By EditorDavid from Slashdot's defining-high-definition department
Is there an open source video analysis tool available that can take a folder full of video captures (e.g. news, sports, movies, music videos, TV shows), analyze the video frames in those captures, and put a hard number on how optically sharp, on average, the digital video provided by any given digital TV or streaming service is?
If such a tool exists, it could be of great use in shaming paid video content delivery services that promise proper "1080 HD" or "4K UHD" quality content, but deliver video that is actually Youtube quality or worse. With such a tool, people could channel-hop across their digital TV service's various offerings for an hour or so, capture the video stream to harddisk, and then have an "average optical sharpness score" for that service calculated that can be shared with others and published online, possibly shaming the content provider -- satellite TV providers in particular -- into upping their bitrate if the score turns out to be atrociously low for that service....
People in many countries -- particularly developing countries -- cough up hard cash to sign up for various satellite TV, digital TV, streaming video and similar services, only to then find that the bitrate, compression quality and optical sharpness of the video content delivered isn't too great at all. At a time when 4K UHD content is available in some countries, many satellite TV and streaming video services in many different countries do not even deliver properly sharp and well-defined 1080 HD video to their customers, even though the content quality advertised before signing up is very much "crystal clear 1080 HD High-Definition".
What's the solution? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
And is there an open source tool measuring the sharpness of streaming video?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's elections-have-consequences department
CNET just published a fierce pro-net neutrality editorial co-authored by Nancy Pelosi, the soon-to-be Majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Mike Doyle, the expected Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and Frank Pallone, Jr. the expected Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The three representatives argue that "the Trump FCC ignored millions of comments from Americans pleading to keep strong net neutrality rules in place."
The FCC's net neutrality repeal left the market for broadband internet access virtually lawless, giving ISPs an opening to control peoples' online activities at their discretion. Gone are rules that required ISPs to treat all internet traffic equally. Gone are rules that prevented ISPs from speeding up traffic of some websites for a fee or punishing others by slowing their traffic down....
Without the FCC acting as sheriff, it is unfortunately not surprising that big corporations have started exploring ways to change how consumers access the Internet in order to benefit their bottom line.... Research from independent analysts shows that nearly every mobile ISP is throttling at least one streaming video service or using discriminatory boosting practices. Wireless providers are openly throttling video traffic and charging consumers extra for watching high-definition streams. ISPs have rolled out internet plans that favor companies they are affiliated with, despite full-page ads swearing they value net neutrality. And most concerning, an ISP was found throttling so-called "unlimited" plans for a fire department during wildfires in California.
< article continued at Slashdot's elections-have-consequences department
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's party-like-it's-1989 department
Long-time Slashdot reader Mike Bouma quotes Gizmodo:
Despite being ahead of its time when it was unveiled in 1985, the Commodore Amiga didn't survive past 1996. The machine, which went up against with the likes of the IBM PC and the Macintosh, offered far superior hardware than its competitors. But it just wasn't enough, as this video from Ahoy's Stuart Brown explains. While the Amiga had other 16-bit computers beat on technology, it didn't really have anything compelling to do with that hardware. "With 4096 colours, 4 channels of digital audio, and preemptive multitasking, [the Amiga] was capable of incredible things for the time...."
[U]nfortunately, internal struggles within Commodore would signal the beginning of the end.
I'll always remember Joel Hodgson's Amiga joke on a 1991 episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. But in 2015 Geek.com reported on an Amiga which had been running a school's heating system for the last 30 years. A local high school student had originally set it up, and "he's the only one who knows how to fix software glitches. Luckily, he still lives in the area."
Leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does anyone else have their own stories about Commodore's Amiga? And was the Amiga a computer ahead of its time?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's indoor-activities department
schwit1 shared this article from Bloomberg:
Brain scans of adolescents who are heavy users of smartphones, tablets and video games look different from those of less active screen users, preliminary results from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health show, according to a report on Sunday by "60 Minutes." That's the finding of the first batch of scans of 4,500 nine- to 10-year-olds. Scientists will follow those children and thousands more for a decade to see how childhood experiences, including the use of digital devices, affect their brains, emotional development and mental health.
In the first round of testing, the scans of children who reported daily screen usage of more than seven hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex, the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world.... Early results from the $300 million study, called Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD), have determined that children who spend more than two hours of daily screen time score lower on thinking and language tests. A major data release is scheduled for early 2019.
The study's director cautions that "It won't be until we follow them over time that we will see if there are outcomes that are associated with the differences that we're seeing in this single snapshot."
The study will ultimately follow over 11,000 nine- to 10-year-olds for a decade.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's professionalism department
Thursday a bug report complained that the source code for OpenJDK, the free and open-source implementation of Java, "has too many swear words." An anonymous reader writes:
"There are many instances of swear words inside OpenJDK jdk/jdk source, scattered all over the place," reads the bug report. "As OpenJDK is used in a professional context, it seems inappropriate to leave these 12 instances in there, so here's a changeset to remove them."
