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Bitcoin Foundation Boss Urges Cautious Investment

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 22:45
The head of the Bitcoin Foundation, Llew Claasen, has urged people to invest "no more than they can afford" in the crypto-currency. From a report: He was speaking at the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania about the potential for Bitcoin in Africa. Billions lack access to formal banking, but the uptake of mobile money means many are willing to embrace alternatives. Bitcoin had been adopted in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, he said. The digital currency had particular resonance in countries with volatile economies, he said. "It offers people a chance to protect their savings from government abuse of monetary policy. A lot of people in Zimbabwe are interested in it as an alternative financial system, but that is not an easy thing to do formally as we don't want to be perceived as wanting to disrupt economies," he told the BBC. The Washington-based Bitcoin Foundation is a non-profit organisation that promotes the use of Bitcoin around the world.

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Google To Comply With EU Search Demands To Avoid More Fines

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 22:05
Google will comply with Europe's demands to change the way it runs its shopping search service, a rare instance of the internet giant bowing to regulatory pressure to avoid more fines. From a report: The Alphabet unit faced a Tuesday deadline to tell the European Union how it planned to follow an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services in the region. A Google spokeswoman said it is sharing that plan with regulators before the deadline expires, but declined to comment further. The EU fined Google a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in late June for breaking antitrust rules by skewing its general search results to unfairly favor its own shopping service over rival sites. The company had 60 days to propose how it would "stop its illegal content" and 90 days to make changes to how the company displays shopping results when users search for a product. Those changes need to be put in place by Sept. 28 to stave off a risk that the EU could fine the company 5 percent of daily revenue for each day it fails to comply. "The obligation to comply is fully Google's responsibility," the European Commission said in an emailed statement, without elaborating on what the company must do to comply.

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In Our Cynical Age, No One Fails Anymore -- Everybody 'Pivots'

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 21:25
An anonymous reader shares a report: The "pivot" has assumed a peculiar place in our common lexicon. A word once used to describe a guard angling for position on the basketball court is now in wide circulation in politics and business. That's especially the case in Silicon Valley, where pivoting has become the new failure, a concept to describe a haphazard, practically madcap form of iterative development. With its sheen of management-speak, pivoting is well suited to our moment. And like any act of public relations, pivoting is also a performance. A key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though it arises from desperation, is nevertheless supposed to appear methodical. The word seems to have first gained currency in Silicon Valley through the efforts of Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup." Ries defines pivoting as "a change in strategy without a change in vision." Many successful start-ups now claim a pivot as their origin story. Slack began its life as a video-game company before realizing that its actual value might lie in a chat app the company used to communicate internally. The company is now considered to be worth at least $5 billion, putting it among the most successful pivoters of all time. (Other web staples -- YouTube, Groupon, Instagram -- began life in vastly different iterations before pivoting into their current forms.) There's a promise of technocratic efficiency with pivoting, that all you require is a good business plan, and perhaps another injection of venture capital, and you can transform yourself overnight.

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New Ryzen Running Stable On Linux, Threadripper Builds Kernel In 36 Seconds

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 20:41
An anonymous reader writes: After AMD confirmed the a "performance marginality problem" affecting some Ryzen Linux users, RMAs are being issued and replacement Ryzen processors arriving for affected opensource fans. Phoronix has been able to confirm that the new Ryzen CPUs are running stable without the segmentation fault problem that would occur under very heavy workloads. They have also been able to test now the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. The Threadripper 1950X on Linux is unaffected by any issues unless you count the lack of a thermal reporting driver. With the 32 threads under Linux they have been able to build the Linux kernel in just about a half minute.

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Ask Slashdot: Is Leasing a Smartphone Better Than Buying One?

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 20:05
An anonymous reader writes: The biggest benefit with a lease program is you have the option of upgrading to a newer phone model, usually after just a year. You don't get that option when you buy. But with a lease program, although it may be cheaper, you have to return the phone at the end of the agreement or when you upgrade -- meaning you can't pass it off to your child or sell it. So rather than leasing, buying may be a better option. But a New York Times column makes case for why leasing is the right way to go about it. I wanted to check with Slashdot readers, what do you prefer and why?

