DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×
China

China Developing Manned Space Mission To the Moon 149

China is building a manned spacecraft capable of sending astronauts to the moon as well as near-Earth orbit flight, according to Chinese state media. From a report on CNBC: The official newspaper of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China cited system chief architect Zhang Bainan who claimed the craft is being designed to carry as many as six astronauts. The newspaper, Science and Technology Daily, quoted Zhang Bainan as saying China wished to catch up with international standards of space exploration. The fresh announcement follows a separate Chinese ambition to bring back samples from the moon before the end of this year.
Google

Google Can Now Recognize Objects in Videos Using Machine Learning (theverge.com) 47

Google has found a new way to allow software to parse video. On Wednesday, the company announced "Video Intelligence API", which is able to identify objects in a video. From a report: By playing a short commercial, the API was able to identify the dachshund in the video, when it appeared in the video, and then understand that the whole thing was a commercial. In another demo, we saw a simple search for "beach" and was able to find videos which had scenes from beaches in them, complete with timestamps. That's similar to how Google Photos lets you search for "sunset" and pull up your best late-day snapshots. Before now, computers couldn't really understand the content of a video directly without manual tagging. "We are beginning to shine light on the dark matter of the digital universe," Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google Cloud, said. At least in Google's demo, it was genuinely impressive. And Google is making the API available to developers, just as it has with its other machine learning APIs.
Facebook

Facebook Reports BBC To Police Following Publication's 'Sexualized Images' Investigation (bbc.com) 122

"Grave doubts" have emerged about the effectiveness of Facebook's moderation system after an investigation by the BBC last year revealed the social network was failing to remove sexualised images of children even after they were reported. Damian Collins, chair of the culture, media and sport committee, made the comments as he criticised Facebook's handling of the images, dozens of which were reported to the company by the BBC and fewer than 20% were removed. After the BBC sent evidence of the photos to Facebook, the social media company reported the BBC to the police for distributing the images, which had been shared on private Facebook groups intended for paedophiles. From a report on BBC: When provided with examples of the images, Facebook reported the BBC journalists involved to the police and cancelled plans for an interview. It subsequently issued a statement: "It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation." Mr Collins said it was extraordinary that the BBC had been reported to the authorities when it was trying to "help clean up the network." [...] Information the BBC provided to the police led to one man being sent to prison for four years.
Security

Huge Database Leak Reveals 1.37 Billion Email Addresses and Exposes Illegal Spam Operation (betanews.com) 141

One of the largest spam operations in the world has exposed its entire operation to the public, leaking its database of 1.37bn email addresses thanks to a faulty backup. From a report: A faulty backup has inadvertently exposed the entire working database of notorious spam operator River City Media (RCM). In all, the database contains more than 1.37 billion email addresses, and for some records there are additional details such as names, real-world addresses, and IP addresses. It's a situation that's described as "a tangible threat to online privacy and security." Details about the leak come courtesy of Chris Vickery from macOS security firm MacKeeper who -- with a team of helpers -- has been investigating since January. River City Media's database ended up online thanks to incorrectly-configured Rsync backups. In the words of Vickery: "Chances are you, or at least someone you know, is affected." The leaked, and unprotected, database is what's behind the sending of over a billion spam emails every day -- helped, as Vickery points out, by "a lot of automation, years of research, and fair bit of illegal hacking techniques." But it's more than a database that has leaked -- it's River City Media's entire operation.
Social Networks

Social Media 'Increases Loneliness', Says Study (bbc.co.uk) 142

An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are causing more people to feel alone, according to US psychologists. A report suggests that more than two hours of social media use a day doubled the chances of a person experiencing social isolation. It claims exposure to idealised representations of other people's lives may cause feelings of envy. The study also looked at those using Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. "We do not yet know which came first - the social media use or the perceived social isolation," co-author Elizabeth Miller, professor of paediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, said. "It's possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world." Theories in the report suggest the more time a person spends online, the less time they have for real-world interactions.
Nintendo

Strange New Social Media Trend: Licking Nintendo Switch Cartridges (macon.com) 117

