Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
News

Do Kiosks and IVRs Threaten Human Interaction? 294

Posted by timothy
from the our-menu-options-have-recently-changed dept.
DavidGilbert99 writes "According to research by the Hyatt Hotel group, one third of customers are already checking in at self-service kiosks in their hotel lobbies, eschewing the traditional route of the receptionist. This is indicative of a wider trend according to voice recognition experts Nuance who believe we simply never want to talk to a real human again, preferring the clipped, efficient tones of its Nina virtual assistant. Expanding this from mobile to now include the web means we could soon be living in a world where speaking to a real live human is the exception rather than the rule." When things go smoothly, I prefer the automated versions of many things (airport check-in, ordering products to arrive by mail, depositing a check); it's when things go wrong that voice menus and web sites just seem to make simple problems into complicated ones.
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Hacking Urban Noise? 474

Posted by Soulskill
from the simply-remove-eardrums dept.
b1tbkt writes "I live at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in my city (pop. 350k). Although I've replaced all windows, insulated, and caulked every square inch of the place, the fire trucks and cars with obnoxious stereos still regularly intrude on my home office. Most of the noise comes in through the windows. I'm considering mounting an oblong parabolic reflector in the ceiling above the windows with a steady feed of white or brownian noise directed into it (e.g., via a small speaker placed within the reflector) to create a 'wall' of sound that would act as a buffer to the outside world. Active noise cancellation would be nice, too, but that's probably more than I want to take on. I don't see any products on the market for this sort of thing. Does anyone have any experiences to share with similar homebrew noise remediation efforts?"
Government

US Missile Defense Staff Told To Stop Watching Porn 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the first-world-problems dept.
An anonymous reader writes "John James Jr., director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, who is responsible for the nation's missile defense system, recently sent out a one-page memo warning employees and contractors to stop using agency computers to visit pornographic Web sites. That's right; apparently they were watching the wrong type of bombshells."
Australia

US Unhappy With Australians Storing Data On Australian Shores 386

Posted by Soulskill
from the tough-noogies dept.
Fluffeh writes "The United States' global trade representative has strongly criticized a perceived preference on the part of large Australian organizations for hosting their data on-shore in Australia, claiming it created a significant trade barrier for U.S. technology firms. A number of U.S. companies had expressed concerns that various departments in the Australian Government, namely the Department of Defence had been sending negative messages about cloud providers based outside the country, implying that 'hosting data overseas, including in the United States, by definition entails greater risk and unduly exposes consumers to their data being scrutinized by foreign governments.' Recently, Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner Anthony Bendall highlighted some of the privacy concerns with cloud computing, particularly in its use by the local government. He said the main problems were the lack of control over stored data and privacy, in overseas cloud service providers."
Handhelds

VisiCalc's Dan Bricklin On the Tablet Revolution 185

Posted by timothy
from the respect-your-elders dept.
snydeq writes "Dan Bricklin, the co-creator of the PC revolution's killer app, weighs in on the opportunities and oversights of the tablet revolution. 'In some sense, for tablets the browser is a killer app. Maps is a killer app to some extent. Being able to share the screen with other people — that it's a social device — also might fit the bill. I think that for tablets, there isn't and won't be one killer app for everyone. It's more that there are apps that are killers for individual people. It's the sum of all those that is the killer app. This has been true since the original Palm Pilot.'"
Communications

Ship Anchor Damages African Undersea Cables 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-then-on-again dept.
New submitter Bastian227 writes "A ship anchoring in a restricted area disrupted an East African high-speed Internet connection. The damaged fiber optic cable is one of three new undersea cables in the area off Kenyan coast. Repairs could take up to 14 days. 'The Teams cable had been rerouting data from three other cables severed 10 days ago in the Red Sea between Djibouti and the Middle East. Together, the four fiber-optic cables channel thousands of gigabytes of information per second and form the backbone of East Africa's telecom infrastructure. Telecom companies were reeling over the weekend as engineers attempted to reroute data south along the East African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope.'"
Math

How Companies Learn Your Secrets 354

Posted by Soulskill
from the sit-back-and-wait-for-you-to-tell-them dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "For decades, Target has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores. Now the NY Times Magazine reports on how companies like Target identify those unique moments in consumers' lives when their shopping habits become particularly flexible and the right advertisement or coupon can cause them to begin spending in new ways. Among life events, none are more important than the arrival of a baby, and new parents are a retailer's holy grail. In 2002, marketers at Target asked statisticians to answer an odd question: 'If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn't want us to know, can you do that?' Specifically, the marketers said they wanted to send specially designed ads to women in their second trimester, which is when most expectant mothers begin buying all sorts of new things, like prenatal vitamins and maternity clothing. 'We knew that if we could identify them in their second trimester, there's a good chance we could capture them for years,' says statistician Andrew Pole. 'As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they're going to start buying everything else too.' As Pole's computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a 'pregnancy prediction' score and he soon had a list of tens of thousands of women who were most likely pregnant. About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry. 'My daughter got this in the mail!' he said. 'She's still in high school, and you're sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?' The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again but the father was somewhat abashed. 'It turns out there's been some activities in my house I haven't been completely aware of. She's due in August. I owe you an apology.'"
Republicans

How the GOP (and the Tea Party) Helped Kill SOPA 857

Posted by timothy
from the two-party-narrative dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Strengthening intellectual property enforcement has been a bipartisan issue for the past 25 years, but Stewart Baker writes in the Hollywood Reporter that when the fight went from the committees to the floor and Wikipedia went down, the Democratic and Republican parties reacted very differently to SOPA. 'Despite widespread opposition to SOPA from bloggers on the left, Democrats in Congress (and the administration) were reluctant to oppose the bill outright,' writes Baker. 'The MPAA was not shy about reminding them that Hollywood has been a reliable source of funding for Democratic candidates, and that it would not tolerate defections.' That very public message from the MPAA also reached another audience — Tea Party conservatives. Most of them had never given a second thought to intellectual property enforcement, but many had drawn support from conservative bloggers and they began to ask why they should risk the ire of their internet supporters to rescue an industry that was happily advertising how much it hated them." (Read on, below.)

Comment: Re:Just gotta say (Score 1) 93

by Staale Nordlie (#37282616) Attached to: Mars Rover Begins "Whole New Mission"

What is it you don't understand? There is no contradiction, seeming or otherwise.

Planning for a 90 sol mission when the rovers clearly have the potential to last far longer is bound to lead to suboptimal choices. It boggles the mind that anyone can fail to understand that.

As for the weather on Mars, it is, in fact, pure bullshit that NASA had no way to estimate its effects.

Oh, and I'm not "hating" on anyone. But I guess that's what any hint of criticism looks like to a raving fanboy. Calm down.

Comment: Re:Just gotta say (Score 0, Troll) 93

by Staale Nordlie (#37281984) Attached to: Mars Rover Begins "Whole New Mission"

I don't think the rovers lasting far beyond the "planned" 90 sols is entirely flattering for NASA as an organization. It means that they've used completely unrealistic estimates, be it due to incompetence or general ass-covering. When Opportunity finally breaks down it may well be because someone knowingly put in a component with a relatively short lifespan even though a better alternative would only have been marginally heavier or more expensive.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

Working...