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On Internet Privacy, Be Very Afraid

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 19:26
Cybersecurity expert and Berkman Klein fellow Bruce Schneier talked to the Gazette about what consumers can do to protect themselves from government and corporate surveillance. From the interview: GAZETTE: After whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations concerning the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance operation in 2013, how much has the government landscape in this field changed? SCHNEIER: Snowden's revelations made people aware of what was happening, but little changed as a result. The USA Freedom Act resulted in some minor changes in one particular government data-collection program. The NSA's data collection hasn't changed; the laws limiting what the NSA can do haven't changed; the technology that permits them to do it hasn't changed. It's pretty much the same. GAZETTE: Should consumers be alarmed by this? SCHNEIER: People should be alarmed, both as consumers and as citizens. But today, what we care about is very dependent on what is in the news at the moment, and right now surveillance is not in the news. It was not an issue in the 2016 election, and by and large isn't something that legislators are willing to make a stand on. Snowden told his story, Congress passed a new law in response, and people moved on. GAZETTE: What about corporate surveillance? How pervasive is it? SCHNEIER: Surveillance is the business model of the internet. Everyone is under constant surveillance by many companies, ranging from social networks like Facebook to cellphone providers. This data is collected, compiled, analyzed, and used to try to sell us stuff. Personalized advertising is how these companies make money, and is why so much of the internet is free to users. We're the product, not the customer.

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BackBlaze's Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 18:43
BackBlaze is back with its new hard drive reliability report: Since our last report for Q1 2017, we have added 635 additional hard drives to bring us to the 83,151 drives we'll focus on. We'll begin our review by looking at the statistics for the period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 (Q2 2017). [...] When looking at the quarterly numbers, remember to look for those drives with at least 50,000 drive hours for the quarter. That works out to about 550 drives running the entire quarter. That's a good sample size. If the sample size is below that, the failure rates can be skewed based on a small change in the number of drive failures. Editor's note: In short: hard drives from HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, and Toshiba were far more reliable than those from Seagate across the models BackBlaze uses in its datacenters.

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Google Unveils ARCore, Its Answer To Apple's ARKit

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 18:01
Google has taken the wraps off its answer to Apple's ARKit -- a new augmented reality development platform called "ARCore." In a blog post, the company said it's releasing a "preview" software development kit for ARCore to Android developers today. From a report: Google released its Tango AR platform in 2014, but AR experiences built on that platform could run only on a few phones sporting advanced sensors and cameras. With ARCore, Google says, developers can create AR apps and games that run on virtually any Android smartphone -- existing and forthcoming. "We've been developing the fundamental technologies that power mobile AR over the last three years with Tango, and ARCore is built on that work," says Android Engineering VP Dave Burke in today's blog post. Developers who have already developed on the Tango platform, Burke says, can use that experience to help them create on the ARCore platform. ARCore games and apps will use an Android phone's camera to determine the position and movement of the phone itself within a real-world environment. The camera will determine the location of horizontal surfaces on which to place digital objects. The camera will also measure the ambient light in a given space, so that digital objects will appear to reflect light in convincing ways.

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Apple Pushes Studios to Offer 4K Content for Upcoming Apple TV at Lower Prices, Report Says

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 17:22
Apple appears to have ambitious plans to attract people's interest in its streaming device Apple TV, according to a new report. An anonymous reader shares a report: The company, which is widely expected to refresh the Apple TV next month to bring support for videos in 4K, is in talks with Hollywood studios to bring Ultra HD content at lower prices, WSJ reported on Tuesday. Apple is widely expected to unveil new iPhone models - including one called the iPhone 8 - next month. The publication reports that the iPhone-maker is pushing Hollywood studios to agree to sell Ultra HD editions of movies at $19.99, the usual price the company charges for full-HD of new movies. But Hollywood studios, which have seen a significant portion of their business go to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, are pushing for higher prices. Hollywood studios, according to the report, are asking Apple to increase the asking price from proposed $19.99 per movie by $5 to $10.