Now that the Nintendo Switch has launched, "lots of people are just licking their video games," reports McClatchy. According to IGN, the tech company coated the cartridges, which are roughly the size of a SIM card, in a bittering agent called denatonium benzoate, which is also used in rat poison and antifreeze to deter human consumption. The chemical is also used to deter nail-biting, per the Telegraph. Nintendo used the chemical as a safety measure to stop small children and pets from eating the cartridges. While there is no adverse health effects from consuming denatonium benzoate, it does leave a sour, bitter taste that lasts for hours, according to taste testers from BBC News, Quartz and IGN. But even as more and more people take to social media to let others know how bad the cartridges taste, more and more people seem determined to try it in what some are calling the Nintendo cartridge challenge...
"Humanity deserves no faith," opines Slashdot reader RavenLrD20k. But meanwhile on Twitter, one gamer was already complaining that their morning coffee tasted like a Nintendo Switch cartridge.
EU

The City of Munich Might Stick With Linux (fsfe.org) 117

Munich's "LiMux" project brought FOSS software to their city's IT administration -- until a vote last month on whether to abandon Linux and return to Windows. "Since this decision was reached, the majority of media have reported that a final call was made to halt LiMux and switch back to Microsoft software," reports the Free Software Foundation Europe. "This is, however, not an accurate representation of the outcome of the city council meeting." An anonymous reader quotes their report: The opposing parties were overruled, but the decision was amended such that the strategy document must specify which LiMux-applications will no longer be needed, the extent in which prior investments must be written off, and a rough calculation of the overall costs of the desired unification... [Only then will the city council make their final decision...] We succeeded thus far in forcing the mayor Dieter Reiter to postpone the final decision, and this was possible through the unwavering pressure created by joint efforts between The Document Foundation, KDE, OSBA, and the FSFE together with all the individuals who wrote to city council members and took the issue to the media.

Although the mandate is highly suggestive in that it suggests that the existing vendor-neutral approach is to be replaced with a proprietary solution, it leaves the door open... The new mandate buys us some time. And we will keep going.

Some politicians said they'd never received this much input from the public before, and the Free Software Foundation Europe says the city's issues were caused "from organizational problems, including lack of clear structures and responsibilities," which should not be attributed to the Linux operating system. "LiMux as such is still one of the best examples of how to create a vendor-neutral administration based on Free Software."
Mozilla

After 19 Years, DMOZ Will Close, Announces AOL 60

Its volunteer-edited web directory formed the basis for early search offerings from Netscape, AOL, and Google. But 19 years later, there's some bad news. koavf writes: As posted on the DMOZ homepage, the Open Directory Project's web listing will go offline on March 14, 2017. Founded in 1998 as "Gnuhoo", the human-curated directory once powered Google and served as a model for Wikipedia.
A 1998 Slashdot editorial prompted Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation to complain about how "Gnu" was used in the site's name. "We renamed GnuHoo to NewHoo," a blog post later explained, "but then Yahoo objected to the 'Hoo' (and our red letters, exclamation point, and 'comical font')." After being acquired for Netscape's "Open Directory Project," their URL became directory.mozilla.org, which was shortened to DMOZ. Search Engine Land predicts the memory of the Open Directory Project will still be kept alive by the NOODP meta tag.

The site was so old that its hierarchical categories were originally based on the hierarchy of Usenet newsgroups. As it nears its expiration date, do any Slashdot readers have thoughts or memories to share about DMOZ?
Facebook

Facebook Begins Marking 'Fake News' As 'Disputed' (wdrb.com) 208

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook is now marking fake news as "disputed," several sites reported today. "According to Facebook's Help Center, news stories that are reported as fake by people on Facebook may be reviewed by independent, third-party fact-checkers," writes WDRB Media. "The fact-checkers will be signatories of the non-partisan Poynter Code of Principles. A story will be marked as disputed if fact-checkers find the story to be fake."

Mashable reports that the feature was rolled out quietly, and didn't gain much attention until it was noticed Friday by a reporter from Gizmodo, who tweeted a screenshot showing Facebook's new "disputed" icon. Further investigation revealed Facebook's help center now includes a page explaining how news gets marked as disputed, and another page informing users how to mark a news story as fake (which points out this feature "isn't available to everyone yet.")

