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Apple Took Three Years to Cut Ties With Supplier That Used Underage Labor

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 18:00
An anonymous reader shares a report [the story is behind a paywall; alternative source]: Seven years ago, Apple made a staggering discovery: Among the employees at a factory in China that made most of the computer ports used in its MacBooks were two 15-year-olds. Apple told the manufacturer, Suyin Electronics, that it wouldn't get any new business until it improved employee screening to ensure no more people under 16 years of age got hired. Suyin pledged to do so, but an audit by Apple three months later found three more underage workers, including a 14-year-old. Apple, which has promised to ban suppliers that repeatedly use underage workers, stopped giving Suyin new business because of the violations. But it took Apple more than three years to fully cut its ties with Suyin, which continued to make HDMI, USB and other ports for older MacBooks under previous contracts. A person close to Suyin, which is headquartered in Taiwan, said that the company hadn't intentionally hired underage workers and that it had passed Apple's audits in later years. Apple no longer does business with Suyin. But the previously unreported episode, drawn from documents reviewed by The Information and interviews with people who have direct knowledge of Apple's dealings with Suyin, is a stark example of the dilemmas Apple faces in fulfilling its pledges to put workers first and not use manufacturers that consistently violate labor laws. And it demonstrates the fine line Apple has to walk in balancing the need to maximize profits with the expectation that it will prioritize good working conditions for its own employees and its suppliers'. [...] In interviews, 10 former members of Apple's supplier responsibility team -- the unit in charge of monitoring manufacturing partners for violations of labor, environmental and safety rules -- claimed that Apple avoided or delayed cutting ties with offenders when doing so would hurt its business. For example, the former team members said, Apple continued working with some suppliers that refused to implement safety suggestions or that consistently violated labor laws.

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Categories: Technology

Mitsubishi Heavy To Build Biggest Zero-Carbon Steel Plant

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 17:00
Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will soon complete in Austria the world's largest steel plant capable of attaining net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. Mitsubishi Heavy, through a British unit, is constructing the pilot plant at a complex of Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine. Trial operation is slated to begin in 2021. From a report: The plant will use hydrogen instead of coal in the reduction process for iron ore. The next-generation equipment will produce 250,000 tons of steel product a year. The global steel industry generated about 2 billion tons of CO2 in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency -- double the volume in 2000. The steel sector's share among all industries grew 5 percentage points to 25%. Iron ore reduction accounts for much of the CO2 emissions in steelmaking. Japanese steelmakers including Nippon Steel are developing hydrogen-consuming reduction processes based on the conventional blast furnace design. Mitsubishi Heavy's plant adopts a process called direct reduced iron, or DRI. New blast furnaces require trillions of yen (1 trillion yen equals $9.6 billion) in investment. Although DRI equipment produces less steel, the investment is estimated at less than half of blast furnaces. For DRI to attain the same level of cost-competitiveness as blast furnaces, low-cost hydrogen will be key. Market costs for hydrogen now stand at around 100 yen per normal cu. meter, estimates the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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Categories: Technology

As Uncle Sam continues to clamp down on Big Tech, Apple pelted with more and more complaints from third-party App Store devs

The Register - Thu, 2020-12-31 16:00
El Reg lends our ear to companies and developers struggling to survive in Apple's cruel, cruel App Store world

Special Report  Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, currently dealing with antitrust investigations from governments and fending off lawsuits from their disgruntled customers, appear to be finally facing their moment of truth: Has Big Tech gotten too big?…

Categories: Technology

'Companies Are Fleeing California. Blame Bad Government.'

