Earth

The Aurora Borealis May Be Visible Tonight In The Northern US (cnn.com) 42

An anonymous reader quotes CNN:A geomagnetic storm could bring a spectacular show to skies across the northern United States on Sunday night. The Aurora Borealis phenomenon -- also known as the Northern Lights -- may be visible "as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington State," according to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center... NOAA said the best viewing times to catch the light show, clouds permitting, will be between 11 p.m. ET Sunday and 2 a.m. Monday, and again between 2 a.m. ET to 5 a.m.
Microsoft

Microsoft Yanks Three Bad Patches Of Their Last Outlook Patch (computerworld.com) 78

An anonymous reader quotes ComputerWorld's Woody Leonhard: I just received word from Gunter Born that Microsoft has pulled three of its Outlook patches... There's no specific recommendation that you uninstall the yanked patches -- indeed, there's no description of the problems caused by the latest round -- but earlier versions of the bad patches-of-patches had a nasty habit of crashing Outlook... Microsoft still hasn't fixed any of the Office 2007 bugs it introduced in the June security patches.
If you're keeping score at home, the yanked patches are:
  • KB 4011042 - July 5, 2017, update for Outlook 2010
  • KB 3191849 - June 27, 2017, update for Outlook 2013
  • KB 3213654 - June 30, 2017, update for Outlook 2016

Australia

Crypto-Bashing Prime Minister Argues The Laws Of Mathematics Don't Apply In Australia (independent.co.uk) 323

An anonymous reader quotes the Independent:Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the laws of mathematics come second to the law of the land in a row over privacy and encryption... When challenged by a technology journalist over whether it was possible to tackle the problem of criminals using encryption -- given that platform providers claim they are currently unable to break into the messages even if required to do so by law -- the Prime Minister raised eyebrows as he made his reply. "Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia," he said... "The important thing is to recognise the challenge and call on the companies for assistance. I am sure they know morally they should... They have to face up to their responsibility."
Facebook has already issued a statement saying that they "appreciate the important work law enforcement does, and we understand the need to carry out investigations. That's why we already have a protocol in place to respond to any requests we can.

"At the same time, weakening encrypted systems for them would mean weakening it for everyone."
Government

Y Combinator Announces Funding For UBI-Supporting Political Candidates (latimes.com) 194

Most people "feel like they have great potential that is being wasted," argues Y Combinator president Sam Altman -- a Stanford dropout whose company's investments are now worth $65 billion, including Airbnb, Reddit, and Dropbox. Now an anonymous reader quote the Los Angeles Times: A wealthy young Silicon Valley venture capitalist hopes to recruit statewide and congressional candidates and launch an affordable-housing ballot measure in 2018 because he says California's leaders are failing to address flaws in the state's governance that are killing opportunities for future generations. Sam Altman, 32, will roll out an effort to enlist candidates around a shared set of policy priorities -- including tackling how automation is going to affect the economy and the cost of housing in California -- and is willing to put his own money behind the effort. "I think we have a fundamental breakdown of the American social contract and it's desperately important that we fix it," he said. "Even if we had a very well-functioning government, it would be a challenge, and our current government functions so badly it is an extra challenge..."

Altman lays out 10 principles including lowering the cost of housing, creating single-payer healthcare, increasing clean energy use, improving education, reforming taxes and rebuilding infrastructure. He has few specific policy edicts, and floats proposals that will generate controversy, such as creating a universal basic income for all Americans in an effort to equalize opportunity, public funding for the media and increasing taxes on property that is owned by foreigners, is unoccupied or has been "flipped" by investors seeking a quick return on an investment.

Altman argues that he wants to "ensure that everyone benefits from the coming changes," and specifically highlights the idea of a Universal Basic Income. Altman writes that "If it turns out to be a good policy, I could imagine passing a law that puts it into effect when the GDP per capita doubles. This could help cushion the transition to a post-automation world."
Media

Free Speech vs Billionaires: Netflix Streams A New Documentary About The Gawker Verdict (businessinsider.com) 199

Speaking of Netflix, last month they began streaming "Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press" -- a new documentary by Brian Knappenberger about the Gawker verdict. An anonymous reader shares this description from Business Insider: Knappenberger -- who previously made the movies "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz," on internet activist Aaron Swartz, and "We Are Legion," about the hacker group Anonymous -- got in touch with Nick Denton and Gawker editor-in-chief (who also posted the Hogan sex tape video) A.J. Daulerio to be in the film as well as Hogan's lawyer David R. Houston... Knappenberger said he also tried to get Peter Thiel to be in the movie, but Thiel declined Knappenberger's numerous requests. And the movie shows how other people with money and influence can and do silence the media.

