You are here

Slashdot

Subscribe to Slashdot feed Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 35 min 30 sec ago

The 61 Books Elon Musk Has Recommended on Twitter

Mon, 2020-09-07 08:34
Entrepreneur magazine writes: Although his days are presumably filled with Tesla, SpaceX, cyber pigs and lots and lots of tweeting, it seems Elon Musk also finds the time to make reading part of his routine. The billionaire businessman is known for sharing (and oversharing) all his recommendations and thoughts on Twitter, so it's no surprise that books are part of that. Most Recommended Books compiled a list of all the books Musk has commented on in the past several years, and you can see all 61 here. But if you're short on time today, click through to see 11 of the most interesting picks from his list. The list includes Peter Thiel's 2014 best-seller Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, as well as business magnate Richard Branson's 2011 book Screw Business As Usual. Musk also calls a 2004 biography of Howard Hughes "a cautionary tale," and a 2005 biography of Stalin "One of the few books so dark I had to stop reading." And for a 2011 biography of Catherine the Great, he wrote "I know what you're probably thinking ... did she really f* a horse?" His favorite books about space include John Drury Clark's Ignition! as well as Modern Engineering for Design of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines. But there's also Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. ("My favorite spaceship ever is in [this book].") And he calls Isaac Asimov's Foundation series "fundamental to [the] creation of SpaceX." Also on the list is Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (which Bill Gates also named as one of his 10 favorite books about technology) as well as Frank Herbert's Dune, which Musk calls "Brilliant," while noting that Herbert "advocates placing limits on machine intelligence." In fact, for eight different books on the list he'd added the same cautionary warning: "Hopefully not too optimistic about AI." He also says he read Karl Marx's Das Kapital at the age of 14, and also read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (which Musk called "a counterpoint to communism and useful as such, but should be tempered with kindness.") But Musk says his favorite book ever is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Is Canada About to Crack Down on Google and Facebook?

Mon, 2020-09-07 05:34
The Minister of Canadian heritage has a message for Google and Facebook, reports the Toronto Star: "The Canadian government stands with our Australian partners and denounces any form of threats," Steven Guilbeault said in an emailed statement to the Star's Susan Delacourt. The "threats" Guilbeault referred to involved some of the world's richest and most influential corporations, Facebook and Google, which have separately warned Canada's friends down under that they will suspend services in Australia or block media organizations from using their platforms if Canberra follows through with a law they don't like. That law would force these giants of the digital age — companies that rake in tens of billions of dollars each year and control the infrastructure of the internet's most-trafficked venues — to negotiate payments to the journalism organizations that create the news content hosted on their platforms... Google did not respond to a request for comment from the Star this week. Facebook, however, signalled in a background conversation with the Star that it is willing to pay more taxes in Canada. But taxation isn't the only government intervention that companies might face, according to Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor and Canada Research Chair in internet and E-Commerce Law: The second area where Geist sees potential for federal action is in response to calls for foreign digital players to pay for Canadian content. Here, Geist said "it's pretty clear (the government is) going to do something," given how Trudeau assigned Guilbeault to bring in legislation to modernize Canada's laws on broadcasting and telecommunications before the end of the year. In his office's statement to the Star, Guilbeault said the government is committed to a "more equitable digital regulatory framework" in Canada. "It is about levelling the playing field," he said. "Those who benefit from the Canadian ecosystem must also contribute to it, through the Canadian broadcasting sector or the fair remuneration for the use of news content."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Researchers Use Supercomputer to Design New Molecule That Captures Solar Energy

Mon, 2020-09-07 03:04
Iwastheone shares some news from Sweden's Linköping University: The Earth receives many times more energy from the sun than we humans can use. This energy is absorbed by solar energy facilities, but one of the challenges of solar energy is to store it efficiently, such that the energy is available when the sun is not shining. This led scientists at Linköping University to investigate the possibility of capturing and storing solar energy in a new molecule. "Our molecule can take on two different forms: a parent form that can absorb energy from sunlight, and an alternative form in which the structure of the parent form has been changed and become much more energy-rich, while remaining stable. This makes it possible to store the energy in sunlight in the molecule efficiently", says Bo Durbeej, professor of computational physics in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology at LinkÃping University, and leader of the study... It's common in research that experiments are done first and theoretical work subsequently confirms the experimental results, but in this case the procedure was reversed. Bo Durbeej and his group work in theoretical chemistry, and conduct calculations and simulations of chemical reactions. This involves advanced computer simulations, which are performed on supercomputers at the National Supercomputer Centre, NSC, in Linköping. The calculations showed that the molecule the researchers had developed would undergo the chemical reaction they required, and that it would take place extremely fast, within 200 femtoseconds. Their colleagues at the Research Centre for Natural Sciences in Hungary were then able to build the molecule, and perform experiments that confirmed the theoretical prediction... "Most chemical reactions start in a condition where a molecule has high energy and subsequently passes to one with a low energy. Here, we do the opposite — a molecule that has low energy becomes one with high energy. We would expect this to be difficult, but we have shown that it is possible for such a reaction to take place both rapidly and efficiently", says Bo Durbeej. The researchers will now examine how the stored energy can be released from the energy-rich form of the molecule in the best way...

