By BeauHD from Slashdot's privacy-matters department
shanen writes: Due to the recent kerfuffles, I decided to try again to see what Google had on me. This time I succeeded and failed, in contrast to the previous pure failures. Yes, I did find Google's takeout website and downloaded all of "my data," but no, it means nothing to me. Here are a few sub-questions I couldn't answer: 1. Much more data than I ever created, so where did the rest come from? 2. How does the data relate to the characteristic vector that Google uses to characterize me? 3. What tools do Googlers use to make sense of the data? Lots more questions, but those are the ones that are most bugging me right now. Question 2. is probably heaviest among them, since I've read that the vector has 700 dimensions... So do you have any answers? Or better questions? Or your own takeout experiences to share?
Oh yeah, one more thing. Based on my own troubled experience with the download process, it is clear that Google doesn't really want us to download the so-called "our own" data. My Question 4. is now: "What is Google hiding about me from me?"Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stuck-in-purgatory department
Since the recent Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook has been rolling out more security and data privacy updates. "Today, however, the company announced sweeping changes to many of its most prominent APIs, restricting develop access in a number of crucial ways," reports The Verge. "Soon after, Tinder users started noting on Twitter that they had been kicked off the dating app and couldn't log back on, as those who used Facebook Login were caught in an infinite loop that appears to be related to an unknown bug." From the report: The app has been bringing up an error message to booted users, titled Facebook Permissions, stating that users need to provide more Facebook permissions in order to create or use a Tinder account. If users tap "Ask me," which is the only given option, the app requests they log into Facebook once more and the loop starts again. Roderick Hsiao, a senior software engineer at Tinder, tweeted that users could still access the service through its web browser while engineers worked on fixing the mobile client.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-expected department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: CenturyLink is trying to force customers into arbitration in order to avoid a class-action lawsuit from subscribers who say they've been charged for services they didn't order. To do so, CenturyLink has come up with a surprising argument -- the company says it doesn't have any customers. While the customers sued CenturyLink itself, the company says the customers weren't actually customers of CenturyLink. Instead, CenturyLink says they were customers of 10 subsidiaries spread through the country. CenturyLink basically doesn't exist as a service provider -- according to a brief CenturyLink filed Monday.
"That sole defendant, CenturyLink, Inc., is a parent holding company that has no customers, provides no services, and engaged in none of the acts or transactions about which Plaintiffs complain," CenturyLink wrote. "There is no valid basis for Defendant to be a party in this Proceeding: Plaintiffs contracted with the Operating Companies to purchase, use, and pay for the services at issue, not with CenturyLink, Inc." CenturyLink says those operating companies should be able to intervene in the case and "enforce class-action waivers," which would force the customers to pursue their claims via arbitration instead of in a class-action lawsuit. By suing CenturyLink instead of the subsidiaries, "it may be that Plaintiffs are hoping to avoid the arbitration and class-action waiver provisions," CenturyLink wrote.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's don't-be-evil department
Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company's involvement in a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). From a report: The letter, which is circulating inside Google and has garnered more than 3,100 signatures, reflects a culture clash between Silicon Valley and the federal government that is likely to intensify as cutting-edge artificial intelligence is increasingly employed for military purposes. "We believe that Google should not be in the business of war," says the letter, addressed to Sundar Pichai, the company's chief executive. It asks that Google pull out of Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot program, and announce a policy that it will not "ever build warfare technology." That kind of idealistic stance, while certainly not shared by all Google employees, comes naturally to a company whose motto is "Don't be evil," a phrase invoked in the protest letter. But it is distinctly foreign to Washington's massive defense industry and certainly to the Pentagon, where the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, has often said a central goal is to increase the "lethality" of the United States military.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
An anonymous reader writes: Intel released an update to the Meltdown and Spectre mitigation guide, revealing that it stopped working on mitigations for some processor series. The Meltdown and Spectre mitigation guide is a PDF document that Intel published in February. The file contains information on the status of microcode updates for each of Intel's CPU models released in the past years. Intel has constantly updated the document in the past weeks with new information about processor series and the microcode firmware version number that includes patches for the Meltdown and Spectre flaws. An update published on Monday includes for the first time a "Stopped" production status. Intel says that processors with a "Stopped" status will not receive microcode updates. The reasons basically vary from "redesigning the CPU micro-architecture is impossible or not worth the effort" to "it's an old CPU" and "customers said they don't need it." The following Intel processor products received a "Stopped" status marker: Bloomfield, Bloomfield Xeon, Clarksfield, Gulftown, Harpertown Xeon C0, Harpertown Xeon E0, Jasper Forest, Penryn/QC, SoFIA 3GR, Wolfdale C0, Wolfdale M0, Wolfdale E0, Wolfdale R0, Wolfdale Xeon C0, Wolfdale Xeon E0, Yorkfield, and Yorkfield Xeon.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's silent-but-deadly department
