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Apple Scientists Disclose Self-Driving Car Research

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 10:00pm
Apple's first publicly disclosed paper on autonomous vehicles has been posted online by the company's computer scientists. The research describes a new software approach called "VoxelNet" that helps computers detect three-dimensional objects like cyclists and pedestrians while using fewer sensors. Reuters reports: The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, submitted on Nov. 17 to independent online journal arXiv, is significant because Apple's famed corporate secrecy around future products has been seen as a drawback among artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers. The scientists proposed a new software approach called "VoxelNet" for helping computers detect three-dimensional objects. Self-driving cars often use a combination of normal two-dimensional cameras and depth-sensing "LiDAR" units to recognize the world around them. While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time. But with new software, the Apple researchers said they were able to get "highly encouraging results" in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data. They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR. The experiments were computer simulations and did not involve road tests.

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New Standards for Big Data

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 9:49pm
Verification, credibility and accuracy

Sponsored  Big data holds great promise: structured and unstructured data harvested, processes and analysed in near-real-time by organisations sifting for new opportunities or seeking to refine existing activities. Data is pouring in: from sensors, shoppers, IoT, social and more with companies investing in big-data projects, from data lakes and processing frameworks like Hadoop to analytics tools and Intel hardware.…

Facebook To Show Users Which Russian Propaganda They Followed

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Facebook will show people which Russian propaganda pages or accounts they've followed and liked on the social network, responding to a request from Congress to address manipulation and meddling during the 2016 presidential election. The tool will appear by the end of the year in Facebook's online support center, the company said in a blog post Wednesday. It will answer the user question, "How can I see if I've liked or followed a Facebook page or Instagram account created by the Internet Research Agency?" That's the Russian firm that created thousands of incendiary posts from fake accounts posing as U.S. citizens. People will see a list of the accounts they followed, if any, from January 2015 through August 2017. Facebook will only be showing people the names of the pages and accounts, not the content. A user will only see what they liked or followed, so if they simply saw IRA content in their news feeds, they won't be notified.

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FCC boss Ajit Pai emits his net neutrality extermination plan

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 8:46pm
Just in time for Thanksgiving when no one will notice

Ajit Pai, head of America's communications watchdog the FCC, has unveiled his "plan to repeal the Obama Administration's heavy-handed regulation of the Internet," referred to by critics as an anti-consumer giveaway to large communications companies.…

Night Being 'Lost' To Artificial Light

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 8:45pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: A study of pictures of Earth by night has revealed that artificial light is growing brighter and more extensive every year. Between 2012 and 2016, the planet's artificially lit outdoor area grew by more than 2 percent per year. Scientists say a "loss of night" in many countries is having negative consequences for "flora, fauna, and human well-being." A team published the findings in the journal Science Advances. It showed that changes in brightness over time varied greatly by country. Some of the world's "brightest nations," such as the US and Spain, remained the same. Most nations in South America, Africa and Asia grew brighter. Only a few countries showed a decrease in brightness, such as Yemen and Syria -- both experiencing warfare. The nocturnal satellite images -- of glowing coastlines and spider-like city networks -- look quite beautiful but artificial lighting has unintended consequences for human health and the environment.

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Net Neutrality Advocates Plan Protests For December 7 at Verizon Stores

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 8:05pm
Jordan Crook, writing for TechCrunch: During yesterday's announcement of the upcoming vote, the FCC neglected to mention the historic 22 million comments on the issue, the majority of which were opposed to its rollback. In response, protests are being held on December 7 at Verizon retail stores across the country. The protests were organized by Demand Progress, Fight For The Future, and FreePress Action Fund. Here's what the protest organizers have to say on their event page: "Ajit Pai is clearly still working for Verizon, not the public. But he still has to answer to Congress. So we're calling on our lawmakers to do their job overseeing the FCC and speak out against Ajit Pai's plan to gut Title II net neutrality protections and give Verizon and other giant ISPs everything on their holiday wishlist.

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Linux 4.10 To Linux 4.15 Kernel Benchmarks

Phoronix - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 7:55pm
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been enjoying its time on Linux 4.15. In addition to the recent boot time tests and kernel power comparison, here are some raw performance benchmarks looking at the speed from Linux 4.10 through Linux 4.15 Git...