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Former Mentor Says Mark Zuckerberg Intoxicated by Power, Calls Disinformation 'A National Security Issue'

Mon, 2020-09-07 00:34
MSNBC's Ali Velshi interviewed Mark Zuckerberg mentor (and early investor) Roger McNamee for a special report on "the disinformation epidemic." McNamee — also the author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe — says Zuckerberg is too focused on "imposing his vision" to acknowledge the website's threat to national security, adding "It's about power." Ali Velshi: The fact that rumor, innuendo, conspiracies, outright lies are amplified by social media is no accident. That is a feature built into platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It is part of their business model. Long before the election of 2016, Facebook knew all of this to be true, but it followed a familiar pattern of responses. It denied that was a problem. When it acknowledged the problem, it treated it as a public relations issue, not as a core business issue. It offered up half-baked solutions that changed nothing, and it fought off attempts to regulate it. Because what Facebook has created is immensely profitable... Roger McNamee says he warned Mark Zuckerberg of the immense problems that Facebook's business model could unleash... Roger McNamee: The company essentially believes that it is sovereign, the equivalent of another nation. It has nearly twice as many monthly active users as there are people in China. And so Mark Zuckerberg very much has the view that no one can tell him what to do... Facebook's own research says that 64% of the time that a person joins an extremist network on Facebook, it is because Facebook has recommended that they do so... People sit there and assume it's about money, and I think money is secondary. I really think it's about power. I think Mark Zuckerberg has a vision that connecting all the people in the world on one network — his network — is the best thing any human being can do. And in his notion it has to do with efficiency, it has to do with scale, it has to do with imposing his vision on it. And that kind of power is intoxicating. Remember, between when the company went public and 2018, the company got very little pushback — in fact what it really got was tons of love from investors and journalists and the like. And they were in their own filter bubble and started to believe their own press and their own point of view about what was going on. And I just think they're at this point now where they are just disconnected, there's really no sensitivity, no understanding that they might have a responsibility to society. And at this point, with the election coming so closely, this has become a national security issue, because effectively the platform can be used by anybody. These advertising tools can be used by campaigns, they can be used by foreign governments, they can be used by provocateurs, people who would like to make trouble. That happens every single day, and from Facebook's point of view, that's just business as usual. They want to hide behind the first amendment. They want to say this is about freedom of speech. But amplification is not freedom of speech. Amplification is a business choice for profit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Is Hot Asphalt Really Increasing Air Pollution?

Sun, 2020-09-06 22:43
A new article examines a study which suggested fresh asphalt is "a significant, yet overlooked, source of air pollution," (as reported by Science). "In fact, the material's contribution to one kind of particulate air pollution could rival or even exceed that of cars and trucks." UPI reports: And its emissions double as its temperature increases from 104 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers found. Sunlight plays a key role in these asphalt emissions, with even moderate levels of sunshine tripling the release of air pollutants, according to the study published Sept. 2 in the journal Science Advances... In-use pavement usually gets as hot as between 117 and 153 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, while roofs can reach 167 degrees, the study authors said. As the major contributors to air pollution get cut back — for example, through cleaner vehicle emissions — passive pollution sources like these will have a growing influence on the air we breathe, said Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor and air pollution expert with Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. "In doing that reduction, we are discovering these new sources that are now playing a more prominent role in our air pollution issues," DeCarlo said.... Asphalt probably contributes most to air pollution when it's freshly laid, DeCarlo added. During the paving process, asphalt is heated to as much as 248 to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers said. "If you've ever been around people laying asphalt, you smell it. It's clear something is getting into the air when that happens," DeCarlo said. But asphalt likely continues to emit air pollutants even after it's aged, when sunlight bakes the material, he noted. Switching to concrete for paving would help reduce emissions, he said, but concrete is not an ideal paving material in all locales. Another possible solution might be the application of "cool pavement" technology, where colored sealants are applied to paved surfaces so they reflect more solar energy and become less likely to heat up, Gentner said. Emissions might also vary with different asphalt application methods and different formulations of the paving product, Gentner suggested.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Is Hot Asphalt Increasing Air Pollution?

