Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Slashdot

Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 1 min 56 sec ago

Robots Are Coming For Our Ms. Pac-Man High Scores

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 8:50pm
A Microsoft-made AI system has achieved a perfect score of 999,990 points on the Atari 2600 version of the classic 'Ms. Pac-Man.' From a report: Researchers at the Microsoft-owned deep learning company Maluuba have used an AI system to break the all-time Ms. Pac-Man record. In a blog post, Microsoft wrote that, "using a divide-and-conquer method that could have broad implications for teaching AI agents to do complex tasks that augment human capabilities," Maluuba's AI was able to record a perfect Ms. Pac-Man score of 999,990 on the Atari 2600 version of the game, breaking the all-time record of 933,580.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

More Than 80% of US Adults Get News On Their Phones

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 8:10pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: More than 80% of U.S. adults get news on their phones -- up from roughly half of Americans just four years ago, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. Most of that growth comes from adults older than 65 whose news consumption via mobile spiked almost 25% in the last year, and has tripled over the past four years.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Your Favorite Subscription Services?

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 7:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: What are some subscriptions services that you are paying for and love to pay? Please include music/movie services, news outlets, software, and courses.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Germany Plans To Fingerprint Children and Spy On Personal Messages

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 6:50pm
From a report: Germany is planning a new law giving authorities the right to look at private messages and fingerprint children as young as 6, the interior minister said on Wednesday after the last government gathering before a national election in September. Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance. "We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law," interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in the eastern town of Dresden.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Drive Will Soon Back Up Your Entire Computer

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 6:10pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Google is turning Drive into a much more robust backup tool. Soon, instead of files having to live inside of the Drive folder, Google will be able to monitor and backup files inside of any folder you point it to. That can include your desktop, your entire documents folder, or other more specific locations. The backup feature will come out later this month, on June 28th, in the form of a new app called Backup and Sync. In some other news, Box announced on Wednesday desktop apps for its storage service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oil Changes, Safety Recalls, and Software Patches

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 5:30pm
An anonymous reader shares a blog post: Every few months I get an email from my local mechanic reminding me that it's time to get my car's oil changed. I generally ignore these emails; it costs time and money to get this done and I drive little enough -- about 2000 km/year -- that I'm not too worried about the consequences of going for a bit longer than nominally advised between oil changes. I do get oil changes done... but typically once every 8-12 months, rather than the recommended 4-6 months. On the other hand, there's another type of notification which elicits more prompt attention: Safety recalls. There are two good reasons for this: First, whether for vehicles, food, or other products, the risk of ignoring a safety recall is not merely that the product will break, but rather that the product will be actively unsafe; and second, when there's a safety recall you don't have to pay for the replacement or fix -- the cost is covered by the manufacturer. I started thinking about this distinction -- and more specifically the difference in user behaviour -- in the aftermath of the "WannaCry" malware. While WannaCry attracted widespread attention for its "ransomware" nature, the more concerning aspect of this incident is how it propagated: By exploiting a vulnerability in SMB for which Microsoft issued patches two months earlier. As someone who works in computer security, I find this horrifying -- and I was particularly concerned when I heard that the NHS was postponing surgeries because they couldn't access patient records. [...] I imagine that most people in my industry would agree that security patches should be treated in the same vein as safety recalls -- unless you're certain that you're not affected, take care of them as a matter of urgency -- but it seems that far more users instead treat security patches more like oil changes: something to be taken care of when convenient... or not at all, if not convenient. It's easy to say that such users are wrong; but as an industry it's time that we think about why they are wrong rather than merely blaming them for their problems.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Issues $1 Billion Green Bond After Trump's Paris Climate Exit

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 4:52pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple offered a $1 billion bond dedicated to financing clean energy and environmental projects on Tuesday, the first corporate green bond offered since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement. The offering comes over a year after Apple issued its first green bond of $1.5 billion -- the largest issued by a U.S. corporation -- as a response to the 2015 Paris agreement. Apple said its second green bond is meant to show that businesses are still committed to the goals of the 194-nation accord. "Leadership from the business community is essential to address the threat of climate change and protect our shared planet," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Weighs Restricting Chinese Investment In Artificial Intelligence