Knappenberger also showcases what happened to the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the end of 2015. The paper's staff was suddenly told that the paper had been sold, though they were never told who the new publisher was. A group of reporters found that the son-in-law of Las Vegas casino titan Sheldon Adelson was a major player in the purchase of the paper. According to the movie, Adelson had a vendetta with the paper's columnist John L. Smith, who wrote unflattering things about him in a 2005 book. Smith was even ordered after the paper was bought that he was never to write about Adelson in any of his pieces. For Knappenberger, there's no other way to look at it: The suppression of the media by billionaires is happening.

Knappenberger said if any legal documents arrive from the billionaires discussed in his movie, "We're ready for it." But he added that the bigger issue is getting people to understand that the loss of the free press is "the most important thing facing our country." Or, as a former Gawker editor says in the film, "If you're not pissing off a billionaire, what's the point?"
Television

Tech Companies Capture A Third Of This Year's Emmy Nominations (engadget.com) 31

"Streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu snagged nearly 1/3 of Emmy nominations this year, the most ever awarded to tech companies," reports Axios, adding that streaming companies "are pouring billions of dollars into content...and it's paying off." An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: After passing 100 million subscribers, overtaking cable TV in customer numbers in the US and expanding to over 190 countries, Netflix is starting to cement something else: sustained prestige. A record haul of 91 Emmy nominations puts Netflix -- which had 54 nominations last year -- just behind perennial frontrunner HBO with 110... A key component of this upgrade in status is the sheer number of original offerings Netflix has put out. If you throw everything at an awards committee, quite a few of them might stick... Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has said Netflix spends over $6 billion a year on its own shows, in comparison to Amazon's reported spend of nearly $3 billion, with HBO at $2 billion...

Hulu picked up 18 nominations, up from two last year, including a first series nomination for dystopian A Handmaid's Tale. Together with Netflix's House of Cards, Stranger Things and The Crown, the majority of nominees in the competitive Outstanding Drama category were from streaming services. Amazon picked up 16 nominations, the same as last year.

The shows nominated for the most Emmy awards were NBC's Saturday Night Live, followed by HBO's Westworld, but Netflix ultimately ended up with more Emmy nominations than ABC, CBS, and Fox combined.
AI

Facebook's AI Keeps Inventing Languages That Humans Can't Understand (fastcodesign.com) 170

"Researchers at Facebook realized their bots were chattering in a new language," writes Fast Company's Co.Design. "Then they stopped it." An anonymous reader summarizes their report: Facebook -- as well as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple -- said they were more interested in AI's that could talk to humans. But when two of Facebook's AI bots negotiated with each other "There was no reward to sticking to English language," says Dhruv Batra, visiting research scientist from Georgia Tech at Facebook AI Research (FAIR). Co.Design writes that the AI software simply, "learned, and evolved," adding that the creation of new languages is a phenomenon Facebook "has observed again, and again, and again". And this, of course, is problematic.

"Should we allow AI to evolve its dialects for specific tasks that involve speaking to other AIs? To essentially gossip out of our earshot? Maybe; it offers us the possibility of a more interoperable world, a more perfect place where iPhones talk to refrigerators that talk to your car without a second thought. The tradeoff is that we, as humanity, would have no clue what those machines were actually saying to one another."

One of the researchers believes that that's definitely going in the wrong direction. "We already don't generally understand how complex AIs think because we can't really see inside their thought process. Adding AI-to-AI conversations to this scenario would only make that problem worse."
Television

Doctor Who's 13th Time Lord Announced: Actress Jodie Whittaker (bbc.co.uk) 501

Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor Who, had said that he wanted to see a woman replace him in the Tardis, and so did former Doctor Who stars Billie Piper and Karen Gillan. And today it's official: "the 13th incarnation of Doctor Who will be portrayed by an actress," writes Slashdot reader Coisiche -- specifically Jodie Whittaker, who American viewers may remember from her performance as CIA officer Sandra Grimes in the 2014 mini-series "The Assets." The BBC reports: She was revealed in a trailer that was broadcast on BBC One at the end of the Wimbledon men's singles final... She will make her debut on the sci-fi show when the Doctor regenerates in the Christmas Day show... Whittaker said: "I'm beyond excited to begin this epic journey...with every Whovian on this planet. It's more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope... Doctor Who represents everything that's exciting about change."
Doctor Who's new showrunner said the 13th Doctor was always going to be a woman -- and that Whittaker was their first choice. "Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role." Doctor Who #12 added that Whittaker "has above all the huge heart to play this most special part. She's going to be a fantastic Doctor." And Will Howells, who writes for the Doctor Who magazine, said "I don't think it's a risky choice at all but if a show that can go anywhere and do anything can't take risks, what can?"
Programming

