You are here

Slashdot

Subscribe to Slashdot feed Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 1 hour 53 min ago

Reputation Management Firms Bury Google Results By Placing Flattering Content

2 hours 43 min ago
Prominent figures from Jacob Gottlieb to Betsy DeVos got help from a reputation management firm that can bury image-sensitive Google results by placing flattering content on websites that masquerade as news outlets. The Wall Street Journal reports: Jacob Gottlieb was considering raising money for a hedge fund. One problem: His last one had collapsed in a scandal. While Mr. Gottlieb wasn't accused of wrongdoing, googling his name prominently surfaced news articles chronicling the demise of Visium Asset Management LP, which once managed $8 billion. The results also included articles about his top portfolio manager, who died by suicide days after he was indicted for insider trading in 2016, and Mr. Gottlieb's former brother-in-law, an employee of Visium who was convicted of securities fraud. Searches also found coverage of Mr. Gottlieb's messy divorce in New York's tabloids. So last year Mr. Gottlieb hired Status Labs, an Austin, Texas-based company specializing in so-called reputation management. Its tactic: a favorable news blitz to eclipse the negative stories. Afterward, articles about him began to appear on websites that are designed to look like independent news outlets but are not. Most contained flattering information about Mr. Gottlieb, praising his investment acumen and philanthropy, and came up high in recent Google searches. Google featured some of the articles on Google News. His online makeover shows the steps some executives and public figures are taking to influence what comes up on the world's top search engine. It also illustrates that despite Google's promises to police misinformation, sites can still masquerade as news outlets and avoid Google's detection. Google removed five websites from Google News after The Wall Street Journal inquired about them. Google, owned by parent company Alphabet, said the sites violated its policies around deceptive practices. Google's news feature forbids "content that conceals or misrepresents sponsored content as independent, editorial content."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Tony Brooker, Pioneer of Computer Programming, Dies At 94

3 hours 23 min ago
Cade Metz from The New York Times pays tribute to Tony Brooker, the mathematician and computer scientist who designed the programming language for the world's first commercial computer. Brooker died on Nov. 20 at the age of 94. From the report: Mr. Brooker had been immersed in early computer research at the University of Cambridge when one day, on his way home from a mountain-climbing trip in North Wales, he stopped at the University of Manchester to tour its computer lab, which was among the first of its kind. Dropping in unannounced, he introduced himself to Alan Turing, a founding father of the computer age, who at the time was the lab's deputy director. When Mr. Brooker described his own research at the University of Cambridge, he later recalled, Mr. Turing said, "Well, we can always employ someone like you." Soon they were colleagues. Mr. Brooker joined the Manchester lab in October 1951, just after it installed a new machine called the Ferranti Mark 1. His job, he told the British Library in an interview in 2010, was to make the Mark 1 "usable." Mr. Turing had written a user's manual, but it was far from intuitive. To program the machine, engineers had to write in binary code -- patterns made up of 0s and 1s -- and they had to write them backward, from right to left, because this was the way the hardware read them. It was "extremely neat and very clever but pretty meaningless and very unfriendly," Mr. Brooker said. In the months that followed, Mr. Brooker wrote a language he called Autocode, based on ordinary numbers and letters. It allowed anyone to program the machine -- not just the limited group of trained engineers who understood the hardware. This marked the beginning of what were later called "high-level" programming languages -- languages that provide increasingly simple and intuitive ways of giving commands to computers, from the IBM mainframes of the 1960s to the PCs of the 1980s to the iPhones of today.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Billboard Is Changing Its Albums Chart To Count Video Plays From YouTube

4 hours 3 min ago
Billboard has announced that video and audio data from YouTube, along with visual plays from several music streaming services, will soon be factored into the Billboard 200 albums chart. In addition to YouTube, officially licensed video content plays from Apple, Spotify, Tidal and Vevo will be included in the album chart's calculations. From the report: The inclusion of video data into the Billboard 200 arrives five years after audio streams were added, marking the chart's shift from a measure of pure sales to a consumption model. The addition of video will also impact Billboard's genre album consumption charts, such as Country, R&B/Hip-Hop, Latin and others. While YouTube streams have factored into the Billboard Hot 100 and other song-specific charts since February 2013, this marks a first for the album charts. In contrast with song charts, which can be impacted by user-generated videos, only official licensed video content uploaded by or on behalf of rights holders will be counted for the Billboard 200 and other albums charts. The changes take effect with the charts dated Jan. 18, 2020, which will reflect sales and streams for the period of Jan. 3-9.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