Sun, 2020-09-06 22:43
"A new study suggests fresh asphalt is a significant, yet overlooked, source of air pollution," reports Science. "In fact, the material's contribution to one kind of particulate air pollution could rival or even exceed that of cars and trucks." UPI reports: And its emissions double as its temperature increases from 104 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers found. Sunlight plays a key role in these asphalt emissions, with even moderate levels of sunshine tripling the release of air pollutants, according to the study published Sept. 2 in the journal Science Advances... In-use pavement usually gets as hot as between 117 and 153 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, while roofs can reach 167 degrees, the study authors said. As the major contributors to air pollution get cut back — for example, through cleaner vehicle emissions — passive pollution sources like these will have a growing influence on the air we breathe, said Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor and air pollution expert with Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. "In doing that reduction, we are discovering these new sources that are now playing a more prominent role in our air pollution issues," DeCarlo said.... Asphalt probably contributes most to air pollution when it's freshly laid, DeCarlo added. During the paving process, asphalt is heated to as much as 248 to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers said. "If you've ever been around people laying asphalt, you smell it. It's clear something is getting into the air when that happens," DeCarlo said. But asphalt likely continues to emit air pollutants even after it's aged, when sunlight bakes the material, he noted. Switching to concrete for paving would help reduce emissions, he said, but concrete is not an ideal paving material in all locales. Another possible solution might be the application of "cool pavement" technology, where colored sealants are applied to paved surfaces so they reflect more solar energy and become less likely to heat up, Gentner said. Emissions might also vary with different asphalt application methods and different formulations of the paving product, Gentner suggested.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Do Movie Ratings on 'Rotten Tomatoes' Really Affect a Movie's Box Office?

Sun, 2020-09-06 21:35
Either Rotten Tomatoes was destroying the film industry, or it didn't matter much at all, writes The Ringer, noting competing storylines about the influence of the film review-aggregating web site. But they've now performed a statistical deep dive to try to answer the question, and concluded that "The truth likely lies in the middle: Rotten Tomatoes wasn't tanking the industry or single-handedly exposing that Baywatch was bad, but it wasn't irrelevant, either." In fact, our analysis reveals that Rotten Tomatoes scores are reliably correlated with box office performance, especially for certain genres. But the aggregator's influence may have been on the wane before the coronavirus struck, and it may matter less than ever in the present uncertain circumstances... Our first finding is that the average Rotten Tomatoes critic score has increased over time. Maybe movies have improved — or at least grown closer to critics' liking — or maybe the rise reflects changes in the makeup of Rotten Tomatoes' pool of reviewers... Whatever the reason(s) for the increasing scores, there's no evidence of greater negativity that could be turning off ticket buyers (which probably doesn't displease Fandango). The site bestows a "Fresh" rating on any movie with a 60 percent score or higher, and the average movie now clears that threshold.... Action movie earnings are the least closely associated with review scores, maybe because when people just want to see stuff blow up, they're willing to lower their standards in certain respects. Comedies and horror movies — particularly the latter — are far more consistent with the critical consensus. A perfectly scored action movie's earnings might double its budget, but a perfectly scored comedy can quadruple its budget, while a perfectly scored horror flick can beat its budget by 10 or 20 times... The mystery of most interest to studio execs is whether Rotten Tomatoes has strengthened the relationship between the critical consensus and box office performance, which also existed in the pre-internet age. The evidence suggests that the studios were a tad too intimidated in 2017... However, there are some signs that increased attention to the critical consensus may have affected whether movies' earnings got out to fast or slow starts, even if it didn't dramatically lower or raise their final ticket tallies.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

California Amends Freelancer Law, But Still Pursues Gig-Worker Companies and Food-Delivery Services

