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How Sports Commentaries Can Speed Up AI Development ( 34

An anonymous reader writes: In an effort to shorten the annotation phase prior to neural network learning, Indian researchers are using commentaries intended for human viewers to help machines understand the meaning of action in cricket. The researchers suggest that closed-caption movie commentaries, as well as other types of usefully descriptive pre-existing commentaries could continue to prove helpful in teaching artificial intelligence the meaning of what it is seeing on screen.

New Wearable Tech Translates Sign Language Into Text ( 32

An anonymous reader writes: A new wearable technology developed by a team of biomedical engineers at Texas A&M University seeks to aid seamless communication between deaf people who use sign language and those who do not understand it. The arm device contains a network of sensors which track hand movements, as well as the electromyography (EMG) signals generated by the muscles in the wrist, and process and translate the different signals into text in real-time.The prototype currently uses Bluetooth to translate the sign language to a computer or smartphone.

The Tamagochi Singularity Made Real: Infinite Tamagochi Living On the Internet ( 81

szczys writes: Everyone loves Tamagochi, the little electronic keychains spawned in the '90s that let you raise digital pets. Some time ago, XKCD made a quip about an internet-based matrix of thousands of these digital entities. That quip is now a reality thanks to elite hardware hacker Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM). In his recent talk called "The Tamagochi Singularity" at the Hackaday SuperConference he revealed that he had built an infinite network of virtual Tamagochi by implementing the original hardware as a virtual machine. This included developing AI to keep them happy, and developing a protocol to emulate their IR interactions. But he went even further, hacking an original keychain to use wirelessly as a console which can look in on any of the virtual Tamagochi living on his underground network. This full-stack process is unparalleled in just about every facet: complexity, speed of implementation, awesome factor, and will surely spark legions of other Tamagochi Matrices.

UK Mobile Operator Could Block Ads At Network Level ( 102

Mickeycaskill writes: UK network operator EE says it is investigating the possibility of blocking adverts at a network level, allowing customers to limit the types and frequency of adverts they see in browsers and applications. The move is likely to concern digital publishers, many of whom rely on advertising revenue to fund their content. Ad blockers have become more popular in recent times, with many users employing them to save battery life, consume less data and protect against malvertising attacks. EE CEO Olaf Swantee said, "We think it’s important that, over time, customers start to be offered more choice and control over the level and intensity of ads on mobile. For EE, this is not about ad blocking, but about starting an important debate around customer choice, controls and the level of ads customers receive. This is an important debate that needs to happen soon."

Video High-Security, Open-Source Router is a Hit on Indiegogo (Video) 110

The device is called the Turris Omnia, and its Indiegogo page says it's a "hi-performance & open-source router." Their fundraising goal is $100,000. So far, 1,191 backers have pledged $248,446 (as of the moment this was typed), with 49 days left to go. They've shipped 2,000 pieces so far but, says interviewee Ondej Filip, "95% of them are in the Czech Republic."

This is not only an open-source project, but non-profit as well. A big motive for it is heightened security, as the interview (and transcript) make clear. It's also apparent that the hardware here is overkill for a router; it can run a complete Linux distro, no problem, so it can function as a server, not just as a router. Interested? You might want to put a reservation in soon. This isn't the cheapest router (or even server) out there, but a lot of people obviously think a Turris Omnia, with its crypto security, automatic updates, and server functions would be nice to have.

How Cisco Is Trying To Prove It Can Keep NSA Spies Out of Its Gear ( 130

itwbennett writes: A now infamous photo [leaked by Edward Snowden] showed NSA employees around a box labeled Cisco during a so-called 'interdiction' operation, one of the spy agency's most productive programs,' writes Jeremy Kirk. 'Once that genie is out of the bottle, it's a hell of job to put it back in,' said Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum in London. Yet that's just what Cisco is trying to do, and early next year, the company plans to open a facility in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina where customers can test and inspect source code in a secure environment. But, considering that a Cisco router might have 30 million lines of code, proving a product hasn't been tampered with by spy agencies is like trying 'to prove the non-existence of god,' says Joe Skorupa, a networking and communications analyst with Gartner.

Google+ Redesigned ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced that its Google+ social network has received a major overhaul, which is rolling out today to users who opt in. The company says the new design focuses on the "Communities" and "Collections" sections of Google+, since those were the ones most well received by users. "[Product Director Luke] Wroblewski, known for his responsive and progressive design work, tells me that the key to this rollout is the consistent, mobile first experience that hasn't historically been a hallmark of G+." The article describes the new experience thus: "As you click through the new Google+ there is a lighter feel to it for sure. It's a product with more purpose, as before it felt like there was a million things flying at you. Notifications, +1's, share buttons. You were pretty much sharing things into a pit and hoping that Google would do fun things with them."
Wireless Networking

An Algorithm To Facilitate Uber-Style Dynamic Phone Tariffs ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: A new paper proposes an algorithm to help network providers furnish 'surge' pricing for mobile data and other network communications, citing a 50% shortfall between demand and capacity over the next five years as an indicator that consumers may have to be shepherded out of the congested times and areas in order for normal service to continue to be maintained. Just don't tell any of the people in charge of airport wireless networks.