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 4:05pm
An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: The United States appears poised to heighten scrutiny of Chinese investment in Silicon Valley to better shield sensitive technologies seen as vital to U.S. national security, current and former U.S. officials tell Reuters. Of particular concern is China's interest in fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, which have increasingly attracted Chinese capital in recent years. The worry is that cutting-edge technologies developed in the United States could be used by China to bolster its military capabilities and perhaps even push it ahead in strategic industries. The U.S. government is now looking to strengthen the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the inter-agency committee that reviews foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies on national security grounds. An unreleased Pentagon report, viewed by Reuters, warns that China is skirting U.S. oversight and gaining access to sensitive technology through transactions that currently don't trigger CFIUS review.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Congressman Steve Scalise Among 5 Shot at Baseball Field

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 3:11pm
From a New York Times report: A lone gunman opened fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team at a practice field in a Washington suburb Wednesday, using a rifle to shower the field with bullets that struck five people, including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives. Two members of Mr. Scalise's protective police detail were wounded as they exchanged gunfire with the shooter in what other lawmakers described as a chaotic, terror-filled ten minutes that turned the baseball practice into an early-morning nightmare. Police said a total of five people were shot, two critically. Standing at second base, Mr. Scalise was struck, in the hip, according to witnesses, and collapsed as the shots rang out, one after another, from behind a chain-link fence near the third-base dugout. Witnesses said Mr. Scalise, of Louisiana, "army crawled" his way toward taller grass as the shooting continued. Alternative source: NBC News, CNN, BBC, NPR, WashingtonPost, and WSJ. Update: 06/14 15:40 GMT: In remarks at the White House, President Trump said the Alexandria shooting suspect has died from injuries.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's Ex-CEO, Says She's Looking 'Forward To Using Gmail Again'

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 2:40pm
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who resigned on Tuesday after running the company for about five years, appeared at a conference in London today. At the conference, Mayer said one of the things she was looking forward to in her post-Yahoo life was using Gmail again. "I am always faster when using a tool I designed myself," she added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Indian Scientists Are Experimenting With Drone Seed-bombing To Plant a Forest

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 2:00pm
An anonymous reader shares an article: "I'm basically from that area (Gauribidanur in Indian state of Karnataka); son of a farmer, came to academia... keen to bring back my younger days, when the river used to flow for three to four months a year. I need to rejuvenate it," says professor KPJ Reddy over a phone conversation. It's quite apparent from his tone that this experiment means a lot to him. A day earlier, on June 5, World Environment Day, Reddy, in collaboration with two other scientists at the Department of Aerodynamics, Bangalore, Dr H N Science Centre, and the Department of Forest, collectively held their first ever drone-seeding trial on the banks of river Pinakini in the Gauribidanur area in Karnataka's Kolar district. "For that, the only way is to reach by air. Doing it with big aircraft is expensive, and take-offs and landings are a problem. So the only way to do it is through drones," he says, when we meet a few days later at the IISc Campus in Bangalore. Over tea with professor S N Omkar, chief research scientist at IISc, he further elaborates on their plans. "What we have in mind is to at least seed 10,000 acres, and we will be doing this every year, for three consecutive years," he says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A 12-Month Campaign of Fake News To Influence Elections Costs $400K, Says Report

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 1:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A 77-page report released today by cyber-security firm Trend Micro explores the underground landscape of fake news, where anyone can buy influence and create artificial trends to serve personal interests. An examination of Chinese, Russian, Middle Eastern, and English-based underground fake news marketplaces reveals a wide range of services available on these portals. The report explores several websites where customers can purchase services ranging from "discrediting journalists" to "promoting street protests," and from "stuffing online polls" to "manipulating a decisive course of action," such as an election. According to researchers, the typical clients of such services are interested in warping the way others perceive reality. These services are usually used for character assassination, swaying political trends, or creating fake celebrities. Trend Micro has compiled a "fake news" price catalog in its report, which is imbedded in Bleeping Computer's article. Some of the most expensive services include $200,000 for helping to instigate a street protest via fake news articles, $50,000 to discredit a journalist, and $400,000 to influence elections.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Roomba Inventor Launches 'Tertill', a Weed-Killing Robot For Your Garden