Sun, 2020-09-06 20:34
"California is exempting about two-dozen more professions from a landmark labor law designed to treat more people like employees instead of contractors, under a bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Friday," reports the San Diego Union-Tribune: The amendments, which take effect immediately, end what lawmakers said were unworkable limits on services provided by freelance writers and still photographers, photojournalists, and freelance editors and newspaper cartoonists. It includes safeguards to make sure they are not replacing current employees. The new measure also exempts various artists and musicians, along with some involved in the insurance and real estate industries. Vox Media had already cited the earlier version of California's AB-5 law as the reason it fired hundreds of freelance writers in December. But the state's fight against gig-worker companies is still ongoing, reports CNN Wire: According to William B. Gould IV, a law professor at Stanford University, it "certainly makes a lot of sense for the Attorney General to put a lot of their marbles in the Uber basket. You're dealing with a company that has thumbed its nose at the rule of law for some time now and thinks there's no restriction that they can't evade," added Gould IV, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. Jenny Montoya Tansey, policy director at the Public Rights Project, a public interest legal nonprofit that has been involved with enforcement efforts in California, said another factor is that "drivers have organized in numbers and are doing a really compelling job in getting their stories out, letting regulators, enforcers and policy makers understand some of the experiences that drivers go through." And Tansey adds that the law's enforcers are also eyeing food delivery services: Prior to AB-5, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott filed a suit against Instacart, the on-demand grocery delivery startup valued at $14 billion, over worker classification; the case is on-going. More recently, in June, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed a suit against DoorDash, the food delivery startup valued at $16 billion. "Food delivery is in demand now more than ever. Multi-billion dollar corporations that deliver food are profiting off this crisis while they exploit their drivers and deny them a living wage, unemployment insurance, sick leave and other basic workplace protections," said Assemblywoman Gonzalez of San Diego in a statement to CNN Business, adding praise to Elliott and Boudin's actions. "I hope other officials follow their lead. These companies need to be held to the same standards as any other law-abiding business in the state," Gonzalez added.... The threat to the combined on-demand business model is evident. Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash and Uber-owned Postmates have funneled more than $110 million into passing a referendum in November, known as Prop 22, that would exempt them from the law while providing drivers with some additional benefits. Additionally, Uber and Lyft are facing lawsuits from California's Labor Commissioner's Office over allegedly committing wage theft by misclassifying their on-demand workers as independent contractors instead of employees.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

639-Year Organ Performance Changes Chords for the First Time in Seven Years

Sun, 2020-09-06 19:34
"Fans have flocked to a church in Germany to hear a chord change in a musical composition that lasts for 639 years," reports the BBC. "It is the first change in the piece, As Slow As Possible, in seven years." The Guardian reports: The performance of the composition began in September 2001 at the St Burchardi church in the eastern town of Halberstadt and is supposed to end in 2640 — if all goes well. The music piece by the American composer John Cage is played on a special organ inside the medieval church... A compressor in the basement creates energy to blow air into the organ to create a continuous sound. When a chord change happens, it's done manually. On Saturday, soprano singer Johanna Vargas and organist Julian Lembke changed the chord. The BBC notes the score for the 639-year composition is just eight pages long. But though the piece was written in the 1980s, it wasn't until nine years after the composer's death in 1992 that anyone dared to attempt playing it. That performance then began — with a pause that lasted nearly 18 months. The next chord change is scheduled for February 5 of the year 2022.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

More Covid-19 Reinfections Found, But Researchers Urge Caution

Sun, 2020-09-06 18:34
That Covid-19 reinfection in Hong Kong was followed by similar reports in Belgium and the Netherlands. It was announced today that a 27-year-old woman in Karnataka, India also tested positive for the disease a second time (though the government is still seeking confirmation), and now researchers in Nevada are also reporting a "likely" case of reinfection. The health-news site Stat reports: What caught experts' attention about the case of the 25-year-old Reno man was not that he appears to have contracted SARS-CoV-2 (the name of the virus that causes Covid-19) a second time. Rather, it's that his second bout was more serious than his first. Immunologists had expected that if the immune response generated after an initial infection could not prevent a second case, then it should at least stave off more severe illness. That's what occurred with the first known reinfection case, in a 33-year-old Hong Kong man. Still, despite what happened to the man in Nevada, researchers are stressing this is not a sky-is-falling situation or one that should result in firm conclusions. They always presumed people would become vulnerable to Covid-19 again some time after recovering from an initial case, based on how our immune systems respond to other respiratory viruses, including other coronaviruses. It's possible that these early cases of reinfection are outliers and have features that won't apply to the tens of millions of other people who have already shaken off Covid-19. "There are millions and millions of cases," said Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The real question that should get the most focus, Mina said, is, "What happens to most people...?" Researchers are finding that, generally, people who get Covid-19 develop a healthy immune response replete with both antibodies (molecules that can block pathogens from infecting cells) and T cells (which help wipe out the virus). This is what happens after other viral infections.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