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 16:00
Bloomberg Editorial Board: Amid raging wildfires, rolling blackouts and a worsening coronavirus outbreak, it has not been a great year for California. Unfortunately, the state is also reeling from a manmade disaster: an exodus of thriving companies to other states. In just the past few months, Hewlett Packard Enterprise said it was leaving for Houston. Oracle said it would decamp for Austin. Palantir, Charles Schwab and McKesson are all bound for greener pastures. No less an information-age avatar than Elon Musk has had enough. He thinks regulators have grown "complacent" and "entitled" about the state's world-class tech companies. No doubt, he has a point. Silicon Valley's high-tech cluster has been the envy of the world for decades, but there's nothing inevitable about its success. As many cities have found in recent years, building such agglomerations is exceedingly hard, as much art as science. Low taxes, modest regulation, sound infrastructure and good education systems all help, but aren't always sufficient. Once squandered, moreover, such dynamism can't easily be revived. With competition rising across the U.S., the area's policy makers need to recognize the dangers ahead. In recent years, San Francisco has seemed to be begging for companies to leave. In addition to familiar failures of governance -- widespread homelessness, inadequate transit, soaring property crime -- it has also imposed more idiosyncratic hindrances. Far from welcoming experimentation, it has sought to undermine or stamp out home-rental services, food-delivery apps, ride-hailing firms, electric-scooter companies, facial-recognition technology, delivery robots and more, even as the pioneers in each of those fields attempted to set up shop in the city. It tried to ban corporate cafeterias -- a major tech-industry perk -- on the not-so-sound theory that this would protect local restaurants. It created an "Office of Emerging Technology" that will only grant permission to test new products if they're deemed, in a city bureaucrat's view, to provide a "net common good." Whatever the merits of such meddling, it's hardly a formula for unbounded inventiveness. These two traits -- poor governance and animosity toward business -- have collided calamitously with respect to the city's housing market. Even as officials offered tax breaks for tech companies to headquarter themselves downtown, they mostly refused to lift residential height limits, modify zoning rules or allow significant new construction to accommodate the influx of new workers. They then expressed shock that rents and home prices were soaring -- and blamed the tech companies. California's legislature has only made matters worse. A bill it enacted in 2019, ostensibly intended to protect gig workers, threatened to undo the business models of some of the state's biggest tech companies until voters granted them a reprieve in a November referendum. A new privacy law has imposed immense compliance burdens -- amounting to as much as 1.8% of state output in 2018 -- while conferring almost no consumer benefits. An 8.8% state corporate tax rate and 13.3% top income-tax rate (the nation's highest) haven't helped.

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Categories: Technology

The ESPN+ Annual Subscription is Going Up by $10

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 15:00
For the first time since the service arrived in April 2018, the ESPN+ annual plan is getting a price increase. From January 8th, it'll cost new members $59.99 instead of $49.99. Existing annual subscribers will have until at least March 2nd to renew their plan for $50. From a report: The monthly plan went up by $1 to $5.99 in August, so opting for an annual subscription instead of going month-to-month will save you $12 over a year. Of course, you'll save more if you lock in an annual plan before the increase.

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Categories: Technology

CISA Updates SolarWinds Guidance, Tells US Govt Agencies To Update Right Away

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 14:00
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has updated its official guidance for dealing with the fallout from the SolarWinds supply chain attack. From a report: In an update posted late last night, CISA said that all US government agencies that still run SolarWinds Orion platforms must update to the latest 2020.2.1HF2 version by the end of the year. Agencies that can't update by that deadline are to take all Orion systems offline, per CISA's original guidance, first issued on December 18. The guidance update comes after security researchers uncovered a new major vulnerability in the SolarWinds Orion app over the Christmas holiday. Tracked as CVE-2020-10148, this vulnerability is an authentication bypass in the Orion API that allows attackers to execute remote code on Orion installations. This vulnerability was being exploited in the wild to install the Supernova malware on servers where the Orion platform was installed, in attacks separate from the SolarWinds supply chain incident.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 Gen 8: No boundaries were pushed in the making of this laptop – and that's OK

The Register - Thu, 2020-12-31 13:15
If it ain't broke, don't fix it

Review  Last month, Lenovo sent El Reg a loaner of its latest ThinkPad Carbon X1 ultrabook. This series is now in its eighth generation, showing that "innovation" doesn't always mean better. There's value in tried-and-tested designs, and this machine faithfully treads the steps of its forebears.…

Categories: Technology

Adobe Now Shows Alerts in Windows 10 To Uninstall Flash Player

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 11:30
With the Flash Player officially reaching the end of life tomorrow, Adobe has started to display alerts on Windows computers recommending that users uninstall Flash Player. From a report: When Flash Player is installed, it creates a scheduled task named 'Adobe Flash Player PPAPI Notifier' that executes the following command: "C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\FlashUtil32_32_0_0_465_pepper.exe" -update pepperplugin. When this command is executed, it is now displaying an alert thanking users for using Adobe Flash Player and then recommending that they uninstall the program due to its looming end of life. Further reading: Adobe Flash is about to die, but classic Flash games will live on.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

