By manishs from Slashdot's redefining-courage department
theodp writes: Every fall," writes The Intercept's Sam Biddle, "internet and its resident tech mumblers congregate for The Apple Event, a quasi-pagan streaming-video rite in which Tim Cook boasts of just how much money his company is making (a lot) and just how much good it's introducing to the world (this typically involves a new iPhone). This is merely annoying most years; but in 2016, when Apple is loudly, publicly denying its tax obligations around the world, it's just gross." Biddle finds Apple's use of the word 'courage' to describe the corporate ethos that pushed the company to remove the headphone plug from the newest iPhone while offering a new pair of $160 jack-free earbuds particularly irksome: "Removing a headphone jack or adding 20 headphone jacks does not require courage; engineers are very smart, but their job does not typically require much bravery. Courage is more often found in, say, running into a burning school to rescue the students and class rodent. Or, maybe, you could call courageous the act of paying the many billions you owe around the world into the system that ensures those students have all of the resources they need in order to learn and grow. Just a hint: Collaborative spreadsheet software doesn't count [introducing new real-time collaboration features, Cook called iWork a "very important tool in education"].Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's microsoft-loves-linux department
After neglecting Linux's Skype client for years, Microsoft released a new app of Skype for Linux in July, giving comfort to millions of users. The app, however, had a fair share of bugs. Microsoft today has updated the app to iron out those bugs, and introduced a handful of interesting options. An anonymous reader writes: There were plenty of users who complained that Skype for Linux was reconnecting automatically when not using the app for a certain amount of time and Microsoft has already acknowledged the bug. This new version fixes the problem, so everything should work correctly after updating. Additionally, Skype for Linux 1.7 introduces a new grid layout of the group calls, but also fixes the standard behavior of unread messages. According to Microsoft, this means that "when opening chat with unread messages, the view will focus on the first unread message and as you scroll, messages will be marked as read."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's grappling-with-Giphy-GIFs department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Softpedia:
Mozilla has announced this week that it is delaying the release of Firefox 49 for one week to address two unexpected bugs. Firefox 49, which was set for release on Tuesday, September 13, will now launch the following Tuesday, on September 20...
Firefox 49 is an important release in Mozilla's grand scheme of things when it comes to Firefox. This is the version when Mozilla will finish multi-process support rollout (a.k.a. e10s, or Electrolysis), and the version when Firefox launches the new WebExtensions API that replaces the old Add-ons API, making Firefox compatible with Chromium extensions.
Firefox's release manager explained the delays as "two blocking issues and the need for a bit more time to evaluate the results of their fixes/backouts" -- one of which apparently involves opening Giphy GIFS on Twitter.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's goodbye-Seattle department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
Amazon plans to open "as many as 100" retail stores in shopping malls by the end of next year, according to Business Insider. The 300- to 500-square-foot stores will sell familiar Amazon hardware products like Kindles and Fire TV, "but the broader goal is to drive more traffic to Amazon's online store, as these devices make it easier to purchase items there" -- and to promote Amazon's Echo personal assistant.
Amazon stores have already quietly opened in 12 states, including six stores in California and more stores in New York, Texas, Virginia, and Massachusetts. But now the brick-and-mortar stores "have emerged from the test phase with a goal to expand and grow," according to one Amazon job posting, and Business Insider reports that new Amazon stores "are popping up almost every week in shopping malls across the country."
The article has pictures of the new Amazon stores, and points out that the company also experienced disappointing results from an earlier experiment with Amazon trucks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's weaponizing-demons-for-a-brighter-tomorrow department
DOOM 2016 "cleverly re-uses old data computed in the previous frames...1331 draw calls, 132 textures and 50 render targets," according to a new article which takes a very detailed look at the process of rendering one 16-millisecond frame. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
The game released earlier this year uses the Vulkan API to push graphics quality and performance at new levels. The article sheds light on rendering techniques, mega-textures, reflection computation... all the aspects of a modern game engine.
Some of the information came from "The Devil is in the Details," a July presentation at the SIGGRAPH 2016 conferences on graphics by Tiago Sousa, id's lead renderer programmer, and senior engine programmer Jean Geffroy. (And there's also more resources at the end of the article, including a July interview with five id programmers by Digital Foundry.) "Historically id Software is known for open-sourcing their engines after a few years, which often leads to nice remakes and breakdowns," the article notes. "Whether this will stand true with id Tech 6 remains to be seen but we don't necessarily need the source code to appreciate the nice graphics techniques implemented in the engine."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's today's-the-day department
Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes an article on Softpedia: it looks like the Linux kernel maintainers decided that there's no need to maintain the Linux kernel 3.14 LTS series anymore, so earlier today, September 11, 2016, they decided to release that last maintenance update, version 3.14.79, and mark the series as EOL (End of Life). Famous Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman was the one to make the big announcement, and he's urging users who want to still run a long-term supported kernel version to move to the Linux 4.4 LTS series, which is currently the most advanced LTS branch, or use the latest stable release, Linux kernel 4.7.3...