How Tesla Improves the Range of Its Electric Cars

Sun, 2020-09-06 17:34
Car and Driver magazine explores what gives Tesla's vehicles their comparatively long range. And apparently one factor is just "big batteries. This may be obvious, but a battery that holds more energy should translate to more range, and Tesla has the largest battery packs out there... What isn't always obvious is how much of a battery pack's energy is usable versus its maximum theoretical or gross capacity... Based on the limited data we have, it seems that Tesla allows its cars to use more of a pack's capacity than other manufacturers do. We suspect that's partially because the company puts some of the responsibility on the driver to choose how high to charge the battery, noting that anything above a 90 percent charge should be reserved only for trips, not everyday use. Tesla's largest battery pack carries the energy equivalent of just 2.9 gallons of gas when fully charged. The key to extending EPA range is to use less electricity to propel the vehicle and to recapture as much energy as possible using the electric motors to slow the vehicle whenever the driver lifts off the accelerator during the EPA cycles' many slowdowns. Tesla's aggressive regenerative braking alone nets it a 13 percent gain in range versus the Porsche Taycan, which waits until the driver presses the brake pedal before initiating meaningful regen. This is one piece of Tesla's holistic approach to efficiency that also includes its vehicles' ability to roll down the road with less friction than their competitors. Tesla also obtained more efficiency through the engineering of its all-wheel-drive. But there's also another interesting wrinkle: [T]he EPA allows automakers the option to run three additional drive cycles and use those results to earn a more favorable adjustment factor. Currently, only Tesla and Audi employ this strategy for their EVs, and Tesla scores the most advantageous results, with adjustments that range from 29.5 percent on the Model 3 Standard Range Plus to 24.4 percent on the Model Y Performance. If Tesla had used the standard adjustment factor of 30 percent, the Model Y Performance's window-sticker range would drop to 292 miles. But because Tesla takes advantage of the EPA's alternate methodology, the company can instead claim a 315-mile range. This is all within the regulatory rules. Among EV makers, Tesla has been at this game longer than most, so it's not surprising that it has figured out the tricks to maximizing its EPA numbers. And the magazine shares this tip for prospective Tesla customers. "Based on the road-load data it has submitted to the EPA, opting for 21-inch wheels on a Model S Long Range Plus will cut the range by nearly 80 miles.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Boardwatch/EVTV Founder Jack Rickard Dies at Age 65

Sun, 2020-09-06 16:34
I've only paid for a magazine subscription once in my life — to Jack Rickard's Boardwatch magazine, which through the late 1990s was the geekiest read in town. You can still read 70 issues of the magazine from more than 25 years ago at Archive.org. But this week the small Southeast Missourian newspaper reported that the magazine's original editor/publisher Jack Rickard has died at age 65: Following his graduation in 1973, Jack enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served aboard the USS Midway as an aviation support equipment technician. Following a distinguished tour in the Navy, Jack enjoyed a career as a technical writer in the defense industry. Jack was a Mensa member and an early adopter of new technologies. His keen intelligence helped him to see the value of the internet as early as the 1980s. He started Boardwatch... Supported by a strong team, Jack developed Boardwatch into a successful magazine, which he sold in 1998. Following his initial professional success, Jack proudly returned to his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. While in Cape Girardeau, Jack continued to pursue his interest in innovative technologies, including aviation and electric cars. In 2008, Jack established EVTV, an internet-based platform that taught individuals methods to convert gasoline-powered vehicles into electric-drive vehicles. As electric cars became popular, Jack expanded EVTV to focus on solar power storage. Jack always felt like an old friend, even as his role in the tech community kept evolving. (Rickard's editorials at EVTV always featured a black-and-white sketch of the author — a tradition he'd continued through more than three decades of writing.) Even Boardwatch "began as a publication for the online Bulletin Board Systems of the 1980s and 1990s," explains Wikipedia, "and ultimately evolved into a trade magazine for the Internet service provider (ISP) industry in the late 1990s... Boardwatch spawned an ISP industry tradeshow, ISPcon, and published a yearly Directory of Internet Service Providers. In 1998, Rickard sold a majority interest in Boardwatch and its related products to an East Coast multimedia company, which was then acquired by Penton Media in 1999 and moved to other ventures... This week fans left testimonals on his funeral home's web site. "What an inspiration to mankind," read one. "Always enjoyed his views on any subject. We could use more people in this world with his wit and knowledge." And another just wrote "Jack you were the most insightful speaker on the topic of electric vehicles. I enjoyed every second of your wisdom and videos and will continue to watch them for years to come. Rest In Peace my YouTube friend."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Is There A Google-Free Future For Firefox?

