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AT&T

AT&T, Apple, Google To Work On 'Robocall' Crackdown (reuters.com) 113

Last month the FCC had pressed major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to develop technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge. It had demanded the concerned companies to come up with a "concrete, actionable" plan within 30 days. Well, the companies have complied. On Friday, 30 major technology companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on automated, pre-recorded telephone calls that regulators have labeled as "scourge." Reuters adds: AT&T, Alphabet, Apple, Verizon Communications and Comcast are among the members of the "Robocall Strike Force," which will work with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The strike force will report to the commission by Oct. 19 on "concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions," said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, who is chairing the group. The group hopes to put in place Caller ID verification standards that would help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and to consider a "Do Not Originate" list that would block spoofers from impersonating specific phone numbers from governments, banks or others.
Government

As It Searches For Suspects, The FBI May Be Looking At You (technologyreview.com) 90

schwit1 quotes the MIT Technology Review: The FBI has access to nearly 412 million photos in its facial recognition system—perhaps including the one on your driver's license. But according to a new government watchdog report, the bureau doesn't know how error-prone the system is, or whether it enhances or hinders investigations.

Since 2011, the bureau has quietly been using this system to compare new images, such as those taken from surveillance cameras, against a large set of photos to look for a match. That set of existing images is not limited to the FBI's own database, which includes some 30 million photos. The bureau also has access to face recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies in 16 different states, and it can tap into databases from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. And it is in negotiations with 18 other states to be able to search their databases, too...

Adding to the privacy concerns is another finding in the GAO report: that the FBI has not properly determined how often its system makes errors and has not "taken steps to determine whether face recognition systems used by external partners, such as states and federal agencies, are sufficiently accurate" to support investigations.

Comment Re:disruption (Score 2) 707

Your UID tells me you've been reading slashdot for at least 15 years, surely you remember how ad blockers worked back in the day? Most inline adverts were trivially identifiable (and successfully blocked) by their pixel dimensions or position on the page. Toss in some crowd sourcing to identify anything that falls through the gaps and it's a solved problem.

Comment Change of Username (Score 1) 1839

Feature request: Change User ID.

I don't mind if it's restricted in some way, once a week, month, year, etc., I really would like the ability to change my user ID though.

I would also like to see ponies return once in a while, and I want a lower UID :-) I never realized just how important that number would be in the real world.

Science

Why String Theory Is Not Science (forbes.com) 288

StartsWithABang writes: Earlier this month, a conference was held devoted to the question of whether untestable scientific ideas like string theory and the multiverse are actually science or not. While many opinions were stated and no one changed their mind, the answer is apparent: unless you're willing to change the definition of science to include "this thing that isn't science," then no, string theory is not science. It's a theory in the sense of a mathematical theory — like set theory, group theory or number theory — but it isn't yet a scientific theory. Of course, it could become science, but that would require that it actually do the things a scientific theory does: make testable predictions that can be validated or falsified.

Comment Re:How about the FCC just does its job? (Score 1) 173

Wireless devices - I think you mean point to point microwave communication systems. The majority of entries in the list are for unlicensed equipment, equipment that doesn't frequency hop away from active radar emitters, or equipment modified to operate on unlicensed frequencies. They might be wireless, but they aren't WiFi, nor are they radiating less than 100mW. These are outputting anywhere from several watts through to kilowatts.

Comment Re:Cheap you say? (Score 4, Interesting) 209

Although the impact is a little indirect, medical imaging systems are often rate limited by the hard drive. (When they aren't hamstrung by network speed that is) Frame rates are more a measure of how quickly you can scroll through the image stacks - the scanners themselves don't actually give you an 'image', they give you a bunch of instance objects that can potentially contain a few thousand parameters each - a subset of these within each object define how the pixel data will be interpreted to generate image data appropriate for the display depth.

