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Submission + - Study Reveals Bot-On-Bot Editing Wars Raging On Wikipedia's Pages (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years. Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply “bots," that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks. In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action. The findings emerged from a study that looked at bot-on-bot conflict in the first ten years of Wikipedia’s existence. The researchers at Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in London examined the editing histories of pages in 13 different language editions and recorded when bots undid other bots’ changes. While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the most intense battles played out between Xqbot and Darknessbot which fought over 3,629 different articles between 2009 and 2010. Over the period, Xqbot undid more than 2,000 edits made by Darknessbot, with Darknessbot retaliating by undoing more than 1,700 of Xqbot’s changes. The two clashed over pages on all sorts of topics, from Alexander of Greece and Banqiao district in Taiwan to Aston Villa football club.

Submission + - A point of contention: modern user interfaces 4

Artem Tashkinov writes: Here are the staples of the modern user interface (in varying degree apply to modern web/and most operating systems like Windows 10, iOS and even Android):
  • Too much white space, huge margins, too little information
  • Text is indistinguishable from controls
  • Text in CAPS
  • Certain controls cannot be easily understood (like on/off states for check boxes or elements like tabs)
  • Everything presented in shades of gray or using a severely and artificially limited palette
  • Often awful fonts suitable only for HiDPI devices (Windows 10 modern apps are a prime example)
  • Cannot be controlled by keyboard
  • Very little customizability if any

How would Slashdotters explain the proliferation and existance of such unusable user interfaces and design choices?

Submission + - CCTV from 17th centurry, Late police report (police.uk) 2

eionmac writes: The Police Force Scotland sent out an appeal including a CCTV picture from the 17th century on 25th January to seek help on an incident reported in verse by Mr Robert Burns. For those who speak or read Lallans it is a considerable humourous report and shows early "CCTV" picture.

Submission + - Microsoft won't fix the most frustrating thing about Windows (cnet.com) 3

schwit1 writes: Maybe you're delivering a presentation to a huge audience. Maybe you're taking an online test. Maybe you just need to get some work done on a tight deadline.

Windows doesn't care.

Windows will take control of your computer, force-feed it updates, and flip the reset switch automatically — and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, once it gets started.

If you haven't saved your work, it's gone. Your browser tabs are toast. And don't expect to use your computer again soon; depending on the speed of your drive and the size of the update, it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to well over an hour before your PC is ready for work.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the single worst thing about Windows. It's only gotten worse in Windows 10. And when I poked around Microsoft, the overarching message I received was that Microsoft has no interest in fixing it.

Submission + - Meet Kubo, the robot that teaches kids to code (techcrunch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: "Kubo comes with its own programming language called TagTile. The language consists of puzzle pieces that fit together to give Kubo instructions. For example, you could connect three pieces together – forward, turn, then another forward. Kubo then drives over these pieces oncer to “learn” the command, then can remember and perform it without needing the pieces.

Kubo reads the puzzle pieces using an RFID technology – each piece has an individual embedded RFID tag, and Kubo itself has a reader built in." — TechCrunch

Submission + - SPAM: IETF Stunning Announcement: Emergency Transition to IPv7 Is Necessary!

Lauren Weinstein writes: In answer to a question regarding the timing of this proposed transition, Seville noted that the IETF planned to follow the GOP’s healthcare leadership style. “We feel that IPv4 and IPv6 should be immediately repealed, and then we can come up with the IPv7 replacement later.” When asked if this might be disruptive to the communications of Internet users around the world, Mr. Seville chuckled “You’re catching on.”
Link to Original Source

Submission + - The 67 dumbest moments in tech 2016 (fastcompany.com) 2

harrymcc writes: Over at Fast Company, we rounded up the year's dumbest, silliest, and/or most embarrassing moments--covering ground from the year's big news (Trump's tweets, Yahoo's leaks) to the mememorably strange (Facebook accidentally telling users they were dead) to odd little items you might have missed when they happened (in September, a tech writer confidently declared that the Samsuing Galaxy Note 7 was definitely not going to be banned from air travel).

