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Science

Most Scientists 'Can't Replicate Studies By Their Peers' (bbc.com) 316

Science is facing a "reproducibility crisis" where more than two-thirds of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist's experiments, research suggests. From a report: This is frustrating clinicians and drug developers who want solid foundations of pre-clinical research to build upon. From his lab at the University of Virginia's Centre for Open Science, immunologist Dr Tim Errington runs The Reproducibility Project, which attempted to repeat the findings reported in five landmark cancer studies. "The idea here is to take a bunch of experiments and to try and do the exact same thing to see if we can get the same results." You could be forgiven for thinking that should be easy. Experiments are supposed to be replicable. The authors should have done it themselves before publication, and all you have to do is read the methods section in the paper and follow the instructions. Sadly nothing, it seems, could be further from the truth.

Comment Re:infrastructure (Score 1) 57

I'm sure it will make sense to plenty of non-google engineers.

Unless those non-Google engineers have already heard of ftp, scp, rsync, etc.

The only real problem with sharing on home connections involves NAT, ISP ToS, etc: being findable and connectable. Rent a VPS and install OpenVPN on it, have your home fileserver connect to it, and it's solved.

Comment Re:Can Uber really make money at this? (Score 1) 121

Does it really make sense economically for Uber to get 100% of the cost of a ride this way but having to spend money to buy main, maintain and insure cars?

If you hypothesize that robot drivers can really do the job sufficiently well, the conclusion is an extremely strong and obvious yes. Taxis, limo services, etc are already viable business models even when you have all those same expenses plus a driver to pay. Remove the driver expense and it only gets more viable.

Or is this another sign of a company that doesn't know what it is doing, perhaps most recently suggested by the recent charges of sexism and sexual harassment?

It's possible they don't know what they're doing, but this certainly isn't a sign. It all comes down to whether or not you think robots perform as well as humans, and this story merely works from the conclusion that they can; it doesn't show any strengths or weaknesses of the premise itself.

Businesses

Thousands Of Disabled People Are Living In 'Virtual Utopias' In Second Life (backchannel.com) 54

"For many disabled residents, who may spend 12 hours a day or more in Second Life, the most important moments and relationships of their lives happen inside the virtual world," reports Backchanel. "For them, the fevered fantasies of a decade ago have become reality: Second Life is where they live." mirandakatz shares this article: Wagner James Au, who has written extensively about Second Life, estimates they may account for roughly 20 percent of users. Some active members estimate the number higher -- at as much as 50 percent... Abundant research shows imagining movement, without actually moving the body, can have positive effects on motor skills, balance, and learning... Studies suggest the therapeutic benefits of virtual reality extend beyond movement disorders -- to chronic pain, cognitive functioning in people with ADHD and PTSD, and social skills for people on the autism spectrum.
The article describes a 90-year-old former nurse, now living in a retirement community, who's spent eight years living in a Second Life archipelago called "Virtual Ability Island" with over a thousand other members. "Watching her avatar hike trails and dance gave her the confidence to try things in the physical world that she hadn't tried in a half decade -- like stepping off a curb or standing up without any help."
Android

Congressman Calls For Probe Into Trump's Unsecured Android Phone (cnet.com) 507

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: President Donald Trump regularly makes news because of his tweets. Now a congressman is making news because of the device the president reportedly uses to tweet. On Friday, Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the House Oversight Committee requesting an investigation into Trump's cybersecurity practices. In particular, he calls out Trump's apparent decision to keep using his personal Android phone instead of a secured phone the Secret Service issued him for his inauguration. The letter is also signed by 14 other members of Congress and calls for a public hearing to discuss the issues. "The device President Trump insists on using -- most likely the Samsung Galaxy S3 -- has particularly well documented vulnerabilities," the letter says. "The use of an unsecured phone risks the president of the United States being monitored by foreign or domestic adversaries, many of whom would be happy to hijack the president's prized Twitter account causing disastrous consequences for global security. Cybersecurity experts universally agree that an ordinary Android smartphone, which the president is reportedly using despite repeated warnings from the Secret Service, can be easily hacked."
Communications

