By msmash from Slashdot's he-says-she-says department
Joshua Bakita, a former software engineering intern on the Edge team at Microsoft, says one of the reasons why Microsoft had to ditch EdgeHTML rendering engine in Edge browser and switch to Chromium was to keep up with the changes (some of which were notorious) that Google pushed to its sites. These changes were designed to ensure that Edge and other browsers could not properly run Google's sites, he alleged. Responding to a comment, he wrote: "For example, they may start integrating technologies for which they have exclusive, or at least 'special' access. Can you imagine if all of a sudden Google apps start performing better than anyone else's?" This is already happening. I very recently worked on the Edge team, and one of the reasons we decided to end EdgeHTML was because Google kept making changes to its sites that broke other browsers, and we couldn't keep up.
For example, they recently added a hidden empty div over YouTube videos that causes our hardware acceleration fast-path to bail (should now be fixed in Win10 Oct update). Prior to that, our fairly state-of-the-art video acceleration put us well ahead of Chrome on video playback time on battery, but almost the instant they broke things on YouTube, they started advertising Chrome's dominance over Edge on video-watching battery life. What makes it so sad, is that their claimed dominance was not due to ingenious optimization work by Chrome, but due to a failure of YouTube. On the whole, they only made the web slower.
Now while I'm not sure I'm convinced that YouTube was changed intentionally to slow Edge, many of my co-workers are quite convinced -- and they're the ones who looked into it personally. To add to this all, when we asked, YouTube turned down our request to remove the hidden empty div and did not elaborate further. And this is only one case.Read Replies (0)
MIPS Goes Open Source
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '18 at 01:32 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Junko Yoshida, writing for EETimes: Without question, 2018 was the year RISC-V genuinely began to build momentum among chip architects hungry for open-source instruction sets. That was then. By 2019, RISC-V won't be the only game in town. Wave Computing (Campbell, Calif.) announced Monday (Dec. 17) that it is putting MIPS on open source, with MIPS Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) and MIPS' latest core R6 available in the first quarter of 2019. Art Swift, hired by Wave this month as president of its MIPS licensing business, described the move as critical to accelerate the adoption of MIPS in an ecosystem.
Going open source is "a big plan" that Wave CEO Derek Meyer, a MIPS veteran, has been quietly fostering since Wave acquired MIPS Technologies in June, explained Swift. Swift himself is a MIPS alumnus who worked at the company as a vice president of marketing and business development for four years. Wave, which styles itself as a tech startup poised to bring "AI and deep learning from the datacenter to the edge," sees MIPS as a key to advancing Wave's AI into a host of uses and applications. Included in MIPS instruction sets are extensions such as SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) and DSP. Swift promised that MIPS will bring to the open-source community "commercial-ready" instruction sets with "industrial-strength" architecture. "Chip designers will have opportunities to design their own cores based on proven and well tested instruction sets for any purposes," said Swift.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
Less than five months after Google's plan to build a censored search engine and other tools for the Chinese market became public, the company has "effectively ended" the project, reports The Intercept. From the report: Google has been forced to shut down a data analysis system it was using to develop a censored search engine for China after members of the company's privacy team raised internal complaints that it had been kept secret from them, The Intercept has learned. The internal rift over the system has had massive ramifications, effectively ending work on the censored search engine, known as Dragonfly, according to two sources familiar with the plans. The incident represents a major blow to top Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who have over the last two years made the China project one of their main priorities.
The dispute began in mid-August, when the The Intercept revealed that Google employees working on Dragonfly had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, in accordance with strict rules on censorship in China that are enforced by the country's authoritarian Communist Party government.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-bold-step department
The European Union has a target of making all new buildings zero-energy by 2020, but in Norway, carbon neutrality isn't enough. From a report: A consortium in Oslo made up of architects, engineers, environmentalists, and designers is creating energy-positive buildings in a country with some of the coldest and darkest winters on Earth. "If you can make it in Norway, you can make it anywhere," says Peter Bernhard, a consultant with Asplan Viak, one of the Powerhouse alliance members.
Bernhard says Powerhouse began in 2010 with a question: Is it possible to not only eliminate the carbon footprint of buildings, but to also use them as a climate-crisis solution? It was a lofty goal. According to the European Commission, buildings account for 40 percent of energy usage and 36 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions in the EU. But after undertaking several energy-positive projects -- building a new Montessori school, retrofitting four small office buildings, building a few homes, and breaking ground on two new office buildings -- Powerhouse has found the answer to the 2010 question to be an emphatic "Yes." In 2019, the collective's biggest project to date will open to the public: Powerhouse Brattorkaia, in the central Norwegian city of Trondheim.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department
Amazon is rethinking its strategy around some items it sells which it calls internally "Can't realize a profit" -- or "CRaP" for short, according to the Wall Street Journal. From the report: Inside Amazon, the items are known as CRaP, short for "Can't Realize a Profit." Think bottled beverages or snack foods [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. The products tend to be priced at $15 or less, are sold directly by Amazon, and are heavy or bulky and therefore costly to ship -- characteristics that make for thin or nonexistent margins. Now, as Amazon focuses more on its bottom line in addition to its rapid growth, it is increasingly taking aim at CRaP products, according to major brand executives and people familiar with the company's thinking.