Sun, 2020-09-06 15:34
Forbes reports: Firefox is exploring subscriptions and other "value exchange" services to ease its financial dependence on rival Google, according to the browser's lead developer. Firefox maker, Mozilla, is in the uneasy position of being financially dependent on its search deal with Google, which accounts for the majority of the organization's revenue. Although Mozilla only last month renewed the search deal, ensuring Google remains the default search engine for Firefox in the U.S. and other territories, the company is keen to explore other ways of raising revenue, including charging users for services. Mozilla's partnership with Google is an uncomfortable alliance, not only because the companies distribute rival browsers, but because their values are markedly different. While Google generates the vast bulk of its revenue from online advertising, Firefox's developers expend much of their effort creating tools that thwart advertisers, including the automatic blocking of third-party tracking tools and social-media trackers. "At Mozilla, we tend to believe things are at their best when users have this transparent value exchange," said Dave Camp, senior vice president of Firefox at Mozilla. "The advertising model has become a default way to fund things on the internet and to fund products, and we're pretty interested — not just for financial reasons, but actually for health of the internet reasons — to explore how can we do better for users than advertising." Mozilla recently began charging users $4.99 per month for its VPN product and Camp says the company is exploring other subscription products. "We don't have any immediate plans in the Firefox team to do add-on services or anything like that at the moment, but we're going to look at other ways to get some value exchange going on," said Camp.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Arm's New Linux-Capable Cortex-R82 Processor Will Enable Drives That Both Store and Process Data

Sun, 2020-09-06 14:34
"Arm has announced its first 64 bit, Linux-capable Cortex-R processor, designed for computational storage solutions," reports Electronics Weekly. SiliconAngle calls it "a chip designed to enable a new generation of storage devices that will not only hold data but also help process it." Such devices are part of an emerging hardware category known as computational storage. The technology promises to provide a speed boost for latency-sensitive workloads such as machine learning and real-time analytics applications. Normally, the task of storing data and processing it is relegated to separate components inside a system. The disk or flash drive holds onto the information while a separate processor does the processing. Data has to travel from the storage drive to the processor and back every time an operation is carried out, which creates delays that can slow down performance. The emerging computational storage devices Arm targets attempt to do away with these delays to speed up applications. Instead of sending information to a separate chip for processing, the storage drive processes it locally using its built-in controller. A controller is a tiny computing module inside flash and disk drives that normally performs only low-level tasks such as writing and reading data. Arm's new Cortex-R82 is designed to serve as the controller for computational storage devices. It's available as a chip design that hardware makers can license and customize based on their needs. "The extra computing power allows the chip to run a full Linux distribution as well as applications, all directly inside a storage drive."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

'If Everyone Hates Object-Oriented Programming, Why Is It Still So Widely Spread?'

Sun, 2020-09-06 11:34
Object-oriented programming "has been wildly successful. But was the success just a coincidence?" asks Stack Overflow's blog: Asking why so many widely-used languages are OOP might be mixing up cause and effect. Richard Feldman argues in his talk that it might just be coincidence. C++ was developed in the early 1980s by Bjarne Stroustrup, initially as a set of extensions to the C programming language. Building on C , C++ added object orientation but Feldman argues it became popular for the overall upgrade from C including type-safety and added support for automatic resource management, generic programming, and exception handling, among other features. Then Java wanted to appeal to C++ programmers and doubled down on the OOP part. Ultimately, Sun Microsystems wanted to repeat the C++ trick by aiming for greatest familiarity for developers adopting Java. Millions of developers quickly moved to Java due to its exclusive integration in web browsers at the time. Seen this way, OOP seems to just be hitching a ride, rather than driving the success. While acknowledging OOP cornerstones like encapsulation, inheritance, polymorphism, the article still takes a skeptical stance. "Seems like in 2020, there is not so much that OOP can do that other programming paradigms cannot, and a good programmer will use strategies from multiple paradigms together in the battle against complexity."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Elon Musk Says Settlers Will Likely Die on Mars

