Technology News

Bitcoin pulls back from 18-month highs after 10% weekend jump

(48 minutes ago)
Bitcoin pulled back from 18-month highs on Monday after jumping more than 10% over the weekend, with analysts ascribing the spike to growing optimism over the adoption of cryptocurrencies after Facebook unveiled its Libra digital coin.

Cop Awarded $585K After 'Dozens' Of Police Officers Accessed Their DMV Data 500 Times

(One hour ago)
Slashdot reader Iwastheone shares a story from Ars Technica about what happened after Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources sent a privacy notification to a police officer in 2013:An employee had abused his access to a government driver's license database and snooped on thousands of people in the state, mostly women. Krekelberg learned that she was one of them. When Krekelberg asked for an audit of accesses to her Department of Motor Vehicles records, as allowed by Minnesota state law, she learned that her information -- which would include things like her address, weight, height, and driver's license pictures -- had been viewed nearly 1,000 times since 2003, even though she was never under investigation by law enforcement... She later learned that over 500 of those lookups were conducted by dozens of other cops. Even more eerie, many officers had searched for her in the middle of the night. Krekelberg eventually sued the city of Minneapolis, as well as two individual officers, for violating the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which governs the disclosure of personal information collected by state Departments of Motor Vehicles. Earlier this week, she won. On Wednesday, a jury awarded Krekelberg $585,000, including $300,000 in punitive damages from the two defendants, who looked up Krekelberg's information after she allegedly rejected their romantic advances, according to court documents... More lawmakers have started advocating for data privacy regulations at the[..]

U.S. cyber attacks on Iranian targets not successful, Iran minister says

(4 hours ago)
U.S. cyber attacks against Iranian targets have not been successful, Iran's telecoms minister said on Monday, within days of reports that the Pentagon launched a long-planned cyber attack to disable the country's rocket launch systems.

Microsoft's Mistakes: What Not To Do When The Government Investigates Your Monopoly

(5 hours ago)
As America's antitrust investigators eye Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon for possible government intervention, Bloomberg offers nine "lessons learned" from the way Microsoft handled its own antitrust investigation: Don't deny the obvious... In the app-store business, Google and iPhone maker Apple together control more than 95 per cent of all US mobile app spending by consumers, according to Sensor Tower data. It could be more effective for these companies not to start by denying that leadership position -- if you have 80% or 90% percent of a market, arguing that you don't really dominate isn't the hill you want your legal reasoning to die on... At the height of Microsoft's hubris (or carelessness, or both), the company sent Windows chief Jim Allchin to the stand with a doctored video that purported to show how computing performance would be degraded when the browser was removed from Windows on a single PC. It was actually done on several different computers and was an illustration of what might happen rather than a factual test, as the company initially claimed -- a fact that came to light only after several days of the government picking through every inconsistency in the video. Microsoft remade the simulation several times in an effort to save the testimony. The company seemed to think it could get away with baldy stating a technological claim and mocking up something that backed it up, perhaps reasoning that no one would know the difference, but it miscalculated[..]

HSBC-backed startup aims to become LinkedIn of global trade

(6 hours ago)
In a first of its kind initiative, HSBC Holdings Plc is backing the launch of a technology startup that aims to connect small-and-medium-sized manufacturers with component suppliers in different parts of the world as part of its trade banking push.

Delta Airlines Begins Using Facial Recognition Scanners To Replace Boarding Passes

(8 hours ago)
"Delta Air Lines announced it will give passengers who fly out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport the option to use facial recognition to board their flight instead of a standard boarding pass," reported a CBS affiliate this week. The facial scanners will be installed this week at 16 gates, with availability on all international flights through Delta beginning in July. The airline is working with Customs and Border Protection on the process. The way it works is gate agents use facial scans for boarding passengers so that they don't need to manually compare their faces and their passport photos. They can skip to using the facial technology. Delta says the process saves about two seconds per passenger or about nine minutes for a plane with 270 people. Delta says 72% of its customers have said they prefer facial recognition to standard boarding procedures. But James Lileks, a columnist for the Star Tribune, explains some of the ways this makes him uncomfortable:Here's the thing. You don't sign up for the facial recognition. You don't send them your face. They already have it. This part is just... glided over in the news reports, waved away like a minor detail you needn't worry your silly little head about. The picture they probably have is my passport photo, taken in 2010... So I guess I'll have to stuff my cheeks with cotton before I lean into the machine that connects to a database of everyone's mug, and hope it doesn't go off "I don't know what they do with[..]

Remembering The Retiree Who Became America's Worst Counterfeiter

(9 hours ago)
The Hustle tells the story of a mysterious legend who "produced thousands of the ugliest counterfeit $1 bills ever poorly done that the Secret Service thought the perpetrator was intentionally mocking them" -- using a small hand-driven printing press in his kitchen:It was printed on cheap bond paper that could be found at any stationary store. The serial numbers were "fuzzy" and misaligned, the Secret Service later said. George Washington's likeness was "clumsily retouched, murky and deathlike," with black blotches for eyes. And just for good measure, the ex-president's name was misspelled "Wahsington"... He also never spent money in the same place twice: His "hits" spanned subway stations, dime stores, and tavern owners all over Manhattan. Investigators set up a map of New York in their office, marking each $1 counterfeit location with a red thumbtack. They handed out some 200,000 warning placards at 10,000 stores. They tracked down dozens of folks who'd spent the bills. But 10 years came and went, and the search for Mister 880 turned into the largest and most expensive counterfeit investigation in Secret Service history. By 1947, the Secret Service had documented some $7,000 of the distinctively terrible fake $1 bills -- about 5% of the $137,318 of fake currency estimated to be in circulation nation-wide. As it turned out, the worst counterfeiter in history was also the most elusive... Agents busted into the brownstone, expecting to find a criminal mastermind.[..]