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Publishers Are Making More Video -- Whether You Want It or Not

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 16:41
An anonymous reader shares a report: Mic, a website aimed at millennials, used to employ 40 writers and editors producing articles on topics like "celebrating beauty" and "strong women." Ten were let go this month, with most in the revamped newsroom of 63 now focused on making videos for places like Facebook. Critics have called such moves "100 percent cynical" and out of sync with audience demand. Yet Americans are watching more video snippets online, either because they secretly like them or because they're getting harder to avoid. The growing audience for video, more valuable to advertisers than the space next to words, is causing websites to shift resources in what's become known across the industry as the pivot to video. Americans are expected to spend 81 minutes a day watching digital video in 2019, up from 61 minutes in 2015, according to projections by research firm eMarketer. Time spent reading a newspaper is expected to drop to 13 minutes a day from 16 minutes during that time. The question is whether those trends will sustain the growing number of outlets flooding social networks with video clips. Mic, a New York-based news site founded in 2011, was just the latest to fire writers when it announced its pivot to video this month. Dozens of writers and editors have also been laid off this summer at news outlets like Vocativ, Fox Sports, Vice and MTV News. All of the moves were tied in part to focusing more resources on making videos. Publishers are heading in this direction even though polls show consumers find video ads more irritating than TV commercials. Google and Apple are testing features that let you mute websites with auto-play videos or block them entirely. More young Americans prefer reading the news than watching it, according to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center. But many publishers have little choice.

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Microsoft's Open Invitation To Valve, Nintendo and Others To Join Xbox One and PC Crossplay

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 16:00
Microsoft has said it's ready to have a "conversation" with any development team that wants to feature crossplay support on consoles and PC. From a report: Mike Ybarra, vice president of Xbox, told VG247 that it's happy to talk to the likes of Valve and Nintendo when it comes to getting multiplayer games working across multiple platforms, not just between Xbox One and Windows. "It's more about gamer choice, more about making an IP on our platform last longer. I don't care about where they play, I just want people to have fun playing games because that's just better for the industry," said Ybarra. "The demands of consumers and developers have changed," he continued. "People are like, 'we want all of our gamers in one multiplayer pool together, playing.' "We totally agree with that. If any developer wants to have that conversation... Valve is right down the street from us, Nintendo is too -- they're like a block from us. We're having these discussions as developers come up, and we're completely open to that."

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Popular YouTube Artist Uses AI To Record New Album

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 15:00
An anonymous reader shares a report from The Verge of a popular YouTube artist who is using artificial intelligence to produce a LP: If you heard Taryn Southern's new single "Break Free" on the radio, you'd probably just keep driving or grocery shopping, or doing whatever you do in places that still have radios playing. The song is a big, moody ballad -- the kind that might play during the climax of a Steven Spielberg movie. "Break Free" wasn't composed by a John Williams copycat, but by artificial intelligence. The song is not a fluke or a novelty for Southern either; she's using artificial intelligence platforms to create an entire album, called I AM AI. It's the first LP to be entirely composed and produced with AI. Southern used an open source AI platform called Amper Music to create the stems of "Break Free." For each track, she plugs in genre, the instruments she wants to use, and beats per minute. In return, Amper churns out disjointed verses that can be rearranged into a song, and layered beneath Southern's vocals. Southern told The Verge she's toying with four other AI music platforms, but she's not sure which of those will make the final album cut.

