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Submission + - Flying Insects Have Been Disappearing Over the Past Few Decades, Study Shows (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon," with profound impacts on human society. The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said. The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected. The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardized ways of collecting insects in 1989.

Submission + - The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions (technologyreview.com)

glowend writes: FTA: "Now show Newton an Apple. Pull out an iPhone from your pocket, and turn it on so that the screen is glowing and full of icons, and hand it to him. Newton, who revealed how white light is made from components of different-colored light by pulling apart sunlight with a prism and then putting it back together, would no doubt be surprised at such a small object producing such vivid colors in the darkness of the chapel. Now play a movie of an English country scene, and then some church music that he would have heard. And then show him a Web page with the 500-plus pages of his personally annotated copy of his masterpiece Principia, teaching him how to use the pinch gesture to zoom in on details.

Could Newton begin to explain how this small device did all that? Although he invented calculus and explained both optics and gravity, he was never able to sort out chemistry from alchemy. So I think he would be flummoxed, and unable to come up with even the barest coherent outline of what this device was. It would be no different to him from an embodiment of the occult — something that was of great interest to him. It would be indistinguishable from magic. And remember, Newton was a really smart dude."

Submission + - Pilot Wave theory suggests Trumpet shaped Emdrive would have more thrust (nextbigfuture.com)

schwit1 writes: A radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster, EmDrive, is a controversial proposed type of propellentless electromagnetic thruster with a microwave cavity, designed to produce thrust from an electromagnetic field inside the cavity.

Researchers José Croca and Paulo Castro from the Centre for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal suggest that not only could pilot wave theory explain the mysterious behavior of the EM drive, it could help to make it even more powerful.

Applying a pilot wave theory to NASA's EM drive frustum [or cone] could explain its thrust without involving any external action applied to the system, as Newton's third law would require.

Currently, the majority of physicists subscribe to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which states that particles do not have defined locations until they are observed.

Pilot wave theory, on the other hand, suggests that particles do have precise positions at all times, but in order for this to be the case, the world must also be strange in other ways – which is why many physicists have dismissed the idea.

Submission + - Understanding Google's New Advanced Protection Program for Google Accounts (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: The APP description and “getting started” page is at:

https://landing.google.com/adv...

It’s a well designed page (except for the now usual atrocious low contrast Google text font) with lots of good information about this program. It really is a significant increase in security that ordinary users can choose to activate, and yes, it’s free (except for the cost of purchasing the required physical security keys, which are available from a variety of vendors).

But back to that question. Should you actually sign up for APP?

That depends.

Submission + - What is a way to get companies to actually focus on security? 1

ctilsie242 writes: Many years ago, it was said that we would have a "cyber 9/11", a security event so drastic that it fundamentally would change how companies and people thought about security. However, this has not happened yet (mainly because the bad guys know that this would get organizations to shut their barn doors, stopping the gravy train.)

With the perception that security has no financial returns, coupled with the opinion that "nobody can stop the hackers, so why even bother", what can actually be done to get businesses to have an actual focus on security. The only "security" I see is mainly protection from "jailbreaking", so legal owners of a product can't use or upgrade their devices. True security from other attack vectors are all but ignored.

In fact, I have seen some development environments where someone doing -anything- about security would likely get the developer fired because it took time away from coding features dictated by marketing. I've seen environments where all code ran as root or System just because if the devs gave thought to any permission model at all, they would be tossed, and replaced by other devs who didn't care to "waste" their time on stuff like that.

One idea would be something similar to Underwriters Labs, except would grade products, perhaps with expanded standards above the "pass/fail" mark, such as Europe's "Sold Secure", or the "insurance lock" certification (which means that a security device is good enough for insurance companies to insure stuff secured by it.)

There are always calls for regulation, but with regulatory capture being at a high point, and previous regulations having few teeth, this may not be a real solution in the US. Is our main hope the new data privacy laws being enacted in Europe, China, and Russia which actually have heavy fines, as well as criminal prosecutions (i.e. execs going to jail)?

This especially applies to IoT devices where it is in their financial interest to make un-upgradable devices, forcing people to toss their 1.0 lightbulbs and buy 1.0.1 lightbulbs to fix a security issue, as opposed to making them secure in the first place, or having an upgrade mechanism.

Is there something that can actually be done about the general disinterest by companies to make secure products, or is this just the way life is now?

Submission + - Activision Patents Pay-to-Win Matchmaker (rollingstone.com) 1

EndlessNameless writes: If you like fair play, you might not like future Activision games. They will cross the line to encourage microtransactions---specifically matching players to both encourage and reward purchase.

Rewarding the purchase, in particular, is an explicit and egregious elimination of any claim to fair play: "For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results."

Submission + - Intelligent people more at risk of mental illness, study finds (independent.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: The stereotype of a tortured genius may have a basis in reality after a new study found that people with higher IQs are more at risk of developing mental illness.

