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Updated: 14 min 58 sec ago

After Iceland and Germany, Now France Declares War on the Gender Wage Gap

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 8:40pm
France says it wants to make good on at least one-third of its motto of "liberte, egalite, and fraternite," by ensuring pay equality. From a report: The French government announced it is devising a "tough, concrete" plan to make the gender pay gap as much a thing of the past as Madame DeFarge's knitting habit. Per the Associated Press, France's plan for pay equity is still a work in progress. However, legislators may require companies to release the average salaries of their male and female employees and analyze them for disparities.

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Apple Updates macOS and iOS To Address Spectre Vulnerability

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 7:21pm
Days after Apple disclosed how it would be dealing with the Meltdown bug that affects modern computers, it's pushed out fixes for the Spectre exploit as well. From a report: iOS 11.2.2 includes "Security improvements to Safari and WebKit to mitigate the effects of Spectre," the company writes on its support page, while the macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 Supplemental Update does the same for your Mac laptop or desktop. Installing this update on your Mac will also update Safari to version 11.0.2.

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Facebook is Shutting Down M, Its Personal Assistant Service That Combined Humans and AI

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 6:40pm
Facebook M, the text-based virtual assistant that used human workers to train an artificial intelligence system, is ending the human-assisted part of the service after two and a half years. From a report: The human-enhanced version of M, which was available through a bot on Facebook Messenger, only ever became available to about 2,000 people living in California. The final day of the will be January 19th, Facebook said, and contractors who worked on it will be offered other jobs at the company. First introduced in August 2015, aspects of the service will live on through M suggestions, which offers fully automated suggestions for payments, making plans, and sending stickers through Messenger. When it launched, Facebook described M as a "beta" and suggested the human-powered assistant would come to more users over time. But it never did. Upon shutting down the human-powered M, Facebook described it as an "experiment."

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Microsoft's Meltdown and Spectre Patch Is Bricking Some AMD PCs

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 6:00pm
Mark Wilson writes: As if the Meltdown and Spectre bug affecting millions of processors was not bad enough, the patches designed to mitigate the problems are introducing issues of their own. Perhaps the most well-known effect is a much-publicized performance hit, but some users are reporting that Microsoft's emergency patch is bricking their computers. We've already seen compatibility issues with some antivirus tools, and now some AMD users are reporting that the KB4056892 patch is rendering their computer unusable. A further issue -- error 0x800f0845 -- means that it is not possible to perform a rollback.

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China Plans To Kill Most of the World's Bitcoin Mining Operations

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 5:20pm
The Chinese government will end bitcoin mining operations in the country in the coming months in a move that could have a massive impact on the price of the world's biggest digital currency. From a report: China has been a central player in the development of bitcoin in recent years, but Beijing has spent the last six months cracking down on the cryptocurrency industry -- shutting down local exchanges and banning initial coin offerings. Leaked documents suggest the Chinese government plans an "orderly exit" for bitcoin mining operations in the coming weeks and months. In the documents, issued to the local offices of the internet-finance regulator, authorities were instructed to force mining operations out of business using measures linked to electricity pricing, land use, tax and environmental protection.

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AMD Unveils 2nd Gen Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs, 7nm Vega Mobile GPUs At CES