IBM software developer (and OpenJDK team member and contributor) Adam Farley responded that "after discussion with the community, three determinations were reached":
"Damn" and "Crap" are not swear words. Three of the four f-bombs are located in jszip.js, which should be corrected upstream (will follow up). The f-bomb in BitArray.java, as well as the rude typo in SoftChannel.java, *are* swear words and should be removed to resolve this work item.
He promised a new webrev would be uploaded to reflect these determinations, and the bug has been marked as "resolved."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-ideal-for-millennials department
shanen writes about Vitaminwater's latest "publicity stunt," where they will pay $100,000 to one select contestant who can live without their smartphone for a year: All you have to do is come up with the most amusing entry [about how you will spend 365 days without the device] and have sufficient willpower to give up your smartphone for a year. They obviously have to pick a power user to make it interesting, but that's not the reason I'm disqualified. I would just read more books, which is boring from their perspective. So maybe you want to share your idea here? If it's really good, you don't have to worry about someone stealing it. After all, you'd have the evidence that it was your idea first, but you might be able to refine your entry while amusing the mob. The company will reportedly give you a 1996 cellphone to use in times of emergencies. Also, they will reward you with $10,000 if you are able to get through 6 months. According to Tech Times, contestants can use computers or desktops, "but not smartphones or tablets, even those owned by other people, or anything which the candidate can scroll or swipe on." Always-listening smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, are permitted. To make sure the candidate doesn't cheat, Vitaminwater will subject them to a lie-detector test at the end of the year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quick-before-it's-too-late department
Researchers at the University of Geneva Switzerland have used NASA's Hubble telescope to find an exoplanet that's evaporating. The exoplanet, GJ 3470b, shows signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink. USA Today reports: The study is part of exploration into "hot Neptunes," planets that are the size of Neptune, sit very close to their star, and have atmospheres as hot at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA. Finding a "hot Neptune" is rare because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a "warmer" Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate 100 times faster than a previous "warmer" Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics." The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the sun. Researchers say these "hot Neptune" planets shrink in size and morph into "Super Earths," versions of our planet that are massive and more rocky.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-forward department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: A panel of 19 scientists drawn from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended yesterday that the Department of Energy should continue an international experiment on nuclear fusion energy and then develop its own plan for a "compact power plant." A panel of 19 scientists drawn from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended yesterday that the Department of Energy should continue an international experiment on nuclear fusion energy and then develop its own plan for a "compact power plant."
But as the National Academies' report noted, major challenges must be overcome to reach these goals, beginning with how to contain and control a burning "plasma" of extremely hot gas, ranging from 100 million to 200 million degrees Celsius, that can produce more heat than it consumes. The report calls the resulting plasma "a miniature sun confined inside a vessel." The world's biggest experiment intended to create and draw energy from burning plasma is under construction at Cadarache, France. It's called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, and its centerpiece is a large, doughnut-shaped, Russian-inspired reactor called a tokamak. Several member nations have already developed their own national programs, and the assembled National Academies experts concluded that the United States should eventually follow, once the ITER experiment shows there are ways to contain and manipulate a sustained fusion reaction. "It is the next critical step in the development of fusion energy," says the report.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's up-up-and-away department
schwit1 shares a report from Variety: Streaming services snatched their biggest piece of the TV pie ever in 2018. According to FX's annual report on the number of scripted originals on TV, the number of streaming shows has surpassed the number of basic cable and broadcast shows for the first time ever. Out of 495 scripted originals that aired in 2018, 160 of them did so on a streaming platform. That is compared to 146 on broadcast and 144 on basic cable. Pay cable accounted for the remaining 45 shows. Streaming shows also saw the biggest increase year-to-year, growing from 117 last year. Broadcast dipped slightly, dropping from 153 in 2017. Basic cable saw a more sharp decline, compared to the 175 shows that aired on basic cable the previous year. Pay cable was up slightly from 42. On a percentage basis, streaming shows now account for approximately one third of all scripted originals, with approximately 32%. Broadcast made up 30% and basic cable 29%, with pay cable making up 9%. The total number of shows across all of TV was up again as well, rising from 487 in 2017. The year-to-year growth was less than that of previous years, however. For example, the number of shows grew from 455 to 487 between 2016 and 2017. The 495 scripted originals this year was also off from FX Networks CEO John Landgraf's prediction that 520 such shows would air this year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's legal-jeopardy department
Cloudflare is facing accusations that it's providing cybersecurity protection for at least seven terrorist organizations. "On Friday, HuffPost reported that it has reviewed numerous websites run by terrorist organizations and confirmed with four national security and counter-extremism experts that the sites are under the protection of Cloudflare's cybersecurity services," reports Gizmodo.
"Among Cloudflare's millions of customers are several groups that are on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas -- as well as the Taliban, which, like the other groups, is sanctioned by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)," reports HuffPost.