Amazonians Visit High Schools To Inspect the Amazon Future Engineer Troops

(11 hours ago)
theodp writes: Amazon Future Engineer students across the country are graduating from high school," reports the Amazon Day One blog, "and to celebrate, Amazonians visited select classrooms to meet some of the students and to check out their impressive computer science progress and end of year projects [TV coverage of an 'Amazon graduation']. Amazon Future Engineer "is a four-part, childhood-to-career program aimed at inspiring and educating 10 million students from underrepresented and underserved communities each year to try computer science and coding. Amazon strives to achieve this by inspiring millions of children through coding camps and's Hour of Code program, funding computer science courses in high schools across the country, providing 100 students with four-year college scholarships in computer science, and offering Amazon internships to scholarship recipients." The importance of CS education to Amazon is highlighted in a new Washingtonian story, The Real Story of How Virginia Won Amazon's HQ2, which reports, "Northern Virginia's ultimate proposal was centered around an effort to provide Amazon -- or any other tech firm that wanted to come -- with all the educated workers it needed, now and in the future. [Virginia Economic Development Partnership CEO Stephen] Moret's team proposed increasing tech education from kindergarten through 12th grade, expanding university offerings to produce up to 17,500 new bachelor's degrees in computer science and related[..]

The Threat Actor You Can't Detect: Cognitive Bias

(12 hours ago)
Long-time Slashdot reader chicksdaddy shares news of a recent report from cybersecurity company Forcepoint's X-Lab, examining how cybersecurity decision-making is affected by six common biases:For instance, Forcepoint found that older generations are typically characterized by information security professionals as "riskier users based on their supposed lack of familiarity with new technologies." However, studies have found the opposite to be true: younger people are far more likely to engage in risky behavior like sharing their passwords to streaming services. The presumption that older workers pose more of a risk than younger workers is an example of so-called "aggregate bias," in which subjects make inferences about an individual based on a population trend. Biases like this misinform security professionals by directing their focus to individual users based on their supposed group membership. In turn, analysts wrongly direct their focus to the wrong individuals as sources of security issues. Availability bias may influence cybersecurity analysts' decision-making in favor of hot topics in the news, which ultimately cloud other information they may know but are not so frequently exposed to; leading them to make less well-rounded decisions. People encounter "confirmation bias" most frequently during research. By neglecting the bigger picture, assumptions are made and research is specifically tailored to confirm those assumptions. When looking for issues, analysts can often[..]

Remembering The ENIAC Programmers

(13 hours ago)
On Princeton's "Freedom to Tinker" site, the founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project summarizes 20 years of its research, remembering the "incredible acts of computing innovation during and just after WWII" that "established the foundation of modern computing and programming." Commissioned in 1942, and launched in 1946, the ENIAC computer, with its 18,000 vacuum tubes, was the world's very first modern computer (all-electronic, programmable, and general-purpose). "Key technologists of the time, of course, told the Army that the ENIAC would never work." Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes Cory Doctorow: The ENIAC programmers had to invent programming as we know it, working without programming codes (these were invented a few years later for UNIVAC by Betty Holberton): they "broke down the differential calculus ballistics trajectory program" into small steps the computer could handle, then literally wired together the program by affixing cables and flicking the machine's 3,000 switches in the correct sequences. To capture it all, they created meticulous flowcharts that described the program's workings. From the site:Gunners needed to know what angle to shoot their artillery to hit a target 8 to 10 miles away.... The Army's Ballistics Research Labs (BRL) located women math graduates from schools nearby [who] worked day and night, six days a week, calculating thousands of ballistics trajectories which were compiled into artillery firing tables and sent to soldiers in the[..]

U.S. explores requiring domestic 5G equipment to be made outside China: WSJ

(13 hours ago)
U.S. President Donald Trump is looking to require next-generation 5G cellular equipment used in the United States to be designed and manufactured outside China, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Are Universal Basic Income Proponents Making the Wrong Arguments?

(14 hours ago)
An assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University criticizes the argument that technology "is quickly displacing a large number of workers, and the pace will only increase as automation and other forms of artificial intelligence become more advanced," specifically calling out Universal Basic Income proponents Elon Musk, Andrew Yang, and YCombinator Chairman Sam Altman:The problem is, there's no indication that automation is going to make human workers redundant anytime soon. Technologists probably tend to believe in automation-induced job loss because they're familiar with the inventions that are constantly forcing people to change what they do for a living. But even as these new technologies have been rolled out, the fraction of Americans with jobs has remained about the same over time. Meanwhile, evidence that automation causes job losses throughout the economy is slim... [Some studies] fail to say how many new jobs will be created in the process, so they don't give any picture of technology's overall impact on the labor market. Thus, when UBI proponents make the dubious claim that basic income is necessary to save people from the rise of the robots, they undermine their case. They also send the message that they think a huge percent of American workers are simply too useless to be gainfully employed in the future -- hardly an appealing message. The second dubious reason to support UBI is the idea that it can replace traditional forms of welfare spending, like[..]