All I want for Christmas is cash: Welsh ATMs are unbeatable. Or unbootable. Something like that

The Register - Thu, 2020-12-31 09:30
Carpark sorrow as Windows failed to cough booty

12BOC  On the seventh day of Christmas, the bork gods sent to me: a boot-hurt ATM, fix the printer, nerds, Scottish parking whi-i-i-i-nge, one dead DB, petty angry user, flightless Windows signage, and a server they said had ceased to be.…

Categories: Technology

Most-Played Song of 2020? For Many It's White Noise

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 09:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: In an average year, Spotify Wrapped is a sharing-optimized novelty hinging on nostalgia for a time that's barely passed. But in 2020, this data mirror instead presented many users with unexpected empirical evidence of their pandemic coping mechanisms: a strange hit parade of ambient music, background noise and calming sound effects that soothed them through an unusually anxious and sleepless time. While thousands of users posted in disbelief about their stress-inflected results, the situation made sense to Liz Pelly, a cultural critic who has written extensively about how Spotify and its competitors work to shape our listening habits. "It says a lot about the ways that corporate streaming services have ingrained themselves into our lives and facilitated music listening becoming more of a background experience," she said. [...] The findings of some forthcoming research about pandemic coping mechanisms suggest ambient listening may be part of a larger pattern. Pablo Ripolles, a professor at New York University who studies music and the brain, was part of an international team of researchers that surveyed lockdown habits in Italy, Spain and the United States. Of 43 activities mentioned in a survey the team conducted, like cooking, prayer, exercise and sex, listening to or playing music had one of the biggest increases in engagement during lockdown, as well as the highest number of respondents who said it was the activity that helped them the most.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Best of…: Best of 2020: Web Server Installation

The Daily WTF - Thu, 2020-12-31 06:30
While this year has felt endless, there are projects which will feel like they take forever. As we wrap up our tour of the best of 2020, let's visit an endless project. Original -- Remy

Connect the dots puzzle

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Eric. Eric was a programmer working for the online development team of a company called The Company. The Company produced Media; their headquarters were located on The Continent where Eric happily resided. Life was simple. Straightforward. Uncomplicated. Until one fateful day, The Company decided to outsource their infrastructure to The Service Provider on Another Continent for a series of complicated reasons that ultimately benefited The Budget.

Part of Eric's job was to set up web servers for clients so that they could migrate their websites to The Platform. Previously, Eric would have provisioned the hardware himself. Under the new rules, however, he had to request that The Service Provider do the heavy lifting instead.

On Day 0 of our story, Eric received a server request from Isaac, a representative of The Client. On Day 1, Eric asked for the specifications for said server, which were delivered on Day 2. Day 2 being just before a long weekend, it was Day 6 before the specs were delivered to The Service Provider. The contact at The Service Provider, Thomas, asked if there was a deadline for this migration. Eric replied with the hard cutover date almost two months hence.

This, of course, would prove to be a fatal mistake. The following story is true; only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. (You might want some required listening for this ... )

Day 6

  • Thomas delivers the specifications to a coworker, Ayush, without requesting a GUI.
  • Ayush declares that the servers will be ready in a week.

Day 7

  • Eric informs The Client that the servers will be delivered by Day 16, so installations could get started by Day 21 at the latest.
  • Ayush asks if The Company wants a GUI.

Day 8

  • Eric replies no.

Day 9

  • Another representative of The Service Provider, Vijay, informs Eric that the file systems were not configured according to Eric's request.
  • Eric replies with a request to configure the file systems according to the specification.
  • Vijay replies with a request for a virtual meeting.
  • Ayush tells Vijay to configure the system according to the specification.

Day 16

  • The initial delivery date comes and goes without further word. Eric's emails are met with tumbleweeds. He informs The Client that they should be ready to install by Day 26.

Day 19

  • Ayush asks if any ports other than 22 are needed.
  • Eric asks if the servers are ready to be delivered.
  • Ayush replies that if port 22 needs to be opened, that will require approval from Eric's boss, Jack.

Day 20

  • Ayush delivers the server names to Eric as an FYI.