'The Death of the MBA'

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 7:25pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: U.S. graduate business schools -- once magnets for American and international students seeking a certain route to a high income -- are in an existential crisis. They are losing droves of students who are balking at sky-high tuition and, in the case of international applicants, turned off by President Trump's politics. The once-venerated MBA is going the way of the diminished law degree, pushed aside by tech education. Graduates of the top 25 or so MBA schools still command the elite Wall Street and corporate jobs they always did, but the hundreds of others are scrambling, and some schools are shutting down their programs. Survivors are often offering new touchy-feely degrees like "master of social innovation." [...] In the more than 350 programs that didn't make the top ranks, rising tuition costs and smaller returns in the form of employment and income have forced a rethink of the traditional MBA degree.

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The Feds Are Officially Cracking Down on Basement Biohackers

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 6:45pm
Kristen Brown, reporting for Gizmodo: The Food and Drug Agency has issued a stern warning to anyone who might be crazy enough to undertake gene therapy in the do-it-yourself fashion. Definitely don't do this at home, a statement released on Tuesday implies. And if you do, we'll throw every law we can at you. The FDA's deterrent comes on the heels of a brazen DIY gene therapy experiment, in which a 27-year-old software engineer injected himself with an unprove gene therapy for HIV designed by three biohacker friends. The first injection was streamed live on Facebook in October, and went viral after it was covered by Gizmodo. "You can't stop it, you can't regulate these things," patient zero, Tristan Roberts, told Gizmodo at the time. Apparently the FDA begs to differ.

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Aussie Catholic School forced into hasty cover-up over suggestive Saint

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 6:35pm
Off-shored statue offered a curious roll

A Catholic School in Australia has been left red-faced after a newly commissioned statue of a revered saint appeared to be offering to share more than a few loaves and fishes with the little children.…

Television's Most Infamous Hack Is Still a Mystery 30 Years Later

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 6:05pm
It has been 30 years since the Max Headroom hack, arguably the creepiest hack in the television history took place. Caroline Haskins, writes about the incident for Motherboard: It was a few minutes after 9 PM on Sunday, November 22, 1987. Chicago sportscaster Dan Roan was cheerily summarizing the Bears's victory that day for Channel 9 local news. Suddenly, televisions went silent, and their screens went black. At first, it seemed like an equipment malfunction. Without warning, televisions in the area blasted loud radio static. It was overlain with the screech of a power saw cutting into metal, or a jet engine malfunctioning. At center screen, a person wore a Max Headroom mask -- a character who appeared on various television shows and movies in the 1980s. He appeared to have yellow skin, yellow clothes, and yellow slicked-back hair. As purple and black lines spun behind him, Max nodded and swayed back and forth. His plastic face was stuck in laughter, and opaque sunglasses covered his eyes, which seemed to peer through the screen. The screen went black again. After a moment, Roan reappeared. "Well if you're wondering what'll happen," Roan said with a laugh, unaware of what had happened during the interruption, "so am I." Two hours later, it happened again on another channel. This time, Dr. Who had just turned to get his companion, Leela, a hot drink, when a line of static rolled across the screen, revealing the yellow man. After 30 years and an intense FCC investigation, the people behind the Headroom hack remain unknown. The correspondent has spoken to the newscasters who were interrupted and mocked that day. You can read the interview here.

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Microsoft scoops Search UI out from the gaping black maw of Cortana

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 5:59pm
Hmmm. Looks familiar…

Microsoft is experimenting with taking Search out of Cortana and making it more Mac-like in the newest Windows 10 build.…

Apple Only Wants To Put Its Stores Where White People Live, Investigation Reveals

