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User Journal

Journal: Slashdot could recover top spot from Reddit

So Reddit - where most veteran Slashdotters have been hanging out these days - is melting down, and for good reason.

I've been coming back here more lately.

But man, there's things that Reddit does better. No limit on mod points, for one. A better story queue mechanism for another.

+ - Brain-Inspired "Memcomputer" Built, Could Surpass Quantum Computers->

DorkFest writes:

Inspired by the human brain, UC San Diego scientists have constructed a new kind of computer that stores information and processes it in the same place. This prototype "memcomputer" solves a problem involving a large dataset more quickly than conventional computers, while using far less energy...Such memcomputers could equal or surpass the potential of quantum computers, they say, but because they don't rely on exotic quantum effects are far more easily constructed.

The team, led by UC San Diego physicist Massimiliano Di Ventra published their results in the journal Science Advances.
Link to Original Source

+ - Microsoft Edge, HTML5, and DRM->

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is building its new browser, Edge, with the intention of avoiding many of the flaws that plagued Internet Explorer over its long and tumultuous life. Part of this involves moving away from plug-ins, and Edge will not support ActiveX. Instead, they're focusing on interoperable media, and that means non-plug-in video players that meet HTML5 specs. Of course, not all video players want to disseminate their content for free, which means: DRM. Microsoft's Edge team has published a new post explaining how they'll be handling support for DRM and "premium media" in the new browser. They say, "Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge support DASH, MSE, EME and CENC natively, and other major browsers ship implementations of MSE and CENC compliant EME. This support allows developers to build plug-in free web video apps that runs across a huge range of platforms and devices, with each MSE/EME implementation built on top of a different media pipeline and DRM provider. In the days when DRM systems used proprietary file formats and encryption methods, this variation in DRM providers by browser would have presented a significant issue. With the development and use of Common Encryption (CENC), the problem is substantially reduced because the files are compressed in standard formats and encrypted using global industry standards. The service provider issues the keys and licenses necessary to consume the content in a given browser, but the website code, content and encryption keys are common across all of them, regardless of which DRM is in use."
Link to Original Source

+ - Their Baaack - Zombie LightSquared is back to try again->

An anonymous reader writes: LightSquared, the company that three years ago was proposing a nation-wide cell phone network whose signals were shown to disrupt GPS signals, is back. In a multi-billion dollar gambit that could reduce the cost of cell service, potentially at the expense of GPS, it's also asking the FCC to force GPS companies to help solve the technical issues that killed its plans a few years ago.
Link to Original Source

+ - Machine learning system detects emotions and suicidal behavior ->

An anonymous reader writes: A new machine learning technology is being developed by Israeli scientists which can identify emotion in text messages and email, such as sarcasm, irony and even antisocial or suicidal thoughts. The new computerised system, created by Eden Saig a computer science student at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is described in a paper titled ‘Sentiment Classification of Texts in Social Networks.’ The system works by recognising repeated word patterns and was developed by Saig after he studied a course in artificial intelligence (AI) supervised by Professor Shaul Markovich. Saig explains that voice tone and vocal inflections are so crucial for conveying feelings in verbal communication, while with text and email messages these characteristics are lost – recently encouraging users to illustrate sentiment through superficial smileys or emoticons. Applying machine learning algorithms to popular opinion Facebook pages, Saig was able to use the results to pick out stereotypical habits in social network conversations. “Now, the system can recognise patterns that are either condescending or caring sentiments and can even send a text message to the user if the system thinks the post may be arrogant,” said Saig.
Link to Original Source

+ - Turing Near Ready To Ship World's First Liquid Metal Android Smartphone->

MojoKid writes: Liquid Metal is an alloy metal (technically, bulk metallic glass) that manages to combine the best features of a wide variety of materials into one product. Liquid Metal also has high corrosion resistance, high tensile strength, remarkable anti-wear characteristics and can also be heat-formed. Given its unique properties, Liquid Metal has been used in a number of industries, including in smartphones. Historically, it has been limited to small-scale applications and pieces parts, not entire products. However, Turing Robotic Industries (TRI) just announced pre-orders for the world's first liquid metal-frame smartphone. The Turing Phone uses its own brand of Liquid Metal called Liquidmorphium, which provides excellent shock absorption characteristics. So instead of making a dent in the smartphone casing or cracking/chipping like plastic when dropped, a Turing Phone should in theory "shake it off" while at the same time protecting the fragile display from breaking. The Turing Phone does not come cheap, however, with pricing starting at $610 for a 16GB model and escalating quickly to $740 and $870 respectively for the 64GB and 128GB models, unlocked. Pre-orders open up on July 31.
Link to Original Source

+ - Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing->

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.)They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux(Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.
Link to Original Source

+ - Soneone is Cutting Fiber Optic Cables in San Francisco

HughPickens.com writes: USA Today reports that the FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California's San Francisco Bay Area dating back to at least July 6, 2014, including one early this week. "When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing," says Special Agent Greg Wuthrich. "We definitely need the public's assistance." The pattern of attacks raises serious questions about the glaring vulnerability of critical Internet infrastructure, says JJ Thompson. "When it's situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact," says Thompson. "That is a security person's nightmare."