Day 22

  • Thomas asks Eric if there's been any progress, then asks Ayush to schedule a meeting to discuss between the three of them.

Day 23

  • Eric asks for the login credentials to the aforementioned server, as they were never provided.
  • Vijay replies with the root credentials in a plaintext email.
  • Eric logs in and asks for some network configuration changes to allow admin access from The Client's network.
  • Mehul, yet another person at The Service Provider, asks for the configuration change request to be delivered via Excel spreadsheet.
  • Eric tells The Client that Day 26 is unlikely, but they should probably be ready by end of Day 28, still well before the hard deadline of Day 60.

Day 28

  • The Client reminds Eric that they're decommissioning the old datacenter on Day 60 and would very much like to have their website moved by then.
  • Eric tells Mehul that the Excel spreadsheet requires information he doesn't have. Could he make the changes?
  • Thomas asks Mehul and Ayush if things are progressing. Mehul replies that he doesn't have the source IP (which was already sent). Thomas asks whom they're waiting for. Mehul replies and claims that Eric requested access from the public Internet.
  • Mehul escalates to Jack.
  • Thomas reminds Ayush and Mehul that if their work is pending some data, they should work toward getting that obstacle solved.

Day 29

  • Eric, reading the exchange from the evening before, begins to question his sanity as he forwards the original email back over, along with all the data they requested.

Day 30

  • Mehul replies that access has been granted.

Day 33

  • Eric discovers he can't access the machine from inside The Client's network, and requests opening access again.
  • Mehul suggests trying from the Internet, claiming that the connection is blocked by The Client's firewall.
  • Eric replies that The Client's datacenter cannot access the Internet, and that the firewall is configured properly.
  • Jack adds more explicit instructions for Mehul as to exactly how to investigate the network problem.

Day 35

  • Mehul asks Eric to try again.

Day 36

  • It still doesn't work.
  • Mehul replies with instructions to use specific private IPs. Eric responds that he is doing just that.
  • Ayush asks if the problem is fixed.
  • Eric reminds Thomas that time is running out.
  • Thomas replies that the firewall setting changes must have been stepped on by changes on The Service Provider's side, and he is escalating the issue.

Day 37

  • Mehul instructs Eric to try again.

Day 40

  • It still doesn't work.

Day 41

  • Mehul asks Eric to try again, as he has personally verified that it works from the Internet.
  • Eric reminds Mehul that it needs to work from The Client's datacenter—specifically, for the guy doing the migration at The Client.

Day 42

  • Eric confirms that the connection does indeed work from Internet, and that The Client can now proceed with their work.
  • Mehul asks if Eric needs access through The Company network.
  • Eric replies that the connection from The Company network works fine now.

Day 47

  • Ayush requests a meeting with Eric about support handover to operations.

Day 48

  • Eric asks what support is this referring to.
  • James (The Company, person #3) replies that it's about general infrastructure support.

Day 51

  • Eric notifies Ayush and Mehul that server network configurations were incorrect, and that after fixing the configuration and rebooting the server, The Client can no longer log in to the server because the password no longer works.
  • Ayush instructs Vijay to "setup the repository ASAP." Nobody knows what repository he's talking about.
  • Vijay responds that "licenses are not updated for The Company servers." Nobody knows what licenses he is talking about.
  • Vijay sends original root credentials in a plaintext email again.

Day 54

  • Thomas reminds Ayush and Mehul that the servers need to be moved by day 60.
  • Eric reminds Thomas that the deadline was extended to the end of the month (day 75) the previous week.
  • Eric replies to Vijay that the original credentials sent no longer work.
  • Vijay asks Eric to try again.
  • Mehul asks for the details of the unreachable servers, which were mentioned in the previous email.
  • Eric sends a summary of current status (can't access from The Company's network again, server passwords not working) to Thomas, Ayush, Mehul and others.
  • Vijay replies, "Can we discuss on this."
  • Eric replies that he's always reachable by Skype or email.
  • Mehul says that access to private IPs is not under his control. "Looping John and Jared," but no such people were added to the recipient list. Mehul repeats that from The Company's network, private IPs should be used.
  • Thomas tells Eric that the issue has been escalated again on The Service Provider's side.
  • Thomas complains to Roger (The Service Provider, person #5), Theodore (The Service Provider, person #6) and Matthew (The Service Provider, person #7) that the process isn't working.

