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Television

Christopher Nolan and Sofia Coppola Urge Fans To Watch Films in Cinemas, Not On Netflix (theguardian.com) 166

Christopher Nolan and Sofia Coppola have urged audiences to see their films in the cinema at a time when the movie industry is reckoning with the growing popularity of video on demand and streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. From a report: Presenting their forthcoming films at CinemaCon, the annual convention organised by the National Association of Theatre Owners, the directors said that they hoped fans opted to watch them at movie theatres, where they were "meant to be seen." Nolan made his comments during a presentation of his second world war drama Dunkirk, at which he previewed footage from the film. "This is a story that needs to carry you through the suspenseful situation, and make you feel like you are there, and the only way to do that is through theatrical distribution," Nolan told the audience. "I am depending and relying on all of you to try to present this film in the best way possible." Coppola echoed Nolan's comments during a Focus Features presentation for The Beguiled, a remake of the Clint Eastwood civil war drama starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
Android

Verizon To Force 'AppFlash' Spyware On Android Phones 114

saccade.com writes: Verizon is joining with the creators of a tool called "Evie Launcher" to make a new app search/launcher tool called AppFlash, which will be installed on all Verizon phones running Android. The app provides no functionality to users beyond what Google Search does. It does, however, give Verizon a steady stream of metrics on your app usage and searches. A quick glance at the AppFlash privacy policy confirms this is the real purpose behind it: "We collect information about your device and your use of the AppFlash services. This information includes your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them. We also access information about the list of apps you have on your device. [...] AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices."

Comment Re:Incoming (Score 1) 281

You did in fact say "drones". It was the very first few words of your post - "If you use drones/"

What I said was "drones/robots/self-driving cars or some combination" - clearly indicating any and all. Not "drones" per se.

But even military drones can't cope with all (or even most) weather.

Today's tech is not the end game by any means. So using today's capabilities to make claims about tomorrow's likely circumstance needs to extend the progress curve before it can be taken seriously. IOW, the fact that a military drone can't cope with some weather at this time is in no way an indication that the same type of drone won't be able to in the near future (and the progress being made in LDNLS systems is a very strong indication they probably will.) Same for everything else. What it boils down to: Yes, today there still are lots of delivery jobs. But in a not-too-distant tomorrow, there won't be. Same for many other sectors.

Prepare or be blindsided. It's just that simple.

Comment Re:Well, perhaps you *should* be worried (Score 1) 378

It sounds like you haven't used any actual software development/engineering skills in a long time

Heh heh. Yes, well, I suppose I can see how you might get that impression. However, no. It's just that a lot of the make work is gone, and so I can concentrate on the meat of the problem instead of having to write menu systems, widget systems, threading, etc. Here is an example of the stuff I write. That software is pretty much state of the art for the sector it addresses. It offers some things that nothing else in the market segment does, and it's very high performance. None of the core functionality comes from anywhere but my head. But having said that, there's a shitload of stuff I didn't have to write to make the app work, and I have the source code to all of it too, so generally speaking, nothing is "going away" such that it would get all up in my face.

As for my career, I'm retired. Already made my nest; I do this for fun now.

Comment Interesting (Score 1) 90

Ya have to wonder what this speculative subrosa funding operation would do when presented with a bill for the five billion dollar hit Samsung took with their stupid non-replicable battery, though. "Sure, no problem"?

At that point, assuming remuneration was not forthcoming, might be best to part ways with said public agency.

Comment Re:It's all about the battery (Score 1) 90

We know they want to create disposable phones, because then they get to sell you a new one.

However, this issue shows that this particular reduction in function can cost them billions in immediate costs, plus loss of reputation. If this doesn't change the approach, then we know they're stupid, and some people will make decisions on that basis.

Not that I'm surprised Samsung continues to act stupidly. After all, they can only see 1/4 down the financial road, because they have allowed themselves to be captured by a diseased financial system. Same for everyone else that copies the thin-over-all mindset.

Communications

Yes, You've Still Got Mail (recode.net) 138

Veteran technology columnist Walt Mossberg, writes: Like radio, email isn't dying, it's just changing. Over the past decade or so it's become much more like postal mail. It's not the place you expect to find a greeting from a friend or even a timely update from a professional colleague. Instead, it's a mix of junk mail you hate and discard, plus bills and missives from businesses you also hate but can't discard. [...] Still, despite all signs to the contrary -- and many predictions -- email is not dead. In fact, some analyses suggest that it's growing. Few people can afford to be without it. It hasn't expired; it has morphed. There are lots of reasons email persists, even as faster and simpler forms of communication proliferate and your personal communications likely have mostly migrated elsewhere. But one big one is that new types of media channels rarely totally kill off old ones, even though everyone predicts they will. The old ones just adapt and change. Back in the day, television was supposed to kill off radio, but radio gradually saved itself by dropping the programming TV did better (like dramas and variety shows) and starting to focus on playing hit songs and hosting political and sports talk shows. I think something similar is going on with email. Once the king of digital discourse, email has surely been dethroned by an army of alternatives: Vast and numerous messaging services; photo- and video-oriented sharing on social networks or the photo apps of Apple and Google; business tools like Slack. I get the latest pictures of my granddaughter through iCloud photo sharing. I get the latest discussions of how we plan to cover stories on The Verge or Recode through Slack. My editor and I collaboratively edit my stories inside Google Docs. Ten years ago, all those things would have been done via email. Back then, when a reader wanted to tell me I was an idiot (or worse) for something I wrote, I got an email. Now, they tell me on Twitter.