India Shuts Down Internet Once Again, This Time In Assam and Meghalaya

4 hours 43 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: India maintained a shutdown of the internet in the states of Assam and Meghalaya on Friday, now into 36 hours, to control protests over a controversial and far-reaching new citizen rule. The shutdown of the internet in Assam and Meghalaya, home to more than 32 million people, is the latest example of a worrying worldwide trend employed by various governments: preventing people from communicating on the web and accessing information. On Thursday, India's president Ram Nath Kovind approved the Citizenship Amendment Bill, a day after the country's Parliament passed it. The law offers a path to Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh) -- not for the country's own Muslim minority. Shortly after the bill was passed, protests broke out in the streets in the northeastern states of Assam and Meghalaya, where residents have long been concerned about immigration from the aforementioned nations. In Meghalaya, texting services have been suspended, too. To contain the situation, the Indian government sent in troops and shut down the internet -- a measure that the United Nations has condemned in the past, calling it a violation of human rights.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Someone Stole Facebook Payroll Data For Thousands of Employees

Fri, 2019-12-13 23:30
mschaffer writes: Apparently Facebook had a recent privacy problem of a different kind. A thief broke into an employee's car and stole equipment -- including hard drives that contained unencrypted personal data of former Facebook employees. "Out of abundance of caution," Facebook alerted their current and former employees about the theft. "The hard drives, which were unencrypted, included payroll data like employee names, bank account numbers and the last four digits of employees' social security numbers," reports Bloomberg. "The drives also included compensation information, including salaries, bonus amounts, and some equity details. In total, the drives contained personal data for about 29,000 U.S. employees who worked at Facebook in 2018." "We worked with law enforcement as they investigated a recent car break-in and theft of an employee's bag containing company equipment with employee payroll information stored on it," the spokeswoman said in a statement shared with Bloomberg. "We have seen no evidence of abuse and believe this was a smash and grab crime rather than an attempt to steal employee information."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

New Orleans City Government Shuts Off Computers After Cyberattack

Fri, 2019-12-13 22:50
New submitter tubajock writes: According to NOLA.com, New Orleans City Hall workers were told by a PA system broadcast to immediately unplug all computer systems from the network [following a cyberattack that struck the city government]. The city website is also down and the city has implemented its Emergency Operations Center as well as contacted state and federal authorities for help. Beau Tidwell, a spokesman for Mayor LaToya Cantrell, said the cyberattack started sometime after 11 a.m. In addition to city hall workers, the New Orleans Police Department has also been told to shut down their computers and remove everything from the network. Thankfully, 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 calls are not impacted by the attack and residents can still access the online 3-1-1 systems through its site, nola311.org.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

AT&T Drops Out of FCC Speed-Test Program So It Can Hide Bad Results

Fri, 2019-12-13 22:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T doesn't want its home Internet speeds to be measured by the Federal Communications Commission anymore, and it already convinced the FCC to exclude its worst speed-test results from an annual government report. "AT&T this year told the commission it will no longer cooperate with the FCC's SamKnows speed test," The Wall Street Journal wrote in an investigative report titled "Your Internet provider likely juiced its official speed scores." AT&T already convinced the FCC to exclude certain DSL test results from last year's Measuring Broadband America report. The reports are based on the SamKnows testing equipment installed in thousands of homes across the U.S. "AT&T was dismayed at its report card from a government test measuring Internet speeds" and thus "pushed the Federal Communications Commission to omit unflattering data on its DSL Internet service from the report," the Journal wrote. "In the end, the DSL data was left out of the report released late last year, to the chagrin of some agency officials," the Journal wrote. "AT&T's remaining speed tiers notched high marks." "AT&T developed a best-in-class tool to measure its consumer broadband services," the company said in a statement provided to Ars. "This tool measures performance on all AT&T IP broadband technologies and is more accurate, versatile, and transparent. For these and other reasons, our tool provides better and more useful information to our customers."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Roku Built the Dominant Streaming Box. Now It's Under Siege