New submitter john of sparta shares a report from Space.com: NASA has taken a huge leap forward in its quest to create an aircraft that can travel faster than the speed of sound without causing the ear-splitting sonic boom. The space agency announced today (April 2) that it has awarded the aerospace company Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to design and build a new X-plane, known as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), which may soar silently over the U.S. by 2022. Lockheed Martin's LBFD won't be built for transporting people. Before any supersonic planes will be allowed to fly over land, NASA and Lockheed Martin must prove that it's possible to break the sound barrier without the sonic boom. Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said that the LBFD will fly over select U.S. cities starting in mid-2022 and NASA will "ask the people living and working in those communities to tell us what they heard, if anything." The LBFD aircraft will be 94 feet (29 meters) long, or about the size of a small business jet. It will fly at a cruising altitude of about 55,000 feet (17,000 meters) and reach a speed of 1.4 times the speed of sound (about 1,000 mph, or 1,600 km/h). This will "create a sound about as loud as a car door closing," NASA officials said in the news conference.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fully-digital department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: It is hard to argue that you cannot trust the government when the government isn't really all that bad. This is the problem facing the small but growing number of Swedes anxious about their country's rush to embrace a cash-free society. Most consumers already say they manage without cash altogether, while shops and cafes increasingly refuse to accept notes and coins because of the costs and risk involved. Until recently, however, it has been hard for critics to find a hearing. "The Swedish government is a rather nice one, we have been lucky enough to have mostly nice ones for the past 100 years," says Christian Engstrom, a former MEP for the Pirate Party and an early opponent of the cashless economy. "In other countries there is much more awareness that you cannot trust the government all the time. In Sweden it is hard to get people mobilized."
There are signs this might be changing. In February, the head of Sweden's central bank warned that Sweden could soon face a situation where all payments were controlled by private sector banks. The Riksbank governor, Stefan Ingves, called for new legislation to secure public control over the payments system, arguing that being able to make and receive payments is a "collective good" like defense, the courts, or public statistics. "Most citizens would feel uncomfortable to surrender these social functions to private companies," he said. "It should be obvious that Sweden's preparedness would be weakened if, in a serious crisis or war, we had not decided in advance how households and companies would pay for fuel, supplies and other necessities." The report mentions a recently-released opinion poll, which found that seven out of 10 Swedes wanted to keep the option to use cash, while just 25% wanted a completely cashless society.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-work-no-play department
Last week, Apple introduced a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support. iFixit has published its teardown of the device this morning, and as The Verge points out, schools won't like how difficult it is to repair. From the report: The takeaway from all this is that the new iPad isn't going to be any easier to repair than prior generations, which were already borderline unrepairable. If an iPad breaks, there's almost no chance that a district will be able to repair it in-house; whereas on cheaper Chromebooks, there's a possibility an IT team could open them up to make some basic fixes. It's a weak point that it's hard to see Apple ever addressing. And since schools aren't exactly forgiving environments for a lent-out device, how well the iPad holds up to drops and dings, and how expensive it is to fix, are bound to be factors in a school's decision on which devices to adopt. Mac Rumors highlights the key findings from iFixit's teardown: The new iPad's lack of waterproofing, non-replaceable charging port, zero upgradeability, and use of glue throughout the internals added up to a "repair nightmare." iFixit then pointed towards the HP Elite x2 1012 G1 tablet, which got a perfect repairability score of 10 out of 10, summarizing that "Apple's 'education' iPad is still a case of won't -- not can't." One of the iPad's advantages in terms of repairability comes in the form of its digitizer panel easily separating from the display. iFixit pointed out that in the event that either component should break, repair will be easier for schools and educators. The sixth-gen iPad has the same battery as the previous model, with 32.9 Wh capacity. iFixit noted that while this allows Apple to reuse existing manufacturing lines to reduce waste, the battery is still locked behind a "repair-impeding adhesive" that greatly reduced the iPad's repairability score. Apple has provided easy battery removal before, in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but iFixit hasn't seen anything like it since. Ultimately, iFixit gave the 2018 iPad a repairability score of 2 out of 10, favoring the fairly easy repair options of its air-gapped, non-fused display and digitizer glass, but taking marks off for its heavy use of adhesive and sticky tape.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's strictly-speaking department
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday that the social network had no immediate plans to apply a strict new European Union law on data privacy in its entirety to the rest of the world. The news comes as Facebook reels from a scandal over its handling of personal information of millions of its users. Reuters reports: Zuckerberg told Reuters in a phone interview that Facebook already complies with many parts of the law ahead of its implementation in May. He said the company wanted to extend privacy guarantees worldwide in spirit, but would make exceptions, which he declined to describe. His comments signals that U.S. Facebook users, many of them still angry over the company's handling of personal information, may soon find themselves in a worse position than Europeans. The European law, called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the internet, giving Europeans the right to know what data is stored on them and the right to have it deleted. Asked what parts of the EU law he would not extend worldwide, Zuckerberg said: "We're still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing." He did not elaborate.Read Replies (0)