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 4:40pm
MojoKid writes: AMD is unveiled a number of upcoming chip products for the new year at CES 2018, including updated next-generation Ryzen and Threadripper desktop processors covering every market segment from mobile to HEDT, and an array of Vega-based graphics products. AMD will be releasing a pair of Ryzen 3-branded mobile APUs for mainstream notebooks. The quad-core / quad-thread Ryzen 3 2300U has base and boost clocks of 2.0GHz and 3.4GHz, respectively, while the dual-core / quad-thread Ryzen 3 2200U clocks-in at 2.5GHz and 3.4GHz, base and boost. Desktop Ryzen APUs, codenamed Raven Ridge, are inbound for the AM4 platform as well. Launching on February 12 are the upcoming Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G. The Ryzen 5 chip is a quad-core / eight-thread machine with an on-die, 11 CU Vega graphics core, priced at $169. The Ryzen 3 2200G is a quad-core / quad-thread chip with and 8 CU Vega-based graphics engine for only $99. CPU core frequencies on the Ryzen 5 2400G range from 3.6GHz -- 3.9GHz (base / boost) and the Ryzen 3 2400G clocks-in at 3.5GHz -- 3.7GHz. 2nd-generation Ryzen desktop processors are on the way as well and will be manufactured using an advanced 12nm+ lithography process, leveraging the Zen+ architecture, which is fundamentally unchanged from current Zen-based processors, save for a few tweaks and fixes that improve cache and memory speeds and latency. 2nd-Generation Ryzen processors are NOT based on the Zen 2 architecture. AMD also mentioned that these new processors will be used in a new line-up of 2nd-Generation Threadripper processors. Finally, the company disclosed two new Vega-based GPUs, a Vega Mobile part with a svelte 1.7mm Z-height and second Vega-based chip, which will be manufactured at 7nm that specifically targets machine learning applications. The low-profile Vega Mobile GPU will find its ways into ultra-thin notebooks and mobile workstations, but speeds and feeds weren't disclosed. AMD also announced that it will be supporting variable refresh rate over HDMI 2.1 in the future as well.

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What's On Center Stage at the CES Tech Show? Your Voice

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 4:00pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Some of the most popular gadgets over the holiday season were smart speakers with digital assistants from Amazon and Google. Apple is coming out with its own speaker this year; Microsoft and Samsung have partnered on another. As the annual CES gadget show kicks off in Las Vegas this week, manufacturers are expected to unveil even more voice-controlled devices -- speakers and beyond -- as Amazon and Google make their digital assistants available on a wider array of products. If these prove popular, you'll soon be able to order around much more of your house, including kitchen appliances, washing machines and other devices.

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Apple Should Address Youth Phone Addiction, Say Two Large Investors

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 3:20pm
Two large Apple shareholders, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, are urging Apple to take steps to address what they say is a growing problem of young people getting addicted to Apple's iPhones, Jana partner Charles Penner said. From a report: Jana, a leading activist shareholder, and CalSTRS, one of the nation's largest public pension plans, delivered a letter to Apple on Saturday asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents to limit children's phone use, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Sunday. Jana and CalSTRS also asked Apple to study the impact of excessive phone use on mental health, according to the publication. Jana and CalSTRS together control about $2 billion worth of Apple shares, the Journal reports.

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Microsoft Halts Bitcoin Transactions Because It's An 'Unstable Currency'

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 2:40pm
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputers: Microsoft has stopped supporting Bitcoin as a payment method for Microsoft products, Bleeping Computer has learned. A Microsoft support staffer has told us the move is temporary and cited the unstable state of the Bitcoin currency. Microsoft added support for Bitcoin in 2014, and has previously temporarily stopped supporting Bitcoin in the past.

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Alexa is Coming To Windows 10 PCs From HP, ASUS and Others

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 2:00pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Amazon's Alexa recently arrived on headphones and even toilets, but it's about to become much more ubiquitous by hitting Windows 10 PCs later this year. HP, ASUS and Acer have revealed that the voice assistant is coming to various models, including ASUS's ZenBook and VivoBook lineup, the HP Pavilion Wave, and select Acer Spin, Swift, Switch and Aspire notebooks. Amazon will release a special Alexa app in the spring, and laptop builders are tapping Intel's Smart Sound tech to make sure that the app can pick up your voice when you're not right next to your PC. "Hands-free access to Alexa on PCs can be helpful to customers in many ways, like making it simple to interact with your smart home, get news or weather, set timers, and more," Amazon Alexa VP Steve Rabuchin said in a statement.