Fri, 2019-12-13 21:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: More than 30 million people use a Roku device to navigate the constellation of streaming TV services. The company's portfolio includes the "stick" ($49.99), which resembles a USB drive; the "puck" ($79.99), a black square with smooth edges and minimal detailing; and a $400 smart TV with Roku's operating system. The more expensive options offer better image quality and such features as extra digital storage space. As the era of cable and satellite TV dims, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wood says Roku is poised to keep capitalizing on the boom in streaming video. It's an independent player that can work well with all the entrants, he says, including new services from Disney and Apple and forthcoming ones from AT&T and Comcast. "It's satisfying to see the world be all in on streaming," says Wood. "That's nothing but excellent for Roku." Many investors on Wall Street agree: The company's stock is up more than 300% this year, and Roku is valued at over $17 billion. Having built the dominant box, Roku is under siege from companies that recognize the value of its business model. Google sells a competing smart TV operating system. Samsung sells more than a dozen smart TVs that don't use Roku's operating system. Comcast is giving its internet subscribers a free streaming box. AT&T is offering a box for its customers. Apple is investing billions in streaming shows designed in part to strengthen the appeal of its hardware. But Roku's biggest challenger is Amazon.com, which is vying for tie-in deals for its Fire TV with smart TV manufacturers and battling for supremacy in international markets. In September it announced a major expansion in Europe, where Roku is less dominant.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Google AI Chief Jeff Dean on Machine Learning Trends To Watch in 2020

Fri, 2019-12-13 20:50
In a wide-ranging interview with VentureBeat, Google AI chief Jeff Dean has discussed the company's early work on the use of ML to create semiconductors for machine learning, the impact of Google's BERT on conversational AI, and machine learning trends to watch in 2020. An excerpt from the interview where Dean talks about some of the trends one could expect to emerge, or milestones he thinks might be surpassed in 2020 in AI: I think we'll see much more multitask learning and multimodal learning, of sort of larger scales than has been previously tackled. I think that'll be pretty interesting. And I think there's going to be a continued trend to getting more interesting on-device models -- or sort of consumer devices, like phones or whatever -- to work more effectively. I think obviously AI-related principles-related work is going to be important. We're a big enough research organization that we actually have lots of different thrusts we're doing, so it's hard to call out just one. But I think in general [we'll be] progressing the state of the art, doing basic fundamental research to advance our capabilities in lots of important areas we're looking at, like NLP or language models or vision or multimodal things. But also then collaborating with our colleagues and product teams to get some of the research that is ready for product application to allow them to build interesting features and products. And [we'll be] doing kind of new things that Google doesn't currently have products in but are sort of interesting applications of ML, like the chip design work we've been doing. Further reading: AI R&D is Booming, But General Intelligence is Still Out of Reach.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Turkey is Getting Military Drones Armed With Machine Guns

Fri, 2019-12-13 20:10
A drone with a machine gun attached can hit targets with high precision, according to its makers. Turkey is set to become the first country to have the drone, when it gets a delivery this month. From a report: The 25-kilogram drone has eight rotating blades to get it in the air. Its machine gun carries 200 rounds of ammunition and can fire single shots or 15-round bursts. Many countries and groups already use small military drones that can drop grenades or fly into a target to detonate an explosive. The new drone, called Songar and made by Ankara-based electronics firm Asisguard, is the first drone to be equipped with a firearm and be ready for service. Turkey expects the drones to be delivered before the end of the year. It is hard for a drone to shoot accurately, partly because of the difficulty of judging range and angle, and partly because the recoil from each shot significantly moves the drone, affecting the aim for the next round. Songar has two systems to overcome these challenges. One uses sensors, including cameras and a laser rangefinder, to calculate distance, angle and wind speed, and work out where to aim. The second is a set of robot arms that move the machine gun to compensate for the effects of recoil.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Slashdot Asks: Your Favorite Movies, TV Shows, and Documentaries of 2019?

Fri, 2019-12-13 19:30
As we approach the weekend -- but more importantly, the end of the year -- it's good time as any to ask about the movies, TV shows, and documentaries from this year that you enjoyed the most or found incredibly insightful. Please list them below in the comments.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Google Maps Has Now Photographed 10 Million Miles in Street View

Fri, 2019-12-13 18:50
If Google were to have a mascot, it might be the Street View car, with its towering camera rig and corporate logo exterior. From a report: There's good reason for that. In the 12 years since the search giant debuted Street View, which photographs the world at street level, the cars have been the company's ambassadors around the globe, prowling urban metropolises and rural countrysides. On Friday, Google revealed how much work those cars and other devices have done to map the world: the company has captured more than 10 million miles of Street View imagery. The distance, Google said, would amount to circling the Earth more than 400 times. The company also said Google Earth, the search giant's aerial mapping service, has a total of 36 million square miles of satellite imagery for people to browse. With that collection, Google has mapped out the parts of the world where 98% of people live. The numbers mark the first time Google has released figures on how much of the world its services have charted, providing insight into the scope of Google Maps. With more than 1 billion monthly users, Maps is one of the company's most popular products. It's also a potent way for the search giant to deliver local advertising.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