Submission + - Silicon Valley's Trump rebellion now has EFF calling for more encryption (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is keenly worried that President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will step up surveillance activities and pass laws that infringe on electronic rights. The EFF is advising the tech sector to use end-to-end encryption for every transaction by default and to scrub logs. "You cannot be made to surrender data you do not have," the EFF said. "It's very clear to us that he (President-elect Donald Trump) is no friend to civil liberties," sais Rainey Reitman, director of the EFF's activism team. It believes Trump and the new Congress will seek encryption backdoors. The tech community is wary, generally, of Trump. More than 1,000 people who work at tech firms have signed a pledge, Neveragain.tech, not to help the incoming administration create a database to target people because of race or religion or to facilitate mass deportations. In arguing for resistance, Neveragain is pointing to the importance of databases used in atrocities back to World War II. Commenting generally on the use of data collection by governments, Christopher Browning, a Holocaust researcher who wrote a number of books on the Holocaust, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland said that in western Europe, especially The Netherlands, "registration is a key, endangering factor."

Submission + - Gender Segregation the Problem Not the Solution for STEM Diversity?

theodp writes: Much to her dismay, neuroscientist Lise Eliot reports that gender-segregated education is making a comeback largely based on mistaken notions. Beliefs that "boys and girls learn differently," Eliot explains, is not supported by brain and behavioral research. She adds, "[Girls-only] schools like GALS and GALA are often promoted as good at preparing girls for predominantly male STEM fields such as engineering and computer science. But there is no evidence for this. In fact, research finds that women who attend single-sex colleges or enroll in all-female science classes are not likelier to pursue and persist in STEM careers. That’s because the problem is not girls’ academic ability or even their confidence in STEM subjects. It’s the culture of gender segregation: Young women turn away from careers in engineering and computer science because they feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in overly male environments. On the flip side, it is also cultural separation that inhibits many men from entering careers like nursing and teaching. In other words, gender segregation is the problem, not the solution for getting more women to advance in STEM and for more men to enter the HEAL professions — health, education, administration and literacy."

Submission + - New Netflix UI Forgets Where You Were In a Video Intentionally (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix opts all customers into its UI beta-testing program by default (though you can opt out at any time). One iteration the company is experimenting with at the moment features a number of innovations, including a revised and more informative playback environment, a 10-second 'wind-back' feature similar to functionality in Amazon Prime — and an intentional inability to remember where you paused playback, with one operative explaining ‘[This] UI makes you go back to the start of the show so this way in case you missed any part of the movie/show you can watch it again with no troubles.’

Submission + - It Took 33 Years For Someone to Find the Easter Egg in This Apple II Game

Jason Koebler writes: Gumball, a game released in 1983 for the Apple II and other early PCs, was never all that popular. For 33 years, it held a secret that was discovered this week by anonymous crackers who not only hacked their way through advanced copyright protection, but also became the first people to discover an Easter Egg hidden by the game’s creator, Robert A. Cook. Best of all? Cook congratulated them Friday for their work.

Submission + - ESA and Tim Peake to rent out room on ISS on AirBnB

RockDoctor writes: After their successful deployment of the inflatable broom cupboard on the International Space Station, the ESA and Tim Peake are planning to rent it out on AirBnB.

https://twitter.com/esa/status/736848338708992000

No comment on when the road there will be improved — it's unsurfaced (and un-foundationed) for the last 100+ km — but the parking for your vehicles could easily be described as "spacy". Driving up there — particularly in a convertible car — is literally breathtaking. You'll feel all the pressures lifting from you.

I'm writing like an advertising agent. I'd better commit sepukku with an IBM mechanical keyboard.

Submission + - SPAM: Bringing Brainfuck to the enterprise

flok writes: People have long waited for the Brainfuck language (an esoteric but turing complete language) to be available on the mainframe environment. This has finally been accomplished in the form of a Brainfuck interpreter written in COBOL and a Brainfuck-to-COBOL translator/compiler for maximum efficiency. The translator/compiler reaches optimal performance by optimizing the code during conversion.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Programming Languages We Love to Hate But Can't Live Without

snydeq writes: Tools masquerading as languages, maddening syntax, dusty code that won’t die — InfoWorld's PeterWayner discusses seven programming languages we love to hate even though we can't live without them. 'From Gödel and Turing, we’ve learned that logical mechanisms have edges where scary things occur. Sure, maybe it’s our own fault, we humans, for misusing or misprogramming. But if the programming languages force our brains into weird yoga poses, it’s hard not to blame them for our ills,' Wayner writes. 'And we often can’t do anything about it. The installed base may be too large for us to jettison the language that irks us. The boss may love a stack so much he can’t hear the screams coming from the cubicle farms. The cruel truth is that there may be no better options.' What languages have you shaking your fists at the console?

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