Bill Gates Shares His 'Greatest Mistake Ever'

(15 hours ago)
Bill Gates "clearly hasn't got over his biggest mistake," writes Inc. columnist Chris Matyszczyk. Speaking at a recent VC firm event, Gates told the audience:The greatest mistake ever is... whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard phone platform -- non-Apple form -- phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win... There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system, and what's that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M. "You see? He couldn't even utter the word Google," quips Inc's columnist. "That's how much it hurts him." The column also notes that Google "didn't create Android. It bought it in 2005," and "being open-source meant that Google could offer it to so many phone manufacturers around the world.... Would Microsoft have been so generous of spirit?"Read more of this story at Slashdot.

America's NSA Challenges Students With A Codebreaking Competition, Then Recruits Them

(16 hours ago)
This year America's National Security Agency (NSA) is once again "developing a cyber challenge and daring more than 330 schools and 2,600 students to solve it," writes Federal News Network. Slashdot reader eatvegetables shares their report:Kathy Hutson, the senior strategist for industry and academic engagement at the NSA, said the Codebreaker Challenge has become one of the best ways to attract the next generation of talent to the federal government... NSA launched the Codebreaker Challenge in 2013 as a way to further connect with students and professors, who are focused on technology and cyber issues. Over the last six years, the annual initiative has become a much-anticipated challenge with professors making it a part of their classes and students testing their mettle against NSA's cyber experts... The initiative provides students, professors and anyone else who is interested "with a hands-on opportunity to develop their reverse-engineering /low-level code analysis skills while working on a realistic problem set centered around the NSA's mission," said Eric Bryant, a technical director in the crypto analysis organization at the NSA. The 2018 challenge focused on ransomware and blockchain, requiring participants to solve eight separate, but related challenges... Bryant said a group of NSA cyber experts develop the challenge each year on top of their regular duties. He said they try to focus on areas that are either up-and-coming or current cyber threats and attack vectors.[..]

The Flying Saddle: Would You Give It a Try?

(17 hours ago)
schwit1 quotes SFGate: Airlines are squeezing as many passengers as they can onto their jets, but one seat manufacturer believes its product can help carriers push capacity to the absolute limit. And it may help push down fares. Say goodbye to whatever personal space you had left. At this week's Paris Air Show, lots of curious convention-goers eagerly wanted to try out Avio Interior's "SkyRider" saddle-like airplane seat, but that's probably not the reception it would get if people found it installed on their next flight. SkyRider passengers would lean on a bicycle-seat type cushion that sits higher than your traditional airline seat. Legs sort of hang off the saddle, as they would if you were riding a horse. The seat back sits straight up, forcing good posture. A knee cut-out provides another precious few inches of legroom. You're neither sitting nor standing — you're sort of leaning. Airplanes can install the seats in part of their planes as an alternative to more expensive seating options, the article points out. But it also notes that the company "is still looking for its first buyer...and has been for nearly 10 years."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Are Medical IDs 'The Enemy of Privacy, Liberty, and Health'?

(18 hours ago)
83-year-old former U.S. Senatior Ron Paul has published a new editorial on Zero Hedge:Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill amendment to repeal the prohibition on the use of federal funds to create a 'unique patient identifier.' Unless this prohibition, which I originally sponsored in 1998, is reinstated, the federal government will have the authority to assign every American a medical ID. This ID will be used to store and track every American's medical history. A unique patient identifier would allow federal bureaucrats and government-favored special interests to access health information simply by entering an individual's unique patient ID into a database. This system would also facilitate the collection of health information without a warrant by surveillance state operatives... The unique patient identifier system puts the desires of government bureaucrats and politically powerful special interests ahead of the needs of individual patients and health care providers. Instead of further intervening in health care and further destroying our privacy and our liberties, Congress should give patients control over their health care by giving them control over health care dollars through expanding access to Health Savings Accounts and health care tax credits. In a free market, patients and doctors can and will work tighter to ensure patients' records are maintained in a manner that provides[..]

Microsoft Puts Slack On Internal List of 'Prohibited and Discouraged' Software

(19 hours ago)
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report:GeekWire obtained an internal Microsoft list of prohibited and discouraged technology -- software and online services that the company doesn't want its employees using as part of their day-to-day work. We first picked up on rumblings of the prohibition from Microsoft employees who were surprised that they couldn't use Slack at work, before tracking down the list and verifying its authenticity. While the list references the competitive nature of these services in some situations, the primary criteria for landing in the "prohibited" category are related to IT security and safeguarding company secrets. Slack is on the "prohibited" category of the internal Microsoft list, along with tools such as the Grammarly grammar checker and Kaspersky security software. Services in the "discouraged" category include Amazon Web Services, Google Docs, PagerDuty and even the cloud version of GitHub, the popular software development hub and community acquired by Microsoft last year for $7.5 billion... "It's not just the risk that Google will try to find trade secrets from data stored on their servers," said Christopher Budd, who has worked in security technology for 20 years, including past roles in Microsoft security and privacy communications. "When you're at Microsoft, you're at risk of state sponsored industrial espionage." The article notes that in the past Microsoft adopted an even harsher stance to employees using competing products. "At a company[..]