A Space Probe Has Mapped the Winds Above Mars for the First Time

Fri, 2019-12-13 18:10
Scientists have mapped out Mars's upper atmosphere wind patterns for the first time. The findings, published Thursday in Science, reinforce our understanding of the Martian climate as equal parts stable and unpredictable. From a report: The investigation uses data collected by NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which has been orbiting Mars since 2013. MAVEN has helped teach us how Mars lost its thick atmosphere billions of years ago, but it was never designed to investigate winds. Instead, the team behind the new study had a clever idea: have MAVEN rapidly swing its normally stationary Natural Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) back and forth like a windshield wiper. This swinging effect meant that NGIMS, usually used to study atmospheric chemistry, was able to offset the orbiter's own movements and measure the winds as if it were standing still. What did they find? Overall circulation patterns in Mars's upper atmosphere proved predictably stable season-to-season. But the team also found extreme variability within local pockets of the atmosphere, and so far there's no good explanation for what's causing this.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

City Planners Zero in on Cyclists Through Exercise App

Fri, 2019-12-13 17:30
With 47m global users Strava has the potential to generate big data for public development [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. From a report: When the UK capital built a "cycle superhighway" in 2016, Strava indicated where people had changed their route and showed that the number of cyclists increased by 60 per cent when a bike-only lane was built along the Victoria Embankment on the Thames. Planners can observe changes, such as many cyclists avoiding a direct route, to see where roads may be dangerous. Granular data from Strava also show where cyclists have to stop and wait, information Ms Hall used to review traffic light patterns so more cyclists could get a clear run on their commute. While recognising its potential, however, researchers warned that Strava and other crowdsourced data sets should be treated with caution. Giulio Ferrini, from cycling charity Sustrans, said the average Strava user was probably "not representative" of the average cyclist. Strava says it has 5.5m users in the UK. But researchers fear they are a self-selecting group, filtered by an affinity for exercise apps that may make them more competitive than others. According to Ms Hall at TfL, they "tend to be more gung-ho." Relying on crowdsourced data, Mr Ferrini said, could lead to cities being designed for "white men in Lycra" who usually travel speedily from A to B and neglecting groups such as parents who cycle with their children to school. Tom Knights, who oversees partnerships at Strava Metro, acknowledged the tool was not "trying to do everything." But he pointed to several academic studies that found similar travel patterns on Strava data and other sources.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

When China and Other Big Countries Launch Cryptocurrencies, It Will Kick Off a Global Revolution

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:50
There has been a massive rise in the number of bilateral agreements between central banks that allow two countries to swap currencies directly, a large number involving China. Meanwhile, a number of countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, have been repatriating their gold reserves from vaults in the US where they had long been stored. From a report: Yet by comparison, major sovereign digital currencies based on blockchain technology would be revolutionary. Blockchains are encrypted ledgers for storing information that are decentralized rather than being under any country's or company's control. When applied to international payments, this offers the prospect of much more transparent and cheaper transactions than SWIFT. It could cut the payments time lag from a couple of days to one second, and the cost from 0.01% to almost nothing. It will have the capacity to handle far higher volumes of payments, partly since they won't require bank accounts or even internet access. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and XRP have been a good experiment in using blockchains for international payments. Yet when countries issue equivalents of their own, these will have even more advantages. They will be backed by states, and completely decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will not be able to compete with this. While technological change has been incredibly fast in the information era, the system of international payments has lagged behind. But once sovereign digital currencies start taking off, this will suddenly change. Just like smartphones quickly eliminated most old cell phones, no countries will be able to reject blockchain payments for long. So while, for example, the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently said that his country does not see itself launching a digital dollar in the next five years, there will be a moment when the political centre of gravity will shift and everyone will join the revolution. After the 5G network and the Internet of Things really mushroom in the next couple of years, it will be possible to replace the existing system even faster. This will be the beginning of a new international monetary era.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Windows 10 Mobile Reaches End of Support

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:10
We've known Windows 10 Mobile has been a dead platform for years now. Even Microsoft themselves have been telling people they need to switch to Android or iOS. But yesterday, we saw the final blow to Microsoft's mobile OS -- it officially reached its end of life and is no longer supported. From a report: There is some good news for the two of you still running Windows 10 Mobile though. The platform's office apps will receive updates and security patches until January 12, 2021. This includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. That means you still have a little more time before you absolutely need to migrate to another mobile platform if you just can')t break your Windows 10 Mobile addiction. Though we still recommend you take the leap as soon as possible.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Mathematician Proves Huge Result on 'Dangerous' Problem