DRM

Free Software Foundation Challenges Tim Berners-Lee On DRM (defectivebydesign.org) 207

Slashdot reader Atticus Rex writes: On Monday, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) director Tim Berners-Lee released a post defending his decision to allow Netflix, Microsoft, Apple and Google to enshrine DRM in Web standards, arguing that blocking it would be pointless. Zak Rogoff, FSF campaigns manager, writes in the response:

"As Director of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), Berners-Lee has the ability to block [the DRM proposal] from ratification as an official Web standard... Of course, a refusal to ratify could not immediately stop the use of DRM, but it could meaningfully weaken the position of DRM in the court of public opinion, and put EME proponents Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, and Google on notice that a very prominent figure was willing to stand up to them on behalf of users. Changes in society's technological infrastructure require political movements, not just technological arguments, and political movements benefit greatly from the support of prominent figures."

Berners-Lee takes the position that "The web has to be universal, to function at all. It has to be capable of holding crazy ideas of the moment, but also the well polished ideas of the century. It must be able to handle any language and culture. It must be able to include information of all types, and media of many genres. Included in that universality is that it must be able to support free stuff and for-pay stuff, as they are all part of this world.

"This means that it is good for the web to be able to include movies, and so for that, it is better for HTML5 to have EME than to not have it."
Technology

Why Typography Matters -- Especially At The Oscars (freecodecamp.com) 199

An anonymous reader shares a blog post: There's one thing the Academy possibly didn't consider, or forgot, for this year's winner cards: typography. First, it's legible, you can tell all the letters apart. Second, it's somewhat readable, but the visual weight of "Moonlight" and the producers are equal and blend together. Lastly, even though it is just a winner's card, it's not visually appealing. I think it's fair to say it's objectively bland. That's horrible typography. Of course, anyone could've made the same honest error! You are on television with millions of people around the world watching. You are a little nervous, and you have to read a card. You will most likely read it from top to bottom (visual hierarchy) without questioning whether the card is right. That look on Warren's face was, "This says 'Emma Stone' on it." Faye must've skipped that part and was caught up in the excitement and just blurted out, "La La Land." I don't blame Faye or Warren for this. This was the fault of two entities: whoever was in charge of the design of the winning card (Was it really a design? C'mon), and the unfortunate person who handed them the wrong envelope. A clearly designed card and envelope (don't even get me started on that gold on red envelope) would've prevented this. The blogger, Benjamin Bannister (a creative consultant for old and new media), adds that there were essentially three things wrong with the card in question: Oscars logo need not to be at the top of the card. The category, "Best Acress" was at the bottom, and in small print. And, the winner's name, the main thing that should be read, is the same size as the second line and given equal weight.
Businesses

Instant Messaging App Snapchat-Maker Snap's IPO Opened Trading At $24 a Share, Making the Company Worth $33 Billion (recode.net) 66

Snap, the company behind instant messaging app Snapchat, went public this morning at price that values the loss-making tech company at $33 billion. Here's how the investors are valuing the company: At $33 billion, investors are saying Snap is worth 35 times what it's estimated to generate in sales this year, or about $936 million, according to eMarketer. Compare that with Facebook, which is currently worth about 10.5 times its estimated 2017 revenue. In other words, investors, for the moment, think Snap has three times more potential value than Facebook. That's a big bet. Snap lost $514 million last year on $404 million in revenue. Compare that with Twitter, which lost $79 million the year before its IPO, while Facebook made $1 billion in profit. Snap has 158 million daily active users. Facebook at its IPO had 845 million monthly active users and 483 million daily active users.
Government

UK: New Drivers Caught Using a Phone Will Lose Their License (bbc.com) 180

Under new rules in England, Scotland and Wales, drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their test will have their license revoked. BBC reports: Penalties for using a phone at the wheel double from March 1 to six points and a 200 British pound fine. New drivers who get six points or more must retake their practical and theory. More experienced drivers can be banned if they get 12 points in three years. Can I check social media or texts if I'm queuing in traffic or stopped at traffic lights? No -- a hand held phone cannot be used, even if stopped at lights. Texting and scrolling social media (even if the phone is mounted on a hands-free holder) is distracting and dangerous. It doesn't come under the handheld mobile phone law but the police may decide to charge you with a number of other offenses. Can I use my phone to listen to music, play podcasts or watch video clips? You can't watch video clips -- not even if your phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. You can use your phone to listen to music and podcasts but only if your phone is in a hands-free holder or connected by Bluetooth. However, just as you can be distracted by the noise of a car radio, if it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police. Can I use my phone's sat nav? Yes -- as long as the phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. If it's in your hands, it's illegal. However, if you are distracted by the sat nav and it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police.
Government

