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AI

Microsoft's Cortana Doesn't Put Up With Sexual Harassment (hothardware.com) 339

MojoKid writes: Not long after Apple unveiled its Siri personal assistant to the world, it took very little time before people began asking her outrageous questions, sometimes inappropriate or just humorous, if for no other reason than they just could. When creating Cortana, Microsoft was well-aware of what its digital assistant was going to have to deal with, so, believe it or not, it was designed in such a way to handle abuse in a specific manner. According to Microsoft's Deborah Harrison, who is one of eight writers for Cortana, a chunk of the earliest queries were about Cortana's sex life. A specific goal was to make sure Cortana wasn't treated as a subservient. If she's insulted, she doesn't apologize or back down. She handles it with tact, so as to reduce the chance of further abuse.
Bug

Have Your iPhone 6 Repaired, Only To Get It Bricked By Apple (theguardian.com) 395

New submitter Nemosoft Unv. writes: In case you had a problem with the fingerprint sensor or some other small defect on your iPhone 6 and had it repaired by a non-official (read: cheaper) shop, you may be in for a nasty surprise: error 53. What happens is that during an OS update or re-install the software checks the internal hardware and if it detects a non-Apple component, it will display an error 53 and brick your phone. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable. Thousands of people have flocked to forums to express their dismay at this. What's more insiduous is that the error may only appear weeks or months after the repair. Incredibly, Apple says this cannot be fixed by any hard- or software update, while it is clearly their software that causes the problem in the first place. And then you thought FTDI was being nasty ...
Government

Free State Project Reaches Goal of 20,000 Signups (freestateproject.org) 436

Okian Warrior writes: As a followup to our recent story, at 11AM Tuesday, Free State Project president Carla Gericke announced the FSP had reached its goal of recruiting 20,000 participants. The 20,000 mark is significant, because it 'triggers the move' – the mass migration of the Free State Project participants who have all agreed to move to New Hampshire within the next five years. So far, almost 2,000 have already relocated to the state.
Censorship

Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday (twitter.com) 325

bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."
United States

Journalist Claims Secret US Flight 'To Capture Snowden' Overflew Scottish Airspace (thenational.scot) 196

schwit1 writes with a story in The National (a newspaper which makes no bones about it support for an independent Scotland) describing the charge laid by a Scottish journalist that in 2013 a secret U.S. flight involving a plane involved in CIA renditions crossed Scottish airspace, as part of a secret plan to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden. Alex Salmond, then Scotland's First Minister, is calling for transparency with regard to the knowledge that the UK government had of the flight and its mission. According to the report, The plane, which passed above the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, was dispatched from the American east coast on June 24 2013, the day after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow. The craft was used in controversial US 'rendition' missions. Reports by Scottish journalist Duncan Campbell claim the aircraft, traveling well above the standard aviation height at 45,000 feet and without a filed flight plan, was part of a mission to capture Snowden following his release of documents revealing mass surveillance by US and UK secret services. ... [N977GA, the aircraft named as involved in this flight] was previously identified by Dave Willis in Air Force Monthly as an aircraft used for CIA rendition flights of US prisoners. This included the extradition of cleric Abu Hamza from the UK. Snowden accused the Danish Government of conspiring in his arrest. In response to flight reports, he said: "Remember when the Prime Minister Rasmussen said Denmark shouldn't respect asylum law in my case? Turns out he had a secret."
Democrats

Perfect Coin-Toss Record Broke 6 Clinton-Sanders Deadlocks In Iowa (marketwatch.com) 634

schwit1 writes: While it was hard to call a winner between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders last night, it's easy to say who was luckier. The race between the Democrat presidential hopefuls was so tight in the Iowa caucus Monday that in at least six precincts, the decision on awarding a county delegate came down to a coin toss. And Clinton won all six, media reports said.
Social Networks

Why Does Twitter Refuse To Shut Down Donald Trump? (vortex.com) 828

Lauren Weinstein writes: The conclusion appears inescapable. Twitter apparently has voluntarily chosen to 'look the other way' while Donald Trump spews forth a trolling stream of hate and other abuses that would cause any average Twitter user to be terminated in a heartbeat. There's always room to argue the proprietary or desirability of any given social media content terms of service — or the policy precepts through which they are applied. It is also utterly clear that if such rules are not applied to everyone with the same vigor, particularly when there's an appearance of profiting by making exceptions for particular individuals, the moral authority on which those rules are presumably based is decimated, pointless, and becomes a mere fiction. Would you rather Twitter shut down no account ever, apply a sort of white-listing policy, or something in the middle?
Graphics

In Memoriam: VGA (hackaday.com) 406

szczys writes: VGA is going away. It has been for a long time but the final nails in the coffin are being driven home this year. It was the first standard for video, and is by far the longest-lived port on the PC. The extra pins made computers monitor-aware; allowing data about the screen type and resolution to be queried whenever a display was connected. But the connector is big and looks antiquated. There's no place for it in today's thin, design minded devices. It is also a mechanism for analog signaling in our world that has embraced high-speed digital for ever increasing pixels and integration of more data passing through one connection. Most motherboards no longer have the connector, and Intel's new Skylake processors have removed native VGA functionality. Even online retailers have stopped including it as a filter option when choosing hardware.
Communications