America's Air Quality Is Slipping After Years of Improvement

(21 hours ago)
The Grim Reefer shared this report from the Associated Press:Over the last two years America had more polluted air days than just a few years earlier, federal data shows. While it remains unclear whether this is the beginning of a trend, health experts say it's troubling to see air quality progress stagnate. There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980... Air quality is affected by a complex mix of factors, both natural and man-made. Federal regulations that limit the emissions of certain chemicals and soot from factories, cars and trucks have helped dramatically improve air quality over recent decades. In any given year, however, air quality can be affected by natural variations... Air pollution experts agree wildfires likely have had a role, along with random variation, a stronger economy which leads to more consumption of fuels, and a changing climate. Higher temperatures increase the chances for fires and smog. Even with the recent stagnation, there are far fewer bad air days now than in the early 2000s, 1990s and 1980s. They also report that "about 100,000 Americans each year die prematurely because of polluted air, studies show."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Rise and Fall of Visual Basic

(2 days ago)
Technology writer Matthew MacDonald began writing QuickBASIC code back in 1988 on the DOS operating system, sharing it on a 3.5-inch floppy disk. "I still remember writing code in white text on its cheery blue background..." He tells his readers on Medium that "I have a confession to make. Before I became a respectable developer working with modern curly-bracket languages like C# and Java (and that hot mess of a platform we call JavaScript), I was a dedicated fan of the wildly popular misfit Visual Basic..." At the same time that Microsoft released Windows 3.0 -- the first version that was truly successful -- they also launched Visual Basic 1.0. Here was something entirely new. You could create buttons for your programs by drawing them on the surface of a window, like it was some kind of art canvas. To make a button do something, all you had to do was double-click it in the design environment and write some code. And you didn't use cryptic C++ code, with piles of classes, complex memory management, and obscure calls into the Windows API. Instead, you wrote friendly-looking VB code, like a civilized person. All the graphical pizzazz was impressive, but the real secret to VB's success was its practicality. There was simply no other tool that a developer could use to sketch out a complete user interface and get coding as quickly as VB... By the release of VB 6 -- the last version of classic Visual Basic -- it was estimated that there were ten times more coders writing in VB[..]

India's space startups ignite investor interest

(2 days ago)
From companies building palm-sized satellites to those aiming to propel satellites into space using cleaner fuels, a new wave of space technology startups are mushrooming in India, catching the attention of investors keen to join the space race.

Should Schools Teach Computer Science Instead of Physics?

(2 days ago)
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: "Other than trying to keep my kids from falling down the stairs in the Governor's mansion I don't know how much I deal with physics daily," quipped Florida governor Ron DeSantis as he explained his support for a bill pushed by Microsoft and lobbyists that will allow computer science credit to be substituted for traditional science classes to meet high school graduation requirements. "You cannot live in our modern society without dealing with technology or computers in your daily life." From the Governor's press release: "Expanding access to computer science learning is critically important for the future of Florida's students," said Sheela VanHoose of "This historic investment by the Governor and the Florida Legislature represents the nation's largest one-time investment in computer science teachers by a state." "Providing the tools that students need to learn computer science is crucial to filling the jobs of tomorrow," said Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft. "We applaud Governor DeSantis for approving crucial funding to help train more computer science teachers as part of a broader commitment to prepare students for the thousands of computing and data science jobs in Florida. Microsoft looks forward to continuing to work with Governor DeSantis to ensure that all students are ready for the career opportunities created by our digital economy."Read more of this story at[..]

How OIN's Linux-Based Patent Non-Aggression Community Drove Open Source Growth

(2 days ago)
"Some businesses, such as pharmaceuticals, still spend enormous amounts of time and money on intellectual property (IP) fights," reports ZDNet. But "thanks to the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, Linux and related open-source technologies have become mostly free of these expensive entanglements." And now they're reporting that the OIN's membership has grown to over 3,000 licensees: OIN's mission is to enable Linux, its related software, and its programmers to develop and monetize without being hogtied by patent fights. In Linux's early years, this was a constant threat. Now, thanks largely to the OIN's efforts to get everyone to agree on the basic open-source principle -- that's it's better and more profitable to share than to cling to proprietary property -- open-source software has taken off in the marketplace... The OIN, which has grown by 50% in the last two years, has turned patent non-aggression into policy for thousands of companies. By agreeing to the OIN license, members gain access to patented inventions worth hundreds of millions of dollars while promoting a favorable environment for Linux and related open source software. The license works by everyone agreeing to patent non-aggression in core open-source technologies by cross-licensing Linux System patents to one another on a royalty-free basis. OIN-owned patents are similarly licensed royalty-free to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents[..]

