By BeauHD from Slashdot's everyone-is-doing-it department
Sony announced Monday that it's using blockchain technology for digital rights management (DRM), "starting with written educational materials under the Sony Global Education arm of the business," reports Engadget. "This new blockchain system is built on Sony's pre-existing DRM tools, which keep track of the distribution of copyrighted materials, but will have advantages that come with blockchain's inherent security." From the report: Because of the nature of blockchain, which tracks digital transactions in records that are particularly difficult to forge or otherwise tamper with, its application as a DRM tool makes sense and may also help creators keep tabs on their content. Currently, it's up to creators themselves (or the companies they create for) to monitor their contents' rights management. Sony's system could take over the heavy lifting of DRM. The way blockchain works allows Sony to track its content from creation through sharing. This means that users of the blockchain DRM tool will be able to see -- and verify -- who created a piece of work and when. Sony Global Education is the current focus of the DRM tool, but going forward, the company hints that the rest of its media -- including entertainment like music, movies, and virtual reality content -- may be protected the same way.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's downplaying-concerns department
At Wired's 25th anniversary summit, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's internal tests developing a censored search engine in China have been very promising. Pichai is strengthening his commitment on the controversial search engine, codenamed Project Dragonfly, saying the potential to expose the world to more information is guiding Google's push into China. "We are compelled by our mission [to] provide information to everyone, and [China is] 20 percent of the world's population." Wired reports: Pichai was careful to emphasize that this was a decision that weighs heavy on the company. "People don't understand fully, but you're always balancing a set of values," in every new country, he said. Those values include providing access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy. "But we also follow the rule of law in every country," he said. This is a reversal of a decision from about eight years, when Google pulled its search engine, which was also censored, from the Chinese market. Pichai said the time had come to reevaluate that choice. "It's a wonderful, innovative market. We wanted to learn what it would look like if we were in China, so that's what we built internally," Pichai said. "Given how important the market is and how many users there are," he added, "we feel obliged to think hard about this problem and take a longer-term view." In response to the company's decision to back out of a project with the Department of Defense, nicknamed Project Maven, to build AI and facial recognition technology, and the employee concerns surrounding it, Pichai said: "Throughout Google's history, we've given our employees a lot of voice and say. But we don't run the company by holding referendums. It's an important input. We take it seriously." On the issue of Maven, however, "it's more also the debate within the AI Community around how you perceive our work in the area."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's progress-of-portable-computing department
The "real version" of Photoshop is coming to the iPad next year, complete with a user interface similar to the desktop application and all the main tools. Ars Technica reports: Photoshop for iPad has a user interface structured similarly to the desktop application. It is immediately familiar to users of the application but tuned for touch screens, with larger targets and adaptations for the tablet as well as gestures to streamline workflows. Both touch and pencil input are supported. The interface is somewhat simpler than the desktop version, and although the same Photoshop code is running under the hood to ensure there's no loss of fidelity, not every feature will be available in the mobile version. The first release will contain the main tools while Adobe plans to add more in the future. Cloud syncing is a key element of Photoshop on iPad. Edits made on the iPad will be synchronized transparently with the desktop -- no conversions or import/export process to go through. Using a feature not available in the iPad version should then be as simple as hitting save and then opening the file on the desktop, picking up where you left off. Adobe is also reportedly building a tablet painting app called Project Gemini, which "simulates real brushes, paints, and materials as well as the interactions between them," reports Ars. "It combines raster graphics, vector drawing, and the Photoshop engine into a single application designed for artwork and illustration."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's war-on-consumer-choice department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Printer maker Epson is under fire this month from activist groups after a software update prevented customers from using cheaper, third party ink cartridges. It's just the latest salvo in a decades-long effort by printer manufacturers to block consumer choice, often by disguising printer downgrades as essential product improvements. For several decades now printer manufacturers have lured consumers into an arguably-terrible deal: shell out a modest sum for a mediocre printer, then pay an arm and a leg for replacement printer cartridges that cost relatively-little to actually produce.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation now says that Epson has been engaged in the same behavior. The group says it recently learned that in late 2016 or early 2017, Epson issued a "poison pill" software update that effectively downgraded user printers to block third party cartridges, but disguised the software update as a meaningful improvement. The EFF has subsequently sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arguing that Epson's lack of transparency can easily be seen as "misleading and deceptive" under Texas consumer protection laws.