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 10:00am
mcpublic writes: iRobot veteran and Roomba co-inventor, Joe Jones is a modest man with a big mission: to create robots that make agriculture more efficient, less tedious, and yes, maybe even one day feed the world. After a decade at Harvest Automation building greenhouse robots, his new team at Franklin Robotics has developed Tertill, an affordable, waterproof, solar-powered robot that continuously whacks weeds around your yard. MIT Technology Review calls Tertill "a Roomba for your garden." Today the Kickstarter campaign went live and already they are well on the way to their goal. According to the Kickstarter campaign, Tertill is solar powered, chemical free, waterproof and Bluetooth compatible. It doesn't actually pull the weeds from your garden, instead it uses a "spinning string trimmer" to trim the weeds down to ground level. Since Tertill will be trimming weeds daily, the company says the weeds will eventually run out of nutrients to continue growing, and therefore will die and decompose. How does it know what's a weed and what's a plant? "A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill's shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under Tertill's shell, though, activates a different sensor that turns on the weed cutter. Because Tertill's approach is height-based, put one of the provided plant collars around short plants until they are tall enough for Tertill to recognize. When Tertill approaches the collar, it will recognize it and turn away."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Multi-Million Dollar Upgrade Planned To Secure 'Failsafe' Arctic Seed Vault

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 7:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The Global Seed Vault, built in the Arctic as an impregnable deep freeze for the world's most precious food seeds, is to undergo a multi-million dollar upgrade after water from melting permafrost flooded its access tunnel. No seeds were damaged but the incident undermined the original belief that the vault would be a "failsafe" facility, securing the world's food supply forever. Now the Norwegian government, which owns the vault, has committed $4.4 million to improvements. [T]he vault's planners had not anticipated the extreme warm weather seen recently at the end of the world's hottest ever recorded year. "The background to the technical improvements is that the permafrost has not established itself as planned," said a government statement. "A group will investigate potential solutions to counter the increased water volumes resulting from a wetter and warmer climate on Svalbard." One option could be to replace the access tunnel, which slopes down towards the vault's main door, carrying water towards the seeds. A new upward sloping tunnel would take water away from the vault. An initial $1.6 million will be spent on investigating ways to improve the access tunnel, with the group's conclusions delivered in spring 2018. "They are going in with an open mind to find a good solution," said Aschim. "$4.4 million is for all the improvements we are doing now." The vault cost $9 million to build.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Searches Show That America Is Full of Racist and Selfish People

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 3:30am
gollum123 shares a report by Sean Illing via Vox: "Google is a digital truth serum," Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies , told me in a recent interview. "People tell Google things that they don't tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, or doctors." Stephens-Davidowitz was working on a PhD in economics at Harvard when he became obsessed with Google Trends, a tool that tracks how frequently searches are made in a given area over a given time period. As a barometer of our national consciousness, Google is as accurate (and predictive) as it gets. In 2016, when the Republican primaries were just beginning, most pundits and pollsters did not believe Trump could win. After all, he had insulted veterans, women, minorities, and countless other constituencies. But Stephens-Davidowitz saw clues in his Google research that suggested Trump was far more serious than many supposed. Searches containing racist epithets and jokes were spiking across the country during Trump's primary run, and not merely in the South but in upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, rural Illinois, West Virginia, and industrial Michigan.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

HBO, Netflix, Other Hollywood Companies Join Forces To Fight Piracy

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 2:05am
New submitter stikves writes: It looks like media and technology companies are forming a group to "fight piracy." The Verge reports: "A group of 30 entertainment companies, including power players like Netflix, HBO, and NBCUniversal, have joined forces today in an effort to fight online piracy. The new group is called the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), and the partnership, while somewhat thin on specifics, will allow the content creators involved to pool resources to conduct research and work closely with law enforcement to find and stop pirates from stealing movies and TV shows. The first-of-its-kind alliance is composed of digital media players, networks, and Hollywood outfits, and all recognize how the internet has paved the way to an explosion in quality online content. However, piracy has boomed as a result: ACE says that last year saw 5.4 billion downloads of pirated films and TV shows." I'm not sure how these statistics hold against real revenue loss (or the imaginary one), however this might be a development to watch for.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kim Dotcom Loses Latest Battle To Recover Seized Assets