< article continued at Slashdot's legal-jeopardy department
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's intimate-intel department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The biggest and perhaps best source of data about what people like to watch on the internet and what they would pay for doesn't come from streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu. It comes from porn. While consuming porn is typically a private and personal affair, porn sites still track your every move: What content you choose, which moments you pause, which parts you repeat. By mining this data to a deeper degree than other streaming services, many porn sites are able to give internet users exactly what they want -- and they want a lot of it. [...] MindGeek is the world's biggest porn company -- more specifically, it's a holding company that owns numerous adult entertainment sites and production companies, including the Pornhub Network. Like other streaming giants, MindGeek's sites analyze user data, but the company has an edge when it comes to producing tailor-made content in-house. With at least 125 million daily visits, MindGeek has a massive range of users to draw data from and create content for.
The average user can watch as much porn as they'd like without so much as making an account, let alone paying, but in exchange for meeting desires that can't always be met elsewhere, companies like MindGeek access user data because the user more willingly lets them. And it eventually pays off, when users decide to pay for premium content and the habits of paying subscribers become even clearer. What's more, Pornhub, in particular, operates one of the most sophisticated digital data analysis operations that caters primarily to users and not advertisers. Pornhub Insights provides transparency into its data collection -- on the most intimate of subjects -- by making research and analysis from billions of data points about viewership patterns, often tied to events from politics to pop culture, available to the public. It offers more than many other tech giants do.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-pressure department
According to CNBC, T-Mobile and Sprint are expecting their merger to be approved by a U.S. national security panel as early as next week, after their respective parent companies said they would consider dropping Huawei. From the report: U.S. government officials have been pressuring T-Mobile's German majority owner, Deutsche Telekom, to stop using Huawei equipment, the sources said, over concerns that Huawei is effectively controlled by the Chinese state and its network equipment may contain "back doors" that could enable cyber espionage, something which Huawei denies. That pressure is part of the national security review of T-Mobile's $26 billion deal to buy U.S. rival Sprint, the sources said.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has been conducting a national security review of the Sprint deal, which was announced in April. Negotiations between the two companies and the U.S. government have not been finalized and any deal could still fall through, the sources cautioned. Sprint's parent, SoftBank Group, plans to replace 4G network equipment from Huawei with hardware from Nokia and Ericsson, Nikkei reported on Thursday, without citing sources.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shared-revenue department
DarkRookie2 shares a report from Ars Technica: Discord has announced that it will start taking a reduced, 10-percent cut from game revenues generated on its online store starting next year, one-upping the Epic Games Store and its recently announced 12-percent cut on the Epic Games Store. The move comes alongside a coming expansion of the Discord Games Store, which launched earlier this year with a tightly curated selection of games that now includes roughly 100 titles. The coming "self-serve publishing platform" will allow developers "no matter what size, from AAA to single-person teams" to access the Discord Store and the new 90-percent revenue share. "We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30% of the usual 70/30 revenue share," Discord writes in the announcement. "Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what's really important --making great games and cultivating amazing communities." "Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018," the announcement continues. "After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-demand department
An anonymous reader writes: Job-search site Indeed crunched its Silicon Valley hiring numbers for 2018, looking at tech job searches, salaries, and employers, and found that engineers who combine tech skills with business skills as directors of product management earn the most, with an average salary of US $186,766. Last year, the gig came in as number two, at $173,556. Also climbing up the ranks, and now in the number two spot with an average annual salary of $181,100, is senior reliability engineer. Application security engineer is third at $173,903. Neither made the top 20 in 2017. And while it seems that machine learning engineers have been getting all the love in 2018, those jobs came in eighth place, at $159,230. That's still a bit of a leap from last year, when the job made its first appearance on Indeed's top 20 highest-paying jobs in the 13th spot at $149,519. This year's top 20 is below; last year's numbers are here.
Further reading: 'Blockchain Developer' is the Fastest-Growing US Job (LinkedIn study).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department
In addition to relying on Windows Insiders, employees, and willing participants for testing updates, Microsoft is pushing patches before they are known to be stable to regular users too if they opt to click the "check for updates" button on their own, the company said. From a report: In a blog post by Michael Fortin, Corporate Vice President for Windows, it is made clear that home users are intentionally being given updates that are not necessarily ready for deployment. Many power users are familiar with Patch Tuesday. On the second Tuesday of each month, Microsoft pushes out a batch of updates at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time on this day containing security fixes, bug patches, and other non-security fixes. Updates pushed out as part of Patch Tuesday are known as "B" release since it happens during the second week of the month.
During the third and fourth weeks of the month are where things begin to get murky. Microsoft's "C" and "D" releases are considered previews for commercial customers and power users. No security fixes are a part of these updates, but for good reasoning. Microsoft has come out to directly say that some users are the guinea pigs for everyone else. In some fairness to Microsoft, C and D updates are typically only applied when a user manually checks for updates by clicking the button buried within Settings. However, if end users really wanted to be a part of testing the latest features, the Windows Insider Program is designed exactly for that purpose.
Further reading: Windows 10's 'Check for updates' button may download beta code.Read Replies (0)