Congressional Candidate Brianna Wu Claims Moon-Colonizing Companies Could Destroy Cities By Dropping Rocks (washingtontimes.com) 642

Applehu Akbar quotes a report from Washington Times: A transgender-issues activist and Democratic candidate for Congress says the advent of the space tourism industry could give private corporations a "frightening amount of power" to destroy the Earth with rocks because of the Moon's military importance. Brianna Wu, a prominent "social justice warrior" in the "Gamergate" controversy who now is running for the House seat in Massachusetts' 8th District, suggested in a since-deleted tweet that companies could drop rocks from the Moon. "The moon is probably the most tactically valuable military ground for earth," the tweet said. "Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs." After users on social media questioned her scientific literacy, the congressional candidate clarified that the tweet was "talking about dropping [rocks] into our gravity well." Small space rocks can indeed do nuclear-weapons-scale damage if hitting the Earth at orbital speeds. But launching one from the moon, even setting aside issues of aiming, would still require escaping the satellite's gravitational field, a task that requires the power and thrust contained in a huge rocket.
Communications

A New Video Shows Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Arguing With a Driver Over Fares (bloomberg.com) 187

A new video published by Bloomberg shows Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver over fares. It all started when one of Kalanick's "companions" appears to say that she's heard that Uber is having a hard year. Bloomberg reports: That pleasant conversation between Kalanick and his friends in the back of an Uber Black? It devolved into a heated argument over Uber's fares between the CEO and his driver, Fawzi Kamel, who then turned over a dashboard recording of the conversation to Bloomberg. Kamel, 37, has been driving for Uber since 2011 and wants to draw attention to the plight of Uber drivers. The video shows off Kalanick's pugnacious personality and short temper, which may cause some investors to question whether he has the disposition to lead a $69 billion company with a footprint that spans the globe. Uber declined to comment on the video. Here's part of the conversation:
Travis Kalanick: "So we are reducing the number of black cars in the next few months."
Fawzi Kamel: "It's good."
Kalanick: "You probably saw some email."
Kamel: "I saw the email [says] it starts in May. But you're raising the standards and dropping the prices."
Kalanick: "We're not dropping the prices on black."
Kamel: "But in general."
Kalanick: "In general but we have competitors. Otherwise we'd be out of business."
Kamel: "Competitors? You had the business model in your hands you could have the prices you want but you choose to buy everybody a ride."

You can read the transcript of the conversation here via Recode.

UPDATE 2/28/17: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has issued "a profound apology."
Businesses

DNA Test Shows Subway's 'Chicken' Only Contains 50 Percent Chicken (arstechnica.com) 244

According to an investigation by Canadian media outlet, CBC, the chicken in Subway Restaurants' chicken sandwiches may only contain around 50 percent chicken -- the rest of it is soy, spices and preservatives. The investigation involved DNA testing chicken sandwiches collected from five popular fast food restaurants. While the rest of the sandwiches contained mostly chicken, Subway's oven-roasted chicken and the chicken strips in its Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich clocked in with just 53.6 percent and 42.8 percent chicken, respectively. Ars Technica reports: Among all the chicken sampled, there was a total of about 50 ingredients other than chicken identified. The chicken samples had an average of 16 ingredients. Some of the ingredients are expected, such as salt and other seasonings. But many were commercial preservatives and fillers. One commonality was that they all had high levels of salt. Subway responded to the CBC in a statement: "SUBWAY Canada cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing you had conducted. However, we are concerned by the alleged findings you had conducted." You can read the full statement here.
Television

YouTube Unveils YouTube TV, Its Live TV Streaming Service (techcrunch.com) 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After a year of rumors, YouTube is finally drawing back the curtain on its latest play for entertainment industry domination -- a live TV service. Distinct from YouTube Red, the new service YouTube TV, which has been in the works for years at Google's internet video behemoth, has quietly been inking contracts with media companies to distribute their content on its TV service. The service is fairly low-cost, with a family of six accounts available for $35 per month, and no long-term contract required. Earlier reports from the Wall Street Journal set pricing for the service somewhere between $25 and $40 per month. However, it will only launch in markets where it can offer full, live local broadcast feeds. That's planned for the months ahead, but YouTube didn't offer an exact date. "We decided to create an offering that would give them all of these can't miss live moments," said YouTube exec Robert Kinsel of YouTube TV's offering. He explained that YouTube has partnered with all of the broadcast networks, in order to offer "comprehensive national coverage with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox all included." In addition, the service is getting USA, FX, FreeForm, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business. ShowTime is available for an additional fee. Missing, however, is HBO. For sports fans, the service includes national coverage from ESPN, FoxSports, and NBC SportsNet. Also offered are regional sports networks from Fox and Comcast, SEC Network, Big Ten and ESPNU. Fox Soccer Plus is available as an add-on. In addition, YouTube TV includes YouTube Red's 28 original series. Some other features of the service include a DVR that will never run out of space and that's cable of simultaneous recordings, a visual TV guide, search feature, and voice support integration via Google Home.
Youtube

