Technology archive for 2017-01-08

Uber Gives Cities Free Travel-Time Data

(2 years ago)
Uber is now "leveraging anonymous GPS information from hundreds of thousands of online Uber vehicles" using a new tool called Uber Movement. An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:Uber is going to make urban traffic and mobility data gleaned from its millions of drivers and riders using the Uber app freely available to all. The data, which shows anonymized travel times between points in cities, will be available on a public website called Uber Movement. Uber says it will first invite planning agencies and researchers to access the information and then make the website free to the public... The San Francisco-based company decided to release the data when it realized it had "this very valuable but untapped resource for understanding a city's transportation infrastructure," said Andrew Salzberg, Uber's head of transportation policy... Pegged to a transportation conference in DC on Sunday, the release is also likely is a bid to gain some goodwill with cities, with which Uber has often had bare-knuckled fights over regulation... Uber Movement doesn't map individuals rides, but rather segments of rides, focusing on travel time between specific points... The Uber data will give cities a low-cost way to do high-resolution travel time analysis Boston's chief information officer says the new tool "gives people tools to ask us questions. That's really powerful."[..]

Waymo says it is now producing all self-driving tech in house, with big cost savings, will deploy Chrysler minivans this month in Mountain View and Phoenix (Andrew J . Hawkins/The Verge)

(2 years ago)
Andrew J . Hawkins / The Verge:Waymo says it is now producing all self-driving tech in house, with big cost savings, will deploy Chrysler minivans this month in Mountain View and Phoenix  —  Now with all-new tech produced in-house  —  Waymo, the self-driving car startup spun-off from Google late last year …

Uber launches Movement, a website to share its aggregated travel times data for cities, starting with Washington, Boston, Manila, and Sydney (Washington Post)

(2 years ago)
Washington Post:Uber launches Movement, a website to share its aggregated travel times data for cities, starting with Washington, Boston, Manila, and Sydney  —  SAN FRANCISCO — The combative ride-hailing giant Uber is extending an olive branch to cities — in the form of data that transit wonks have coveted for years.

Choked By Smog, Beijing Creates A New Environmental Police Force

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader quotes the Christian Science Monitor:A new police force will crack down on environmental offenders in Beijing, city officials announced Saturday, marking the Chinese government's latest attempt to reduce smog... Other measures included cutting coal use by 30 percent in 2017, shutting down 500 higher-polluting factories and upgrading 2,500 others, phasing out 300,000 higher-polluting older vehicles, and supplying cleaner gas and diesel at fuel stations starting February 15. The announcement came one day after municipal authorities in Beijing announced they would install air purifiers in the city's schools and kindergartens. Beijing's mayor said that smoke from trash burning and open-air barbecues and even dust from roads "are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google shows improved self-driving system in Chrysler Pacifica

(2 years ago)
DETROIT (Reuters) - Google unveiled its latest self-driving system in a Chrysler Pacifica minivan during a Sunday preview ahead of the Detroit auto show, saying the technology is more reliable and affordable.

Ask Slashdot: What's The Most Useful 'Nerd Watch' Today?

(2 years ago)
He's worn the same watch for two decades, but now Slashdot reader students wants a new one. For about 20 years I've used Casio Databank 150 watches. They were handy because they kept track of my schedule and the current time. They were very cheap. They required very little maintenance, since the battery lasts more than a year and the bands last even longer. Since they were waterproof, I don't even have to take them off (or remember where I put them!) They were completely immune to malicious software, surveillance, and advertising. However, their waterproof gaskets have worn out so they no longer work for me. Casio no longer makes them or any comparable product (their website is out of date). Today's watches include everything from heart rate monitors to TV remote controls, and Casio even plans to release a new version of their Android Wear watch with a low-power GPS chip and mapping software. But what's your best suggestion? "I don't want a watch that duplicates the function of my cell phone or computer," adds the original submission -- so leave your best answers in the comments. What's the most useful nerd watch today? Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nokia Finally Returns To The Smartphone Market (In China)