Ask Slashdot: How To Determine If One Is On a Watchlist? 400

An anonymous reader writes: On Slashdot, we joke about it all the time: 'I did a Google search for 'pressure cooker' and I connected a bunch of times to the Tor network to download some Linux distribution .torrent files... I must be on some sort of watchlist now.' There have been news articles about people being questioned in airports and given special attention for being political activists. How can one determine is one is on a watchlist of some sort? Are there any Slashdot users who are knowingly on a watchlist? What sort of suspicious special attention have you received?

Tor Project Claims FBI Paid University Researchers $1m To Unmask Tor Users 108

An anonymous reader writes: Have Carnegie Mellon University researchers been paid by the FBI to unmask a subset of Tor users so that the agents could discover who operated Silk Road 2.0 and other criminal suspects on the dark web? Tor Project Director Roger Dingledine believes so, and says that they were told by sources in the information security community that the FBI paid at least $1 million for the service. From the article: "There is no indication yet that they had a warrant or any institutional oversight by Carnegie Mellon's Institutional Review Board. We think it's unlikely they could have gotten a valid warrant for CMU's attack as conducted, since it was not narrowly tailored to target criminals or criminal activity, but instead appears to have indiscriminately targeted many users at once," noted Dingledine. "Such action is a violation of our trust and basic guidelines for ethical research. We strongly support independent research on our software and network, but this attack crosses the crucial line between research and endangering innocent users," he pointed out.

Even the CEO's Job Is Susceptible To Automation, McKinsey Report Says ( 176

colinneagle sends word that according to a new report it's not just blue collar workers who need to be concerned about being replaced with a robot, top execs should be worried too. According to Network World: "Global management consultants McKinsey and Company said in a recent report that many of the tasks that a CEO performs could be taken over by machines. Those redundant tasks include 'analyzing reports and data to inform operational decisions; preparing staff assignments; and reviewing status reports,' the report says. This potential for automation in the executive suite is in contrast to 'lower-wage occupations such as home health aides, landscapers, and maintenance workers,' the report says. Those jobs aren't as suitable for automation, according to the report. The technology has not advanced enough."
The Internet

New Algorithm Recognizes Both Good and Bad Fake Reviews ( 59

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the university of Sao Paolo have developed an algorithm able to identify both good and bad online reviews in the massive daily chatter of millions of peer-community posts, and in lateral mendacities at social network sites such as Google+ and Facebook reposts and 'likes'. Two of the datasets tested in the research were from Amazon, which has a vested interest in restoring the reputation of its community reviews, and has recently taken action on the matter.

Interviews: Ask Stack Overflow Co-Founder Jeff Atwood a Question 129

Jeff Atwood is an author, entrepreneur, and software developer. He runs the popular programming blog Coding Horror and is the co-founder of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network. In early 2012 he decided to leave Stack Exchange so he could spend more time with his family. A year later he announced his new company the Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc. and the Discourse open-source discussion platform which aims to improve conversations on the internet. Jeff has agreed to give some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Webmail Services Struggling Against DDoS Attacks ( 90

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago, privacy-oriented webmail service ProtonMail was hit by a massive DDoS attack, which was accompanied by extortion. It turns out they're not the only ones. FastMail has warned that similar attacks could lead to service disruptions this week. They have refused extortion demands, and have been hit with a couple brief attacks already. This follows attacks over the last week on Runbox, Zoho, and Hushmail. Each service has been working with data centers and network providers to mitigate the attacks as well as possible, but they're still struggling with intermittent service disruptions.

Viewing Data Harvested From Smart TVs Used To Push Ads To Other Screens? ( 148

chicksdaddy writes: In the latest episode of EULA overreach, electronics maker Vizio Holdings has been called out by the non profit investigative reporting outfit ProPublica for an on-by-default feature on its smart TVs called "Smart Interactivity" that analyzes both broadcast and streamed content viewed using the device. ProPublica noted that the company's privacy policy failed to clearly describe the tracking behavior, which included the collection of information such as the date, time, channel and whether the program was viewed live or recorded.

According to ProPublica, the monitoring of viewing information through IP addresses, while it does not identify individuals, can be combined with other data available in commercial databases from brokers such as Experian, creating a detailed picture of an individual or household. Vizio has since updated its privacy policy with a supplement that explains how "Smart Interactivity" works.

The bigger issue may be what that updated privacy policy reveals. As The Security Ledger notes, the updated Vizio privacy policy makes clear that the company will combine "your IP address and other Non-Personal Information in order to inform third party selection and delivery of targeted and re-targeted advertisements." Those advertisements "may be delivered to smartphones, tablets, PCs or other internet-connected devices that share an IP address or other identifier with your Smart TV."

