/.

Syndicate content Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 14 hours 35 min ago

Life's Too Short For Slow Computers

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 6:00am
Nilay Patel, the Editor-in-Chief of The Verge looks back the Apple Watch, the company's first wearable device which went on sale roughly a year ago. In the article, Patel notes that Apple Watch, a computing product, is just too slow at doing some of the most basic things such as running apps. He writes: Here's the problem with the Apple Watch: it's slow. It was slow when it was first announced, it was slow when it came out, and it stayed slow when Watch OS 2.0 arrived. When I reviewed it last year, the slowness was so immediately annoying that I got on the phone with Apple to double check their performance expectations before making "it's kind of slow" the opening of the review. [...] The grand ambition of the Apple Watch is to be a full-fledged computer on your wrist, and right now it's a very slow computer. If Apple believes the watch is indeed destined to become that computer, it needs to radically increase the raw power of the Watch's processor, while maintaining its just-almost-acceptable battery life. And it needs to do that while all of the other computers around us keep getting faster themselves.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

IBM Gives Everyone Access To Its Five-Qubit Quantum Computer

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 5:01am
An anonymous reader writes: IBM said on Wednesday that it's giving everyone access to one of its quantum computing processors, which can be used to crunch large amounts of data. Anyone can apply through IBM Research's website to test the processor, however, IBM will determine how much access people will have to the processor depending on their technology background -- specifically how knowledgeable they are about quantum technology. With the project being "broadly accessible," IBM hopes more people will be interested in the technology, said Jerry Chow, manager of IBM's experimental quantum computing group. Users can interact with the quantum processor through the Internet, even though the chip is stored at IBM's research center in Yorktown Heights, New York, in a complex refrigeration system that keeps the chip cooled near absolute zero.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Study Suggests Free Will Is An Illusion

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 2:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IFLScience: A new paper published in the journal Psychological Science has attempted to define and investigate the subject of free will. By asking participants to anticipate when they thought a specific color of circle would appear before them, something determined completely by chance, the researchers found that their predictions were more accurate when they had only a fraction of a second to guess than when they had more time. The participants subconsciously perceived the color change as it happened prior to making their mental choice, even though they always thought they made their prediction before the change occurred. They were getting the answers right because they already knew the answer. "Our minds may be rewriting history," Adam Bear, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology at Yale University and lead author of the study, said in a statement. The implication here is that when it comes to very short time scales, even before we think we've made a conscious choice, our mind has already subconsciously decided for us, and free will is more of an illusion than we think.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Paid $10,000 To A 10-Year-Old For Hacking Instagram

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:01pm
An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has paid $10,000 to a 10-year-old hacker who discovered how one could hack into Instagram and delete comments made by users. Speaking to local publication Iltalehti, Jani said: "I would have been able to eliminate anyone, even Justin Bieber." The Finnish hacker just became the youngest person to receive cash from Facebook for hacking its products. The previous record was set by a 13-year-old back in 2013. What's funny is Jani isn't technically old enough to sign-up and use Facebook or Instagram, as it's supposed to be restricted to those under the age of 13. Jani found he could alter code on Instagram's servers and force-delete users' posts. This was confirmed by Facebook using a test account and patched in February, Facebook told Forbes. Facebook has received more than 2,400 valid submissions and awarded upwards of $4.3 million to over 800 researchers since the bounty program launched in 2011.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Medical Errors Are Number 3 Cause of US Deaths, Researchers Say

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 7:31pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third-leading cause of death in the United States -- and highlights how shortcomings in tracking vital statistics may hinder research and keep the problem out of the public eye. The authors, led by Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Martin Makary, call for changes in death certificates to better tabulate fatal lapses in care. In an open letter, they urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately add medical errors to its annual list reporting the top causes of death. Based on an analysis of prior research, the Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. On the CDC's official list, that would rank just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, and in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths. Medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognized to mix-ups with the doses or types of medications patients receive. The study was published Tuesday in The BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ted Cruz Drops Out Of The Republican Presidential Race