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OpenBSD's De Raadt Pans 'Incredibly Bad' Disclsoure of Intel CPU Bug

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 11:34am
troublemaker_23 quotes ITWire: Disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, which affect mainly Intel CPUs, was handled "in an incredibly bad way" by both Intel and Google, the leader of the OpenBSD project Theo de Raadt claims. "Only Tier-1 companies received advance information, and that is not responsible disclosure -- it is selective disclosure," De Raadt told iTWire in response to queries. "Everyone below Tier-1 has just gotten screwed." In the interview de Raadt also faults intel for moving too fast in an attempt to beat their competition. "There are papers about the risky side-effects of speculative loads -- people knew... Intel engineers attended the same conferences as other company engineers, and read the same papers about performance enhancing strategies -- so it is hard to believe they ignored the risky aspects. I bet they were instructed to ignore the risk." He points out this will make it more difficult to develop kernel software, since "Suddenly the trickiest parts of a kernel need to do backflips to cope with problems deep in the micro-architecture." And he also complains that Intel "has been exceedingly clever to mix Meltdown (speculative loads) with a separate issue (Spectre). This is pulling the wool over the public's eyes..." "It is a scandal, and I want repaired processors for free."

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Ask Slashdot: How Should I Replace My Netbook?

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 8:34am
Long-time Slashdot reader Kevin108 needs to replace his netbook: I've used and loved my Eee 701 for many years. None of the diminutive ergonomics were ever an issue. But the low-res screen, 4 GB SSD, and 630 MHz Celeron are a useless combo for current web browsing and modern software. I'm now in the market for a new device in a similar form factor. I need a Windows device for my preferred photo editor and some other software I use for maps. It will often be used offline for writing and watching MKVs in VLC. I'm okay with a notebook or tablet and keyboard combo, but I've not found anything in a similar size with my feature requirements. Any suggestions? Leave your best thoughts and suggestions in the comments. What's the best way to replace a netbook?

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Can Mesh Networks Save a Dying Web?

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 4:34am
From an anonymous reader: "The web is dying, but mesh networks could save it," writes open source hacker Andre Staltz. He warns that Facebook, Google, and Amazon plan to "grow beyond browsers, creating new virtual contexts where data is created and shared," and predicts the next wave of walled gardens will be a "social internet" bypassing the web altogether. "The Web may die like most other technologies do, simply by becoming less attractive than newer technologies." He wants to build a mobile mesh web that works with or without internet access to reach the four billion people currently offline, adding that all the tools we need are already in our hands: smartphones, peer-to-peer protocols, and mesh networks. His vision? "Novel peer-to-peer protocols such as IPFS and Dat help replace HTTP and make the web a content-centered cyberspace... Browsers can be made to work like that, and although it's a small tweak to how the web works, it has massive effects on social structures in cyberspace... Now that we have experience with some of the intricacies of the social web, we can reinvent it to put people first without intermediate companies... We can actually beat the tech giants at this game by simply giving local and regional connectivity to people in developing countries. With mobile apps that are built mesh-first, the smartphones would make up self-organizing self-healing mobile ad-hoc networks... In internet-less regions, there is potential for scaling quickly, and through that, we can spawn a new industry around peer-to-peer wireless mesh networks." He cites mega-projects "to rescue the web from the internet", which include progress on peer-to-peer and mesh networking protocols, followed by adoption on smartphones (and then a new wave of apps) -- plus a migration of existing web content to the new protocols, "to fix the overutilization of the wirenet and the underutilization of airnets, bringing balance to the wire-versus-air dichotomy, providing choice in how data should travel in each case...But it can only happen if the web takes a courageous step towards its next level."

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SpaceX Completes First Launch of 2018: Secretive 'Zuma' Spacecraft

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 2:34am
SpaceX's first launch of 2018 was "a secretive spacecraft commissioned by the U.S. government for an undisclosed mission," reports TechCrunch. An anonymous reader quotes CNN: After more than a month of delays, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket vaulted toward the skies at 8 p.m. ET Sunday with the secretive payload. It launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida... The company [then] executed its signature move: guiding the first-stage rocket booster back to Earth for a safe landing. Just over two minutes after liftoff Sunday, the first-stage booster separated from the second stage and fired up its engines. The blaze allowed the rocket to safely cut back through the Earth's atmosphere and land on a pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station... The company completed a record-setting 18 launches last year, and SpaceX plans to do even more this year, according to spokesman James Gleeson.