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader quotes Mashable:To little fanfare, the Finnish technology company HMD Global Sunday unveiled the Nokia 6, a mid-range Android smartphone for the Chinese market. HMD owns the rights to use Nokiaâ(TM)s brand on mobile phones. The Nokia 6, which runs the newest version of Googleâ(TM)s mobile operating system, Android Nougat, sports a 5.5-inch full HD (1920x1080 pixels) display. With metal on the sides and a rounded rectangular fingerprint scanner housed on the front, the Nokia 6 seems reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S7. The new Nokia smartphone is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor and will compete with the likes of Samsungâ(TM)s Galaxy A series models and other mid-end smartphones... The smartphone is priced at 1,699 Chinese Yuan (roughly $250). Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A profile of Sigfox, the French startup building a global communications network for Internet of Things devices (Chris O'Brien/VentureBeat)

(2 years ago)
Chris O'Brien / VentureBeat:A profile of Sigfox, the French startup building a global communications network for Internet of Things devices  —  FEATURE:  —  Xavier Torres-Tuset saw his future the first time he heard of Sigfox.  —  The French engineer had been interested in building a new type of tracking device for remote objects …

Richard Stallman Acknowledges Libreboot Is No Longer A Part of GNU

(2 years ago)
Libreboot became an official GNU project in May. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes:Richard Stallman has officially announced that Libreboot is no longer a GNU package. The maintainer of Libreboot had tried to leave the GNU project in September 2016, but the departure was not acknowledged until January 2017. Libreboot is a replacement for proprietary BIOS systems, effectively a distribution of coreboot without any binary blobs and adding an automated build/install process. In the post titled "Goodbye to GNU Libreboot," Stallman wrote that "When a package's maintainer steps down, that doesn't by itself break the relationship between GNU and the package. If it is left without a maintainer but is still useful, the GNU Project will usually look for new maintainers to work on it. However, we can instead drop ties with the package, if that seems the right thing to do. "A few months ago, the maintainer of GNU Libreboot decided not to work on Libreboot for the GNU Project any more. That was her decision to make. She also asserted that Libreboot was no longer a GNU package -- something she could not unilaterally do. The GNU Project had to decide what to do in regard to Libreboot. We have decided to go along with the former GNU maintainer's wishes in this case, for a combination of reasons: (1) it had not been a GNU package for very long, (2) she was the developer who had originally made it a GNU package, and (3) there were no major developers who wanted to continue developing[..]

A Federal Judge's Decision Could End Patent Trolling

(2 years ago)
"Forcing law firms to pay defendants' legal bills could undermine the business model of patent trolls," reports Computerworld. whoever57 writes: Patent trolls rely on the fact that they have no assets and, if they lose a case, they can fold the company that owned the patent and sued, thus avoiding paying any of the defendant's legal bills. However in a recent case, the judge told the winning defendant that it can claim its legal bills from the law firm. The decision is based on the plaintiff's law firm using a contract under which it would take a portion of any judgment, making it more than just counsel, but instead a partner with the plaintiff. This will likely result in law firms wanting to be paid up front, instead of offering a contingency-based fee. The federal judge's decision "attacks the heart of the patent-troll system," according to the article, which adds that patent trolls are "the best evidence that pure evil exists." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Huawei Snubs Google, Ships An Android Phone With Alexa

(2 years ago)
Huawei announced its flagship handset will gives users access to Amazon's Alexa assistant in the U.S., suggesting a new worry for Google, according to Reuters. An anonymous reader writes: "The adoption of Alexa by a prominent Android manufacturer indicates that Amazon may have opened up an early lead over Google as the companies race to present their digital assistants to as many people as possible, analysts said." Analyst Jan Dawson at Jackdaw Research even told Reuters that if Google's personal assistant lags in popularity when voice becomes the most popular interface, "thatâ(TM)s a huge loss for Google in terms of data gathering, training its AI, and ultimately the ability to drive advertising revenue." Tension may have started when Google decided to debut Google Assistant on their own Pixel smartphones. "While Google has expressed an interest in bringing its assistant to other Android smartphones, the decision to debut the feature on its own hardware may have strained relations with manufacturers, Dawson said. 'It highlights just what a strategic mistake it can be for services companies to make their own hardware and give it preferential access to new services.'" Nvidia announced this week at CES that they'd be using Google Assistant for their Shield TVs, while Whirlpool and Ford both announced Alexa-enabled products. But this article argues Google Assistant has one thing that Alexa doesn't have: a search engine.[..]