Gut Bacteria-Autism Link May Just Be Misinterpreted Data From a Confusing GUI

(2 days ago)
Remember that mouse study which concluded gut bacteria may contribute to autism symptoms? Jon Brock, a cognitive scientist with 18 years research experience on neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism, has posted a Medium post summarizing new critiques of the research emerging online. (For example, from Professor Thomas Lumley, a statistical researcher who has concluded that the study's analysis "is wrong," and "arguably due in part to a poor GUI design.")Soon after publication, scientists began expressing concerns about the paper on social media. These were echoed in a blogpost by drug discovery chemist Derek Lowe and then in a series of comments on the PubPeer website. Looking more closely at the data, the results are a whole lot less compelling than the media coverage, the press releases, and even the paper itself suggest... The differences between mice with autistic and non-autistic donors are subtle if they exist at all. And there are reasons to be skeptical about even these small effects. Mice are not tiny humans with tails. Autism is defined in terms of human behaviour. And so the claim that mice showed "autism-like" behaviour relies on an assumption that the mouse behaviours under investigation are in some sense equivalent to the behaviours that define autism in humans... But even if we accept the premise that mouse behaviours are directly analogous to behaviours exhibited by autistic humans, the evidence is both weak and inconsistent. It's fair to say, I[..]

Velodyne Lidar hires bankers for an IPO: Business Insider

(2 days ago)
Autonomous vehicle technology company Velodyne Lidar has hired bankers for an initial public offering, Business Insider reported on Saturday, citing sources familiar with the process.

Iran Steps Up Cyberattacks Against America

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes MarketWatch:Iran has increased its offensive cyberattacks against the U.S. government and critical infrastructure as tensions have grown between the two nations, cybersecurity firms say. In recent weeks, hackers believed to be working for the Iranian government have targeted U.S. government agencies, as well as sectors of the economy, including oil and gas, sending waves of spear-phishing emails, according to representatives of cybersecurity companies CrowdStrike and FireEye, which regularly track such activity. It was not known if any of the hackers managed to gain access to the targeted networks... "Both sides are desperate to know what the other side is thinking," said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye. "You can absolutely expect the regime to be leveraging every tool they have available to reduce the uncertainty about what's going to happen next, about what the U.S.'s next move will be...." According to the article, one of the phishing emails "appeared to come from the Executive Office of the President and seemed to be trying to recruit people for an economic adviser position. "Another email was more generic and appeared to include details on updating Microsoft Outlook's global address book."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bogus Brexit murder plot and other lies planted online by Russian accounts: study

(2 days ago)
In August 2018, Spanish authorities uncovered a plot by anti-Brexit campaigners to assassinate leading Brexiteer and now favorite to be Britain's next prime minister, Boris Johnson. Or did they?

Bogus Brexit murder plot and other lies planted online by Russian accounts: study

(2 days ago)
In August 2018, Spanish authorities uncovered a plot by anti-Brexit campaigners to assassinate leading Brexiteer and now favorite to be Britain's next prime minister, Boris Johnson. Or did they?

China Has Almost Half of The World's Supercomputers, Explores RISC-V and ARM

(2 days ago)
Slashddot reader dcblogs quote Tech Target:Ten years ago, China had 21 systems on the Top500 list of the world's largest supercomputing systems. It now has 219, according to the biannual listing, which was updated just this week. At its current pace of development, China may have half of the supercomputing systems on the Top500 list by 2021.... U.S. supercomputers make up 116 of the latest Top500 list. Despite being well behind China in total system count, the U.S. leads in overall performance, as measured by the High Performance Linpack (HPL) benchmark. The HPL benchmark is used to solve linear equations. The U.S. has about 38% of the aggregate Top500 list performance. China is in second, at nearly 30% of the performance total. But this performance metric has flip-flopped between China and the U.S., because it's heavily weighted by the largest systems. The U.S. owns the top two spots on the latest Top500 list, thanks to two IBM supercomputers at U.S. national laboratories. These systems, Summit and Sierra, alone, represent 15.6% of the HPL performance measure. Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, says China is concerned the U.S. may limit its x86 chip imports, and while China may look to ARM, they're also investigating the RISC-V processor architecture. Paresh Kharya, director of product marketing at Nvidia, tells Tech Target "We expect x86 CPUs to remain dominant in the short term. But there's growing interest in ARM for supercomputing, as evidenced by[..]

People Keep Spotting Teslas With Snoozing Drivers On the Freeway

(2 days ago)
"In the last week, two different people have captured video of Tesla vehicles traveling down a freeway with an apparently sleeping driver behind the wheel," writes Ars Technica. Iwastheone shares their report: Both incidents happened in California. Last week, local television stations in Los Angeles aired footage from viewer Shawn Miladinovich of a Tesla vehicle driving on LA's 405 freeway. The driver "was just fully sleeping, eyes were shut, hands nowhere near the steering wheel," said Miladinovich, who was a passenger in a nearby car, in an interview with NBC Channel 4. Miladinovich said he saw the vehicle twice, about 30 minutes apart, as both cars traveled along the 405 freeway. The driver appeared to be asleep both times... Another video of an apparently sleeping Tesla driver was posted to Reddit over the weekend -- this one from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Reddit user who posted the video, MiloWee, said that she tried "several times" to wake him up by honking. "It worked, but he fell back asleep," she wrote.... Last month, police in the Netherlands pulled over a Tesla driver who appeared to be asleep and intoxicated. Another video posted in January appeared to show Tesla drivers asleep at the wheel. In an incident last November, it took police in Silicon Valley seven miles to pull over a Tesla car with an apparently sleeping driver. He was arrested for driving under the influence. Another driver in early 2018 was discovered passed out behind the wheel of his[..]