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 5:47pm
rmdingler writes: Ted Cruz drops out of the presidential race after losing in Indiana. Donald Trump has become the presumptive nominee before Hillary has locked things up versus Bernie. This is huge. Cruz's decision to drop out came after losing significantly to Trump in the Indiana primary. "I said I would continue on as long as there is a viable path to victory. Tonight I'm sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed," Cruz told a small group of supporters Tuesday night. "Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path." He said he would "continue to fight for liberty," but did not say whether or not he would support Trump as the nominee. The exit comes soon after he announced former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate in a desperate move to keep his candidacy afloat.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Loses Exclusive Rights To 'iPhone' Trademark For Non-Smartphone Products In China

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 5:03pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from AppleInsider: Adding to the company's problems in the region, Apple has lost exclusivity on the use of the "iPhone" trademark in China, and must now share it with Beijing-based leather products maker Xintong Tiandi Technology, reports said on Tuesday. On March 31, the Beijing Municipal High People's Court rejected an Apple appeal of an earlier ruling, according to Quartz. Xintong Tiandi is already selling a number of "IPHONE" products, including purses, passport cases, and most notably phone cases. The company registered its trademark in China in 2007, the same year as the Apple iPhone launched in the United States. That was, however, still five years after Apple registered the iPhone name in China for computer products, something which formed the basis of a 2012 complaint to the country's trademark authorities. In 2013 the government ruled that because Apple couldn't prove the name "IPHONE" was well-known prior to Xintong Tiandi's registration, the public wouldn't link its use in a way that would harm Apple interests. In rejecting Apple's appeal, the High People's Court further noted that the company didn't sell the iPhone in mainland China until 2009. This comes after Apple reported its first earnings decline in more than a decade.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google, Fiat Chrysler Plan Partnership On Self-Driving Minivans

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 4:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google and Fiat Chrysler were in "late stage talks" last week about working out a partnership where the two could build some self-driving cars together. Google has the tech available -- it just needs to partner with a car manufacturer, as Google hasn't mass-produced a car before, and could use the experience. A report coming out of Bloomberg says the two companies could be putting Google's autonomous driving technology into some prototypes of the upcoming Pacifica minivan. The report says Fiat Chrysler is looking to equip their upcoming plug-in hybrid Pacifica with Google's autonomous technology. Google could still work out a deal with Ford, which was rumored a few months ago, and they have been reportedly in talks with General Motors, but the deal with Chrysler could be signed as soon as today.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ellen Pao Launches Advocacy Group To Improve Diversity In The Tech Industry

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 3:37pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Ellen Pao, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, today announced the launch of Project Include, an advocacy group aimed at improving diversity in the technology industry. The group was started by Pao and fellow female engineers and executives, including members of Slack, Pinterest, and other Bay Area VC firms. The initiative will focus on providing startups and established tech companies with information on making hiring more inclusive, improving retention, and examining bias in the workplace. Pao became embroiled in one of the most divisive debates in tech last year after suing her former employer, VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, for gender discrimination. She lost at trial and, later, stepped down from her position as interim CEO of Reddit following a severe harassment campaign. Project Include is also accepting as many as 18 startups, who can apply to receive recommendations through a program called Start-Up Include.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Slashdot Asks: What Do You Think Is The Most Influential Gadget Of All Time?

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 2:53pm
TIME has published a list ranking the 50 most influential gadgets of all time, from cameras and TVs to music players, smartphones, and drones. Can you guess what was the number one most influential gadget on the list? That's right, the Apple iPhone. "Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007," according to TIME. "The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks." There's a lot of interesting gadgets on the list that have had a profound impact on mankind in some form or another, for better or worse. Do you agree with TIME's number one choice? What do you think is the most influential gadget of all time?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

76% Of Netflix Subscribers Think Netflix Can Replace Traditional TV

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 2:09pm
An anonymous reader writes: It turns out plenty of people think Netflix is ready to replace their traditional TV. According to a survey on AllFlicks (Editor's note: the site is Netflix focused, so it's not really a neutral audience), 75.6 percent of Netflix subscribers said that the on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service has grown good enough to replace whatever the traditional TV has to offer. The participants, however, also noted that the streaming service still can't replace live sports coverage or the experience of the movie theater. In some other news, Netflix knows which picture and video you're likely to click.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Uber Plans To Kill Surge Pricing With Machine Learning

