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Does Success in Life Depend on Understanding Both Technology and Constitutional Law?

Slashdot - 37 min 20 sec ago
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: In 2019's The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman reported that of all the skills and knowledge the College Board tested young people for, it determined that mastering "two codes" — computer science and the U.S. Constitution — were the most correlated to success in college and in life. On Wednesday, Rhode Island announced it's teaming with the College Board to ensure schoolkids study the "Two Codes"... The press release says they're "launching a partnership to advance two key educational goals: understanding how the U.S. Constitution works and how technology can power solutions to problems facing our world... Each school will identify two teacher leads, a Computer Science teacher and a Government and Politics teacher, who will coordinate their school's participation in the program. The leads will receive a stipend of $1,500 per year, and the College Board will provide a broad range of support for the training of teachers and implementation of the effort." The College Board's Chief of Global Policy and External Relations says in the announcement that "It's not enough to be users of technology; this generation of students needs to guide it and make it work for democracy."

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Categories: Technology

Americans Lag Behind Other Countries -- and Pay More for Their Cellphone Service

Slashdot - 1 hour 37 min ago
"American consumers pay significantly more for cellphone service than people in many other countries," reports the New York Times. It's in an article headlined "The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why." Although executives' salaries have risen in most countries, relative to those of workers, in recent decades, the trend is more extreme in the U.S... The minimum wage is higher in other countries than it is in much of the United States... In addition to minimum wage, the United States has done less to combat rising corporate concentration. Large U.S. companies are better able to hold down the wages of workers, who don't always have good employment options, and are also able to charge higher prices because of less competition... Arguably the biggest outlier is the American health care system. Prices for drugs, medical procedures and doctors' visits are all substantially higher in the United States than in other countries... In all, Americans pay almost twice as much on average for medical care as citizens of other rich countries. And as you may remember from the opening chart in this article, Americans are far from the world's healthiest people... The middle class and poor receive a smaller share of national income in the U.S. than in much of Europe, while the rich receive a greater share. If anything, these statistics understate American exceptionalism on inequality, because Americans also work longer hours for their pay than workers in many other places.

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Categories: Technology

Facebook, Twitter, Google Face Free-Speech Test in Hong Kong

Slashdot - 3 hours 11 min ago
U.S. technology titans face a looming test of their free-speech credentials in Hong Kong as China's new national-security law for the city demands local authorities take measures to supervise and regulate its uncensored internet. From a report: Facebook and its Instagram service, Twitter and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet's Google, operate freely in the city even as they have been shut out or opted out of the mainland's tightly controlled internet, which uses the "Great Firewall" to censor information. In Hong Kong many citizens have grown accustomed to freely using their accounts to speak out on political matters, voice support for antigovernment protests, and register their anger at China's increasing sway over the city. Now the U.S. tech companies face a high-wire act, analysts say, if authorities here ask them to delete user accounts or their content. Refusal could invite Beijing's scrutiny and potentially put them at risk of legal action under the new national-security law. Complying would alienate longtime users in the city, some of whom continue to speak out on their platforms, and leave the companies open to criticism from politicians in the U.S. or U.K. Among the tech giants, Twitter said in a statement it "has grave concerns" about the law and is "committed to protecting the people using our service and their freedom of expression." Twitter said it is reviewing the new rules, "particularly as some of the terms of the law are vague and without clear definition." Measures to better supervise the internet and foreign media were provisions tucked into China's national-security law for the city. The law criminalizes activities in four vaguely defined areas covering secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. "Tech companies will absolutely receive more requests to remove information that is allegedly harmful to natural security from the relevant authorities," said Haochen Sun, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong. He said companies will face difficulties especially with borderline cases, such as potential requests to remove songs, for instance, that protesters have used in antigovernment demonstrations.

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Categories: Technology

Ubisoft CEO Lays Out a Plan To Change the Company's Toxic Culture

Slashdot - 4 hours 11 min ago
A week after launching investigations into many claims of harassment and misconduct, Ubisoft's CEO gave an update on what the company is doing to change things. From a report: In a letter posted on its website and emailed to employees, Yves Guillemot said "the types of inappropriate behavior we have recently learned about cannot and will not be tolerated." That's sharply in contrast to reports from employees and statements posted internally, citing complaints made to HR in the past that they said have been ignored. Even today, Chelsea O'Hara, touted as a success story of the company's mentorship program, wrote extensively about the reality of her experience at Ubisoft where she felt marginalized and exploited. Beyond the ongoing investigations, Ubisoft says it has set up an online confidential alert platform where people can report harrasment or other inappropriate behavior, that's run by a third party. Guillemot also said they will shake up the Editorial Group that oversees creative decisions, which Kotaku notes has a roster made up exclusively of white males.