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 1:25am
The Justice Department wants to keep Kim Dotcom's millions of dollars worth of seized assets, citing the Megaupload founder's fugitive status. The department filed a brief on Friday, which cited his fugitive status as well as a lack of evidence supporting claims that poor health was preventing him from entering the U.S. CNET reports: Dotcom has been in the news since 2012, when the FBI and the US Department of Justice shut down file-sharing site Megaupload and charged the site's operators with the piracy-related offenses. The U.S. government also seized $42 million in assets. Dotcom, alongside Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, are wanted for trial in the U.S. on 13 counts, including copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. In February, the New Zealand High Court found that Dotcom, a New Zealand resident, and his co-accused were eligible for extradition to the United States.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

11 States Sue Trump Administration's Energy Department After Weeks of No Movement On Efficiency Standards

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 12:45am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: New York, California and nine other states sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its failure to finalize energy-use limits for portable air conditioners and other products. The new standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save businesses and consumers billions of dollars, and conserve enough energy to power more than 19 million households for a year, but the U.S. Department of Energy has not met a requirement to publish them by now, according to attorneys general who filed the lawsuit (PDF) against the DOE in federal court in San Francisco. That means the standards are not legally enforceable. The other states in the lawsuit are: Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Maryland. The City of New York is also a plaintiff. The energy efficiency standards at issue in the lawsuit also cover walk-in coolers and freezers, air compressors, commercial packaged boilers and uninterruptible power supplies. There is currently no federal energy standard for air compressors, uninterruptible power supplies or portable air conditioners, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the DOE to publish the new standards as final rules.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Play Store Downloads Show Google Pixel Sales Limited To 1 Million Units

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 12:05am
While Google has yet to release official sales numbers for its flagship Google Pixel smartphone, a Play Store app may shed some light on roughly how many units are in circulation. The Pixel Launcher, which is installed by default on the Pixel and Pixel XL, just crossed into the "1,000,000-5,000,000" install tier, leading us to assume that Google has finally sold 1,000,000 Google Pixel units. Ars Technica notes that "the Pixel is seen as Google's answer to the iPhone, but considering Apple sells 40 to 50 million iPhones in a quarter, Google has some catching up to do." From the report: This calculation is complicated by the fact that Google Play doesn't show exact install numbers; it shows installs in "tiers" like "100,000-500,000." So most of the time, we won't have an exact Pixel sales number -- except when the Pixel Launcher crosses from one download tier to another. So guess what just happened? The Pixel Launcher just crossed into the "1,000,000-5,000,000" install tier (you can see some third-party tracking sites, like AppBrain, still have it listed at 500,000). So for this one moment in history, eight months after launch, we can say Google finally sold a million Pixel phones. The Play Store device targeting ensures no one other than Pixel owners can download the Pixel Launcher, and the install count doesn't include sideloading. The most popular sideloading site, APKMirror, has more than 1.3 million downloads on just a single version of the Pixel Launcher, so we know that sideloaders actually outnumber legitimate Pixel Launcher users. There are some statistically insignificant root shenanigans you could pull to download the Pixel Launcher from the Play Store on a non-Pixel device, but there is no way the number of sold Pixels is higher than 1 million units at this point in time.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some 'Best Practices' IT Should Avoid At All Costs?

Tue, 13/06/2017 - 11:20pm
snydeq writes: From telling everyone they're your customer to establishing a cloud strategy, Bob Lewis outlines 12 "industry best practices" that are sure to sink your company's chances of IT success: "What makes IT organizations fail? Often, it's the adoption of what's described as 'industry best practices' by people who ought to know better but don't, probably because they've never had to do the job. From establishing internal customers to instituting charge-backs to insisting on ROI, a lot of this advice looks plausible when viewed from 50,000 feet or more. Scratch the surface, however, and you begin to find these surefire recipes for IT success are often formulas for failure." What "best practices" would you add?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.