"When restricted to Epson's own cartridges, customers must pay Epson's higher prices, while losing the added convenience of third party alternatives, such as refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems," the complaint notes. "This artificial restriction of third party ink options also suppresses a competitive ink market and has reportedly caused some manufacturers of refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems to exit the market."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's friend-or-foe department
A new study from Pew Research Center found that most Americans can't tell social media bots from real humans, and most are convinced bots are bad. "Only 47 percent of Americans are somewhat confident they can identify social media bots from real humans," reports The Verge. "In contrast, most Americans surveyed in a study about fake news were confident they could identify false stories." From the report: The Pew study is an uncommon look at what the average person thinks about these automated accounts that plague social media platforms. After surveying over 4,500 adults in the U.S., Pew found that most people actually don't know much about bots. Two-thirds of Americans have at least heard of social media bots, but only 16 percent say they've heard a lot about them, while 34 percent say they've never heard of them at all. The knowledgeable tend to be younger, and men are more likely than women (by 22 percentage points) to say they've heard of bots. Since the survey results are self-reported, there's a chance people are overstating or understating their knowledge of bots. Of those who have heard of bots, 80 percent say the accounts are used for bad purposes. Regardless of whether a person is a Republican or Democrat or young or old, most think that bots are bad. And the more that a person knows about social media bots, the less supportive they are of bots being used for various purposes, like activists drawing attention to topics or a political party using bots to promote candidates.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline: Apple never actually caved to user complaints that its top-of-the-line computers developed sticky or dead keyboards very easily, despite having now been served with several keyboard-related class action lawsuits. In June, the company offered to repair computers with these keyboards for free for four years following the date of purchase (the cost of being without their computer notwithstanding). It claimed only a "small percentage" of users were affected. I was one of them, several times, and there were many, many others. Compared to this time last year, its computer sales are down ten percent, and not a few people have been holding off on purchasing any computer from its line in fear of getting stuck with a keyboard that doesn't work. In July, Apple slightly redesigned the very low profile butterfly keyboard on its MacBooks and MacBook Pros, not because "a small percentage" of the previous version was rendered useless by a speck of dust, the company said, but to make it quieter; it even invited the tech press to try it out. iFixit teardowns of the hardware revealed that, in fact, Apple had added a silicone membrane under the keys that looks quite a bit like it's meant to keep dust and debris from lodging under the key and locking it up. Was that the idea? No, Apple unequivocally said. [...] But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the "gen 3 butterfly keyboard" where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department
CNBC is reporting that Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen has died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Vulcan Inc. said Monday that Allen passed this afternoon in Seattle at the age of 65. From the report: "While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern," [Paul Allen's sister, Jody Allen] said in a statement. "For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us -- and so many others -- we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day."
Earlier this month, Allen revealed that he had started treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the same type of cancer he overcame nine years earlier. The longtime CEO left Microsoft when he was first diagnosed with the disease. Allen also ranked among the world's wealthiest individuals. As of Monday afternoon, he ranked 21st on Forbes' list of billionaires with an estimated net worth of $20.3 billion.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's interesting-narrative department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Morgan Knutson, a UI designer who seven years ago, spent eight months at Google working on its recently shuttered social networking product Google+ and who, in light of the shutdown, decided to share on Twitter his personal experience with how "awful the project and exec team was." It's a fairly long read, but among his most notable complaints is that former Google SVP Vic Gundotra, who oversaw Google+, ruled by fear and never bothered to talk with Knutson, whose desk was "directly next to Vic's glass-walled office. He would walk by my desk dozens of times during the day. He could see my screen from his desk. During the 8 months I was there, culminating in me leading the redesign of his product, Vic didn't say a word to me. No hello. No goodbye, or thanks for staying late. No handshake. No eye contact."
He also says Gundotra essentially bribed other teams within Google to incorporate Google+'s features into their products by promising them handsome financial rewards for doing so atop their yearly bonuses. "You read that correctly, "tweeted Knutson. "A f*ck ton of money to ruin the product you were building with bloated garbage that no one wanted." Gundotra is today the cofounder and CEO of AliveCor, maker of a device that captures a "medical grade" E.K.G. within 30 seconds; AliveCor has gone on to raise $30 million from investors, including the Mayo Clinic. Asked about Knutson's characterization of him, Gundotra suggested the rant was "absurd" but otherwise declined to comment. Knutson goes on to paint "a picture of a political, haphazard, wasteful and ultimately disappointing division where it was never quite clear who should be working on what or why," reports TechCrunch.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's false-information department
"Facebook will ban false information about voting requirements and fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations in the run-up to and during next month's U.S. midterm elections," reports Reuters. The latest efforts are to reduce voter manipulation across its platform. From the report: The world's largest online social network, with 1.5 billion daily users, has stopped short of banning all false or misleading posts, something that Facebook has shied away from as it would likely increase its expenses and leave it open to charges of censorship. The ban on false information about voting methods, set to be announced later on Monday, comes six weeks after Senator Ron Wyden asked Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg how Facebook would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes, such as by telling certain users they could vote by text, a hoax that has been used to reduce turnout in the past.