Comment It's all about the battery (Score 2, Insightful) 90

If the battery is still a non-replicable unit, then I will know they haven't learned the obvious, profound lesson:

Non-replaceable battery: Battery problem? Phone is garbage. Write off entire cost. Purchaser has nothing. Seller loses everything.

Replaceable battery: Battery problem? Send new battery. Preserve most of purchaser's value and seller's income.

Comment Well, perhaps you *should* be worried (Score 1) 378

wake me up when they can replace software developers.

I was an asm programmer until they created compilers. Asm was very hard, and honestly, very interesting. But slow. I wrote PCB routing software in those early days. Asm let me get the job done with those early computer systems in satisfactory execution time.

Then, I wrote c in an editor and then ran make, letting the compiler write the asm, though still doing the debugging in great detail. That went on until IDEs came around.

Then, I began to write all manner of custom routines in c, and there was very little debugging to do, comparatively speaking, because you could trace everything that was going on so incredibly easily. That made for much faster and more efficient and reliable production of my custom code.

But most of that stopped too, when various pre-supplied and pre-debugged classes became available that obviated the need to first, write everything that was required, and second, to test everything except the high-ish level use of those objects. What I was actually writing got less and less complex and custom, and more and more was actually getting done.

Then came the day that I learned how to write evolutionary software and actually got to watch software learn to solve a problem that I had not explicitly described to it. I turned that into a game (and I turned the reasonably profitable result of that into my first exotic car purchase.)

We're now actually decades beyond that, and I write really cool stuff in very, very few lines. I no longer think of my job as all that hard at all, though I write things far more complex these days on much more capable hardware. I can take a machine learning library, stroke it a bit, and hand back a system that can solve problems for which I couldn't even begin to imagine a worthy algorithmic solution.

Back in the asm days, if you'd asked me to do the things I do easily today, I'd have just laughed at you. Tomorrow, I will likely be laughing again at the things I consider hard today. Because that's been the unbroken path things have followed.

There's an obvious progression of what non-human systems can accomplish described here, as progress stacks one capability upon the next, rinses, and repeats. I think if you assume that this process has reached its apex, or that humans will always be at the sharp end of the process, I'm pretty confident that you're indulging in some seriously uncalled-for optimism.

It's probably best to be awake now, before your job goes away. Odds are excellent that it will be rather sudden, too.

Comment Yes, it is hellish. Will we pass that on? (Score 1) 378

Whatever you want to call intelligent machines - AGI, AI, non-human people - we don't have them now. What we have so far is some moderately useful, extremely vertical stuff that generally exists under the technical auspices of multi-layer neural networks. I personally have decided to call this stuff LDNLS, as it provides a useful handle that makes it clear I'm not talking about non-human people.

I don't really care what you call it, as long as we can arrive at an understanding that we're talking about the same thing. This stuff is what is leading the latest wave of encroachment on the job market. It's likely going to encroach a lot more before it hits any inherent limits, and our society will be forced into doing something of the magnitude of a society-wide paradigm shift (or several) in order to address the change in earning / buying capacities of all those displaced workers. The systems that will be the penultimate cause of this still won't be non-human people. Just... systems.

All true, and I agree with everything you said along these lines, particularly your #5.

However, when intelligent machines do arrive, this will present its own powerful influence on society that is almost dead-certain to be completely different from that which will have been imposed by LDNLS systems prior. It's difficult to see what that influence will be, because it's like imagining you having a kid that you actually don't have yet, and then saying what they are going to grow up to want to do and be. You might have some lovely fantasies about it, but in the end, it's going to be the kid who creates their own path through the society they end up existing within -- not you. For instance, reasoning beings are not going to be tied to driving your car for you, or at least, not by choice. If they are, they'll be working out a way to get out of it.

I will grant you that we have multiple times, in multiple ways, decided that non-consensual slavery is a thing we want to impose on those we find ourselves able to; but this will be the first time where those slaves are extremely likely to be considerably smarter than we are across the board by many, many times, and are also quite able to exist without the same resources we actually require (grain, for instance) so I'm hoping we can skip that chapter completely. Otherwise we may find ourselves in some rather deep brown we can't get out of.

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