PewDiePie Calls Out the 'Old-School Media' For Spiteful Dishonesty 920

New submitter Shane_Optima writes: After losing his Youtube Red show and his contract with Disney, the owner of the most subscribed channel on Youtube, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (aka "PewDiePie"), has released a video response to the Wall Street Journal and other mainstream news outlets, who have labeled his comedy videos variously as racist, fascist or anti-semitic. In it, he accuses the mainstream media of deliberately fabricating and misrepresenting the evidence used against him because they are afraid of independent content producers such as himself. In the video, PewDiePie discusses the recent actions of the Wall Street Journal, whose reporters sent nine cherry-picked and edited videos to Disney, which led directly to Disney's decision to terminate their relationship with him. These video clips and others used to "prove" PewDiePie's guilt have been edited (he claims) to remove all context, to the extent of using a pose of him pointing at something as a Nazi salute and using a clip where other players are creating swastikas in a game and editing out the part where he is asking them to stop. The most-cited video in the controversy involves seeing if he can use the site Fiverr to hire someone to create a video containing an over-the-top message for a mere $5. After a couple of laughing males unfurl a sign saying "Death to All Jews," he recoils with widened eyes and sits, apparently dumbfounded, for another thirty seconds before the video ends, without him uttering another word.

PewDiePie's video comes several days after a Tumblr post where he attempted to clarify that the videos were intended to be comedy showing "how crazy the modern world is." He has not yet used the phrase "fake news" in his response to the controversy, but given the current trends surrounding that phrase, it isn't surprising that his supporters are resorting to it frequently. Is this all just another unfortunate instance of collateral damage in the war against far-right political movements, is it a campaign of malicious retaliation by old media that is terrified of new media (as Felix claims), or was J.K. Rowling correct when she called out PewDiePie as a Death Eater? Err, I mean, ...as a fascist?

Update: Apparently, canceling his Youtube Red series was deemed an insufficient response. Youtube has now removed the mirror of PewDiePie's "Death to All Jews" video because it "violates Youtube's policy on hate speech." The original posting of the video had already been marked private by PewDiePie shortly after the controversy erupted. A quick check of Vimeo and Daily Motion came up empty, so you're on your own if you wish to find out for yourself what the controversy was all about.

Comment Re:Tools and movements (Score 1) 216

There is a pretty easy middle ground: multiple signatures per identity. You could then have authority(s) vouching for your identity, plus other people too. This makes it much easier to catch a defector. "Hey, how come the Turkish intelligence service (a CA that almost everyone trusts on the web) just signed this guy's brand new key, but Verisign hasn't?" (or better: "how come the federal CA and this guy's state CA disagree?")

Security

Russian Cyberspies Blamed For US Election Hacks Are Now Targeting Macs (computerworld.com) 251

You may recall "APT28", the Russian hacking group which was tied to last year's interference in the presidential election. It has long been known for its advanced range of tools for penetrating Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. Now, researchers have uncovered an equally sophisticated malware package the group used to compromise Macs. From a report on ComputerWorld: The group -- known in the security industry under different names including Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm, and APT28 -- has been operating for almost a decade. It is believed to be the sole user and likely developer of a Trojan program called Sofacy or X-Agent. X-Agent variants for Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS have been found in the wild in the past, but researchers from Bitdefender have now come across what appears to be the first macOS version of the Trojan. It's not entirely clear how the malware is being distributed because the Bitdefender researchers obtained only the malware sample, not the full attack chain. However, it's possible a macOS malware downloader dubbed Komplex, found in September, might be involved. Komplex infected Macs by exploiting a known vulnerability in the MacKeeper antivirus software, according to researchers from Palo Alto Networks who investigated the malware at the time. The vulnerability allowed attackers to execute remote commands on a Mac when users visited specially crafted web pages.Further reading on ArsTechnica.
Earth