Sun, 2020-09-06 08:34
"But is that such a bad thing?" asks Popular Mechanics: Earlier this week, Elon Musk said there's a "good chance" settlers in the first Mars missions will die. And while that's easy to imagine, he and others are working hard to plan and minimize the risk of death by hardship or accident. In fact, the goal is to have people comfortably die on Mars after a long life of work and play that, we hope, looks at least a little like life on Earth... [T]he trip itself will take a year based on current estimates, and applicants to settlement programs are told to expect this trip to be one way. It follows, statistically, that there's an almost certain "chance" these settlers will die on Mars, because their lives will continue there until they naturally end. Musk is referring to accidental death in tough conditions, but people are likely to stay on Mars for the duration either way. When Mars One opened applications in 2013, people flocked to audition to die on Mars after a one-way trip and a lifetime of settlement. As chemist and applicant Taylor Rose Nations said in a 2014 podcast episode: "If I can go to Mars and be a human guinea pig, I'm willing to sort of donate my body to science...." Musks exact words: "I want to emphasize that this is a very hard and dangerous, difficult thing, not for the faint of heart. Good chance you'll die, it's going to be tough going, but it will be pretty glorious if it works out."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Researchers Baffled as Warrior Skeletons Reveal Bronze Age Europeans Couldn't Drink Milk

Sun, 2020-09-06 05:34
sciencehabit quotes Science magazine: About 3000 years ago, thousands of warriors fought on the banks of the Tollense river in northern Germany. They wielded weapons of wood, stone, and bronze to deadly effect: Over the past decade, archaeologists have unearthed the skeletal remains of hundreds of people buried in marshy soil. It's one of the largest prehistoric conflicts ever discovered. Now, genetic testing of the skeletons reveals the homelands of the warriors—and unearths a shocker about early European diets: These soldiers couldn't digest fresh milk... The results leave scientists more puzzled than ever about exactly when and why Europeans began to drink milk. "Natural genetic drift can't explain it, and there's no evidence that it was population turnover either," says Christina Warinner, a geneticist at Harvard University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History who was not involved with the study. "It's almost embarrassing that this is the strongest example of selection we have and we can't really explain it." Perhaps something about fresh milk helped people ward off disease in the increasingly crowded and pathogen-ridden European towns and villages of the Iron Age and Roman period, says the study's co-author. But he admits he's baffled too. "We have to find a reason why you need this drink."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Survey Finds Only 3% of Ruby on Rails Developers Use Windows

Sun, 2020-09-06 02:04
This week saw the release of the 2020 Ruby on Rails Community Survey Results: 2,049 members of the Rails community from 92 countries kindly contributed their thoughts on tools, frameworks, and workflows in their day to day development lives. From these responses we hope to get an understanding of where Rails stands as a framework in 2020. Some of these questions have been asked since our original survey over a decade ago, and show how the community has evolved over the last twelve years. Inside.com's developer newsletter summarized some of the results: - The typical Rails developer is self-taught, has been working with Rails 4-7 years, and works remotely... - Rails developers overwhelmingly choose lightweight solutions like jQuery over larger frameworks. - Most of the developers surveyed feel Rails is still relevant, although they were split on whether or not the Rails core team is moving in the right direction, with 48% totally agreeing with that sentiment. According to the results, 24% of survey respondents primarily developing on Linux, while 73% used Mac OS X (leaving just 3% using Windows or "Other"). Yet the most popular editor was Microsoft's Visual Studio Code (used by 32% of respondents), followed by Vim-based editors (21%), Sublime (16%), RubyMine (15%), Atom (9%), Emacs (3%), and TextMate (2%). The survey also asked the size of development teams for "your primary Rails application." A team of one - 17%Two to four - 35%Five to eight - 19%Eight to 15 - 13%16 to 25 - 6%25-50 - 5% 50-plus - 5% Meanwhile, in a recent talk, Ruby creator Yukihiro Matsumoto confirmed that Ruby 3 will finally be released this Christmas, December 25, bringing a new pattern-matching syntax, right-hand-side variable assignment, and numbered block parameters. He also promised improvements to help make Ruby more fast, more concurrent, and more correct. (Though "We don't pursue completeness nor soundness of the type systems, because, you know, Ruby is Ruby. Ruby is basically dynamically typed...")

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Jaron Lanier Thinks Things May Have Gotten Better, or Facebook 'Might Have Won Already'