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:30
Mathematicians regard the Collatz conjecture as a quagmire and warn each other to stay away. But now Terence Tao has made more progress than anyone in decades. From a report: It's a siren song, they say: Fall under its trance and you may never do meaningful work again. The Collatz conjecture is quite possibly the simplest unsolved problem in mathematics -- which is exactly what makes it so treacherously alluring. "This is a really dangerous problem. People become obsessed with it and it really is impossible," said Jeffrey Lagarias, a mathematician at the University of Michigan and an expert on the Collatz conjecture. Earlier this year one of the top mathematicians in the world dared to confront the problem -- and came away with one of the most significant results on the Collatz conjecture in decades. On September 8, Terence Tao posted a proof showing that -- at the very least -- the Collatz conjecture is "almost" true for "almost" all numbers. While Tao's result is not a full proof of the conjecture, it is a major advance on a problem that doesn't give up its secrets easily. "I wasn't expecting to solve this problem completely," said Tao, a mathematician at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But what I did was more than I expected." Lothar Collatz likely posed the eponymous conjecture in the 1930s. The problem sounds like a party trick. Pick a number, any number. If it's odd, multiply it by 3 and add 1. If it's even, divide it by 2. Now you have a new number. Apply the same rules to the new number. The conjecture is about what happens as you keep repeating the process. Intuition might suggest that the number you start with affects the number you end up with. Maybe some numbers eventually spiral all the way down to 1. Maybe others go marching off to infinity. But Collatz predicted that's not the case. He conjectured that if you start with a positive whole number and run this process long enough, all starting values will lead to 1. And once you hit 1, the rules of the Collatz conjecture confine you to a loop: 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, on and on forever.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Mozilla To Force All Add-on Devs To Use 2FA To Prevent Supply-Chain Attacks

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:02
Mozilla announced this week that all developers of Firefox add-ons must enable a two-factor authentication (2FA) solution for their account. From a report: "Starting in early 2020, extension developers will be required to have 2FA enabled on AMO [the Mozilla Add-Ons portal]," said Caitlin Neiman, Add-ons Community Manager at Mozilla. "This is intended to help prevent malicious actors from taking control of legitimate add-ons and their users," Neiman added. When this happens, hackers can use the developers' compromised accounts to ship tainted add-on updates to Firefox users. Since Firefox add-ons have a pretty privileged position inside the browser, an attacker can use a compromised add-on to steal passwords, authentication/session cookies, spy on a user's browsing habits, or redirect users to phishing pages or malware download sites. These types of incidents are usually referred to as supply-chain attacks.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Australia's Bushfires Have Emitted 250m Tonnes of CO2, Almost Half of Country's Annual Emissions

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:10
Bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland have emitted a massive pulse of CO2 into the atmosphere since August that is equivalent to almost half of Australia's annual greenhouse gas emissions, Guardian Australia can reveal. From a report: Analysis by Nasa shows the NSW fires have emitted about 195m tonnes of CO2 since 1 August, with Queensland's fires adding a further 55m tonnes over the same period. In 2018, Australia's entire greenhouse gas footprint was 532m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Experts say the pulse of CO2 from this season's bushfires is significant, because even under normal conditions it could take decades for forest regrowth to reabsorb the emissions. But scientists have expressed doubt that forests already under drought stress would be able to reabsorb all the emissions back into soils and branches, and said the natural carbon "sinks" of forests could be compromised.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Cigna Uses AI To Check If Patients Are Taking Their Medications

Fri, 2019-12-13 13:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Cigna plans to expand a system that uses artificial intelligence to identify gaps in treatment of chronic diseases, such as patients skipping their medications, and deliver personalized recommendations for specific patients. The product, called Health Connect 360, integrates data from a combination of sources and analytical tools, some developed at Cigna and others brought in as part of its $54 billion acquisition of pharmacy-benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co., completed late last year. Express Scripts, which began developing the service two years ago, rolled out portions of it to some customers this year. Health Connect 360 was developed for treatment of chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, as well as for pain management. The system aggregates medical, pharmacy, lab and biometric data -- such as information from glucometers, which measure blood-sugar levels -- into a dashboard that is accessible through an online interface. The dashboard will be visible to the service's customers and to Express Scripts case managers and nurses with access rights. The system can also feed information to electronic-medical record systems for physicians. Cigna is already using AI to predict whether patients might abuse or overdose on prescription opioids. Another Cigna tool, One Guide, provides personalized help to health-insurance holders on their benefit plans, appointments and health coaching. The new Health Connect 360 system combines algorithms that analyze data such as clinical and pharmacy information with predictive models to generate recommendations and ways to best engage a patient, whether through an app or in person.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Pages