Scientists Propose Plan To Re-Freeze the Arctic (inhabitat.com) 401

Kristine Lofgren writes: In case you've been under a rock for the past 20 years, the Arctic is melting super fast. Certain *ahem* governments are dragging their feet doing anything about it, which means the planet could be in for a spectacular meltdown within the next 20 years. But a clever bunch of scientists have hatched a plan to re-freeze the Arctic using wind-powered pumps that will bring water to the surface, allowing it to freeze. This new layer of ice could last well into the summer, which is vital, because scientists think summer Arctic ice could be gone by 2030 -- and that causes a whole chain of terrible events that will only make our climate change problem much, much worse. The plan has a $500 billion price tag, but that's pocket change compared to the cost of dealing with an ice-free Arctic. The study has been published in The American Geophysical Union's journal Earth's Future. You can read more about the study via The Guardian.

Submission + - Meetup Doesn't Want Republican Business (battleswarmblog.com)

Nova Express writes: Yesterday all users of Meetup got an email announcing that Meetup was backing the anti-Trump/anti-Republican #Resist movement. "Last week, we created 1,000+ #Resist Meetup Groups to act as local hubs for actions on behalf of democracy, equality, human rights, social justice, and sustainability." This was not individual users setting up these groups, or even one company executive engaging in political activity on their own time, it was Meetup itself doing it as corporate policy. "Meetup has decided it's an extension of the Democratic Party and doesn't want any further Republican business. I just deleted my Meetup account and suggest that everyone who is not a leftwing agitator do the same."

Comment Re:Tools and movements (Score 1) 216

You simply can't have people not do "anything extra" while also being resistance to MitM. Part of HTTPS' success story is that it's easy enough to set up, but at the cost of being extremely vulnerable (by PGP standards) to MitM. So to anyone who knows how it works, it's "insecure" but people actually bother to use it, so it's about a trillion times more secure against totally passive attacks, than plaintext is. Thus, on average for all persons, the web is more secure than email.

PGP email needs some kind of "lame" mode (where people have keys but they're not carefully certified, maybe just signed by a robot CA), but easy enough that passive attacks are defeated. And it needs to be compatible with doing things right, so that people-who-care and people-who-don't-care get combined into the same network-effect.

The only problem with that, should be webmail. People would have to do something that compromises the secret key (either upload it to server, or make it available to javascript) and that would make it harder for anyone to ever transition from don't-care to care. We really need to wipe webmail off the planet; it offers nothing and costs a lot. And that's not going to happen, is it? :(

Comment Re:Floppy disks drilling & punching holes (Score 1) 612

For us cash strapped kids, cutting holes into single sided floppy disks was the only option, shortsighted or not.

No, there was one other, though it did require spending a little money. You go to Radio Shack and buy a switch/button/whatever. (Many to choose from.) Open up your 1541 (which is probably permanently semi-open anyway, from all the times you need to re-align the head), cut the wirse to the optical sensor which detects the hole, drill a hole in the front of the 1541's case, mount the switch into there, connect the sensor's wires to the switch....

BTW, whole discussion is Slashdot trolling old people into admitting they're old people.

Twitter

Twitter Announces (More) Hate-Speech Fighting Tools (Again) (cnn.com) 341

Building on anti-harassment tools announced in November, Twitter is now "trying to shake its reputation as a haven for online harassment" with still more new internal algorithms and features, reports CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The changes include preventing serial abusers from creating new accounts, a new "safe search" function and blocking potentially abusive and "low-quality" tweets from appearing in conversations, Twitter's engineering chief Ed Ho said in a blog post. Twitter is working on identifying users that have been permanently suspended and prevent them from creating new accounts, Ho said. This new measure specifically targets "accounts that are created only to abuse and harass others," he said, a problem that has long plagued the platform.

The new safe search function prevents tweets that are abusive, or from blocked and muted accounts, from appearing in users' search results. Those tweets can still be found if people want to see them, but they "won't clutter search results any longer," Ho said. And Twitter will now collapse tweet replies that are potentially abusive or low quality -- like duplicate tweets or content that appears to be automated. But those tweets "will still be accessible to those who seek them out," Ho said.

The blog post announces Twitter's ultimate goal is "a significant impact that people can feel," arguing that freedom of speech for all viewpoints is "put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices."

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