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FDA Designates MDMA As 'Breakthrough Therapy' For PTSD

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 12:00
In what could lead to a faster path to pharmaceutical approval, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as a "breakthrough therapy" in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Futurism reports: The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced the FDA's ruling last week, revealing that they can now move forward on two of their upcoming "Phase 3" trials. The goal of these trials is to determine how effectively the drug can be used to treat those suffering from PTSD. The trials will include 200 to 300 participants, and the first trial will begin to accept subjects in 2018. The trials will be held in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, and MAPS plans to open talks with the European Medicines Agency in the hopes of expanding testing to include Europe. For now, the focus is on securing the funding they require. According to Science, the organization is still in the process of raising money for the trials, and thus far, they've only managed to secure $13 million, about half of their goal. Previous MAPS trials exploring how well MDMA could treat PTSD have yielded favorable results, contributing to the FDA's aforementioned decision. In the association's Phase 2 trails, 107 people who had PTSD for an average of 17.8 years were treated using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. After two months, 61 percent of the participants no longer suffered from PTSD. After a year, that number increased to 68 percent, according to the MAPS press release.

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Lost Turing Letters Give Unique Insight Into His Academic Life Prior To Death

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 09:00
bellwould shares a report from The University of Manchester. From the report: A lost and unique collection of letters and correspondence from the late Alan Turing has been found in an old filing cabinet in a storeroom at the University of Manchester. The file's content, which potentially hasn't seen the light of day for at least 30 years, dates from early 1949 until Turing's death in June 1954. Altogether there are 148 documents, including a letter from GCHQ, a handwritten draft BBC radio program about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and offers to lecture from some of America's most famous universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). ... [T]he letters do give a unique glimpse into his every day working life at the time of these events. Plus, some documents also give a brief insight into some of his more forthright personal opinions. For example, his response to a conference invitation to the U.S. in April 1953 is simply, "I would not like the journey, and I detest America." The collection of papers has been sorted, catalogued and stored at the University's Library by Archivist, James Peters. The documents themselves were found by Professor Jim Miles of the School of Computer Science.

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Mayweather-McGregor Streaming Glitches Prompt Lawsuit Against Showtime

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 07:00
Customers who paid $99.99 to watch the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight are suing Showtime due to the quality of their stream and buffering issues. From a report via Hollywood Reporter: Portland, Ore., boxing fan Zack Bartel paid to stream the fight in high-definition through the Showtime app but says all he saw was "grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls." Bartel is suing Showtime for unlawful trade practices and unjust enrichment, alleging the network rushed its pay-per-view streaming service to the market without securing the bandwidth necessary to support the scores of cable-cutting fans. The complaint, which is largely composed of screenshots and tweets, is seeking for each member of the class actual damages or $200 in statutory damages, whichever is greater. The proposed class includes Oregon consumers who viewed Showtime's app advertisement on iTunes and paid $99.99 to stream the fight, but were unable to view the fight live on the app "in HD at 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second, and who experienced ongoing grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls instead." Showtime senior vp sports communications director, Chris DeBlasio, says: "We have received a very limited number of complaints and will issue a full refund for any customer who purchased the event directly from Showtime and were unable to receive the telecast." DeBlasio recommends users contact their cable or satellite provider if they experienced any issues.

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Tech Firms Team Up To Take Down 'WireX' Android DDoS Botnet

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs On Security: A half dozen technology and security companies -- some of them competitors -- issued the exact same press release today. This unusual level of cross-industry collaboration caps a successful effort to dismantle "WireX," an extraordinary new crime machine comprising tens of thousands of hacked Android mobile devices that was used this month to launch a series of massive cyber attacks. Experts involved in the takedown warn that WireX marks the emergence of a new class of attack tools that are more challenging to defend against and thus require broader industry cooperation to defeat. News of WireX's emergence first surfaced August 2, 2017, when a modest collection of hacked Android devices was first spotted conducting some fairly small online attacks. Less than two weeks later, however, the number of infected Android devices enslaved by WireX had ballooned to the tens of thousands. Experts tracking the attacks soon zeroed in on the malware that powers WireX: Approximately 300 different mobile apps scattered across Google's Play store that were mimicking seemingly innocuous programs, including video players, ringtones or simple tools such as file managers. Experts involved in the takedown say it's not clear exactly how many Android devices may have been infected with WireX, in part because only a fraction of the overall infected systems were able to attack a target at any given time. Devices that were powered off would not attack, but those that were turned on with the device's screen locked could still carry on attacks in the background, they found. The identical press release that Akamai and other firms involved in the WireX takedown agreed to publish says the botnet infected a minimum of 70,000 Android systems, but Seaman says that figure is conservative.