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Some Smartphone Salesmen Aren't Sold on the iPhone X

Mon, 08/01/2018 - 12:34am
A CNET reporter visited four carrier stores to ask their salesmen if they'd recommend an iPhone X. But after visiting stores for Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, "I couldn't even find a salesperson to tell me it was the best iPhone I could buy." So he finally tried asking three salesmen at Apple Stores -- and still got equivocal answers. An anonymous reader quotes CNET's report: "Well, it depends on what you like," the salesman said, somewhat coyly. "The biggest problem I have with it is using Face ID for Apple Pay. You really have to put the phone at a certain angle or it doesn't work." He started with a problem. I was already suspicious. I was in something of a hurry, but I asked him: "So are you selling a lot more of these than other phones?" He turned into a high-ranking member of a political party. "All our phones sell well," he said. Which sounded not entirely reassuring. Indeed, it sounded like a "no." Chatting next with an Apple store "Genius" (who was testing his iPhone 6), CNET's reporter was told that "The X and the 8 are the same phone... Inside, I mean. With the X, you're just paying the extra money for the design." Unfortunately, that salesman's $999 iPhone X was wrapped in an ugly pink case, because after four weeks he'd already cracked it. And a third Apple salesman -- who touted the glories of an OLED screen -- also kept his iPhone X in a case at all times "It's glass," he explained. "You'll definitely need a case." "But what about not being able to see the lovely phone?" "Get a see-through case," he replied with a smile.

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C Programming Language 'Has Completed a Comeback'

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 11:34pm
InfoWorld reports that "the once-declining C language" has "completed a comeback" -- citing its rise to second place in the Tiobe Index of language popularity, the biggest rise of any language in 2017. An anonymous reader quotes their report: Although the language only grew 1.69 percentage points in its rating year over year in the January index, that was enough beat out runners-up Python (1.21 percent gain) and Erlang (0.98 percent gain). Just five months ago, C was at its lowest-ever rating, at 6.477 percent; this month, its rating is 11.07 percent, once again putting it in second place behind Java (14.215 percent) -- although Java dropped 3.05 percent compared to January 2017. C's revival is possibly being fueled by its popularity in manufacturing and industry, including the automotive market, Tiobe believes... But promising languages such as Julia, Hack, Rust, and Kotlin were not able to reach the top 20 or even the top 30, Tiobe pointed out. "Becoming part of the top 10 or even the top 20 requires a large ecosystem of communities and evangelists including conferences," said Paul Jansen, Tiobe managing director and compiler of the index. "This is not something that can be developed in one year's time." For 2017 Tiobe also reports that after Java and C, the most popular programming languages were C++, Python, C#, JavaScript, Visual Basic .Net, R, PHP, and Perl. The rival Pypl Popularity of Programming Language index calculates that the most popular languages are Java, Python, PHP, JavaScript, C#, C++, C, R, Objective-C, and Swift.

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Can You Install Linux On a 1993 PC?

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 10:34pm
The oldest x86 CPU that the Linux kernel supports today is theoretically the 486. However is this theory actually true in practice? I decided to put this theory to the test in my project. His site describes installing Gentoo Linux on an "ancient" IBM PS/1 Consultant 2133 19C (released in 1993), with 64MB SIMM-72 RAM. (Though to speed things up, he compiled that minimal version of Gentoo on a modern Thinkpad T430 released in 2012.) "Due to the age of the PC, the BIOS only supports booting from the floppy drive or internal HDD," so there was also some disk partitioning and kernel configuration. ("Must disable 64-bit kernel for obvious reasons!") A half-hour video shows that it takes almost 11 minutes just to boot up -- and five and a half minutes to shut down. "Despite the many roadblocks I faced, I was impressed by the level of support Linux has for ancient hardware like this." And there's one more added bonus. "Given the age of the 486 (1989 technology), it does not support branch prediction... Ironically this makes it safe from the Meltdown and Spectre attacks."

