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Facebook

Facebook's Colonies 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the sun-always-sets-on-the-facebook-empire dept.
sarahnaomi writes: Facebook this week released a major report on global internet access, as part of the company's Internet.org campaign, which aims to bring cheap internet to new markets in partnership with seven mobile companies. Facebook says 1.39 billion people used its product in December 2014, and it's natural for the company to try to corral the other four-fifths of the planet. But aside from ideals and growth markets, the report highlights a tension inherent to the question of access: When Facebook sets sail to disconnected markets, what version of the internet will it bring? In its report, Facebook advocates for closing the digital divide as quickly as we can, which is a good thing. But when Facebook argues that, "as use of the internet continues to expand, it will exert a powerful effect on the global economy, particularly in the developing world," it's arguing that any increase in access is inherently good, which isn't necessarily the case.
AI

Machine Intelligence and Religion 499

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-dave,-god-can't-let-you-do-that dept.
itwbennett writes: Earlier this month Reverend Dr. Christopher J. Benek raised eyebrows on the Internet by stating his belief that Christians should seek to convert Artificial Intelligences to Christianity if and when they become autonomous. Of course that's assuming that robots are born atheists, not to mention that there's still a vast difference between what it means to be autonomous and what it means to be human. On the other hand, suppose someone did endow a strong AI with emotion – encoded, say, as a strong preference for one type of experience over another, coupled with the option to subordinate reasoning to that preference upon occasion or according to pattern. what ramifications could that have for algorithmic decision making?
Books

The Case Against E-readers -- Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading On Paper 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the love-affairs-with-dead-trees dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Michael Rosenwald writes in the WaPo that textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer reading on paper for pleasure and learning. This bias surprises reading experts, given the same group's proclivity to consume most other content digitally. "These are people who aren't supposed to remember what it's like to even smell books," says Naomi S. Baron. "It's quite astounding." Earlier this month, Baron published Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, a book that examines university students' preferences for print and explains the science of why dead-tree versions are often superior to digital (PDF).

Her conclusion: readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers. Researchers say readers remember the location of information simply by page and text layout — that, say, the key piece of dialogue was on that page early in the book with that one long paragraph and a smudge on the corner. Researchers think this plays a key role in comprehension — something that is more difficult on screens, primarily because the time we devote to reading online is usually spent scanning and skimming, with few places (or little time) for mental markers.

Another significant problem, especially for college students, is distraction. The lives of millennials are increasingly lived on screens. In her surveys, Baron was surprised by the results to the question of whether students were more likely to multitask in hard copy (1 percent) vs. reading on-screen (90 percent). "When a digital device has an Internet connection, it's hard to resist the temptation to jump ship."
Encryption

NSA, GHCQ Implicated In SIM Encryption Hack 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
First time accepted submitter BlacKSacrificE writes Australian carriers are bracing for a mass recall after it was revealed that a Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto was penetrated by the GCHQ and the NSA in an alleged theft of encryption keys, allowing unfettered access to voice and text communications. The incident is suspected to have happened in 2010 and 2011 and seems to be a result of social engineering against employees, and was revealed by yet another Snowden document. Telstra, Vodafone and Optus have all stated they are waiting for further information from Gemalto before deciding a course of action. Gemalto said in a press release that they "cannot at this early stage verify the findings of the publication" and are continuing internal investigations, but considering Gemalto provides around 2 billion SIM cards to some 450 carriers across the globe (all of which use the same GSM encryption standard) the impact and fallout for Gemalto, and the affected carriers, could be huge.
Businesses

Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair" 303

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-your-cut dept.
journovampire writes with this story about how much artists make on Spotify. "Pandora founder Tim Westergren has claimed that the company is paying out 'very fair' sums to artists, despite its per-stream royalty weighing in at just one sixth of Spotify's. The digital personalized radio platform has previously gone on-record as saying that it pays music rights-holders approximately $0.0014 for each play of their tracks: Westergren blogged in 2013 that Pandora pays ‘around $1,370 for a million spins’. That’s around 80% smaller than Spotify’s per-stream payout, which officially stands somewhere between $0.006 and $0.0084."
The Courts

Federal Court: Theft of Medical Records Not an 'Imminent Danger' To Victim 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the physician-secure-thy-networks dept.
chicksdaddy writes: A federal court in Texas ruled last week that a massive data breach at a hospital in that state didn't put patients at imminent risk of identity theft, even when presented with evidence that suggested stolen patient information was being used in attempted fraud and identity theft schemes. According to a post over at Digital Guardian's blog Beverly Peters was one more than 400,000 patients of St. Joseph Hospital whose information was stolen by hackers in an attack that took place between December 16 and 18, 2013.