Day 55

  • Theodore asks Peter (The Service Provider, person #8), Mehul, and Vinod (The Service Provider, person #9) what is going on.
  • Peter responds that websites should be implemented using Netscaler, and asks no one in particular if they could fill an Excel template.
  • Theodore asks who should be filling out the template.
  • Eric asks Thomas if he still thinks the sites can be in production by the latest deadline, Day 75, and if he should install the server on AWS instead.
  • Thomas asks Theodore if configuring the network really takes two weeks, and tells the team to try harder.

Day 56

  • Theodore replies that configuring the network doesn't take two weeks, but getting the required information for that often does. Also that there are resourcing issues related to such configurations.
  • Thomas suggests a meeting to fill the template.
  • Thomas asks if there's any progress.

Day 57

  • Ayush replies that if The Company provides the web service name, The Service Provider can fill out the rest.
  • Eric delivers a list of site domains and required ports.
  • Thomas forwards the list to Peter.
  • Tyler (The Company, person #4) informs Eric that any AWS servers should be installed by Another Service Provider.
  • Eric explains that the idea was that he would install the server on The Company's own AWS account.
  • Paul (The Company, person #5) informs Eric that all AWS server installations are to be done by Another Service Provider, and that they'll have time to do it ... two months down the road.
  • Kane (The Company, person #6) asks for a faster solution, as they've been waiting for nearly two months already.
  • Eric sets up the server on The Company's AWS account before lunch and delivers it to The Client.

Day 58

  • Peter replies that he needs a list of fully qualified domain names instead of just the site names.
  • Eric delivers a list of current blockers to Thomas, Theodore, Ayush and Jagan (The Service Provider, person #10).
  • Ayush instructs Vijay and the security team to check network configuration.
  • Thomas reminds Theodore, Ayush and Jagan to solve the issues, and reminds them that the original deadline for this was a month ago.
  • Theodore informs everyone that the servers' network configuration wasn't compatible with the firewall's network configuration, and that Vijay and Ayush are working on it.

Day 61

  • Peter asks Thomas and Ayush if they can get the configuration completed tomorrow.
  • Thomas asks Theodore, Ayush, and Jagan if the issues are solved.

Day 62

  • Ayush tells Eric that they've made configuration changes, and asks if he can now connect.

Day 63

  • Eric replies to Ayush that he still has trouble connecting to some of the servers from The Company's network.
  • Eric delivers network configuration details to Peter.
  • Ayush tells Vijay and Jai (The Service Provider, person #11) to reset passwords on servers so Eric can log in, and asks for support from Theodore with network configurations.
  • Matthew replies that Theodore is on his way to The Company.
  • Vijay resets the password and sends it to Ayush and Jai.
  • Ayush sends the password to Eric via plaintext email.
  • Theodore asks Eric and Ayush if the problems are resolved.
  • Ayush replies that connection from The Company's network does not work, but that the root password was emailed.

Day 64

  • Tyler sends an email to everyone and cancels the migration.

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Categories: Technology

Brexit trade deal advises governments to use Netscape Communicator and SHA-1. Why? It's all in the DNA

The Register - Thu, 2020-12-31 06:04
A simple cut-and-paste text job from a 2008 EU treaty for genetic databases

People are pointing to the inclusion of Netscape Navigator and SHA-1 in the newly-minted British Brexit trade deal – yet no one seems to have realised part of the text in question is a treaty underpinning an EU-wide DNA database.…

Categories: Technology

Ticketmaster Pays $10 Million Criminal Fine for Invading Rival's Computers

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 06:00
Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal fine to avoid prosecution on U.S. charges it repeatedly accessed the computer systems of a rival whose assets its parent Live Nation Entertainment Inc later purchased. From a report: The fine is part of a three-year deferred prosecution agreement between Ticketmaster and the U.S. Department of Justice, which was disclosed at a Wednesday hearing before U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn federal court. Ticketmaster's agreement resolves five criminal counts including wire fraud, conspiracy and computer intrusion. It also requires the Beverly Hills, California-based company to maintain compliance and ethics procedures designed to detect and prevent computer-related theft. Ticketmaster primarily sells and distributes tickets to concerts and other events. Prosecutors said that from August 2013 to December 2015, Ticketmaster employees used stolen passwords to repeatedly access computers belonging to its rival to obtain confidential business information. The rival, Songkick, specialized in artist presales, in which some tickets -- often around 8% -- are set aside for fans before general ticket sales begin, in part to foil scalpers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