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Nintendo Faces Supply Issues Ahead of Holiday Season

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 02:45
Takashi Mochizuki and Sarah E. Needleman report via The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Nintendo's latest videogame machine, the Nintendo Switch, is winning fans for both its lineup of popular games and its flexibility -- it works as both a living-room console and a hand-held device. But the real challenge for gamers has been actually getting their hands on it. Production isn't keeping up with demand in Japan, resulting in blockbuster queues and lotteries there. Over weekends in July and early August, tens of thousands of fans lined up at stores for a one-in-10 chance to buy the $300 console at events that have become a form of entertainment. Nintendo's official target is to ship 10 million Switch units in its current fiscal year ending in March 2018. People involved in the supply chain say they have been told to prepare for 18 million units. One executive in the supply chain said his company was ready to pick up the pace of production if asked. One delicate balance for Nintendo: The more it tries to boost output quickly, the more it has to bow to the terms of parts makers, some of whom are also busy with orders for Apple Inc.'s next iPhone. "We're doing everything we can to make sure everyone who wants to buy a Nintendo Switch system can do so," Nintendo said in a statement. "We will ramp up production for the holiday period, which has been factored into our forecast."

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A Year After Mirai: DVR Torture Chamber Test Shows Two Minutes Between Exploits

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 02:05
UnderAttack writes: Over two days, the Internet Storm Center connected a default configured DVR to the internet, and rebooted it every 5 minutes in order to allow as many bots as possible to infect it. They detected about one successful attack (using the correct password xc3511) every 2 minutes. Most of the attackers were well known vulnerable devices. A year later, what used to be known as the "Mirai" botnet has branched out into many different variants. But it looks like much hyped "destructive" variants like Brickerbot had little or no impact.

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Facebook Pages Spreading Fake News Won't Be Able To Buy Ads

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 01:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Facebook says it's taking another step against Pages that share fabricated news stories. The company has already been working with outside fact-checkers like Snopes and the AP to flag inaccurate news stories. (These aren't supposed to be stories that are disputed for reasons of opinion or partisanship, but rather outright hoaxes and lies.) It also says that when a story is marked as disputed, the link can can no longer be promoted through Facebook ads. The next step, which the company is announcing today, involves stopping Pages that regularly share these stories from buying any Facebook ads at all, regardless of whether or not the ad includes a disputed link. In this case, Leathern said blocking ad-buying is meant to change the economic incentives. Facebook is concerned that "there are Pages posting this information that are using Facebook Ads to build audiences" to spread false news. By changing the ad policy, Facebook makes it harder for companies to attract that audience.

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New York City Cops Will Replace Their 36,000 Windows Phones With iPhones

Slashdot - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 00:40
The New York City Police Department says it will give up its 36,000 Windows phones and transition to iPhones by the end of the year. The Verge reports: The switch is prompted in part by news in July that Microsoft was ending support for Windows Phone 8.1, which a large percentage of all Windows-powered phones are still using. It's a predictable end to the Windows phone, considering that its market share had already slipped below 1 percent at the time the police department adopted its phones last year. The ill-fated decision to go with the Windows phone was made solely by its NYPD deputy commissioner for IT, according to The New York Post, and apparently did not receive further judgment before implementing the program. The Windows models were Nokia Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL, equipped with special 911 apps, case management apps, and the ability to receive assignments. They were purchased as part of a $160 million initiative to modernize the NYPD, which has been around since 1845. The new business for Microsoft's phones was clearly not enough to keep Windows Phone alive.

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