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Categories: Technology

Chrome for Android is Finally Going 64-bit, Giving it a Speed Boost in Benchmarks

Slashdot - 6 hours 10 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: The first Android version to support 64-bit architecture was Android 5.0 Lollipop, introduced back in November 2014. Since then, more and more 64-bit processors shipped, and today, virtually all Android devices are capable of running 64-bit software (excluding one or two or more oddballs). However, Google Chrome has never made the jump and is only available in a 32-bit flavor, potentially leading to some unnecessary security and performance degradations. That's finally changing: Starting with Chrome 85, phones running Android 10 and higher will automatically receive a 64-bit version. A look at chrome://version confirms as much: The current stable and beta builds, version 83 and 84, note that they're still 32-bit applications. Chrome Dev and Chrome Canary (release 85 and 86) are proper 64-bit apps. Google confirms as much on its Chromium Bugs tracker. When compared in a number of Octane 2.0 benchmarks, the 64-bit version got consistently better results than the 32-bit version. It's possible that there have been other optimizations that make Chrome 85 faster than 83 -- the architecture is not necessarily all there is to it. Still, the benchmark results suggest that there are some enhancements, even if these tests aren't easy to translate to real-world usage.

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Germany is First Major Economy To Phase Out Coal and Nuclear

Slashdot - 8 hours 11 min ago
German lawmakers have finalized the country's long-awaited phase-out of coal as an energy source, backing a plan that environmental groups say isn't ambitious enough and free marketeers criticize as a waste of taxpayers' money. From a report: Bills approved by both houses of parliament Friday envision shutting down the last coal-fired power plant by 2038 and spending some $45 billion to help affected regions cope with the transition. The plan is part of Germany's 'energy transition' -- an effort to wean Europe's biggest economy off planet-warming fossil fuels and generate all of the country's considerable energy needs from renewable sources. Achieving that goal is made harder than in comparable countries such as France and Britain because of Germany's existing commitment to also phase out nuclear power by the end of 2022. "The days of coal are numbered in Germany," Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said. "Germany is the first industrialized country that leaves behind both nuclear energy and coal." Greenpeace and other environmental groups have staged vocal protests against the plan, including by dropping a banner down the front of the Reichstag building Friday. They argue that the government's road map won't reduce Germany's greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet the targets set out in the Paris climate accord.

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Categories: Technology

Sprint 5G is No More, as T-Mobile Focuses On its Own Network

Slashdot - 10 hours 11 min ago
A day after formally completing the sale of Boost, Virgin and other Sprint prepaid networks to Dish, T-Mobile is pulling the plug on Sprint 5G. From a report: The move is one in a long list of issues that need sorting out in the wake of April's $26.5 billion merger. And like a number of other moves, it's set to leave some customers in the lurch. The end of Sprint's 2.5 GHz 5G comes as T-Mobile opts to focus on its own network. T-Mobile already started the process in New York City, a few weeks after the merger and has since completed it in a handful of other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. While most of the Sprint 5G handsets won't be able to make the transition, Samsung Galaxy S20 5G users are in the clear here. For everyone else, T-Mobile is offering up credits on leases for new 5G handsets.

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Categories: Technology

Fresh Calls For Guarantees on Digital Taxation in Future UK-US Trade Deal

Slashdot - 12 hours 11 min ago
One of America's largest internet advocacy groups has published a six-point wish list for a future UK-US trade deal, including calls for no unilateral digital taxes. From a report: The Internet Association's new white paper calls for a future trade deal to include provisions to ensure the free flow of information between the two countries, a guarantee to not unilaterally impose taxes on digital services companies and a guarantee that "measures do not undermine the intermediary liability protections." The new paper suggests that any potential new taxation on digital services should be set up in "an internationally coordinated manner." The Internet Association, which was set up by companies such as Facebook and Amazon, said in its white paper that the UK now exports $34.8bn to the U.S., an increase of 56 percent from 2006 to 2017. Meanwhile, $48.8bn is exported from the US to the UK. Internet Association director of trade policy Jordan Haas said: "The US and the UK lead the world in digital technology and this agreement should include policies that will bolster that success."

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Categories: Technology

WHO Sees First Results From COVID Drug Trials Within Two Weeks

Slashdot - 13 hours 11 min ago
The World Health Organization (WHO) should soon get results from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday. From a report: "Nearly 5,500 patients in 39 countries have so far been recruited into the Solidarity trial," he told a news briefing, referring to clinical studies the U.N. agency is conducting. "We expect interim results within the next two weeks." The Solidarity Trial started out in five parts looking at possible treatment approaches to COVID-19: standard care; remdesivir; the anti-malaria drug touted by U.S. President Donald Trump, hydroxychloroquine; the HIV drugs lopinavir/ritonavir; and lopanivir/ritonavir combined with interferon. Earlier this month, it stopped the arm testing hydroxychloroquine, after studies indicated it showed no benefit in those who have the disease, but more work is still needed to see whether it may be effective as a preventative medicine. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies programme, said it would be unwise to predict when a vaccine could be ready against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than half a million people. Earlier this week, the WHO also warned the some countries may have to reinstate lockdowns as coronavirus pandemic accelerates.