Peters alleged that her personal information had been exposed in the breach and then disseminated in the public domain, where it was being "misused by unauthorized and unknown third parties." Specifically: Peters reported that, subsequent to the breach at St. Josephs, her Discover credit card was used to make a fraudulent purchase and that hackers had tried to infiltrate her Amazon.com account — posing as her son. Also: telemarketers were using the stolen information. Peters claimed that, after the breach, she was besieged with calls and solicitations for medical products and services companies, with telemarketers asking to speak to her and with specific family members, whose contact information was part of the record stolen from St. Joseph's.

As a result, Peters argued that she faced an "imminent injury" due to "increased risk" of future identity theft and fraud because of the breach at St. Joseph, and wished to sue the hospital for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). But the court found otherwise, ruling that Peters lacked standing to bring the case in federal court under Article III of the Constitution.
Businesses

Does Open Data Have a Dark Side? 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-good-and-the-bad dept.
itwbennett writes A Forbes article last month explored some of the potentially darker sides of open data — from creating a new kind of digital divide to making an argument in favor of privatizing certain government services. But how real are these downsides of open data? The World Wide Web Foundation's Open Data Program Manager Jose Alonso is unconcerned, telling ITworld's Phil Johnson via email that the WWWF "believes there is no substantial evidence yet that the availability of Open Data leads to the marketization of public services or public spending cuts." But Ben Wellington, a professor in the City & Regional Planning program at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and author of the popular blog I Quant NY, takes a more cautious stance, acknowledging that there are some real concerns that may call for regulation. But, at least for now, "there's a lot more innovation and positive things coming out than these corner cases," says Wellington.
Government

Fedcoin Rising? 127

Posted by timothy
from the insert-quarter dept.
giulioprisco writes US economists are considering a government-sponsored digital currency. On February 3, David Andolfatto, Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, wrote a blog post based on a presentation he gave at the International Workshop on P2P Financial Systems 2015 [YouTube video]. The title of the blog post is "Fedcoin: On the Desirability of a Government Cryptocurrency."
United Kingdom

Online UK Courts Modelled On EBay To Settle Legal Disputes 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the login-and-litigate dept.
First time accepted submitter infolation writes The UK justice system should receive a radical overhaul for the digital age with the creation of an online court to expand access to justice and resolve claims of up to £25,000, the official body that oversees civil courts has recommended. The report says existing services — such as eBay's disagreement negotiation procedure and Cybersettle's blind-bidding operations — provide prototypes worth studying. Only the judge need be legally qualified. If necessary, telephone hearings could be built into the last stage. Rulings by the online judge would be as enforceable as any courtroom judgment.
Data Storage

Vint Cerf Warns Against 'Digital Dark Age' 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the strangely-silent-on-digital-bronze-age dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Vint Cerf, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said we need better methods for preserving everything we do on computers. It's not just about finding better storage media — it's about recording all the aspects of modern software and operating systems so future generations can figure out how it all worked. Cerf says, "The solution is to take an X-ray snapshot of the content and the application and the operating system together, with a description of the machine that it runs on, and preserve that for long periods of time. And that digital snapshot will recreate the past in the future." Cerf is also pushing for better data preservation standards: "The key here is when you move those bits from one place to another, that you still know how to unpack them to correctly interpret the different parts. That is all achievable if we standardize the descriptions."
Input Devices

Mountain Biking In Virtual Reality With the Oculus Rift and an Actuating Bike 71

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-in-your-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes Thanks to the Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset and Activetainment B\01 VR bike, which pitches forward and back according to in-game terrain, has shifting, pedals, breaks, digital resistance control, and allows tilting into turns, users of the system feel like they're careening through a mountain biker's paradise. After working up a sweat in the simulator, the author of this article ruminates on whether or not his experience could be considered "real"; "Much of the feedback of actual mountain biking was present during my ride. Sure, the feedback could be more accurate, and there's still missing sensory information, like the wind through my hair and a certain set of forces on my body, but at what point is a virtual experience real enough to be well, real?"
Google

Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-aint-what-is-used-to-be dept.
HughPickens.com writes Farhad Manjoo writes at the NYT that at first glance Google looks plenty healthy, but growth in Google's primary business, search advertising, has flattened out at about 20 percent a year for the last few years. Although Google has spent considerable resources inventing technologies for the future, it has failed to turn many of its innovations into new moneymakers. According to Manjoo, as smartphones eclipse laptop and desktop computers to become the planet's most important computing devices, the digital ad business is rapidly changing and Facebook, Google's archrival for advertising dollars, has been quick to profit from the shift. Here's why: The advertising business is split, roughly, into two. On one side are direct-response ads meant to induce an immediate purchase: Think classifieds, the Yellow Pages, catalogs or Google's own text-based ads running alongside its search results. But the bulk of the ad industry is devoted to something called brand ads, the ads you see on television and print magazines that work on your emotions in the belief that, in time, your dollars will follow. "Google doesn't create immersive experiences that you get lost in," says Ben Thompson. "Google creates transactional services. You go to Google to search, or for maps, or with something else in mind. And those are the types of ads they have. But brand advertising isn't about that kind of destination. It's about an experience." According to Thompson the future of online advertising looks increasingly like the business of television and is likely to be dominated by services like Facebook, Snapchat or Pinterest that keep people engaged for long periods of time and whose ads are proving to be massively more effective and engaging than banner advertisements.