You might have a 3000 image CT because the tech sent the raw acquisition rather than the more pertinent diagnostic sections, the radiologist expects to be able to scroll these very large stacks end to end ideally in one or two mouse movements - and they want to see every single image as that happens too. You don't always have enough RAM to store the entire data set so you have to load it from the hard drive as needed - then parse it out. Even when a study does fit in RAM the rad will usually have one or two series dragged over to the viewports a fraction of a second after the thumbnail has rendered - they are already flicking at the scroll wheel waiting for some business to happen, behind the scenes the image loader is still asking the PACS for a list of instance UID's and the path to the raw data because WADO is too slow :-)

No matter how fast the hardware is, there's always some inefficiency that people notice. Within an emergency room setting these delays can sometimes be costly.

Comment Re:Just a flyby of Pluto... (Score 1) 66

9 years ago I typed my name in to the JPL website (I think it was JPL) along with 434737 others, these were added to a CD and attached to the probe. Kind of cool thinking a few bits of all that data are mine. Even if it's just a fly by, it's still pretty awesome. Unless future humans venture out after it, it's never coming back our way, for me this seems just as worthwhile as if it had fuel enough to slow down and place itself in orbit.

Comment Re:What about military satellites (Score 1) 178

Seems quite logical that someone would have been looking at the area, though the Indian ocean is a massive expanse of absolutely nothing but water. Generally speaking most LEO birds would have been in darkness for most of the flights duration in that region - I would humbly suggest another possibility would be that spy satellite operators take that as an opportunity to conserve power by shutting down EW kit, it is probable nothing was picked up at all - then again, why build a satellite that could pick up transmissions intended for Inmarsat when Inmarsat could just do that for you on request? (I'm not suggesting they actually do, but they certainly could)

If you tune through the HF band you can hear OTH radar active pretty much 24/7 - seems like that'd be the most probable system to have detected anything. Early on there was a suggestion that one of the pilots cell phones contacted a tower - seems like most people jumped on wiki and concluded this wouldn't work given the range of the system, or that the fuselage would block the transmission - if you delve a bit deeper in to the GSM spec., the distance from the tower would prevent the phone registering on the network due to the nature of TDMA, but it doesn't mean they didn't communicate with the base station controller at all.

Maybe in 30 or 40 years some 3 letter agency will declassify a mostly redacted but still interesting story...

Comment Re:Wired article wheel fire (Score 1) 208

Think bigger than just the Ocean. The general consensus is that it went south, the inmarsat data alone certainly points toward a southern track, but some of that data is based on assumptions about hardware calibration - the data alone does not rule out the possibility of a northern flight path no matter how remote. I'm a former Australian 3 letter agency drone, I have no additional insight on this than anyone else, though I do have a rather solid background in electromagnetic radiation.

Maybe some day a seat cushion will wash up on a beach, or someone motorbiking in northern china or climbing mountains in one of the 'stan' countries will trip over an aileron or something. I certainly hope so anyway, just so the families can get closure at the very least - might be some lessons in it for the aviation sector as well.

Comment Re:Now if they will sell them without MS Windows (Score 2) 161

From the website you linked - in reference to the shim.... Seriously?! Which part of that doesn't take a month to understand for someone that just wants to zip down to staples and grab a laptop with the expectation the install media will "just work" like it always has done for the last decade?

To use it, rename shim.efi to bootx64.efi and put it in /EFI/BOOT on your UEFI install media. Drop MokManager.efi in there as well. Finally, make sure your bootloader binary is called grubx64.efi and put it in the same directory.

Now generate a certificate and put the public half as a binary DER file somewhere on your install media. On boot, the end-user will be prompted with a 10-second countdown and a menu. Choose "Enroll key from disk" and then browse the filesystem to select the key and follow the enrolment prompts. Any bootloader signed with that key will then be trusted by shim, so you probably want to make sure that your grubx64.efi image is signed with it.

Comment Re:Node.js is server side (Score 2) 319

I'm not sure about games, though I build web based medical imaging systems for a living these days, along with a whole slew of related information systems. DICOM objects are decoded fully in the browser and render on canvas almost as fast as they do in native applications - this includes features like window level, stack scrolling, X, localizer lines, multiple viewports, and a myriad of other computationally expensive features. Managing memory is the most chalenging aspect by far.

It's all written in native javascript, for what I do the frameworks are all too slow. So why web based when native performance is better and there are a thousand pre-built libraries and applications that are very nearly plug and play?

In simplistic terms, it's what people want, all they have to do is open a web browser and they have the latest version.

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