SpaceX Will Attempt To Recover Super Heavy Rocket by Catching it With Launch Tower

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 02:25
SpaceX will try a significantly different approach to landing its future reusable rocket boosters, according to CEO and founder Elon Musk. It will attempt to 'catch' the heavy booster, which is currently in development, using the launch tower arm used to stabilize the vehicle during its pre-takeoff preparations. From a report: Current Falcon 9 boosters return to Earth and land propulsively on their own built-in legs -- but the goal with Super Heavy is for the larger rocket not to have legs at all, says Musk. The Super Heavy launch process will still involve use of its engines to control the velocity of its descent, but it will involve using the grid fins that are included on its main body to help control its orientation during flight to 'catch' the booster -- essentially hooking it using the launch tower arm before it touches the ground at all. The main benefits of this method, which will obviously involve a lot of precision maneuvering, is that it means SpaceX can save both cost and weight by omitting landing legs from the Super Heavy design altogether. Another potential benefit raised by Musk is that it could allow SpaceX to essentially recycle the Super Heavy booster immediately back on the launch mount it returns to -- possibly enabling it to be ready to fly again with a new payload and upper stage (consisting of Starship, the other spacecraft SpaceX is currently developing and testing) in "under an hour." The goal for Starship and Super Heavy is to create a launch vehicle that's even more reusable than SpaceX's current Falcon 9 (and Falcon Heavy) system.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Spotify's Podcasting Problem: Loophole Allows Remixes and Unreleased Songs To Hide in Plain Sight

Slashdot - Thu, 2020-12-31 01:00
Spotify has joined the ranks of streaming services like SoundCloud and YouTube as a hub for bootlegs of popular songs. From a report: With obscured titles like "Jocelyn Flores but you're in the bathroom at a party" by eraylandin, a new take on XXXTentacion's popular "Jocelyn Flores," and "Dead To Me -- Kali Uchis (slowed + bass boosted)" by user Unreal sounds, a rework of Uchis' popular track from her 2018 album "Isolation," these underground remixers have chosen to upload their creations as podcast episodes, hoping to circumvent copyright infringement detection by the platform. Using simple keywords and terms like "chopped and screwed," "slowed and reverbed," "remix," and "mashup" in Spotify's search bar, users can track down bootlegged reworks of songs by many top artists which live on Spotify's podcast hub. Late rapper Juice WRLD, who still commands a cult following, has a full 'podcast series' dedicated to revealing his unreleased songs, like user No Si's podcast titled, "Instagram @xricardol.tx." The podcast contains 'episodes' like "Sugarfish (Leaked)," a song Juice WRLD wrote with The Chainsmokers that was never officially released, despite online rumors that the collaboration would become available in December 2019. These podcasts, like "Instagram @xricardol.tx," only contain the audio of specific songs and almost always list the tracks as individual episodes. There is nothing that resembles the typical characteristics of a podcast.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Private Party App Pulled From App Store by Apple

Slashdot - Wed, 2020-12-30 23:00
Eric Bangeman, writing for ArsTechnica: Despite over 82 million cases and over 1.75 million deaths due to COVID-19, many people are bound and determined to carry on with normal life. For some, that includes attending Saturday night ragers, just like they did in the Before Times. Reports of yet another secret party being broken up by law enforcement have become distressingly common. Getting guests for these secret parties is at least slightly more difficult now that Apple has pulled Vybe Together -- an app with a tagline that invited users to "get their party on" -- from the App Store. The Verge pointed out that the app had largely been flying under the radar until a tweet from Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times brought some unwelcome, but much-needed scrutiny to the app. One of Lorenz's tweets highlighted Vybe Together's TikTok account, which had posted videos of unmasked people partying indoors while advertising New Years Eve parties. According to Business Insider, TikTok has since removed Vybe Together's account for violating community guidelines.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