US Government Offers $25,000 Prize For Inventing A Way To Secure IoT Devices

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes:America's Federal Trade Commission has announced a $25,000 prize for whoever creates the best tool for securing consumers' IoT devices. The so-called "IoT Home Inspector Challenge" asks participants to create something that will work on current, already-on-the-market IoT devices, with extra points also awarded for scalability ad easy of use. "Contestants have the option of adding features, such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default, or easy-to-guess passwords," according to the official site, but "The tool would, at a minimum, help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software." The winning submission can't be just a policy (or legal) solution, and will be judged by a panel which includes two computer science professors and a vulnerability researcher from Carnegie Mellon University's CERT Coordination Center. Computerworld points out that "This isn't the first time the FTC has offered cash for software tools. In 2015, it awarded $10,500 to developers of an app that could block robocalls." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Trump accepts U.S. intelligence on Russia hacking: chief of staff

(2 years ago)
(Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump accepts the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia engaged in cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the U.S. elections, his incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus said on Sunday, adding that "actions may be taken" in response.

New Study Finds 'Mediterranean' Diet Significantly Reduces Brain Shrinkage

(2 years ago)
schwit1 writes that 562 elderly research subjects cut their brain shrinkage in half just by changing their diet. (Paywalled article here). The BBC reports:A study of pensioners in Scotland found that those with a diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables and olive oil had healthier brains than those with different eating habits. They suffered less brain shrinkage than those who regularly ate meat and dairy products. The study was carried out by University of Edinburgh researchers.... Scientists found that those who adhered most closely to the diet retained significantly greater brain volume after three years than those who did not... Lead researcher Dr Michelle Luciano said: "As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells, which can affect learning and memory. This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Video shows early iPhone prototype with an iPod-like interface and a software click wheel (James Vincent/The Verge)

(2 years ago)
James Vincent / The Verge:Video shows early iPhone prototype with an iPod-like interface and a software click wheel  —  Images and video show what appear to be an early version of iOS based on the iPod's design  —  We've known for years that Apple considered a number of different approaches when creating …

Is The C Programming Language Declining In Popularity?

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes:Java overtook C as the most popular language in mid-2015 on the TIOBE Programming Community index. But now over the last 13 months, they show C's popularity consistently dropping more and more. C's score had hovered between 15% and 20% for over 15 years but as 2016 ended, the language's popularity is now down to 8.7%. "There is no clear way back to the top," reports the site, asking what happened to C? "It is not a language that you think of while writing programs for popular fields such as mobile apps or websites, it is not evolving that much and there is no big company promoting the language." But the Insights blog at Dice.com counters that TIOBE "has hammered on C for quite some time. Earlier this year, it again emphasized how C is 'hardly suitable for the booming fields of web and mobile app development.' That being said, job postings on Dice (as well as rankings compiled by other organizations) suggest there's still widespread demand for C, which can be used in everything from operating systems to data-intensive applications, and serves many programmers well as an intermediate language." i-programmer suggests this could just be an artifact of the way TIOBE calculates language popularity (by totaling search engine queries). Noting that Assembly language rose into TIOBE's top 10 this year, their editor wrote, "Perhaps it is something to do with the poor state of assembly language documentation that spurs on increasingly desperate searches for[..]

Apple Could Finally Sell More Devices Than Microsoft In 2017

(2 years ago)
Gartner predicts Apple will ship more iOS and macOS devices in 2017 than Windows-powered devices "for the first time this century," and then increase their lead over the next two years. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld:Gartner predicted that iOS + macOS, unlike Windows, will recover in 2017. Apple's OSes will climb 8% to 268 million this year, add 3% in 2018 to reach 276 million, then increase another 3% in 2019, with that year's device shipment forecast at 285 million. Windows will dip this year, then stagnate for the following two years... The gap between Microsoft and Apple -- 12 million last year, with Microsoft atop -- will widen to 27 million by 2019, advantage Apple. "The global devices market is stagnating," said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Wednesday. Mobile phone shipments are growing only in emerging markets in the Asia and Pacific markets, Atwal added, and noted that "The PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline." The PC industry's troubles have affected Microsoft most of all; Windows is almost entirely dependent on PC shipments, which have been stuck in a protracted slump. Future shipments were further hit when Microsoft walked away from the smartphone business last year. The article also points out that even in 2016, Windows devices came in second, and "accounted for approximately 11.2% of the total devices, which overwhelmingly ran Google's Android."[..]