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Categories: Technology

Walmart is Converting Its Parking Lots Into Pop-up Drive-in Theaters For the Summer

Slashdot - 14 hours 11 min ago
Walmart said this week that it was converting some of its parking lots into drive-in theaters for the summer as the movie industry struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic. From a report: The retail behemoth is converting 160 of its parking lots across the US into drive-ins. These theaters will open in early August and remain open through October. The Walmart Drive-In will feature movies programmed by Tribeca Enterprises, the company behind the Tribeca Film Festival, which recently launched a summer movie drive-in series bringing films, music, and sporting events to as many US drive-ins as possible.

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Categories: Technology

New Apple macOS Big Sur Feature To Hamper Adware Operations

Slashdot - 15 hours 11 min ago
With macOS 11, also known as Big Sur, Apple has removed the ability to install macOS profile configurations from the command-line. ZDNet reports: This ability was previously a core feature of macOS' enterprise package, which allows system administrators to deploy new configurations company-wide via automated scripts. However, the ability to deploy a new profile config via the command-line has also been abused by malware gangs or adware strains, who used it because it was silent and didn't require any type of user interaction. Hackers or malware authors who gained access to Mac Deployment servers or who infected just one Mac, abused the command-line to deploy their own malicious configurations to hijack proxy settings, change default apps, and more.

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Twitter Engineers Replacing Racially Loaded Tech Terms Like 'Master,' 'Slave'

Slashdot - 16 hours 4 min ago
For Regynald Augustin, a Black programmer at Twitter, the impetus for change arrived in an email last year with the phrase "automatic slave rekick." The words were just part of an engineering discussion about restarting a secondary process, but they prompted Augustin to start trying to change Twitter's use of words with racist connections. Augustin was used to seeing the term "slave" in technical contexts. "But with 'rekick' -- I was madder than I ever thought I'd be in the workplace," he said. From a report: First on his own and then joining forces with another engineer, Kevin Oliver, he helped spearhead an effort to replace terms like "master," "slave," "whitelist" and "blacklist" with words that didn't hearken back to oppressive parts of United States history and culture. He recounted his thoughts at the time: "This has to stop. This isn't cool. We have to change this now." No one expects that changing technical terms will end centuries of racial injustice. But some people at technology companies, including Oliver and Augustin at Twitter, are pressing for the changes that are within their reach. That includes the effort to replace racially fraught technology terms like "master" and "slave" that describe things like databases, software projects, camera flashes and hard drives. Managers at the social network formalized the two engineers' effort in January, endorsing work to address the issue systematically across the engineering division and expanding it to terms linked to discrimination on the basis of sex, age and disabilities -- replacing "man hours" and "sanity check," for example. Oliver and Augustin detailed the effort in an exclusive interview with CNET. Twitter is the latest company to make these changes. In recent weeks, scores of firms including JPMorgan GitHub, and developers of Python, Go, and Android have adopted similar measures.

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Linus Torvalds: 'I Do No Coding Any More'

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-07-03 23:09
The Linux Foundation recently uploaded its video from the Open Source Summit and Embedded Linux Conference: Europe. And there was a poignant moment when Linus Torvalds did his traditional keynote conversation with Dirk Hohndel, VMware's vice president and chief open source officer. Honndel had asked Linus — his hair now uncharacteristically long — what he spends his time on as a kernel maintainer. What's his workflow? "What do you do?" Linus Torvalds: Um, I read email. [Hohndel laughs] I read email, I write email, I do no coding at all any more. Most of the code I write, I actually write inside my mail reader. So somebody sends me a patch, or more commonly they send me a pull request or there's a discussion about the next pull request, and there's something I react to and say, 'No, this is fine, but...' And I send out pseudocode, or — I'm so used to sending out patches that I sometimes edit patches and send out the patch without having ever compiled it, ever tested it, because I literally wrote it in the mail reader, and saying 'I think this is how it should be done.' But this is what I do. I'm not a programmer any more. I read a lot more email than I write, because what my job really is — in the end, my job is to say no. Somebody has to be able to say no to people. Because other developers know that if they do something bad, I will say no. They hopefully, in turn, are more careful. But in order to be able to say no, I have to know the background. Because otherwise I can't do my job. So I spend all my time, basically, reading email about what people are working on... It is an interesting job, but you do end up spending most of your time reading email. On the developer side, what I hope people are doing is trying to make, not just good code, but these days we've been very good about having explanations for the code. So commit messages to me are almost as important as the code change itself. Sometimes the code change is so obvious that no message is really required, but that is very very rare. And so one of the things I hope developers are thinking about, the people who are actually writing code, is not just the code itself, but explaining why the code does something, and why some change was needed. Because that then in turn helps the managerial side of the equation, where if you can explain your code to me, I will trust the code... A lot of open source in general is about communication. And part of it is the commit messages, part of it is just the email going back and forth. Communicating what you're trying to do or communicating why something doesn't work for you is really important.