In recent months, it has been eliminating unprofitable items and pressing manufacturers to change their packaging to better sell online, according to brands that sell on Amazon and consultants who work with them. One example: bottled water from Coca-Cola Co. Amazon used to have a $6.99 six-pack of Smartwater as the default order on some of its Dash buttons, a small device that allows for automatic reordering with a single press. But in August, after working with Coca-Cola to change how it ships and sells the water, Amazon notified Dash customers it was changing that default item to a 24-pack for $37.20.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Google will invest $1 billion in a new campus in New York City, the company said Monday. From a report: The new 1.7 million square foot "Google Hudson Square" campus will include two buildings located at 315 and 345 Hudson Street and an office space situated at nearby 550, Washington Street in Manhattan, Google said in a blog post on Monday. The move will expand Google's presence near the Hudson River in New York City. Earlier this year, the search giant announced it had purchased shopping and office complex Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion. Google said the Hudson Square campus will be the main location for its New York-based global business organization. It said the investments in Chelsea and Hudson Square will create capacity to more than double headcount in New York over the next decade. Google currently houses more than 7,000 employees in New York City in a range of teams including Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube and Cloud. "Our investment in New York is a huge part of our commitment to grow and invest in U.S. facilities, offices and jobs," Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said in the blog post. Unlike Amazon, Google did not pursue tax breaks or other incentives from New York.Read Replies (0)
The Decline of American Peyote
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-going-gone department
dmoberhaus writes: An investigation into the decline of America's peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus that is critically important to the rituals of the Native American Church, the largest pan-tribal religious organization in the U.S. Motherboard spoke with Dawn Davis, a researcher using satellite data to track the destruction of peyote's habitat, as well as Salvador Johnson, one of only four people who is licensed to harvest and sell peyote in the U.S. by the DEA. "In 2011, Davis traveled to the peyote gardens for the first time and met with Johnson," reports Motherboard. "Davis said that Johnson was following many conservation best practices, such as cycling through the areas where peyote is harvested, but this hadn't slowed the steady decrease in the size and quantity of peyote buttons in his harvests. Today, the biggest threats to peyote continue to be rapid land development, poaching, and rooting by feral pigs -- problems that responsible harvesting by peyoteros can't solve." While there has been an increase in the number of indigenous people growing peyote in greenhouses, this is only a temporary solution to the conservation crisis. Davis is advocating for conservation easements or tax breaks for landowners to encourage the protection of peyote. She also said it will be necessary to push for the DEA to reschedule peyote, which is still considered a Schedule I substance that has "no currently accepted medical use." This makes it exceedingly hard for individuals to become licensed peyoteros.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's perfect-timing department
On Sunday night, a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries. According to Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, the comet will appear as a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. "You've got a one-kilometer solid nuclear in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles," says Tony. The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The New York Times reports: The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the "Christmas comet," was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said. The proximity of 46P/Wirtanen provides an opportunity to research the tail of the comet and see farther into the nucleus.
The comet is visible now but it will shine even brighter on Sunday as it reaches its closest approach, 7.1 million miles from Earth. That may sound really far, but it is among the 10 closest approaches by a comet in 70 years, NASA said. Only a few of those could be seen with the naked eye. Don't worry if you miss the comet on Sunday. It should be just as visible for a week or two because its appearance will change gradually. After it moves on, it won't be this close to Earth again for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Online charts can help pinpoint its location.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pot-calling-the-kettle-black department
Last week, Samsung introduced its latest smartphone, the Galaxy A8s. Not only is it the first phone of theirs with a laser-drilled hole in the display for the front-facing camera sensor, but it is also their first phone to ditch the headphone jack. Slashdot reader TheFakeTimCook shares a report from Mac Rumors that takes a closer look at the move and the hypocrisy behind it: [The A8s] is also Samsung's first smartphone without a headphone jack, much to the amusement of iPhone users, as Samsung has mocked Apple for over two years over its decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 in 2016, a trend that has continued through to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. While on stage unveiling the new Galaxy Note 7 in 2016, for example, Samsung executive Justin Denison made sure to point out that the device came with a headphone jack. "Want to know what else it comes with?" he asked. "An audio jack. I'm just saying," he answered, smirking as the audience laughed. And earlier this year, Samsung mocked the iPhone X's lack of a headphone jack in one of its "Ingenius" ads promoting the Galaxy S9. Samsung isn't the first tech giant to mock Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack, only to follow suit. Google poked fun at the iPhone 7's lack of headphone jack while unveiling its original Pixel smartphone in 2016, and then the Pixel 2 launched without one just a year later.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ahead-of-his-time department
Thelasko quotes a report from Ars Technica: A half century ago, computer history took a giant leap when Douglas Engelbart -- then a mid-career 43-year-old engineer at Stanford Research Institute in the heart of Silicon Valley -- gave what has come to be known as the "mother of all demos." On December 9, 1968 at a computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart showed off the first inklings of numerous technologies that we all now take for granted: video conferencing, a modern desktop-style user interface, word processing, hypertext, the mouse, collaborative editing, among many others. Even before his famous demonstration, Engelbart outlined his vision of the future more than a half-century ago in his historic 1962 paper, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework."
To open the 90-minute-long presentation, Engelbart posited a question that almost seems trivial to us in the early 21st century: "If in your office, you as an intellectual worker were supplied with a computer display, backed up by a computer that was alive for you all day, and was instantly responsible -- responsive -- to every action you had, how much value would you derive from that?" By 1968, Engelbart had created what he called the "oN-Line System," or NLS, a proto-Intranet. The ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet itself, would not be established until late the following year.Read Replies (0)