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Comment Re:Smartphone size? (Score 1) 511

This my friend is a correct problem analysis

What is the problem?
The 3.5mm audio jack limits the minimum thickness of phones.
What is the cause?
Physical properties.
What is the solution?
Standardize a thinner analog audio jack. Possible bonus: Making sure all existing 3.5mm jack "extensions" like additional microphone are included.

However, this being mainly driven by Apple the obviously correct solution above is not what they want. The problem analysed from their point of view looks like the following:

What is the problem?
We would like to sell more and expensive audio accessories to people, even though they actually do not need this. Also we would like to do this as exclusively as possible, without bothersome competition
What is the cause?
People already own a lot of existing audio hardware that works just fine. And there is a lot of competition with a low barrier to entry.
What is the solution?
Remove the option to use the 3.5mm jack (and justify by blaming physical size) and thus force people to just discard all their existing, fully functional audio hardware and buy new (from us).

And now before you start objecting that the analogue audio signal is not as good as what a digital signal could be (let's ignore for the moment the relevance of this considering the typical noisy environment a phone is used in), then consider the following: There exists zero technical obstacles to designing a jack that defaults to analogue but can be switched into digital. Any objections to this would be of political nature.

Comment Re:Tesla's Autopilot is in the "uncanny valley" (Score 1) 440

And it works most of the time, the autopilot keeps the car on the road and avoids danger. Except for that 0.01% when it fails and you have to react as quickly as if you have been driving all this time.

The quality of a system is always measured in how well it handles exceptions. (Control question: Try to come up with a single example of a good system that handle exceptions badly. Hint: give up because such systems do not exist)

So a autopilot driving car will handle the normal case extremely well, but when something unexpected happens a human driver is much better capable of performing a sensible action.

Comment Re:Big Data is not a substitute for Critical Think (Score 1) 69

Big Data is about finding patterns, not conclusions.

Gary Taubes (author of "Good calories - bad calories" and "Why we get fat and what to do about it") is my favourite scientist because he just exhibit such a healthy, integrated "given that what we believe today is correct" attitude, e.g. being totally open to be proven incorrect. There is a saying "follow those that seek the truth, run from those that have claimed to found it", and Gary is most certainly a truth seeker in that respect.

For instance in the interview, he says during the first minutes "That's what we should believe until we have remarcable evidence to reject it" and "Don't take my word for it, anyone can try it out for themselves", without this being specifically emphasised or made a big point of, it is just his natural way of reasoning which I love so much.

And now to what triggered me to answer your post: I think it is later in that interview that he points out that observation studies can only be used to form hypothesis, dawing conclutions from them is wrong, you actually need to perform controlled experiments to do that.

Submission + - Man deletes his entire company with one line of bad code (

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Marco Marsala appears to have deleted his entire company with one mistaken piece of code. By accidentally telling his computer to delete everything in his servers, the hosting provider has seemingly removed all trace of his company and the websites that he looks after for his customers. Marsala wrote on a Centos help forum, "I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers. Last night I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line. All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script)." The terse "rm -rf" is so famously destructive that it has become a joke within some computing circles, but not to this guy. Can this example finally serve as a textbook example of why you need to make offsite backups that are physically removed from the systems you're archiving?

Submission + - Microsoft Releases Data-set For 'Emotional' Automated Captioning (

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is experimenting with AI-driven narratives based on Flickr photo-sets, attempting to assign more interpretive or subjective values to images than similar systems. The Microsoft Sequential Image Narrative Dataset (SIND) contains 81,743 photos arranged into 20,211 groups, all derived from CC-licensed Flickr photosets, and forms the basis of the stories, which might substitute a description such as 'Woman, man and child in swimming pool' for an interpretive one such as 'They had a blast in the pool'. The mechanism of assigning value judgements is based on crowdsourced input — a technique that brought Microsoft's last similar project to a premature end in March.

Submission + - New documents reveal 7 cases in New York DA's iPhone-unlocking push (

Patrick O'Neill writes: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is one of America's most vocal critics of strong encryption. Testifying before congress, he's criticized Apple and other companies that have helped take strong encryption mainstream. He said on multiple occasions that his office has hundreds of locked phones from criminal cases that contains “evidence believed to be critical stored on the devices." New documents reveal seven cases in the DA's push to legally unlock iPhones, all of which resulted in convictions.

Submission + - Facebook Demos Social VR Apps And Virtual Selfie Stick At F8 (

MojoKid writes: At Facebook's F8 developer conference this week, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer covered his face with a Rift headset to showcase a new social VR demo. So did an engineer named Michael Booth, who was back at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park. The two VR colleagues then went on a virtual trip together to London, and much to the crowd's delight, they took a selfie using a virtual selfie stick. The app that makes this sort of thing possible plops two people in a room. A series of spheres sits on a table, each one a 360-degree photo of a particular destination. You can pick up any of the spheres and jump into the center of the photo, which transports you to that specific location where you can look around. That was only half the fun, though what's somewhat interesting is taking selfies. You and your buddy are both represented by a customized avatar, one that's been rendered based on your actual facial features rather than generic random character creation. It does this through a face capture technology that's still being developed. This is one possible avenue on the social side of VR. It's rough at the moment, but viewed as a proof-of-concept, you can see the potential for various applications including the tourism industry.