A team of US researchers surveyed 3,715 members of American Mensa with an IQ higher than 130. An “average IQ score” or “normal IQ score” can be defined as a score between 85 and 115.

The team asked the Mensa members to report whether they had been diagnoses with mental illnesses, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

They were also asked to report mood and anxiety disorders, or whether the suspected they suffered from any mental illnesses that had yet to be diagnosed, as well as physiological diseases, like food allergies and asthma.

After comparing this with the statistical national average for each illness they found that those in the Mensa community had considerably higher rates of varying disorders.

Submission + - YouTube Suspends Account of Chinese Dissident (freebeacon.com)

schwit1 writes: YouTube has suspended the video account of popular Chinese dissident Guo Wengui amid a mounting pressure from the Beijing government to silence one of its critics.

According to a person familiar with the action, YouTube issued what the company calls a "strike" against Guo, who since the beginning of the year has created an online sensation by posting lengthy videos in which he reveals details of corruption by senior Chinese officials.

The suspension involves a 90-day block on any new live-stream postings of videos and was the result of a complaint made against a recent Guo video for alleged harassment.

The identity of the person or institution who issued the complaint could not be learned.

The video in question has been removed and no details were available on what prompted the action.

Comment Re:longer lifetime (Score 1) 220

Yep. I used to upgrade my custom built computers about every two years because I was a gamer. Not anymore. I rarely play them too and managed to find free time to resume playing old games from a decade ago from my mostly the same gaming computer and OS! :O Some things are slow like the HDDs and same video card (512 MB of VRAM). Overall, still usable for Internet stuff.

Submission + - This is not a story - this is for the people at Slashdot 5

Neuronwelder writes: I was given the opportunity to block commercials. I understand that commercials pay for your site and other sites. I don't mind if they want to target me. Sometimes I even use the targeted advertising and get a solution out of it. I can't afford to pay for the dozens and dozens of sites I visit. I appreciated the value of advertising, in many cases IT WORKS! Or I find something new and useful. So I am not going to use the blocker. Thanks anyways! ( I could NEVER even afford youtube! — the way I use it!). The only advertisement I hate is the automatic voice commercials. I leave their site immediately!!

Submission + - Smishing scams are becoming worse than spam. 3

deviated_prevert writes: Which providers are best at reducing the recent onslaught of obvious text smishing scams coming into the cell phone networks?

For instance I give you this very obvious one claiming that I have a 79 dollar refund coming from my cell provider with a reference to this phoney (pardon the pun) site 419mobile-ref.com that is just a call back trap set in the text.

It seems that smishing is becoming rampant and a very real threat for which there is as yet no effective filter. Other than knowing how these criminals work and constantly ignoring then deleting all the smishing text communications.

What solutions to this problem do you recommend? Completely ignoring unsolicited text seems to be the only real answer here. The same and only solution to the onslaught of fraudulent communications many wind up having to do with their land line connected telephone. Automated call filtering is not a working solution quite yet. Is a cell text interface modified to only accept text from solicited numbers even possible?

Submission + - Russian troll factory paid US activists to fund protests during election (theguardian.com) 1

bestweasel writes: The Guardian reports on another story about Russian meddling but interestingly this one comes from a Russian news source, RBC. Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues.
On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian âoetroll factoryâ since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.
RBC said it had identified 118 accounts or groups inÂFacebook, Instagram and Twitter that were linked to the troll factory, all of which had been blocked in August and September this year as part of the US investigation into Russian electoral meddling.
RBC story (in Russian).
Moscow Times: Kremlin Troll Factory's Methods and Figures Revealed

Submission + - Tribal "Sovereign Immunity" Patent Protection Could Be Outlawed

AnalogDiehard writes: The recent — and questionable — practice of technological and pharmaceutical companies selling their patents to US native indian tribes (where they enjoy "sovereign immunity" from the inter partes review (IPR) process of the PTO) then the tribes licensing them back to the companies is drawing scrutiny from a federal court and has inspired a new US bill outlawing the practice. The IPR process is a "fast track" (read: much less expensive) process through the PTO to review the validity of challenged patents — it is loved by defendants and hated by patent holders. Not only has US Circuit Judge William Bryson invalidated Allergan's pharmaceutical patents due to "obviousness", he is questioning the legitimacy of the sovereign immunity tactic. The judge was well aware that the tactic could endanger the IPR process which was a central component of the America Invents Act of 2011 and writes that sovereign immunity "should not be treated as a monetizable commodity that can be purchased by private entities as part of a scheme to evade their legal responsibility." US Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) — no stranger to abuses of the patent system — has introduced a bill that would outlaw the practice she describes as "one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I've ever seen and it should be illegal." Sovereign immunity is not absolute and has been limited by Congress and the courts in the past. The bill would apply only to the IPR proceedings and not to patent disputes in federal courts.

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