Linux kernel 3.14.79 is a very small update that changes a total of 12 files, with 45 insertions and 17 deletions, thus fixing a bug in the EXT4 file system, a networking issue related to the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) protocol, and updating a few HID, s390, SCSI, networking drivers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's offline-opposition department
"Keeping your enemies offline can cripple their chances of overthrowing you," reports the MIT Technology Review. Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes their article:
Whether or not your ethnic group has political power is a crucial factor determining your access to the Internet, according to a new analysis. The effect varies from country to country, and is much less pronounced in democratic nations. But the study, published today in Science, suggests that besides censorship, another way national governments prevent opposing groups from organizing online is by denying them Internet access in the first place, says Nils Weidmann, a professor of political science at the University of Konstanz in Germany.
Researchers used a geolocation database to create a map showing subnetwork activity for a large volume of internet traffic, then compared it with geographic data for the world's ethnic groups. "They concluded that excluded groups had significantly lower access compared to the groups in power, and that this can't be explained by other economic or geographic factors (like living in rural vs. urban areas)... 'You don't have to censor if the opposition doesn't get access at all.' "Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's feds-vs-phishers department
Security researchers have detected an upgrade to the GoVRAT malware, which targets government employees and bypasses antivirus tools using stolen digital certificates. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld:
Through GovRAT, hackers can potentially steal files from a victim's computer, remotely execute commands, or upload other malware to the system... The malware features an additional function to secretly monitor network traffic over the victim's computer -- something with scary consequences. "If you're downloading something from a particular resource, the hackers can intercept the download and replace it with malware," said InfoArmor CIO Andrew Komarov on Friday.
Last year, InfoArmor said that earlier versions of GovRAT had attacked more than 15 governments around the world, in addition to seven financial institutions and over 100 corporations.
The security researchers say GovRAT comes with "a stolen database of 33,000 Internet accounts, some of which belong to U.S. government employees," including names, email addresses and hashed passwords.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's day-of-the-dolphins department
For the first time Russian researchers have recorded a conversation between two dolphins -- Yasha and Yana -- who were talking to each other in a pool. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Telegraph:
Scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices" [and] have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak...
âoeThis language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language... Humans must take the first step to establish relationships with the first intelligent inhabitants of the planet Earth by creating devices capable of overcoming the barriers that stand in the way of using languages and in the way of communications between dolphins and people."
The dolphins listened to an entire "sentence" before replying, according to the article, which points out that dolphin brains are larger and more complex than the brains of humans.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Ubuntu-with-an-app-store department
"Today, Elementary 0.4 (code-named 'Loki'), achieves stable status," BetaNews reported Friday, applauding the "clean and functional" app tiles in its software center.
Elementary OS (stylized as elementary OS) isn't the most popular Linux distro, and it certainly isn't the best. However, this Ubuntu-based operating system is focusing on something that some competitors do not -- user interface, which ultimately contributes to the overall user experience. It is because of this that Elementary is so important to the Linux community -- it matters.
Developers focused on internationalization for this release, part of an effort to "grow the market" for open-souce software, according to the elementary blog, which proudly points out that 73% of the 1.2 million downloads for their "design-oriented" OS came from closed-source operating systems.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pre-release-test-drive department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a San Jose Mercury News article about "Apple co-founder and electric vehicle fan Steve Wozniak."
Woz posted a picture of himself, smiling, next to a new, white Chevy Bolt. General Motors gave Woz the fully electric sedan for an extended test drive. He liked it. "I expect to be switching cars soon!" Woz wrote in a photo caption.
The battery-powered Bolt is due for release late this year. The four-door hatchback has an advertised range of 200 miles per charge, with a sticker price around $37,500. The EV will compete head-to-head with the Tesla Model 3. The Tesla entry-level sedan, expected to start at $35,000, will be released late next year.
It's interesting to read Wozniak's later comments on the post. "A lot of things wrong with the Tesla model S are done correctly (my opinion) in this car... It gets down to my product ideas of balance and getting the most from the least. Try to make things simple and affordable but very adequate. This car hits my sweet spot."