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 1:33pm
An anonymous reader writes: Surge pricing is a familiar term for any regular Uber rider -- or driver. It's when you call an Uber, and the price of a ride is two, three, or four times more as a result of greater demand brought on by a sporting event or weather event nearby. For riders, it's an annoyance, but for drivers, it's a perk as it usually results in more pocket change. Inside Uber, surge pricing is considered a market failure, and a problem to be solved. "That's where machine learning comes in. That's where the next generation comes in," says Jeff Schneider, engineering lead at Uber Advanced Technologies Center. "Because now we can look at all this data, and we can start to make predictions." Everyone knows that when a Beyonce concert ends, for example, there's going to be a lot of demand for Uber drivers. Schneider explains, "[What's harder] is to find those Tuesday nights when it's not even raining and for some reason there's demand -- and to know that's coming. That's machine learning." With enough of the right data inputs, computer algorithms can do the research that Uber drivers already do -- only better, "so the surge pricing never even has to happen," Schneider says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Snowden: 'Governments Can Reduce Our Dignity To That Of Tagged Animals'

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 12:50pm
An anonymous reader writes: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden writes a report on The Guardian explaining why leaking information about wrongdoing is a vital act of resistance. "One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency; who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint," Snowden writes. "They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: what begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice." He goes on to explain the importance and significance of leaks, how not all leaks are alike, nor are their makers, and how our connected devices come into play in the post-9/11 period. Snowden writes, "By preying on the modern necessity to stay connected, governments can reduce our dignity to something like that of tagged animals, the primary difference being that we paid for the tags and they are in our pockets."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Small Group of Journalists Control and Decide What Should Trend On Facebook

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 12:06pm
An anonymous reader writes: According to five former members of Facebook's trending news team, "news curators" as they're known internally, Zuckerberg and company take a downright dim view of the media industry and its talent. In interviews with Gizmodo, these former curators described grueling work conditions, humiliating treatment, and a secretive, imperious culture in which they were treated as disposable outsiders. After doing a tour in Facebook's news trenches, almost all of them came to believe that they were there not to work, but to serve as training modules for Facebook's algorithm." "We choose what's trending," said one former news curator. From personal experience I can share a similar incident. An Indian outlet extensively wrote about flaws in Facebook's Free Basics. Few days later, "Ban [that outlet's name]" was trending on Facebook. Clicking on it, for the first few hours, literally didn't return any relevant result, as nobody was talking about it, and no media outlet had written about it. It was after more than a day or so after this fabricated item kept trending that some other outlets started to write about it. (That's common in the media industry: writing about trending topics.) In the past, we've also seen Facebook employees ask whether the company should do anything to stop Donald Trump from becoming the president.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Should You Pay Sales Tax on Internet Purchases? South Dakota Law Could Be The Test

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:35am
An anonymous reader shares a PCWorld report: A new South Dakota law may end up determining whether most U.S. residents are required to pay sales taxes on their Internet purchases. The South Dakota law, passed by the Legislature there in March, requires many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state's sales tax from customers. The law is shaping up to be a legal test case challenging a 25-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits states from levying sales taxes on remote purchases. Unless courts overturn the South Dakota law, it will embolden other states to pass similar Internet sales tax rules, critics said. The law could "set the course for enormous tax and administrative burdens on businesses across the country," Steve DelBianco, executive director of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, said in a statement. If dozens of states adopt Internet sales taxes, online sellers could face audits and changing tax rules in thousands of taxing jurisdictions nationwide. Even with software that could make tax calculations easier, that would be a burden, NetChoice says. And online shoppers could end up paying up to 10 percent more for many products.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Prince Quietly Helped Launch a Coding Program For Inner City Youth

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 10:55am
An anonymous reader writes: Though many would say Prince changed the world through his music, the artist also took a hands-on approach to changing the world beyond music. The global superstar was the inspiration behind YesWeCode, an Oakland nonprofit, which works to help young people from minority backgrounds enter the tech world. The idea for the program came from a conversation between Prince and his friend Van Jones, who heads Rebuild the Dream charity, following the 2012 shooting of teenager Travoyn Martin. "Prince said, 'A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let's teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.'" Jones told CNN. The program is aiming to teach 100,000 low-income non-white teenagers how to write code, and was launched at the 20th Anniversary Essence Festival in New Orleans in 2014.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Biotech Company To Attempt Revitalizing Nervous Systems of Brain-Dead Patients