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Pentagon Seeks Laser-Powered Bat Drones

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 9:34pm
Zorro quotes DefenseOne: A new contest seeks flight systems inspired by Mother Nature and powered by directed-energy beams. Tired: multi-rotor copters and fixed-wing drones. Wired: flying robots that move like living animals, are crafted of next-generation materials, and draw their power not from batteries but energy beamed from nearby aircraft... "The biological study of agile organisms such as bats and flying insects has yielded new insights into complex flight kinematics of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, and the use of multi-functional flight surface materials," the announcement reads. The Air Force believes that more and more naturalistic design -- coupled with more powerful and smaller sensors to form a better picture of the outside world -- should yield "significant improvements in maneuverability, survivability and stealth over traditional quadcopter or fixed wing designs." The article includes a link to a CalTech video showing footage of an advanced robotic bat.

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After Intel ME, Researchers Find Security Bug In AMD's SPS Secret Chip-on-Chip

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 8:34pm
An anonymous reader writes: AMD has fixed, but not yet released BIOS/UEFI/firmware updates for the general public for a security flaw affecting the AMD Secure Processor. This component, formerly known as AMD PSP (Platform Security Processor), is a chip-on-chip security system, similar to Intel's much-hated Management Engine (ME). Just like Intel ME, the AMD Secure Processor is an integrated coprocessor that sits next to the real AMD64 x86 CPU cores and runs a separate operating system tasked with handling various security-related operations. The security bug is a buffer overflow that allows code execution inside the AMD SPS TPM, the component that stores critical system data such as passwords, certificates, and encryption keys, in a secure environment and outside of the more easily accessible AMD cores. Intel fixed a similar flaw last year in the Intel ME.

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John Young, Legendary Astronaut, Dies at Age 87

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 7:34pm
Legendary astronaut John Young -- who walked on the moon and piloted the first space shuttle -- died Friday at the age of 87. schwit1 shares a nice profile from CBS News: A naval aviator and test pilot, Young logged more than 15,275 hours flying time in a variety of aircraft, including 9,200 hours in T-38 jets. He spent 835 hours in space across his six NASA flights, serving as co-pilot of the first Gemini mission in 1965, commander of a second Gemini flight in 1966, lunar module pilot for Apollo 10 in 1969, commander of Apollo 16 in 1972 and commander of the first shuttle flight in 1981... Young was the first man to fly in space six times and the only astronaut to fly aboard Gemini and Apollo capsules and the space shuttle... He also brought a legendary cool nerve to an inherently dangerous job that amazed his compatriots. "I found out from the flight surgeon later on that my heartbeat was 144 at liftoff," Charlie Duke, one of Young's crewmates on the Apollo 16 moon landing mission, said of his reaction to launch atop a Saturn 5 rocket. "John's (heartbeat) was 70". On one space shuttle flight, two of the ship's three auxiliary power units actually caught on fire, and exploded just minutes after touchdown. But Young always kept his cool. In 2010 Slashdot remembered the first manned Gemini mission in 1965. When it reached orbit, Young surprised his fellow astronaut Gus Grissom by pulling a fresh corned beef sandwich out of his pocket. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Andrew Chaikin, author of "A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts", remembers that Young "used to talk about how if we stay on this planet for too long, something's going to get us, whether it was a super volcano or whatever. He really was a true believer." NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot added that Young's career "spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier." In 2012 -- when he was in his 80s -- Young published a memoir titled Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space. "My life has been long, and it has been interesting. It's also been a lot of fun, and a lot of hard, challenging work. If I could do it over, I would do it over the very same way.

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