And in response to the obvious question, Woz replied "Maybe one Segway would fit. And a seat can be folded down."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's telnetting-into-your-refrigerator department
Slashdot reader stiebing.ja writes:
IoT devices, like DVR recorders or webcams, which are running Linux with open telnet access and have no passwords or default passwords are currently a target of attacks which try to install malware which then makes the devices a node of a botnet for DDoS attacks. As the malware, called Linux/Mirai, only resides in memory, once the attack has been successful, revealing if your device got captured isn't so easy, and also analyzing the malware is difficult, as it will vanish on reboot.
Plus the malware lays low at first, though "it is obvious that the main purpose is still for a DDoS botnet," according to MalwareMustDie, and it's designed to spread rapidly to other IoT devices using a telnet scanner. "According to the experts, several attacks have been detected in the wild," according to the article, which warns that many antivirus solutions are still unable to detect the malware, and "If you have an IoT device, please make sure you have no telnet service open and running."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Project-Genesis department
Slashdot reader sciencehabit quotes an article from Science magazine: Astronomers have detected more than 3000 planets beyond our solar system, and just a couple of weeks ago they discovered an Earth-like planet in the solar system next door. Most -- if not all -- of these worlds are unlikely to harbor life, but what if we put it there? Science chatted with theoretical physicist Claudius Gros about his proposed Genesis Project, which would send artificially intelligent probes to lifeless worlds to seed them with microbes. Over millions of years, they might evolve into multicellular organisms, and, perhaps eventually, plants and animals. In the interview, Gros talks artificial intelligence, searching for habitable planets, and what kind of organisms he'd like to see evolve.
"The robots will have to decide if a certain planet should receive microbes and the chance to evolve life," the physicist explains -- adding that it's very important to avoid introducing new microbes on planets where life already exists.Read Replies (0)
When Your Boss Is An Algorithm
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 08:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's great-gig-rebellion department
Slashdot reader Presto Vivace shares an article on FT.com about "workers without a workplace, striking against a company that does not employ them...managed not by people but by an algorithm that communicates with them via their smartphones."
And what they are rebelling against is an app update... They might be free to choose when to work but not how to work or, crucially, how much they are paid... Some gig-economy workers and unions are bringing this question to court. They argue that these companies' algorithms exert so much control over workers that they are really employees in the eyes of the law and thus owed hourly minimum wages, sick pay, holiday pay and the like.
The article offers a detailed look at historical precedents for today's strict "service level assessments," noting that for the companies, "algorithmic management solves a problem: how to instruct, track and evaluate a crowd of casual workers you do not employ, so they deliver a responsive, seamless, standardized service." But for workers in the gig economy -- 800,000 in the U.S. alone -- the question becomes whether reporting to an algorithm in an app is liberating -- or exploitative?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's show-of-unanimity department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Associated Press: Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem urged Apple Saturday to "get ready" to pay up, as he and counterparts from other EU nations lined up behind a finding that the technology giant owes billions of euros due to more than a decade of improperly low taxation. Apple's bill could reach 19 billion euros ($21 billion) with interest, and both the company and Ireland, Apple's European headquarters are appealing the European Commission ruling. But on the last day of an EU finance ministers' meeting focused on ways to harmonize tax rules for international companies, Dijsselbloem told reporters that these "have an obligation to pay taxes in a fair way."
"International tax loopholes are a thing of the past," he said. Apple will have to pay back taxes both in the United States and Europe, he added, "so get ready to do that." Philip Hammond, his British counterpart, said the EU was keen "to make sure that international corporations pay the right tax at the right place. That's the fair way to do it, and we are going to make sure it happens." Austria, France, and Italy are reportedly also watching the case closely.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crunch-for-the-cure department
Millions of people have donated their unused computer power as part of "a global movement of teams and individuals committed to Protein Folding research," according to a special anniversary update at CureCoin.net. And after two years, CureCoin is now the fourth-largest contributor to Stanford's massively distributed computing project for disease research. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
CureCoin rewards citizen scientists participating in life science research through Stanford's Folding@home... It's actually very easy to participate -- basic account setup can take as little as 20 minutes, and you're contributing computing power with a PC or Mac while earning the tokens...
CureCoin uses a blockchain token called CURE as the means of reward. There is a growing market and exchange network for the coin. Occasional market volatility puts penny stocks to shame -- which if you are risk averse, makes it fun to watch nonetheless.
Sounds more useful than that cryptocurrency which rewards its users for participating in denial-of-service attacks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bright-and-shiny department
More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg:
Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."
Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.
End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"Read Replies (0)