Will Hot-Desking Kill Your Company?

(2 days ago)
"If you hate your company, its employees and the shareholders then go ahead and introduce the latest management fad: Hot-desking," writes Forbes contributor Simon Constable. "It's a better way to destroy the firm than inviting Russian hackers to rob you blind. "The bigger the company, the faster the damage will occur with hot-desking." Hot-desking is a working arrangement where employees have no assigned desk. Each morning you get a workstation based on that old standby, first-come-first-served. If you show up at 5:30 a.m. then you'll likely have your pick. Later than 9 a.m., then probably you'll get what's left even if that means working apart from your colleagues. The theory behind this idea is that it provides companies with increased flexibility in managing office space. With some exceptions, the drawbacks vastly outweigh any benefits. I know this having witnessed decades in corporate jobs, including a role at one employer that implemented such idiocy. It sends the message that employees don't matter. Employers frequently say their employees are their biggest asset. But when the company can't even be bothered to let you have a permanent desk, then the opposite message is sent. He cites other more specific problems -- like the fact that no one can easily find anyone, making it harder to hold quick impromptu discussions or ask for help. And it also becomes harder to explain to employees why they can't just work from home. The article concedes hot-desking "probably works[..]

Intel Developing 'Data Parallel C++' As Part of OneAPI Initiative

(2 days ago)
Intel's One API project aims "to simplify application development across diverse computing architectures." Now an anonymous reader quotes Phoronix:Intel announced an interesting development in their oneAPI initiative: they are developing a new programming language/dialect. Intel originally began talking about oneAPI last December for optimizing code across CPUs / GPUs / FPGAs and as part of "no transistor left behind...." The article then acknowledges "the SYCL single-source C++ programming standard from The Khronos Group we've expected Intel to use as their basis for oneAPI," before noting Intel is going "a bit beyond..." "Data Parallel C++ (DPC++) is their 'new direct programming language' aiming to be an open, cross-industry standard and based on C++ and incorporating SYCL."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'Vast Quantities' of Recycled Plastics Are Actually Burned Or Dumped In Landfills

(2 days ago)
"A Guardian investigation reveals that cities around the country are no longer recycling many types of plastic dropped into recycling bins. Instead, they are being landfilled, burned or stockpiled..." An anonymous reader shared this eye-opening report from the Guardian. "From Los Angeles to Florida to the Arizona desert, officials say, vast quantities of plastic are now no better than garbage..."As municipalities are forced to deal with their own trash instead of exporting it, they are discovering a dismaying fact: much of this plastic is completely unrecyclable. The issue is with a popular class of plastics that people have traditionally been told to put into their recycling bins -- a hodgepodge of items such as clamshell-style food packaging, black plastic trays, take-out containers and cold drink cups, which the industry dubs "mixed plastic". It has become clear that there are virtually no domestic manufacturers that want to buy this waste in order to turn it into something else. Take Los Angeles county, the most populous in America. The Guardian has learned that recycling facilities are separating "mixed plastics" from those plastics which still retain value -- such as water bottles, laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs -- and, contrary to what customers expect, sending them directly to a landfill or incinerator. Los Angeles county public works estimates that in 2018, the county sent more than half a million tons of plastic to four different landfills, and nearly[..]

Mattermost Raises $50 Million For Its Open Source Slack Alternative

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat:Mattermost, a startup developing what it characterizes as an open source messaging alternative to Google's Hangouts Chat, Atlassian's HipChat, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, today announced the closure of a $50 million series B funding round. The round was led by Y Combinator's Continuity Fund, with participation from new investor Battery Ventures, as well as existing investors Redpoint and S28 Capital. The capital infusion follows a $20 million series A in February and a $3.5 million seed round in February 2017 and brings the Palo Alto, California-based company's total raised to roughly $70 million. As part of the round, Twitter COO Ali Rowghani will join Mattermost as board director and Battery Ventures' Neeraj Agarwal will join as a board observer. The raise comes as monthly downloads of the open source project pass 10,000. To date, more than 1,000 contributors have helped translate Mattermost into 16 languages.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Should Slack-Like Chat Clients Replace Email?

(2 days ago)
This week the New York Times' Style section asked an interesting question. "Slack wants to replace email. Is that what we want?"The company says it has 88,000 paying customers -- a sliver of a sliver of the world's desk-and-phone-bound office workers, and fewer than work full time at, for example, Google's parent company, Alphabet. Speaking of Google, the company has a Slack alternative of its own, called Hangouts Chat, as does Facebook, in Workplace. Microsoft has Teams, which is bundled with its Office software and which the company says is being used by more than 500,000 organizations. This multifront attack on email is just beginning, but a wartime narrative already dominates: The universally despised office culture of replies and forwards and mass CCs and "looping in" and "circling back" is on its way out, and it's going to be replaced by chat apps. So what happens if they actually win...? For the right office, it's a huge relief to chat. "I know for the engineering team it's a game-changer," said Shannon Todesca, an employee at CarGurus, an automotive shopping site. "It's used to keep track of code pushes," she said, as well as system errors. Workers also report dentist appointments and sick days to the #ooo (out of office) channel, preventing inboxes from getting clogged, or an early heads-up from getting lost. At Automattic, which runs and a handful of smaller internet services, Slack is the glue that binds a fully remote "virtual office" of nearly[..]