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 10:15am
Sarah Knapton, writing for The Telegraph: A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs. A biotech company called BioQuark in the U.S. has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life. Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas. The trial participants will have been certified dead and only kept alive through life support. They will be monitored for several months using brain imaging equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord -- the lowest region of the brain stem which controls independent breathing and heartbeat.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Samsung Smart Home Flaws Let Hackers Pick Connected Doors From Anywhere In the World

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 9:30am
Researchers have discovered flaws in Samsung's Smart Home automation system, which if exploited, allows them to carry a range of remote attacks. These attacks include digitally picking connected door locks from anywhere in the world. The flaws have been documented by researchers from the University of Michigan ahead of the 2016 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. "All of the above attacks expose a household to significant harm -- break-ins, theft, misinformation, and vandalism," the researchers wrote in a paper. "The attack vectors are not specific to a particular device and are broadly applicable." Dan Goodin, reports for Ars Technica: Other attacks included a malicious app that was able to obtain the PIN code to a smart lock and send it in a text message to attackers, disable a preprogrammed vacation mode setting, and issue a fake fire alarm. The one posing the biggest threat was the remote lock-picking attack, which the researchers referred to as a "backdoor pin code injection attack." It exploited vulnerabilities in an existing app in the SmartThings app store that gives an attacker sustained and largely surreptitious access to users' homes. The attack worked by obtaining the OAuth token that the app and SmartThings platform relied on to authenticate legitimate users. The only interaction it required was for targeted users to click on an attacker-supplied HTTPS link that looked much like this one that led to the authentic SmartThings login page. The user would then enter the username and password. A flaw in the app allowed the link to redirect the credentials away from the SmartThings page to an attacker-controlled address. From then on, the attackers had the same remote access over the lock that users had.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Taking a 'Gap Year' Before College Is a British Tradition That's Becoming a Big Trend In The US

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 8:50am
An anonymous user cites an article on Quartz: Today, many U.S. universities not only allow admitted students to take a year off before beginning their studies, but encourage it. In 2000, Harvard's admissions officers co-authored an article titled "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation," in which they suggest admitted students combat the mounting pressures of secondary and post-secondary education (and modern life in general) by taking a year off. [...] The term "gap year" caught on in the US about a decade ago, when Prince William and Prince Harry took planned time off before entering university in the UK, according to Holly Bull, president of an independent agency called Interim Programs that helps US pre-college students plan their time off. Bull's father founded the agency in 1980 to promote the concept. "I've basically watched the trend grow from its inception in the U.S.," she says. "And while I wouldn't call it mainstream now, we've seen a lot of growth." This growth has led to a burgeoning "gap year" planning services industry, populated by an increasing number of consulting agencies such as Bull's. The American Gap Association (AGA), founded in 2012, oversees this industry, acting as a kind of accreditation agency. Based on the programs it reviews, the AGA estimates that between 30,000 and 40,000 students annually take a planned "gap year" in the U.S., and that the number of students doing this has grown by between 20% and 30% each year since 2006."The growing popularity of gap years speaks to a larger conversation in the US about what direction education is heading and how we help young people become thoughtful, caring citizens," Joe O'Shea, president of the AGA, says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'I'll Make Their Life Miserable': Tech CEO Bullies Low-income Vendors By His Home

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 8:00am
An anonymous reader quotes an article on The Guardian that has caused a spark on social media: A Silicon Valley tech CEO has sparked backlash for comments slamming local fruit vendors, saying he would "make their life miserable" and "destroy" their produce if they were stationed near his house -- making him the latest wealthy Californian entrepreneur to publicly rail against low-income people. Mark Woodward, CEO of software company Invoca, published -- and later deleted -- a Facebook post saying that he would have no qualms about aggressively harassing unauthorized fruit sellers in his neighborhood if they got near his home. "I would go out there and make their life miserable. I would do whatever it took to make them leave. If that meant destroying some of their produce, or standing out there with signs to chase everyone away, Or just making them very uncomfortable, I would do that in a heartbeat."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.