In less than five years, Facebook has also built an enviable ad-technology infrastructure, a huge sales team that aims to persuade marketers of the benefits of Facebook ads over TV ads, and new ways for brands to measure how well their ads are doing. These efforts have paid off quickly: In 2014 Facebook sold $11.5 billion in ads, up 65 percent over 2013. Google will still make a lot of money if it doesn't dominate online ads the way it does now. But it will need to find other businesses to keep growing. This is why Google is spending on projects like a self-driving car, Google Glass, fiber-optic lines in American cities, space exploration, and other audacious innovations that have a slim chance of succeeding but might revolutionize the world if they do. But the far-out projects remind Thompson of Microsoft, which has also invested heavily in research and development, and has seen little return on its investments. "To me the Microsoft comparison can't be more clear. This is the price of being so successful — what you're seeing is that when a company becomes dominant, its dominance precludes it from dominating the next thing. It's almost like a natural law of business."
DRM

DMCA Exemption Campaign Would Let Fans Run Abandoned Games 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-break-what-people-pay-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Games that rely on remote servers became the norm many years ago, and as those games age, it's becoming more and more common for the publisher to shut them down when they're no longer popular. This is a huge problem for the remaining fans of the games, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act forbids the kind of hacks and DRM circumvention required for the players to host their own servers. Fortunately, the EFF and law student Kendra Albert are on the case. They've asked the Copyright Office for an exemption in the case of players who want to keep abandoned games alive. It's another important step in efforts to whittle away at overreaching copyright laws.
Networking

$10K Ethernet Cable Claims Audio Fidelity, If You're Stupid Enough To Buy It 418

Posted by Soulskill
from the imaginary-audio-quality-is-more-valuable-than-a-car dept.
MojoKid writes: There are few markets that are quite as loaded-up with "snake oil" products as the audio/video arena. You may have immediately thought of "Monster" cables as one of the most infamous offenders. But believe it or not, there are some vendors that push the envelope so far that Monster's $100 HDMI cables sound like a bargain by comparison. Take AudioQuest's high-end Ethernet cable, for example. Called "Diamond," AudioQuest is promising the world with this $10,500 Ethernet cable. If you, for some reason, believe that an Ethernet cable is completely irrelevant for audio, guess again. In addition to promises about the purity and smoothness of the silver conductors, and their custom "Noise-Dissipation System," they say," "Another upgrade with Diamond is a complete plug redesign, opting for an ultra-performance RJ45 connector made from silver with tabs that are virtually unbreakable. The plug comes with added strain relief and firmly lock into place ensuring no critical data is lost." Unfortunately, in this case, there's the issue of digital data being, well... digital. But hey, a 1 or a 0 could arrive at its destination so much cleaner, right?
Bitcoin

The Technologies That Betrayed Silk Road's Anonymity 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the little-mistakes dept.
itwbennett writes Silk Road was based on an expectation of anonymity: Servers operated within an anonymous Tor network. Transactions between buyers and sellers were conducted in bitcoin. Everything was supposedly untraceable. Yet prosecutors presented a wealth of digital evidence to convince the jury that Ross Ulbricht was Dread Pirate Roberts, the handle used by the chief operator of the site. From Bitcoin to server logins and, yes, Facebook, here's a look at 5 technologies that tripped Ulbricht up.
Open Source

Rich Olson Embodies the Spirit of the Maker Movement (Video) 50

Posted by Roblimo
from the we-really-need-4d-printing dept.
What kind of person builds a cloud chamber at home in his spare time -- and wants to make it easy for other people to make them, too? How about someone who uses a 3-D printer to make shifters for his bicycle? And then there's the spherical speaker enclosures and the alarm clock that shreds money if you don't wake up. The clock isn't original. Seattle resident Rich Olson (whose URL is nothinglabs.com) says someone else originally made it and he liked the idea. No 3-D printing or laser cutting required; just buy and hook up some inexpensive, easy-to-find components and off you go. Despite its lack of originality (which Rich freely admits), this little project got Rich mentioned everywhere from financial publications to the New York Daily News to Huffington Post's UK edition, which is somewhat amusing when you realize that Rich is not famous (outside of a small circle of maker-type people) and doesn't have anyone doing PR for him.