Bitcoin Surges Past $11K. Is It Finally Gaining Acceptance?

(2 days ago)
The price of Bitcoin surged past $11,000 today -- less than 24 hours after surging past $10,000. Ars Technica points out Bitcoin's price has tripled in less than six months, "after crashing from an all-time high around $19,500 in December 2017." And as the price of Ethereum rose above $300 for the first time in nearly a year, Mashable writes that the total value of all cryptocurrencies is now over $300 billion, and suggests the new price milestones may indicate a broader awareness:The $10,000 and the $300 price levels for Bitcoin and Ethereum, respectively, are important psychological barriers, and not only because they're nice and round. Last time, those levels were when the 'cab driver' effect was in full swing: Everyone was talking about Bitcoin; Coinbase was adding hundreds of thousands of users on a weekly basis. People who'd never even considered stocks were suddenly stocking up on Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. "Details about Facebook's long-awaited cryptocurrency brought significant attention to the industry as a whole," reports the Street, "and created anticipation that markets could move higher."Not only will Facebook's cryptocurrency, Libra, introduce the platform's 2.5 billion users to cryptocurrencies, but the project doesn't take direct aim at bitcoin. Rather than striving to supplant the first and still-most-popular digital currency, Libra caters to the 1.7 billion unbanked around the world by striving to provide a fast, affordable and reliable way to[..]

Chrome 'Has Become Surveillance Software. It's Time to Switch'

(2 days ago)
"You open your browser to look at the Web. Do you know who is looking back at you?" warns Washington Post technology columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler:Over a recent week of Web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google Chrome and found it brought along a few thousand friends. Shopping, news and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to let ad and data companies ride shotgun while I clicked around the Web. This was made possible by the Web's biggest snoop of all: Google. Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software... My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker "cookies" that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality... And that's not the half of it. Look in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. See a picture or a name in the circle? If so, you're logged in to the browser, and Google might be tapping into your Web activity to target ads. Don't recall signing in? I didn't, either. Chrome recently started doing that automatically when you use Gmail. Chrome is even sneakier on your phone. If you use Android, Chrome sends Google your location every time you conduct a search. (If you[..]

Digital Assistants May Be Able To Automatically Detect When Someone Is Having a Heart Attack, Study Finds

(2 days ago)
Zorro shares a report from The Register: Smart speakers are always listening for wake words, and recording everything they hear to improve their neural networks and target their masters with marketing. It's, frankly, creepy. Academics at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, however, believe there are benefits to installing a cyber-assistant at home that listens in all the time. "A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of," said Shyam Gollakota, coauthor of the research published this week in npj Digital Medicine. "We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there's no response, the device can automatically call 911." "When the researchers tested their system on samples from the positive dataset, the devices correctly identified the noises associated with heart attacks about 96 percent of the time when they were placed six meters away from the source of the sound," the report adds. "But thereâ(TM)s a catch: it only really works when the researchers apply a noise cancellation algorithm to drown out background noise. The percentage for identifying heart attacks rapidly drops to just below five per cent if a noise cancellation algorithm isn't applied."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

India asks scooter, bike makers to draw up plan for EVs: sources

(2 days ago)
India's federal think-tank has asked scooter and motorbike manufacturers to draw up a plan to switch to electric vehicles, days after they publicly opposed the government's proposals saying they would disrupt the sector, two sources told Reuters.

India's Sixth Biggest City Is Almost Entirely Out of Water

(2 days ago)
Millions of people are running out of water in Chennai, India's sixth largest city. The Chembarambakkam reservoir and the three other reservoirs that have traditionally supplied Chennai are nearly all dry, leaving the city suffering from an acute water shortage. CNN reports: Due to an inability to collect sufficient rain water combined with low groundwater levels, the Tamil Nadu state government has been struggling to provide water to residents. With the reservoirs dry, water is being brought directly into Chennai neighborhoods in trucks. Every day, hundreds of thousands of residents have no choice but to stand in line for hours in soaring summer temperatures, filling dozens of cans and plastic containers. With supplies strictly rationed, many wealthier families have taken to relying on expensive private water tankers. Although the municipal body has worked to prioritize low-income households, residents who book government water tankers could still wait up to a month. It's not immediately clear how many are without water in Chennai presently.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bezos Says Blue Origin Will One Day Refuel Its Lunar Lander With Ice From the Moon