US Gov't Confirms Clinton Emails Contained Top-Secret Information (thenextweb.com) 571

An anonymous reader writes: Just days before candidates begin primary season with caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Obama administration confirmed for the first time that Hillary Clinton's emails did contain sensitive information. The Associated Press reports that seven of these email chains, are being withheld from the press because they contain information deemed to be "top secret" and that 37 pages included messages described by intelligence officials as "special access programs" — meaning, highly restricted and closely guarded government secrets.
Toys

German Inventor, Innovator and Businessman Artur Fischer Dies At Age of 96 38

Qbertino writes: As Spiegel.de reports (German link) inventor Artur Fischer has died at the age of 96. Artur Fischer is a classic example of the innovator and businessman of post-war Germany — he invented the synchronous flash for photography, the famed Fischer Fixing (aka Screwanchor/rawlplug or "Dübel" in German) and the Fischer Technik Construction Sets with which many a nerd grew up with, including the famous C64 Fischer Robotics Kit of the 80s. His heritage includes an impressive portfolio of over 1100 patents and he reportedly remained inventive and interested in solving technical problems til the very end. ... Rest in piece and thanks for the hours of fun tinkering with Fischertechnik. ... Now where did that old C64 robot go?
Build

Desktop 3D Printers Shown To Emit Hazardous Gases and Particles (acs.org) 96

An anonymous reader writes: A new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology by researchers at Illinois Institute of Technology and The University of Texas at Austin sheds more light on potentially harmful emissions from desktop FDM 3D printers. The researchers measured emissions of both ultrafine particles (UFPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from 5 commercially available polymer-extrusion 3D printers using up to 9 different filaments. [The researchers] found that the individual VOCs emitted in the largest quantities included caprolactam from nylon-based and imitation wood and brick filaments (ranging from ~2 to ~180 g/min), styrene from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) filaments (ranging from ~10 to ~110 g/min), and lactide from polylactic acid (PLA) filaments (ranging from ~4 to ~5 g/min). Styrene is classified as a "possible human carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC classification group 2B). While caprolactam is classified as "probably not carcinogenic to humans," the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) maintains low acute, 8-hour, and chronic reference exposure levels (RELs) of only 50, 7, and 2.2 g per cubic meters, respectively, all of which would likely be exceeded with just one of the higher emitting printers operating in a small office.
Power

Why the Calorie Is Broken (arstechnica.com) 108

New submitter ami.one writes: Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley explain how we are still using a century old method for measuring the calories in our food and the calories spent in different human activities. Essentially, there is a very big difference between burning stuff in a bomb calorie-meter and the extremely complex ways our body extracts energy from food. In fact, the exact process of digestion is yet to be understood sufficiently at a micro level, and years from being replicated to any close degree. Plus, the way our bodies spend calories for a given activity is hugely different from the way a car consumer gasoline and dependent on a number of parameters — some of which are not even known currently. Therefore, balancing calories in to Calories out is not so stupidly simple as it seems to the underweight layperson . Update: 01/28 22:09 GMT by T : Sorry for the duplicate post; it was a long night.
Java

Oracle To Drop Java Browser Plugin In JDK 9 (softpedia.com) 165

An anonymous reader writes: After Mozilla said in October that it would stop supporting Firefox plugins on the older NPAPI technology, Oracle had no choice now but to announce the deprecation of the Java browser plugin starting with the release of the JDK version 9, which is set for release in March 2017, and developers are urged to start using the Java Web Start pluginless technology instead. Security issues also had a big part in Java's demise.
Stats

Math Says Conspiracies Are Prone To Unravel (bbc.com) 303

An anonymous reader writes: Who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory? Well, I don't — they're usually annoying daydreams from annoying people. Fortunately, an Oxford mathematician seems to feel the same way. Dr. David Grimes just published research in PLOS One establishing a formula for determining the likelihood of a failed conspiracy — in other words, how likely some of its participants are to spill the beans. There are three main factors: number of conspirators, the amount of time passed since it started, and how often we can expect conspiracies to intrinsically fail (a value he derived by studying actual conspiracies that were exposed). From the article: "He then applied his equation to four famous conspiracy theories: The belief that the Moon landing was faked, the belief that climate change is a fraud, the belief that vaccines cause autism, and the belief that pharmaceutical companies have suppressed a cure for cancer. Dr. Grimes's analysis suggests that if these four conspiracies were real, most are very likely to have been revealed as such by now. Specifically, the Moon landing 'hoax' would have been revealed in 3.7 years, the climate change 'fraud' in 3.7 to 26.8 years, the vaccine-autism 'conspiracy' in 3.2 to 34.8 years, and the cancer 'conspiracy' in 3.2 years."
The Almighty Buck

SaxoBank Predicts Universal Basic Income For Europe 412

jones_supa writes: Saxo Bank, an investment bank based in Denmark, has released a list of its outrageous predictions for 2016. Among these predictions, economist Christopher Dembik claims that Europe will consider the introduction of a universal basic income to ensure that all citizens can meet their basic needs in the face of rising inequality and unemployment. This will come on the back of increased interest in basic income from Spain, Finland, Switzerland, and France.

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