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Submission + - What are the FLOSS community's answers to Siri and AI? (upon2020.com)

jernst writes: A decade ago, we in the free and open-source community could build our own versions of pretty much any proprietary software system out there, and we did. Publishing, collaboration, commerce, you name it. Some apps were worse, some were better than closed alternatives, but much of it was clearly good enough to use every day.

But is this still true? For example, voice control is clearly going to be a primary way we interact with our gadgets in the future. Speaking to an Amazon Echo-like device while sitting on my couch makes a lot more sense than using a web browser. Will we ever be able to do that without going through somebody’s proprietary silo like Amazon’s or Apple’s? Where are the free and/or open-source versions of Siri, Alexa and so forth?

The trouble, of course, is not so much the code, but in the training. The best speech recognition code isn’t going to be competitive unless it has been trained with about as many millions of hours of example speech as the closed engines from Apple, Google and so forth have been. How can we do that?

The same problem exists with AI. There’s plenty of open-source AI code, but how good is it unless it gets training and retraining with gigantic data sets? We don’t have those in the FLOSS world, and even if we did, would we have the money to run gigantic graphics card farms 24×7? Will we ever see truly open AI that is not black-box machinery guarded closely by some overlord company, but something that “we can study how it works, change it so it does our computing as we wish” and all the other values embodied in the Free Software Definition?

Who has a plan, and where can I sign up to it?

Submission + - Dissecting a frame of DOOM

An anonymous reader writes: An article takes us through the process of rendering one frame of DOOM (2016). The game released earlier this year uses the Vulkan API to push graphics quality and performance at new levels.
The article shades light on rendering techniques, mega-textures, reflection computation... all the aspects of a modern game engine.

Submission + - RSA security attack demo deep-fries Apple Mac components (networkworld.com) 2

coondoggie writes: How bad can cyberattacks get? How about burning the internal components of a machine, whether PC or Mac, to a crisp so there's no thought of it being recoverable? That's what security vendor CrowdStrike showed could be done to an Apple Mac OS X today at the RSA Conference. “We can actually set the machine on fire,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer at CrowdStrike....

Submission + - Former Dev Gives Gloomy Outlook on Linux Support for the Opera Browser (ycombinator.com)

An anonymous reader writes: It doesn't take a Columbo to figure out that the "previous employer, a small browser vendor that decided to abandon its own rendering engine and browser stack" is referring to Opera in this comment answering the question "Do you actually use the product you are working on?". It appears to originate from Andreas Tolfsen, former Opera developer and now part of the Mozilla project.

From releasing a unified architecture browser including Linux support since 2001, Opera decided to put Linux development on indefinite hold, communicated through blog comments, and focus on Windows and Mac for their browser rewrite centered around the Blink engine that had its first beta release last spring. The promise to bring back the Linux version in due time was met with growing skepsis as the months went by, and clear answers have been avoided in the developer blog. The uncertainty has spawned user projects such as Otter browser in an attempt to recreate the Opera UI in a free application.

Tolfsen's statement seem to be in line with what users have suspected all along: Opera for Linux is not something for the near future.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Life After N900 2

Rydia writes: Since it first released, I have been in love with my Nokia N900, and it has satisfied all my needs for a mobile with a high degree of control and utility. Sadly, the little guy is showing his age, both in battery life (even with the powersaving kernel options enabled), and performing in general has been left far, far in the dust by phones that are now considered quite old. The time has come to find its successor, but after a thorough search of smartphone options, I can't find any handset that offers everything for the power user that the N900 did (much less a hardware keyboard). I'd like to avoid supporting Google/Android, but there don't seem to be many options. Have any other techies found a replacement for their N900?

Submission + - The Mystery Of The $3 Million Google Engineer (itworld.com)

jfruh writes: Recently Business Insider caused a minor stir among developers with dreams of riches with a story about a nameless Google engineer who's making $3 million a year. Who is this person, and is his or her compensation typical of pay scales inside the Googleplex? Blogger Phil Johnson uses public information to try to figure out the answer. His conlusion: the $3 million engineer may exist, but is a rare bird indeed if so.

Submission + - Why is India Sending a Probe to Mars when it Has so Many Poor People? (yahoo.com)

MarkWhittington writes: The recent launch of India's first mission to Mars has ignited a debate in that country that has parallels of a debate that was once raging in the United States. The question arises, why does a country with a severe poverty problem have a space program?

The Economist points out that India's space program, of which the Mars mission is a small part, costs about $1 billion a year. It claims that spending on things like public health in that country is "abysmally low."

On the other hand, most of India's space program is directed toward communications and other satellites that have a direct benefit to its people.

The BBC adds that the inspirational and national prestige aspects of the Mars mission are not to be sneezed at. India has a growing middle class, technically trained, and a good space program is part of a mix of policies that encouraged that development.

Comment Re:Incorrect analogy. (Score 1) 390

Who the hell has a CD player these days? I haven't seen a music CD in at least 7-10 years.

Just a couple of points:
Virtually all DVD players are CD players. Eg I use the DVD player in my bedroom to play CDs sometimes (and I have a couple of dedicated CD players as well, although they don't get used much these days).

Amazon (in the UK anyhow) often sell music CDs for significantly less than the equivalent download (e.g. £5 vs £7), and ripping those CDs to flac gives you better quality** than the mp3 downloads, and an optical disc copy as well as your hard drive copy and backups. This is totally bizarre and stupid, but as long as this continues to be the case I'll carry on buying physical CDs.

** You get a losslessly compressed file which can then be converted to a lossy mp3 or aac or whatever at any quality you like, taking into account the capacity and sound quality of the target device. This is quite important to me. But even if you don't care, why pay *more* for lower quality?

Comment Re:Good and bad points (Score 1) 539

Exactly right. It's similar to the situation we have with recent automobile designs, where all kinds of sensors are in place to detect potential engine problems. I have nothing against these sensors being there if it helps consumers realize something is wrong before serious damage occurs, but sometimes the sensors fail, and all you have to go by is the "Check Engine" light. A previous car of mine had a faulty sensor that would constantly trigger the engine light, and even though there was nothing else wrong with the car, it wouldn't pass smog as long as the light was on, which was most of the time. After spending way more money than I had ever intended to, both in attempts to get the car smogged and taking it to mechanics who simply plugged in a computer and "diagnosed" the problem the sensor was erroneously reporting, I actually ended up taking it to a mechanic who was nice enough to reset it for free, giving me enough time to take it across the street to get it smogged before the light came back on. It wasn't until later that I learned the sensor itself was the culprit.

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