Mark Peterson, a spokesman for Internet provider Wave Broadband, says an unspecified number of Sacramento-area customers were knocked offline by the latest attack. Peterson characterized the Tuesday attack as "coordinated" and said the company was working with Level 3 and Zayo to restore service. It’s possible the vandals were dressed as telecommunications workers to avoid arousing suspicion, say FBI officials. Backup systems help cushion consumers from the worst of the attacks, meaning people may notice slower email or videos not playing, but may not have service completely disrupted. But repairs are costly and penalties are not stiff enough to deter would-be vandals. "There are flags and signs indicating to somebody who wants to do damage: This is where it is folks," says Richard Doherty. "It's a terrible social crime that affects thousands and millions of people."

+ - TracFone Finally Agrees To Allow Phone Unlocking ->

jfruh writes: While most Slashdot readers probably enjoy the latest and greatest smartphones and heavy-use data plans, millions of Americans use low-cost, prepaid featurephones, and many of those are sold under various brand names owned by TracFone. Today, after much pressure from the FCC, TracFone admitted that its customers also have the right to an unlocked phone that they can port to a different provider, including those low-income customers who participate in the government-subsidized Lifeline program, widely (though incorrectly) known as "Obamaphone".
Link to Original Source

+ - XKEYSCORE: NSA'S Google for the World's Private Communications->

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "The NSA’s ability to piggyback off of private companies’ tracking of their own users is a vital instrument that allows the agency to trace the data it collects to individual users. It makes no difference if visitors switch to public Wi-Fi networks or connect to VPNs to change their IP addresses: the tracking cookie will follow them around as long as they are using the same web browser and fail to clear their cookies. Apps that run on tablets and smartphones also use analytics services that uniquely track users. Almost every time a user sees an advertisement (in an app or in a web browser), the ad network is tracking users in the same way. A secret GCHQ and CSE program called BADASS, which is similar to XKEYSCORE but with a much narrower scope, mines as much valuable information from leaky smartphone apps as possible, including unique tracking identifiers that app developers use to track their own users."

also

"Other information gained via XKEYSCORE facilitates the remote exploitation of target computers. By extracting browser fingerprint and operating system versions from Internet traffic, the system allows analysts to quickly assess the exploitability of a target. Brossard, the security researcher, said that “NSA has built an impressively complete set of automated hacking tools for their analysts to use.” Given the breadth of information collected by XKEYSCORE, accessing and exploiting a target’s online activity is a matter of a few mouse clicks. Brossard explains: “The amount of work an analyst has to perform to actually break into remote computers over the Internet seems ridiculously reduced — we are talking minutes, if not seconds. Simple. As easy as typing a few words in Google.”

Link to Original Source

+ - Ask Slashdot: Is it true that software performance is not important anymore?-> 6 6

DidgetMaster writes: Naturally, everyone wants faster hardware and software; but if you had to choose between two software packages, how much emphasis do you place on speed?

I am building a new kind of general-purpose data management system that uses new data objects that I invented. It has some cool new features that other systems lack, but speed is one of its primary selling points. It was originally designed to replace file systems for managing unstructured data; but it handles structured data so well that I think it can replace relational databases and NoSQL solutions too. It also has distributed architecture to compete with Hadoop and other distributed systems. It is able to find things thousands of times faster than a file system and is more than twice as fast as MySQL at basic table operations in my testing without needing an index. (See http://youtu.be/2uUvGMUyFhY for a demo video)

As I approach potential investors for funding, I have had more than one person say "speed is no longer important". They seem to think that everything can be solved with faster hardware or distributed processing. I am "old school" and think that speed is VERY important. Not only is time important, but better algorithms require less hardware (and thus less power and cooling) too. Am I the only one who still thinks this way?

Link to Original Source

+ - Researchers train computer to create games by watching videos

An anonymous reader writes: Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a computing system that views gameplay video from streaming services like YouTube or Twitch, analyzes the footage and then is able to create original new sections of a game.
The team tested their discovery, the first of its kind, with the original Super Mario Brothers, a well-known two-dimensional platformer game that will allow the new automatic-level designer to replicate results across similar games.

The system focuses on the gaming terrain (not the playable character) and the positioning between elements on-screen – be it pipes, blocks, coins or Goombas – and it determines the required relationship or level design rule.
For example, pipes in the Mario games tend to stick out of the ground, so the system learns this and prevents any pipes from being flush with grassy surfaces. It also prevents “breaks” by using spatial analysis – e.g. no impossibly long jumps for the hero.

+ - 79% of Airbnb listings in Barcelona are illegal

dkatana writes: Barcelona has more than 16,000 Airbnb listings and, according to reports on Cities of the Future, 79% could be illegal.

In April, Airbnb’s European General Manager Jeroen Merchiers confirmed, during the Student Tourism Congress in Barcelona, that the platform has more than 85,000 listings in Spain alone.

But most Airbnb hosts do not apply for a permit, fail to pay insurance and tourist tax, and ignore Catalonian law that forbids short-term rentals of rooms in private homes.

Residents had been complaining about the rising number of tourist apartments and the conduct of the mostly student-age renters. The majority from Italy, Germany and the UK were partying all night, some running around naked, and generally trashing their neighborhoods.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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