TechCrunch Urges Developers: Replace C Code With Rust (techcrunch.com) 483

Software engineer and TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans writes that the C programming language "gives its users far too much artillery with which to shoot their feet off" and is "no longer suitable for the world which C has built." An anonymous reader shared Evans' post: Copious experience has taught us all, the hard way, that it is very difficult, verging on "basically impossible," to write extensive amounts of C code that is not riddled with security holes. As I wrote two years ago, in my first Death To C piece... "Buffer overflows and dangling pointers lead to catastrophic security holes, again and again and again, just like yesteryear, just like all the years of yore. We cannot afford its gargantuan, gaping security blind spots any more. It's long past time to retire and replace it with another language.

"The trouble is, most modern languages don't even try to replace C... They're not good at the thing C does best: getting down to the bare metal and working at mach speed." Today I am seriously suggesting that when engineers refactor existing C code, especially parsers and other input handlers, they replace it -- slowly, bit by bit -- with Rust... we are only going to dig ourselves out of our giant collective security hole iteratively, one shovelful of better code and better tooling at a time."

He also suggests other fixes -- like using a language-theoretic approach which conceptualizes valid inputs as their own formal language, and formal verification of the correctness of algorithms. But he still insists that "C has become a monster" -- and that we must start replacing it with Rust.
Transportation

Is Homeland Security's Face-Scanning At Airports An Unreasonable Search? (technologyreview.com) 144

schwit1 shares an article from MIT's Technology Review: Facial-recognition systems may indeed speed up the boarding process, as the airlines rolling them out promise. But the real reason they are cropping up in U.S. airports is that the government wants to keep better track of who is leaving the country, by scanning travelers' faces and verifying those scans against photos it already has on file... The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has partnered with airlines including JetBlue and Delta to introduce such recognition systems at New York's JFK International Airport, Washington's Dulles International, and airports in Atlanta, Boston, and Houston, among others. It plans to add more this summer...

As facial-recognition technology has improved significantly in recent years, it has attracted the interest of governments and law enforcement agencies. That's led to debates over whether certain uses of the technology violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches... Harrison Rudolph, a law fellow at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, and others are raising alarms because as part of the process, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also scanning the faces of U.S. citizens... They say Congress has never expressly authorized the collection of facial scans from U.S. citizens at the border routinely and without suspicion.

"We aren't entirely sure what the government is doing with the images," the article adds, though it notes that the Department of Homeland Security is saying that it deletes all data pertaining to the images after two weeks. But Slashdot reader schwit1 is still worried about the possibility of an irretrievable loss of privacy, writing that "If the DHS database gets hacked, it's hard to get a new face."
Sci-Fi

Vintage SciFi Magazine 'Galaxy' Preserved Online - And Hopefully Also SoundCloud (archive.org) 52

Long-time Slashdot reader Paul Fernhout writes: Archive.org has made available 355 issues of Galaxy Magazine for free access. Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980 with stories from many sci-fi greats [including Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein]. At its peak, Galaxy greatly influenced the science fiction field. See also Open Culture and The Verge for more about the history of a magazine that help shape the imaginations of a generation of techies..
Meanwhile, Archive.org's Jason Scott -- who also founded textfiles.com -- says his own group of preservationists "plans large scale backing up of Soundcloud soon" -- or at least part of it. A placeholder page already informs visitors that "We are currently working on getting all the API data... We also are writing the scripts to get a good grab of everything we can." Scott told Motherboard Saturday "Our main concern is artists and creators suddenly finding their stuff gone, and making it so it's not in oblivion."
Businesses

Are America's Non-Compete Laws Too Strict? (nrtoday.com) 167

Slashdot reader cdreimer shared an article from the New York Times: Idaho achieved a notable distinction last year: It became one of the hardest places in America for someone to quit a job for a better one. The state did this by making it easier for companies to enforce noncompete agreements, which prevent employees from leaving their company for a competitor... The result was a bill that shifted the burden from companies to employees, who must now prove they have "no ability to adversely affect the employer's legitimate business interests." The bar for that is so high that Brian Kane, an assistant chief deputy in the Idaho attorney general's office, wrote that this would be "difficult if not impossible" for an employee to do...