New Train Hall Opens at Penn Station, Echoing Building's Former Glory

Slashdot - Wed, 2020-12-30 21:30
The Moynihan Train Hall, with glass skylights and 92-foot-high ceilings, will open Jan. 1 as an area for Amtrak and Long Island Railroad riders. The New York Times: For more than half a century, New Yorkers have trudged through the crammed platforms, dark hallways and oppressively low ceilings of Pennsylvania Station, the busiest and perhaps most miserable train hub in North America. Entombed beneath Madison Square Garden, the station served 650,000 riders each weekday before the pandemic, or three times the number it was built to handle. But as more commuters return to Penn Station next year, they will be welcomed by a new, $1.6 billion train hall complete with over an acre of glass skylights, art installations and 92-foot-high ceilings that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who championed the project, has likened to the majestic Grand Central Terminal. After nearly three years of construction, the new Moynihan Train Hall, in the James A. Farley Post Office building across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station, will open to the public on Jan. 1 as a waiting room for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers. For decades, the huge undertaking was considered an absolution of sorts for one of the city's greatest sins: the demolition in the 1960s of the original Penn Station building, an awe-inspiring structure that was a stately gateway to the country's economic powerhouse. The destruction of the station was a turning point in New York's civic life. It prompted a fierce backlash among defenders of the city's architectural heritage, the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and renewed efforts to protect Grand Central Terminal. That the project has been completed during a period when the city was brought to a standstill is a hopeful reminder that the bustle of Midtown Manhattan will return, Mr. Cuomo said. The train hall "sends a clear message to the world that while we suffered greatly as a result of this once-in-a-century health crisis, the pandemic did not stop us from dreaming big and building for the future," he added. The project has its detractors, who fault state officials for not going far enough in reimagining Penn Station. These critics note that the Moynihan Train Hall will serve only some of the passengers who use Penn Station, ignoring the needs of subway riders.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Hybrid Computing Sharpens Its Edge

The Next Platform - Wed, 2020-12-30 20:56

Computing has become more complex as the digital age has progressed. …

Hybrid Computing Sharpens Its Edge was written by Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Next Platform.

Categories: Technology

The Tectonic Shift To Virtual Distributed Routing

The Next Platform - Wed, 2020-12-30 20:50

In the IT sector, there is a constant flow of little changes to hardware and software that culminate in progress. …

The Tectonic Shift To Virtual Distributed Routing was written by Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Next Platform.

Categories: Technology

VP and Head Scientist of Alexa at Amazon: 'The Turing Test is Obsolete. It's Time To Build a New Barometer For AI'

Slashdot - Wed, 2020-12-30 20:28
Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist of Alexa at Amazon, writes: While Turing's original vision continues to be inspiring, interpreting his test as the ultimate mark of AI's progress is limited by the era when it was introduced. For one, the Turing Test all but discounts AI's machine-like attributes of fast computation and information lookup, features that are some of modern AI's most effective. The emphasis on tricking humans means that for an AI to pass Turing's test, it has to inject pauses in responses to questions like, "do you know what is the cube root of 3434756?" or, "how far is Seattle from Boston?" In reality, AI knows these answers instantaneously, and pausing to make its answers sound more human isn't the best use of its skills. Moreover, the Turing Test doesn't take into account AI's increasing ability to use sensors to hear, see, and feel the outside world. Instead, it's limited simply to text. To make AI more useful today, these systems need to accomplish our everyday tasks efficiently. If you're asking your AI assistant to turn off your garage lights, you aren't looking to have a dialogue. Instead, you'd want it to fulfill that request and notify you with a simple acknowledgment, "ok" or "done." Even when you engage in an extensive dialogue with an AI assistant on a trending topic or have a story read to your child, you'd still like to know it is an AI and not a human. In fact, "fooling" users by pretending to be human poses a real risk. Imagine the dystopian possibilities, as we've already begun to see with bots seeding misinformation and the emergence of deep fakes. Instead of obsessing about making AIs indistinguishable from humans, our ambition should be building AIs that augment human intelligence and improve our daily lives in a way that is equitable and inclusive. A worthy underlying goal is for AIs to exhibit human-like attributes of intelligence -- including common sense, self-supervision, and language proficiency -- and combine machine-like efficiency such as fast searches, memory recall, and accomplishing tasks on your behalf. The end result is learning and completing a variety of tasks and adapting to novel situations, far beyond what a regular person can do.

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