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Categories: Technology

Mysterious Explosion and Fire Damage Iranian Nuclear Enrichment Facility

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-07-03 19:02
A fire ripped through a building at Iran's main nuclear-fuel production site early Thursday, causing extensive damage to what appeared to be a factory where the country has boasted of producing a new generation of centrifuges. The United States has repeatedly warned that such machinery could speed Tehran's path to building nuclear weapons. schwit1 shares a report: The Atomic Energy Agency of Iran acknowledged an "incident" at the desert site, but did not term it sabotage. It released a photograph showing what seemed to be destruction from a major explosion that ripped doors from their hinges and caused the roof to collapse. Parts of the building, which was recently inaugurated, were blackened by fire. But it was not clear how much damage was done underground, where video released by the Iranian government last year suggested most of the assembly work is conducted on next-generation centrifuges -- the machines that purify uranium. A Middle Eastern intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closely held information, said the blast was caused by an explosive device planted inside the facility. The explosion, he said, destroyed much of the aboveground parts of the facility where new centrifuges -- delicate devices that spin at supersonic speeds -- are balanced before they are put into operation.

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Categories: Technology

Barclays Bank appeared to be using the Wayback Machine as a 'CDN' for some Javascript

The Register - Fri, 2020-07-03 18:30
Tight-lipped bank has fixed the weirdness - but not said why it happened

Barclays Bank appears to have been using no less than the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine as a "content distribution network" to serve up a Javascript file.…

Categories: Technology

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

The Register - Fri, 2020-07-03 18:02
Great problem of our time solved: Classic FM won't have to rebrand as Classic DAB

Analogue radio station licences will be extended for another 10 years, the UK government has said – entirely reversing plans to shut off FM and AM radio stations in favour of DAB digital radio.…

Categories: Technology

Who Is the Mystery Shopper Leaving Behind Thousands of Online Shopping Carts?

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-07-03 18:01
A Google crawler has been adding products to e-commerce site shopping carts, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. From a write-up: Sellers have been complaining about a serial cart abandoner named, John Smith. Turns out John is a Google bot. A Google spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that it built systems to ensure the pricing seen on the product pages is reflected when a user adds a product to the cart. GoogleBot shopping. Google told Search Engine Land in a statement, "We use automated systems to ensure consumers are getting accurate pricing information from our merchants." Sellers that upload their product feeds to Google Merchant Center may not realize it, but they agree to having Google's bots crawl their sites for price verifications when they agree to the Terms of Service. The bot is designed to ensure the price in the feed matches the price on the product page and when the product is added to the cart. The automated system will disapprove items that don't pass pricing verifications. Google is aware that this may cause issues for merchants and owners of e-commerce sites. Google told the WSJ, "This sometimes leads to merchants seeing abandoned carts as a result of our system testing the price displayed matches the price at checkout." That data can mess with e-commerce site owners' abandoned cart metrics, making them look artificially higher than they really are.

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It's not a Windows 10 release without something breaking so here's a troubleshooter for your OneDrive woes

The Register - Fri, 2020-07-03 17:17
Microsoft emits a fix for those fearful of Registry tinkering

While Microsoft was showing off its new OneDrive toys, the company also slipped out a fix for brave souls running Windows 10 2004 and finding Files On-Demand a little borked.…

Categories: Technology

Google-backed Groups Criticize Apple's New Warnings on User Tracking

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-07-03 17:00
A group of European digital advertising associations on Friday criticized Apple's plans to require apps to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites. From a report: Apple last week disclosed features in its forthcoming operating system for iPhones and iPads that will require apps to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalized ads. Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook and Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued. Facebook and Google are the largest among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads. Apple said the new feature was aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used. In training sessions at a developer conference last week, Apple showed that developers can present any number of additional screens beforehand to explain why permission is needed before triggering its pop-up.

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Categories: Technology

If you wanna make your own open-source chip, just Google it. Literally. Web giant says it'll fab them for free

The Register - Fri, 2020-07-03 16:30
Plus: IBM emits BlueGene/Q CPU blueprints – and 'fastest' open-source RISC-V core emerges

If you're doodling your own computer chip yet wondering if you'll ever see it physically manufactured, Google is offering to fabricate it for you for free.…

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