For the most part, states have been moving toward making it easier for people to switch teams... The most extreme end of the spectrum is California, which prohibits noncompete agreements entirely. Economists say this was a crucial factor behind Silicon Valley's rise, because it made it easier for people to start and staff new businesses. But as states like Utah and Massachusetts have tried to move closer to this approach, legislators have run into mature companies trying to hold onto their best employees... A recent survey showed that one in five American workers is bound by a noncompete clause. They cover workers up and down the economic spectrum, from executives to hairdressers.

Two economists tell the newspaper that since 2000, U.S. workers have changed their jobs less and less, which is sometimes blamed on strict employment contracts as well as the occupational licensing laws which affect a third of America's workforce. The Times reports that noncompete clauses ultimately end up keeping workers' salaries lower, "because most people get raises when they switch jobs."
AI

Elon Musk Warns Governors: Regulate AI Before It's 'Too Late' (recode.net) 200

turkeydance shared a new article from Recode about Elon Musk: He's been warning people about AI for years, and today called it the "biggest risk we face as a civilization" when he spoke at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island. Musk then called on the government to proactively regulate artificial intelligence before things advance too far... "Normally the way regulations are set up is a while bunch of bad things happen, there's a public outcry, and after many years a regulatory agency is set up to regulate that industry," he continued. "It takes forever. That, in the past, has been bad but not something which represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization"... Musk has even said that his desire to colonize Mars is, in part, a backup plan for if AI takes over on Earth.
Several governors asked Musk how to regulate the emerging AI industry, to which he suggested learning as much as possible about artificial intelligence. Musk also warned that society won't know how to react "until people see robots going down the street killing people... I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it's too late."
Windows

Ask Slashdot: What Software (Or Hardware) Glitch Makes You Angry? 480

This question was inspired when Slashdot reader TheRealHocusLocus found their laptop "in the throes of a Windows 10 Update," where "progress has rolled past 100% several times and started over." I pushed the re-schedule dialogue to the rear and left it waiting. But my application did not count as activity and I left for a few moments, so Windows decided to answer its own question and restart (breaking a persistent Internet connection)... I've had it. Upon due consideration I now conclude I have been personally f*ck'd with. Driver availability, my apps and WINE permitting, this machine is getting Linux or pre-Windows-8...

That's mine, now let's hear about the things that are pushing you over the edge this very minute. Phones, software, power windows, anything.

There's a longer version of this story in the original submission -- but what's bugging you today? Leave your best answers in the comments. What software (or hardware glitch) makes you angry?
Music

EU Sides With RIAA, Says YouTube Underpays For Music Streaming (mercurynews.com) 81

Profits from both CD sales and digital downloads are declining, while online streaming now accounts for the majority of the $7.7 billion U.S. music market, according to a new article. And the music industry's newest complaint is that 25% of music streaming is happening on YouTube, which they believe is paying them too little. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: Now, the battle is heating up as the European Union is expected to release new rules later this year for how services such as YouTube handle music, potentially upending some of the copyright protections that undergird the Internet... The E.U. has formally recognized that there is a "value gap" between song royalties and what user-upload services such as YouTube earn from selling ads while playing music... How such a law would address the gap is still being decided, but the E.U. has indicated it plans to focus on ensuring copyright holders are "properly remunerated." Even the value gap's existence is disputed.

A recent economic study commissioned by YouTube found no value gap -- in fact, the report said YouTube promotes the music industry, and if YouTube stopped playing music, 85 percent of users would flock to services that offered lower or no royalties. A different study by an independent consulting group pegged the YouTube value gap at more than $650 million in the United States alone. "YouTube is viewed as a giant obstacle in the path to success for the streaming marketplace," said Mitch Glazier, president of the Recording Industry Association of America... YouTube pays an estimated $1 per 1,000 plays on average, while Spotify and Apple music pay a rate closer to $7... The music industry claims YouTube has avoided paying a fair-market rate by hiding behind broad legal protections. In the United States, that's the "safe harbor" provision, which essentially says YouTube is not to blame if someone uploads a copy-protected song -- unless the copyright holder complains.

YouTube argues that its automatic Content ID system recognizes 98% of all copyright-infringing uploads -- and that each year they're already paying the music industry $1 billion in royalties.

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