Video shows early iPhone prototype with an iPod-like interface and a software click wheel (Sonny Dickson)

(2 years ago)
Sonny Dickson:Video shows early iPhone prototype with an iPod-like interface and a software click wheel  —  While it has always been known that Apple considered a variety of ideas when they were deciding to enter the mobile phone market (with ex employees discussing it behind closed doors …

The History of the iPhone, On Its 10th Anniversary (Brian McCullough/Internet History Podcast)

(2 years ago)
Brian McCullough / Internet History Podcast:The History of the iPhone, On Its 10th Anniversary  —  So... Three things: A widescreen iPod with touch controls.  A revolutionary mobile phone.  And a breakthrough internet communications device.  An iPod... a phone... and an internet communicator... An iPod, a phone... are you getting it?

Google Boosts Python By Turning It Into Go

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld:Grumpy, an experimental project from Google, transpiles Python code into Go, allowing Python programs to be compiled and run as static binaries using the Go toolchain... In a blog post announcing the open source release, Google stated the project stemmed from its efforts to speed up the Python-powered front end for YouTube. But Google hit an obstacle that's familiar to folks who've deployed Python in production: It's hard to get CPython -- the default Python interpreter written in C -- to scale efficiently. "We think Grumpy has the potential to scale more gracefully than CPython for many real world workloads," writes Google... Because it doesn't support C extensions, Grumpy doesn't have CPython's Global Interpreter Lock, which is commonly cited as a roadblock to running Python concurrent workloads smoothly. Grumpy also uses Go's garbage collection mechanisms to manage memory under the hood, instead of CPython's. Grumpy creates close interoperation between Python and Go by allowing Go packages to be imported and used with the same syntax as Go modules. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nissan is working on a teleoperation system for allowing human operators to remotely control self-driving cars in tricky situations (Alex Davies/Wired)

(2 years ago)
Alex Davies / Wired:Nissan is working on a teleoperation system for allowing human operators to remotely control self-driving cars in tricky situations  —  “This is it!”  Maarten Sierhuis says.  “I mean, look at this.”  He points to a photo of road construction at an intersection in Sunnyvale, California …

The best PCs, gadgets, and wearables of CES 2017 (Ars Technica)

(2 years ago)
Ars Technica:The best PCs, gadgets, and wearables of CES 2017  —  Highlights of the best devices we saw in Las Vegas this year.  —  LAS VEGAS—The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas tries to get consumers (and the media) excited for the new year with a treasure trove of new devices.

TV News Broadcast Accidentally Activates Alexa, Initiates Orders

(2 years ago)
ShaunC writes: In San Diego, TV news anchor Jim Patton was covering a separate story about a child who accidentally ordered a doll house using her family's Echo. Commenting on the story, Patton said "I love the little girl, saying 'Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.'" Viewers across San Diego reported that in response to the news anchor's spoken words, their own Echo devices activated and tried to order doll houses from Amazon. Amazon says that anyone whose Echo inadvertently ordered a physical item can return it at no charge. Meanwhile, Engadget reports that a team of Twitch streamers has convinced one Google Home device to answer questions from another, and they're livestreaming the surreal conversation. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Deal With A 'Gaslighting' Colleague?

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes: What's the best unofficial way to deal with a gaslighting colleague? For those not familiar, I mean "bullies unscheduling things you've scheduled, misplacing files and other items that you are working on and co-workers micro-managing you and being particularly critical of what you do and keeping it under their surveillance. They are watching you too much, implying or blatantly saying that you are doing things wrong when, in fact, you are not...a competitive maneuver, a way of making you look bad so that they look good." I'd add poring over every source-code commit, and then criticizing it even if the criticism is contradictory to what he previously said. The submission adds that "Raising things through the official channels is out of the question, as is confronting the colleague in question directly as he is considered something of a superstar engineer who has been in the company for decades and has much more influence than any ordinary engineer." So leave your best suggestions in the comments. How would you deal with a gaslighting colleague? Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Macbook Saves Man's Life During Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting

(2 years ago)
A 37-year-old credits his MacBook Pro laptop with saving his life during a shooting at the baggage claim of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. An anonymous reader quotes WPLG Miami:He placed it in his backpack, but didn't think of it when he felt an impact on his back during the shooting... When the bloodshed was over, he said he went to the men's restroom and saw a bullet hole on the laptop. He gave it to FBI agents. And he was in shock when they found a 9 mm bullet in his backpack. That was when he realized a gunman aimed to kill him, but the laptop took the bullet for him. "If I didn't have that backpack on, the bullet would have shot me between the shoulders," Frappier said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.


TC:0.0617