The information on voting methods becomes one of the few areas in which falsehoods are prohibited on Facebook, a policy enforced by what the company calls "community standards" moderators, although application of its standards has been uneven. It will not stop the vast majority of untruthful posts about candidates or other election issues.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-wrinkle department
When a Stanford researcher removed all the duplicate and fake comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission last year, he found that 99.7 percent of public comments -- about 800,000 in all -- were pro-net neutrality. From a report: "With the fog of fraud and spam lifted from the comment corpus, lawmakers and their staff, journalists, interested citizens and policymakers can use these reports to better understand what Americans actually said about the repeal of net neutrality protections and why 800,000 Americans went further than just signing a petition for a redress of grievances by actually putting their concerns in their own words," Ryan Singel, a media and strategy fellow at Stanford University, wrote in a blog post Monday. Singel released a report [PDF] Monday that analyzed the unique comments -- as in, they weren't a copypasta of one or dozens of other letters -- filed last year ahead of the FCC's decision to repeal federal net neutrality protections. That's from the 22 million total comments filed, meaning that more than 21 million comments were fake, bots, or organized campaigns.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's back-from-the-dead department
The charmingly outdated media player Winamp is being reinvented as a platform-agnostic audio mobile app that brings together all your music, podcasts, and streaming services to a single location. From a report: It's an ambitious relaunch, but the company behind it says it's still all about the millions-strong global Winamp community -- and as proof, the original desktop app is getting an official update as well. For those who don't remember: Winamp was the MP3 player of choice around the turn of the century, but went through a rocky period during Aol ownership and failed to counter the likes of iTunes and the onslaught of streaming services, and more or less crumbled over the years. The original app, last updated in 2013, still works, but to say it's long in the tooth would be something of an understatement (the community has worked hard to keep it updated, however). So it's with pleasure that I can confirm rumors that substantial updates are on the way. "There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience," said Alexandre Saboundjan, CEO of Radionomy, the company that bought Winamp (or what remained of it) in 2014. "You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built. People want one single experience," he concluded. "I think Winamp is the perfect player to bring that to everybody. And we want people to have it on every device."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's significant-improvements department
Ian Cutress, writing for AnandTech: One of today's announcements threw up an interesting footnote worthy of further investigation. With its latest products, HP announced that their mainstream desktop platforms would be shipped with up to 32GB of memory, which was further expandable up to 128GB. Intel has confirmed to us, based on new memory entering the market, that there will be an adjustment to the memory support of the latest processors. Normally mainstream processors only support 64GB, by virtue of two memory channels, two DIMMs per memory channel (2DPC), and the maximum size of a standard consumer UDIMM being 16GB of DDR4, meaning 4x16GB = 64GB. However the launch of two different technologies, both double height double capacity 32GB DDR4 modules from Zadak and G.Skill, as well as new 16Gb DDR4 chips coming from Samsung, means that technically in a consumer system with four memory slots, up to 128GB might be possible.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
A new study from Nature Plants has identified the one climate-related issue that can unite people from myriad political backgrounds -- beer. From a report: Led by Wei Xie, an agricultural scientist at Peking University, the paper finds that regions that grow barley, the primary crop used to brew beer, are projected to experience severe droughts and heat waves due to anthropogenic climate change. According to five climate models that used different projected temperature increases for the coming century, extreme weather events could reduce barley yields by 3 to 17 percent. Barley harvests are mostly sold as livestock fodder, so beer availability could be further hindered by the likely prioritization of grain yields to feed cattle and other farm animals, rather than for brewing beer. The net result will be a decline in affordable access to beer, which is the most commonly imbibed alcoholic beverage in the world. Within a few decades, this luxury may be out of reach for hundreds of millions of people, including those in affluent nations where breweries are a major industry. Price spikes are estimated to range from $4 to over $20 for a standard six-pack in nations like the US, Ireland, Denmark, and Poland.Read Replies (0)