One Billion Hours of YouTube Are Watched Every Day (thenextweb.com) 72

YouTube announced in a blog post that people around the world are now watching a billion hours of YouTube videos every single day. According to YouTube, "If you were to sit and watch a billion hours of YouTube, it would take you over 100,000 years." Mashable reports: The milestone "represents the enjoyment of the fantastically diverse videos that creative people make every single day," Cristos Goodrow, VP of engineering at YouTube, wrote in a blog post Monday. "Around the world, people are spending a billion hours every day rewarding their curiosity, discovering great music, keeping up with the news, connecting with their favorite personalities, or catching up with the latest trend." The 1 billion figure is a 10-fold increase since 2012, YouTube said. The statistic is one that underscores YouTube's efforts to dominate the digital space. On YouTube -- which operates under the motto "Broadcast Yourself" -- users upload 400 hours of video each minute, or 65 years of video a day.
Movies

Can Streaming Companies Replace Hollywood Studios? (vanityfair.com) 138

"Movie-theater attendance is down to a 19-year low, with revenues hovering slightly above $10 billion," reports Vanity Fair, arguing that traditional studios should feel threatened by nimble streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon, which produced the film Manchester By The Sea -- nominated for six Oscars. An anonymous reader writes: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos attended the Oscars, prompting host Jimmy Kimmel to joke that if the film won, "you can expect your Oscar to arrive in 2 to 5 business days, possibly stolen by a GrubHub delivery man." But it's a symbol of an inevitable disruption in Hollywood. "Studios now account for less than 10% of their parent companies' profits," writes Vanity Fair, adding "By 2020, according to some forecasts, that share will fall to around 5%... Some 70% of box office comes from abroad, which means that studios must traffic in the sort of blow-'em-up action films and comic-book thrillers that translate easily enough to Mandarin. Or in reboots and sequels that rely on existing intellectual property." Former Paramount CEO Barry Diller famously said "I don't know why anyone would want a movie company today. They don't make movies; they make hats and whistles."

The article makes the case that Hollywood, "in its over-reliance on franchises, has ceded the vast majority of the more stimulating content to premium networks and over-the-top services such as HBO and Showtime, and, increasingly, digital-native platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. These companies also have access to analytics tools that Hollywood could never fathom, and an allergy to its inefficiency."

The article argues that with A.I., CGI, big data and innovation, "Silicon Valley has already won," and that "it's only a matter of time -- perhaps a couple of years -- before movies will be streamed on social-media sites."
Nintendo

$10K Package Of Super Nintendo Games Finally Found By Post Office (eurogamer.net) 155

A project to preserve (and validate) every Super Nintendo game ROM had been derailed when the post office lost a package containing 100 games from the PAL region. But now Byuu, the creator of the Higan SNES emulator, reports that the package has been found. An anonymous reader writes: Thursday Byuu finally posted photos of the unboxing for the package that was shipped to him January 5th. "I'd like to offer my sincerest apologies to the USPS for assuming the worst in that these games were stolen. I should not have been so hasty to assume malicious intent." At the same time, Byuu writes that "My package was sitting in Atlanta, GA for well over a month with my address clearly visible right on the box. Had this case not been escalated to the media, it likely would have gone up for auction in a bin with other electronics sometime in March."

Byuu is now refunding donations he'd received to replace the missing games, and says he can now also resume work on the SNES Preservation Project. And going forward, according to Eurogamer, "Byuu has said he will be more cautious with shipping games in the future -- only using smaller shipments, or buying individual games to scan and archive then selling them on to get some money back."

Slashdot Top Deals