(3 days ago)
Earlier this week, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos explained how its spacecraft will eventually be powered with fuel harvested from the moon. CNBC reports: "We know things about the moon now we didn't know about during the Apollo days," Bezos said, speaking at the JFK Space Summit in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the things learned since Apollo that Bezos highlighted is that there are deposits of water ice at the bottom of craters on the moon. "We can harvest that ice and use to make hydrogen and oxygen, which are rocket propellants," Bezos said. Blue Origin is developing its "Blue Moon" lunar lander, which Bezos unveiled last month. Bezos said Blue Moon is powered by a BE-7 engine, which uses hydrogen and oxygen as its two fuel sources. "The reason we chose those propellants is because... we know one day we'll be refueling that vehicle on the surface of the moon from propellants made on the surface of the moon from that water ice," Bezos said.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Clean Electricity Overtaking Fossil Fuels In Britain

(3 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, Britain is obtaining more power from zero-carbon sources than fossil fuels. The milestone has been passed for the first five months of 2019. National Grid says clean energy has nudged ahead with 48% of generation, against 47% for coal and gas. The rest is biomass burning. The transformation reflects the precipitous decline of coal energy, and a boom from wind and solar. National Grid says that in the past decade, coal generation will have plunged from 30% to 3%. Meanwhile, wind power has shot up from 1% to 19%. Mini-milestones have been passed along the way. In May, for instance, Britain clocked up its first coal-free fortnight and generated record levels of solar power for two consecutive days.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Patents 'Surveillance As a Service' Tech For Its Delivery Drones

(3 days ago)
Amazon's delivery drones may also be used to offer "surveillance as a service." According to The Verge, "Amazon was recently granted a patent that outlines how its UAVs could keep an eye on customers' property between deliveries while supposedly maintaining their privacy." From the report: The patent was originally filed in June 2015 and became public earlier this month. It describes how the company's drones could be hired to look out for open garage doors, broken windows, graffiti, or even a fire, before alerting the owner of the property. The patent was originally filed in June 2015 and became public earlier this month. It describes how the company's drones could be hired to look out for open garage doors, broken windows, graffiti, or even a fire, before alerting the owner of the property.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NASA Hacked Because of Unauthorized Raspberry Pi Connected To Its Network

(3 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A report published this week by the NASA Office of Inspector General reveals that in April 2018 hackers breached the agency's network and stole approximately 500 MB of data related to Mars missions. The point of entry was a Raspberry Pi device that was connected to the IT network of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) without authorization or going through the proper security review. NASA described the hackers as an "advanced persistent threat," a term generally used for nation-state hacking groups.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Is Killing YouTube's 'Hangouts On Air' This Year

(3 days ago)
The latest Google product coming to an end is "Hangouts on Air," a fairly popular service for broadcasting a group video call live over the internet. "Notices saying the service is 'going away later this year' have started to pop up for users when they start a Hangout on Air," reports Ars Technica, noting that Hangouts on Air is completely different from "Google Hangouts," which just so happens to also be shutting down in the not-too-distant future. From the report: Hangouts on Air was popular with podcasters, since it was a super easy way to get a group of people together, on video, and have the conversation broadcasted live. Hangouts on Air started life on Google+ and transitioned to a part of YouTube in 2016, where live group video conversations could be created in the YouTube interface and then be recorded as a video for your YouTube channel. The service had great features like chat, screenshare, and an automatic camera system that would switch to the person that was talking, making it perfect for easy podcast videos. With Hangouts on Air dying, there really is no equivalent, easy way to do a live streamed group video chat. Google's shutdown message points people to, but that page is only for a single person on a local webcam, not a group video chat.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

X-Prize winner: Children are not a product

(3 days ago)
The winner of Elon Musk's global learning award warns that children's data should be protected.

The Online Advertising Industry Is Breaking the Law, Says UK Watchdog

(3 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The online behavioral advertising industry is illegally profiling internet users. That's the damning assessment of the U.K.'s data protection regulator in an update report published today, in which it sets out major concerns about the programmatic advertising process known as real-time bidding (RTB), which makes up a large chunk of online advertising. In what sounds like a knock-out blow for highly invasive data-driven ads, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) concludes that systematic profiling of web users via invasive tracking technologies such as cookies is in breach of U.K. and pan-EU privacy laws. The U.K. watchdog has not yet issued a formal legal decision against RTB. But with this report it's giving the industry a clear signal that practices must change.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Honesty is Majority Policy in Lost Wallet Experiment

(3 days ago)
If you find a wallet stuffed with bank notes, do you pocket the cash or track down the owner to return it? We can each speak for ourselves, but now a team of economists have put the unsuspecting public to the test in a mass social experiment involving 17,000 "lost" wallets in 40 countries. From a report: They found that a majority of people returned the wallets and -- contrary to classic economic logic -- they were more likely to do so the more money the wallet contained. The findings defied the expectations of both professional economists and 2,500 respondents to a survey, who predicted that people would act in self-interest. Research assistants posed as people who had found wallets, hurriedly dropping them off in public places including banks, theatres, museums and police stations. Most of the wallet drops were in large cities, and there were about 400 observations per country. The wallets contained either no money, a small amount or a larger sum, along with a grocery list and business cards with an email and phone number for the "owner." The amounts were scaled to match spending power in different countries. The entire cost of the project was about $600,000. Overall, 51% of those who were handed a wallet with the smaller amount of money reported it, compared with 40% of those handed an empty wallet. When the wallet contained a large sum of money, the rate of return was 72%.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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