Submission + - California Crypto Backdoor Bill Dies in Assembly

Trailrunner7 writes: A California bill that would require backdoors in phone encryption has died in the state assembly after failing to gain enough support to move out of committee.

The bill, proposed in January, would have required that device manufacturers have the capability of decrypting and unlocking any phone sold in California after Jan. 1, 2017. A similar bill proposed in New York is still making its way through that state’s legislature.

The California bill ran aground in the Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, where it did not even go to a vote after failing to get a second from a committee member. Privacy advocates hailed the bill’s defeat as a key win for users and tech vendors.

Submission + - F.B.I. Tried to Defeat Encryption 10 Years Ago, Files Show (

An anonymous reader writes: In early 2003, F.B.I. agents hit a roadblock in a secret investigation, called Operation Trail Mix. For months, agents had been intercepting phone calls and emails belonging to members of an animal welfare group that was believed to be sabotaging operations of a company that was using animals to test drugs. But encryption software had made the emails unreadable. So investigators tried something new. They persuaded a judge to let them remotely, and secretly, install software on the group’s computers to help get around the encryption. That effort, revealed in newly declassified and released records, shows in new detail how F.B.I. hackers worked to defeat encryption more than a decade before the agency’s recent fight with Apple over access to a locked iPhone. The Trail Mix case was, in some ways, a precursor to the Apple dispute. In both cases, the agents could not decode the data themselves, but found a clever workaround. The Trail Mix records also reveal what is believed to be the first example of the F.B.I. remotely installing surveillance software, known as spyware or malware, as part of a criminal wiretap. “This was the first time that the Department of Justice had ever approved such an intercept of this type,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in a 2005 document summing up the case.

Submission + - FBI couldn't tell Apple what hack it used, even if it wanted to (

An anonymous reader writes: The US Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t own the technique used to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, so it can’t reveal the method to Apple even if it wanted to, Reuters reported, citing unnamed White House sources. The Washington Post reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources, that the FBI had paid a hacker a one-time fee to use a piece of hardware that allowed it to access the iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernardino, California assailants. The vendor that supplied the hack is a non-US company, according to Reuters. But according to the Post report, it is not the Israeli firm Cellebrite, which had previously been named. The FBI would require the vendor’s cooperation in order to submit the technique it used to Vulnerabilities Equities Process, a mechanism that allows the government to consider whether it should disclose security flaws to manufacturers. It’s a move that mirrors Apple’s own efforts to create security systems on its phones that even it wouldn’t be able to crack, meaning it can’t comply with a government order to hand over user data even if it wanted to.

Submission + - Brazil passes law to use phosphoethanolamine as cancer cure (

Flavianoep writes: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has signed into law a proposition that allows the prescription of synthetic phosphoethanolamine as cancer treatment (original source here (Portuguese); machine translation here. Despite the lack of enough studies to assess the efficacy and safety of such a drug, since last year a series of court decisions granted, while some denied, access to it to terminally ill cancer patients. The drug is not registered within Anvisa (the Brazilian FDA counterpart) and specialists oppose its use without further studies. The proposition had been approved by both houses of Brazilian Congress before being submitted to Rousseff's signature, but among a political crisis, in which she is trying to keep her seat, it was unlikely that she would veto it.

Submission + - Flexible Sheet Camera Bends to Give a New Field of View (

Zothecula writes: Researchers have developed a sheet camera with a flexible lens array which could be wrapped around everyday objects, turning them into cameras. The project, which uses elastic optics, could also see the development of credit card-thin cameras which a photographer simply bends to change the field of view.

Submission + - Optional Windows Update Aims To Halt Wireless Mouse Hijacking

itwbennett writes: An optional Windows patch released Tuesday protects against an attack, dubbed MouseJack, that affects wireless mice and keyboards from many manufacturers, including Microsoft and allows attackers to spoof a wireless mouse from up to 100 meters away and send rogue keystrokes instead of clicks to a computer. According to a Microsoft security advisory, the devices affected by this attack are: Sculpt Ergonomic mouse, Sculpt Mobile Mouse, Wireless Mobile Mouse 3000 v2.0, Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500, Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000, Wireless Mouse 1000, Wireless Mouse 2000, Wireless Mouse 5000 and Arc Touch Mouse. But Marc Newlin, one of the researchers who developed the attack said on Twitter that the patch doesn't go far enough and 'injection still works against MS Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse and non-MS mice.'

Submission + - iOS 1970 Bug Is Back, Can Be Exploited via Rogue WiFi Networks (

An anonymous reader writes: Back in February iOS users noted that setting your phone/tablet's date to January 1, 1970 would permanently brick their devices. After Apple fixed the issue in iOS 9.3.1, two security researchers have now uploaded a video on YouTube showing how to exploit this bug from a remote location, with no access to the user's phone. The setup involves attackers putting up a WiFi network on which they're running a rogue NTP server. This server tells iOS devices syncing their time that it's December 31, 1969, 23:59:00. Twenty minutes later, if the battery didn't catch fire (which is possible with this new exploit), the iPad or iPhone device is permanently and irreversibly bricked.

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