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 5:25pm
Brian Josephs, writing for The Outline: New York's northernmost borough is the city's most diverse, has the lowest income per household, and is the only borough without an Apple Store after one opened up in Brooklyn's predominantly white neighborhood of Williamsburg last year. This trend holds true on a national scale. That means 251 of the 270 stores, or 93 percent, are located in majority-white ZIP codes. Of the 19 that are not located in majority-white ZIP codes, eight are in ZIP codes where whites are still the largest racial bloc. For context, Garden City, New York, a city with a population of around 22,000 that is 94 percent white, has an Apple Store. Lake Grove, New York, which has a population of around 11,000 and is 89 percent white, has an Apple Store. By comparison, nearly 1.5 million people live in the densely-packed Bronx, which is only 21 percent white. Bronx residents must travel either north to Ridge Hill or down to the Upper East Side to get to an Apple store. Apple told me it couldn't comment on the record about what criteria it uses to decide where new stores are built or the demographics of its stores' neighborhoods, but USC Marshall School of Business professor Ira Kalb reasoned that the company is "going after the high-end of the market, so their store location choices typically go after areas that are considered upscale."

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Apple quietly wheels out 'Voxelnet' driverless car tech paper

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 4:58pm
We'd ask them what it means, but, uh...

Apple researchers have released a paper about a "trainable deep architecture", setting out the fruity firm's plans to make autonomous vehicles better at detecting cyclists and pedestrians.…

FFmpeg Continues Working Its "NVDEC" NVIDIA Video Decoding Into Shape

Phoronix - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 4:48pm
Earlier this month the FFmpeg project landed its initial NVDEC NVIDIA video decoding support after already supporting NVENC for video encoding. These new NVIDIA APIs for encode/decode are part of the company's Video Codec SDK with CUDA and is the successor to the long-used VDPAU video decoding on NVIDIA Linux boxes. That NVDEC support has continued getting into shape...

Turkeys Are Twice as Big as They Were in 1960

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 4:45pm
Alexis Madrigal, writing for The Atlantic: A turkey today is not the turkey of yesteryear. For decades, animal breeders have been transforming the genomes of turkeys to make them grow larger. Since 1960, the weight of turkeys has gone up about a quarter of a pound each year. The average weight of a turkey has gone from 15.1 pounds in 1960 to 31.1 pounds in 2017. And most of that change has been genetic. In one study of a representative strain of turkeys, poultry researchers fed the same diet to turkeys from 2003 and to a control group of turkeys that were representative of that strain's genetic pool from 1966. On average, the 2003 females grew to 33 pounds. Their 1966 cousins only got to 16.3 pounds.

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Permissionless data slurping: Why Google's latest bombshell matters

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 4:09pm
Are you in control?

Comment  According to an old Chinese proverb: "When a wise man points at the Moon, an idiot looks at his finger." Google may have been hoping that you were examining a finger, not reading a Quartz story yesterday, which reveals how Android phones send location data to Google without you even knowing it.…

China's Tencent Breaks Through $500bn Stock Market Capitalisation

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 4:05pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: The value of China's biggest social network company -- Tencent Holdings -- has overtaken that of Facebook. The company owns WeChat, an enormously popular messaging app in China, and hit gaming franchises such as League of Legends and Honour of Kings.It is the first Asian firm to surpass a market value of $500bn. Its chief executive, Ma Huateng, is now worth more than the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to Forbes. The magazine valued him at $48.3bn on Tuesday, making him the world's ninth richest man according to its ranking.

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Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staffs

Slashdot - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 3:26pm
Tatyana Shumsky, reporting for WSJ: Adobe's finance chief Mark Garrett says his team struggles keeping track of which jobs have been filled at the software company. The process can take days and requires finance staff to pull data from disparate systems that house financial and human-resources information into Microsoft's Excel spreadsheets. From there they can see which groups are hiring and how salary spending affects the budget. "I don't want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us," Mr. Garrett said. He is working on cutting Excel out of this process, he said. CFOs at companies including P.F. Chang's China Bistro, ABM Industries and Wintrust Financial are on a similar drive to reduce how much their finance teams use Excel for financial planning, analysis and reporting (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; an alternative source wasn't immediately available). Finance chiefs say the ubiquitous spreadsheet software that revolutionized accounting in the 1980s hasn't kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units. Errors can bloom because data in Excel is separated from other systems and isn't automatically updated.

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You're such a goober, Uber: UK regulators blast hushed breach

El Reg - Wed, 22/11/2017 - 3:15pm
MP: Funny, you managed to contact customers when TfL put your licence on hold…

Brit regulators, security agencies and MPs have slammed Uber for covering up the massive data breach of 57 million customer and driver records.…