In other words, TV viewing patterns will be used to serve ads to any device user who happens to be connected to the same network as the Vizio Smart TV — an obvious problem for households with a mix of say... adults and children?! Vizio does provide instructions for disabling the Smart Interactivity features and says that "connected" features of the device aren't contingent on monitoring. That's better than some other vendors. In 2014, for example, LG used a firmware update for its smart televisions to link the "smart" features of the device to viewer tracking and monitoring. Viewers who applied the update, but refused to consent to monitoring were not able to use services like Netflix and YouTube.

The Internet

No Such Thing As 'Unlimited' Data ( 622

An anonymous reader writes: According to an article at Wired, the era of 'unlimited' data services is coming to an end. Carriers don't give them out anymore unless they're hobbled, and they're even increasing the prices of grandfathered plans. Comcast's data caps are spreading, and Time Warner has been testing them for years as well. It's not even just about internet access — Microsoft recently decided to eliminate its unlimited cloud storage plan. The big question now is: were these companies cynical, or just naive? We have no way of evaluating their claims that a small number of users who abused the system caused it to be unprofitable for them. (A recent leaked memo from Comcast suggests it's about extracting more money, rather than network congestion.) But it's certainly true that limited plans make costs and revenue much easier to predict. Another question: were we, as consumers, naive in expecting these plans to last? As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unlimited data plans clearly won't work too well if everybody uses huge amounts. So did we let ourselves get suckered by clever marketing?

Before Barbie's Brainy Makeover, Mattel Execs Met With White House, Google 125

theodp writes: Mattel came under fire last November over its portrayal of Computer Engineer Barbie as incompetent. But the toymaker is now drawing kudos for its new Imagine the Possibilities Barbie ad campaign (video), which shows little girls pretending to be professionals in real-life settings, including a college professor lecturing students about the brain. Ad Age, however, is cynical of the empowering spin on Barbie, which it says "comes across as a manipulative way to silence criticism." Interestingly, some of that criticism may have come from the White House.

WH Visitor Records show that Barbie's brainy makeover came after Mattel execs — Evelyn Mazzocco, Julia Pistor, Heather Lazarus — were summoned to the White House last April to meet with the White House Council on Women and Girls. A little Googling suggests other attendees at the sit-down included representatives of the nation's leading toy makers (Disney Consumer, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, American Girl), media giants (Disney Channels, Viacom, TIME, Scholastic, Univision, Participant Media, Cartoon Network, Netflix), retailers (Walmart, Target), educators, scientists, the U.S. Dept. of Education (including the Deputy Director of Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative), philanthropists (Rockefeller, Harnisch Foundations) — and Google. Representing Google was CS Education in Media Program Manager Julie Ann Crommett, who has worked with Disney to shape programming to inspire girls to pursue CS in conjunction with the search giant's $50 million Made With Code initiative.

The April White House meeting appears to be a reschedule of a planned March meeting that was to have included other Mattel execs, including Stephanie Cota, Venetia Davie, and Lori Pantel, to whom the task of apologizing for Computer Engineer Barbie fell last November. For the first time in over a decade, Barbie was no longer the most popular girls' toy last holiday season, having lost her crown to Disney Princesses Elsa and Anna, who coincidentally teamed up with Google-backed last December to "teach President Obama to code" at a widely-publicized White House event.
Wireless Networking

LA's Smart LED Street Lights Boost Wireless Connectivity ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: Los Angeles will introduce a smart street lighting system, featuring connected LEDs and fully-integrated 4G LTE wireless technology. In a collaboration between Dutch tech firm Philips and Swedish telco Ericsson, the SmartPole project aims to deliver LA citizens public lighting which is energy efficient and improves network performance in urban areas. By the close of this week, a total of 24 SmartPoles will be installed across the Hollywood area. The city plans to place 100 poles over the coming year, with a further 500 to follow.

OpenSUSE Leap 42.1 Released ( 31

MasterPatricko writes: In what they're calling the first "hybrid" distribution release, the openSUSE project have announced the availability of openSUSE Leap 42.1. Built on a core of SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 SP1 packages but including an up-to-date userspace (KDE Plasma 5.4.2, GNOME 3.16, and many other DEs), Leap aims to provide a stable middle ground between enterprise releases which are quickly out of date, and the sometimes unstable community distros. DVD/USB or Network Install ISOs are available for download now. For those who do prefer the bleeding edge, the openSUSE Tumbleweed rolling-release distribution is also available.

Google Tries To Guess Your Email Responses ( 131

An anonymous reader writes: Google's research blog today announced a new feature for their Inbox email app: a neural network that composes short responses to emails you receive. For example, if somebody emails you an invitation to an event, the app will detect that by scanning the words in the message and present you with three options for a quick response. Google says, "A naive attempt to build a response generation system might depend on hand-crafted rules for common reply scenarios. But in practice, any engineer's ability to invent 'rules' would be quickly outstripped by the tremendous diversity with which real people communicate. A machine-learned system, by contrast, implicitly captures diverse situations, writing styles, and tones. These systems generalize better, and handle completely new inputs more gracefully than brittle, rule-based systems ever could." Of course, you can skip them entirely, or use them and add your own words as well. How long until our email systems do most of our talking for us?