Sat, 2020-09-05 23:52
Jaron Lanier helped design "Together" mode for Microsoft Teams, "where he has a post as an in-house seer of sorts," according to a recent profile in GQ. ("Initially he'd conceived of Together mode as a way to help Stephen Colbert — in whose house band Lanier sometimes performs when he's in New York — figure out how to host his show in front of a remote audience...") But Lanier also "might be the last moral man in Silicon Valley," they write, delving into both his support for universal basic income and his harsh view of social media, which they summarize succinctly: "in exchange for likes and retweets and public photos of your kids, you are basically signing up to be a data serf for companies that can make money only by addicting and then manipulating you." But GQ also writes that Lanier now sees some signs of hope, describing his current work as "to not fuck the future over, you know?" He said he noticed a change in how Facebook was both thought of and written about. Take the congressional hearings that were held in July with Mark Zuckerberg and other big tech leaders. "What struck me," Lanier later told me, "was how alone the four CEOs were — no friends or allies anywhere in politics or society. They've creeped everyone out with their opaque form of influence. Even Big Tobacco had friends...." I asked him: Had he noticed a change in his own relationship to technology since the pandemic started? He said that he had. "I think people are spending more time in a self-directed way by connecting with others on video chat or things like that than they are passively receiving a feed," he said. "And so I actually think things have gotten a little better." The fact that people were using computers not to pass time in algorithm-driven loops but to talk to one another, and then perhaps go outside, was a source of optimism for him. Lanier says he also feels that by provoking real and meaningful questions, some social movements are "reintroducing us to reality..." Technology was doing, as it did every once in a while, what Lanier wanted it to do: giving people a chance to be better, to know more, to lead more informed and compassionate lives... So what about the future? I asked. The thing I'd come to talk about. Was the future going to be okay? Lanier, in effect, said: Maybe... Every day Google and Facebook and other tech companies become more powerful and sophisticated by analyzing you and your choices... They don't even really acknowledge that you are contributing, as if artificial intelligence came from nowhere, instead of from data derived from you and me. "In the information age," Lanier said, "we're all workers and consumers and entrepreneurs at the same time." What if, Lanier suggested, we got paid for our labor in this system? By recognizing the roles we play in building the future, Lanier said, we might give ourselves a chance to be meaningful participants in it. "When a person is empowered to make a difference, they become more of a full person," he said. "They awaken spiritually." That would be the best case. All of us building the robot future together, and being compensated for our time and our work while doing it. And...the worst case? I asked. "Facebook might have won already, which would mean the end of democracy in this century," Lanier said. "It's possible that we can't quite get out of this system of paranoia and tribalism for profit — it's just too powerful and it'll tear everything apart, leaving us with a world of oligarchs and autocrats who aren't able to deal with real problems like pandemics and climate change and whatnot and that we fall apart, you know, we lose it. That is a real possibility for this century. I'm not saying I think it's what'll happen, but I wouldn't count it out. There's evidence every single day that it's what's happening...." [D]isinformation goes from Twitter to Fox to the social media feeds of the president, and the cycle begins anew. Look at how powerful these platforms could be, to the point where "the sway of media is more powerful than the experience of reality — that people can be watching hundreds of thousands die from this virus and yet believe it's a hoax at the same time, and integrate those two things. That's the food for evil," Lanier said... But then, here the two of us were. Him in Berkeley, me in Los Angeles, but still somehow together. A modern miracle most modern people have learned to sneer at. Not Lanier, who still sees the wonder, and the potential, of these stupid fucking screens, no matter what.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

How a White-Hat Hacker Once Gained Control of Tesla's Entire Fleet

Sat, 2020-09-05 22:46
"A few years ago, a hacker managed to exploit vulnerabilities in Tesla's servers to gain access and control over the automaker's entire fleet," remembers Electrek (in a story shared by long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo). Tesla enthusiast Jason Hughes had already received a $5,000 bug bounty for reporting a vulnerability, but "knowing that their network wasn't the most secure, to say the least, he decided to go hunting for more bug bounties." After some poking around, he managed to find a bunch of small vulnerabilities. The hacker told Electrek, "I realized a few of these things could be chained together, the official term is a bug chain, to gain more access to other things on their network. Eventually, I managed to access a sort of repository of server images on their network, one of which was 'Mothership'." Mothership is the name of Tesla's home server used to communicate with its customer fleet. Any kind of remote commands or diagnostic information from the car to Tesla goes through "Mothership." After downloading and dissecting the data found in the repository, Hughes started using his car's VPN connection to poke at Mothership. He eventually landed on a developer network connection. That's when he found a bug in Mothership itself that enabled him to authenticate as if it was coming from any car in Tesla's fleet. All he needed was a vehicle's VIN number, and he had access to all of those through Tesla's "tesladex" database thanks to his complete control of Mothership, and he could get information about any car in the fleet and even send commands to those cars. Last week Hughes released an annotated version of the bug report he'd submitted to Tesla. "Hughes couldn't really send Tesla cars driving around everywhere..." reports Electrek, "but he could 'Summon' them..." Telsa gave him a special $50,000 bug report reward — several times higher than their usual maximum — and "used the information provided by Hughes to secure its network." Electrek calls it "a good example of the importance of whitehat hackers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Technology

Pages