By day, Rich is a humble mobile app developer. But when he's done working he becomes Mr. 3-D and laser cut cool designer guy who does fun things in his workshop with CAD software, a 3-D printer, a laser cutter, and (of course) traditional cutting, drilling, and shaping tools. Since he's an open source devotee, Rich posts almost all of his designs online so you can make them yourself. Or modify them. Or use them to spur an entirely new idea that you can then make, and hopefully pass on to others. While it's interesting to see that Martha Stewart is now selling 3-D printer designs, Rich and his hobby are what the maker movement is really about. If you're so inclined, you can follow Rich on YouTube, where he posts a video now and then that shows what he's made recently or follow his low-volume blog to see what he's up to.
DRM

Farmers Struggling With High-Tech Farm Equipment 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the hammers-break-all-encryption dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Farming is a difficult profession. One of the constants throughout the generations is that if you're working out in the field all day, machinery eventually breaks down. Farmers tend to deal with this harsh reality by becoming handy at basic repair — but that strategy is starting to fail in the digital age. Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit, writes about the new difficulties in repairing your broken tractors and other equipment. Not only do you often need experience in computer software, but proprietary technology actively blocks you from making repairs.

"Dave asked me if there was some way to bypass a bum sensor while waiting for the repairman to show up. But fixing Dave's sensor problem required fiddling around in the tractor's highly proprietary computer system—the tractor's engine control unit (tECU): the brains behind the agricultural beast. One hour later, I hopped back out of the cab of the tractor. Defeated. I was unable to breach the wall of proprietary defenses that protected the tECU like a fortress. I couldn't even connect to the computer. Because John Deere says I can't." Wiens also tells us about Farm Hack, a community that has sprung up to build a library of open source tools and knowledge for dealing with high-tech modification and repair in agriculture.
Crime

Silk Road Case: Prosecution Reads Alleged Transcript of DPR Arranging 5 Murders 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-come-at-the-king-you-best-not-miss dept.
New submitter BenBoy points out an article at Wired about the most recent developments in the trial of Ross Ulbricht, alleged to be the man behind the Silk Road digital black market, going by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts. The prosecution has now rested its case, but one of their last presentations was a series of communications between DPR and a supposed member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club in which he arranged for hitmen to kill five different people. Wired notes, Ulbricht, who the prosecutors have sought to prove is that Dread Pirate Roberts, hasn't been charged with murder-for-hire in his Southern District of New York case, though he faces charges that include conspiracies to sell narcotics, launder money and more. (He does, however, face murder-for-hire charges in a separate case in Baltimore.) In fact, the prosecution admitted in court that the purported victims of the Silk Road killings were never found, and that Canadian police couldn't even locate records for anyone with their names. ... Even so, the prosecution took pains to read the entire conversation to the jury because it’s intended to show them the darkest side of the Silk Road’s short history. If genuine, the transcript shows that members of the Hell's Angels organization are familiar with using encryption to shield their communications from law enforcement. Forbes has a detailed update on how the rest of the case has progressed, and Ars has a brief article on today's closing arguments.
Businesses

Ubisoft Revokes Digital Keys For Games Purchased Via Unauthorised Retailers 468

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-is-no-entertainment-except-through-us dept.
RogueyWon writes: For the last several days, some users of Ubisoft's uPlay system have been complaining that copies of games they purchased have been removed from their libraries. According to a statement issued to a number of gaming websites, Ubisoft believes that the digital keys revoked have been "fraudulently obtained." What this means in practice is unclear; while some of the keys may have been obtained using stolen credit card details, others appear to have been purchased from unofficial third-party resellers, who often undercut official stores by purchasing cheaper boxed retail copies of games and selling their key-codes online, or by exploiting regional price differences, buying codes in regions where games are cheaper to sell them elsewhere in the world. The latest round of revocations appears to have triggered an overdue debate into the fragility of customer rights in respect of digital games stores.
Transportation

Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-mutter-no-hands dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a new project to test autonomous vehicles in Germany. "The German government wants to convert part of the A9 Autobahn in Bavaria into a test-field for advanced car technology. The project is key to ensuring the country's 'digital sovereignty,' according to its transport minister. The track, part of the 'Digitales Testfeld Autobahn' project, would be launched this year, Alexander Dobrindt said on Monday in an interview (in German) with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The plan involves equipping the road with infrastructure to allow cars to communicate with each other and the road's own sensors to provide necessary data on traffic. 'Cars with assisted driving and later fully-automated cars will be able to drive there,' Dobrindt said. Germany, a major European car producer, wants to have robotic car technology that's not dependent on foreign companies, the minister said. Domestic producers 'won't rely on Google' he stressed."