report: The feature is currently under development, but Chrome Canary users can test it starting today. Chrome's Reader Mode will work by stripping pages of most of their useless content, such as ads, comments sections, or animations, and leave a bare-bones version behind, showing only titles, article text, and article images. Work on the feature started in February this year when Google engineers began porting the "simplified view" offered by Chrome on Android to desktop editions. Today is the first day that a fully-functional Reader Mode is active in Chrome's desktop versions -- via Google Chrome Canary distributions. To test Chrome's upcoming Reader Mode, users must first visit the chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode section in their Chrome Canary version, and enable the Reader Mode option.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a new interview rejected the notion that Capitol Hill has a role to play in regulating big tech companies, breaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent willingness to work with lawmakers. From a report: "The problem is if you write a rule, inevitably, you fix the solution on a specific solution, but the technology moves so quickly," Schmidt says. "It's generally better to let the tech companies do these things," he adds. Schmidt, who ran Google from 2001 to 2011, acknowledged that over his tenure the company did not understand the scale or severity of problems originating from its products. But since then, the company has addressed the issues, he said. "Our response has, in my view, been very strong," he said. "Today, we have all sorts of software that enforces policies of one kind or another. And people complain about the rules, but the fact of the matter is the rules are published."
[...] Schmidt suggested that even if Congress does pass new regulations on tech companies, issues will continue to originate on tech platforms because the sites display unpredictable human conduct. Content moderators and other employees need to ensure that users abide by the rules of a given platform, he said. "All of these platforms that are human centric will have to have a component of them, which is...watching what the users are doing and making sure they're consistent with their terms of service and the law," he says. "These issues are ongoing, because these are human-based systems," he says. "And so humans will continue to use them. They will continue to do unexpected things. There will continue to be surprises." Further reading: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Predicts the Internet Will Split in Two By 2028 -- and One Part Will Be Led By China.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's linux-updates department
Canonical today announced the release of Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo." With Linux 5.0 and GNOME 3.32, Disco Dingo features performance improvements and visual tweaks. Whether or not you upgrade, Disco Dingo lays the groundwork for future long term support releases of Ubuntu. From a report: Keep in mind, version 19.04 is not LTS (Long Term Support), meaning it is only supported until January 2020. "Ubuntu 19.04 introduces GNOME 3.32 with higher frame rates, smoother startup animations, quicker icon load times and reduced CPU+GPU load. Fractional scaling for HiDPI screens is now available in X-org and Wayland. Installing Ubuntu on VMWare will automatically install open-vm-tools for bi-directional clipboard, easy sharing of files and graceful power state management," says Canonical. The Ubuntu-maker further says, "In Ubuntu 19.04, multiple instances of the same snap can be installed for CI/CD, testing or phased rollouts. For example, two versions of a database or two versions of the golang compiler can be installed at the same time. Snap epochs control when and how data migration happens between major version upgrades."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's more-choices department
Google said today it will start giving European Union smartphone users a choice of browsers and search apps on its Android operating system, in changes designed to comply with an EU antitrust ruling. From a report: Starting Thursday and following a software update, users in the EU opening Google's mobile app store will be presented with a choice of alternatives to Google search and Chrome. The Alphabet unit said options will vary by market, but Microsoft's Bing and Norway's Opera are notable competitors in the European search and browser market respectively.
The changes could help Google avoid additional fines after being scrutinized by the EU for almost a decade. The European Commission, the bloc's antitrust body, last year fined Google $4.8 billion for strong-arming device makers into pre-installing its Google search and Chrome browser, giving it a leg up because users are unlikely to look for alternatives if a default is already preloaded. The EU ordered Google to change that behavior and threatened additional fines if it failed to comply. In a statement, FairSearch, a group that includes Czech search engine Seznam.cz and Oracle, rejected the changes as insufficient. "It does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices," the group said. FairSearch filed one of the first complaints to the EU on Android.Read Replies (0)