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What was your favorite course of study? (yeah, it's biased -- do your best!)

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Comments:30 | Votes:85

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday January 17, @01:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the new-1984-models dept.

Now that automobile manufacturers are almost more about software than hardware, your car company may know more about you than your spouse based on all the sensors in your car. The incentive to collect driver and passenger data is great. Every piece of data is used to increase revenue, especially if sold onward to third-parties.

Dunn may consider his everyday driving habits mundane, but auto and privacy experts suspect that big automakers like Honda see them as anything but. By monitoring his everyday movements, an automaker can vacuum up a massive amount of personal information about someone like Dunn, everything from how fast he drives and how hard he brakes to how much fuel his car uses and the entertainment he prefers. The company can determine where he shops, the weather on his street, how often he wears his seat belt, what he was doing moments before a wreck — even where he likes to eat and how much he weighs.

Though drivers may not realize it, tens of millions of American cars are being monitored like Dunn's, experts say, and the number increases with nearly every new vehicle that is leased or sold.

The result is that carmakers have turned on a powerful spigot of precious personal data, often without owners' knowledge, transforming the automobile from a machine that helps us travel to a sophisticated computer on wheels that offers even more access to our personal habits and behaviors than smartphones do.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 17, @12:56PM   Printer-friendly

[Update: Reboot of beryllium was successful and our IRC services were restored without issue. Hat tip to our sysops who made this happen so smoothly! --martyb]

Linode, which hosts our servers, is rolling out fixes for the Meltdown/Spectre bugs. This necessitates a hard reboot of their servers, and that means any guest servers will be down while this happens. beryllium is scheduled for a reboot with a two-hour window starting at 2018-01-17 07:00 AM UTC (02:00 AM EST). The outage should be relatively brief — a matter of just a few minutes.

We expect this will cause our IRC (Internet Relay Chat) service to be unavailable. We do not anticipate any problems, but if things go sideways, I'm sure the community will find a way to let us know via the comments.

Planning ahead, we have learned that lithium, sodium, and boron are all scheduled for a reboot at on 2018-01-18 at 09:00 AM UTC.

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we strive to keep the impact to the site to a minimum.

[TMB Note]: Sodium is our currently configured load balancer and we weren't given enough notice to switch to Magnesium (DNS propagation can take a while), so expect ten minutes or less of site downtime. Or temporarily add to your hosts file if ten minutes is more than you can wait.

Previously: Scheduled SN Reboots Due to Meltdown and Spectre; 2-Hour Window Starts: Fri 2018-01-12 @ 10:00:00UTC

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday January 17, @12:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the kaboom dept.

Just about everybody is coming up with video about the meteor over the Detroit area.

"It looks like from videos and reports we've gotten (that it's a) meteor," said Jordan Dale, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake. "However, we cannot confirm it's a meteor. At this point, we're just sticking to what we know — and it was not thunder or lightning or weather-related."

The weather service by about 9 p.m. had already received dozens of reports, ranging from Flint to Toledo.

Multiple images were posted of night skies being lit up, as social media exploded with people reporting what they saw or heard.

Additional coverage at CBSNews, Click On Detroit, The Detroit News and Fox News.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday January 17, @10:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the AI-likes-k-pop dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

It's a commonly held grudge of listeners who are no longer pop's core demographic that the music of the moment is not what it once was [...] But [what] happens when science attempts to prove these claims? Here are some studies that suggest your parents might have been having a lot more pop fun than you are...

[...] This followed a similar study by a team from the Spanish National Research Council, lead by artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serrà, who examined nearly half a million pop songs over a similar period (in this case 1955-2010), and looked at their tonal, melodic and lyrical content. They concluded that pop has become melodically less complex, using fewer chord changes, and that pop recordings are mastered to sound consistently louder (and therefore less dynamic) at a rate of around one decibel every eight years.

[...] The Lempel-Ziv algorithm is a lossless way to compress data, by taking out repetitions, and Morris used it as a tool to examine 15,000 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 from 1958 to 2014, reducing their lyrics down to their smallest size without losing any data, and comparing their relative sizes. He found two very interesting things. The first was that in every year of study, the songs that reached the Top 10 were more repetitive than their competition. The second is that pop has become more repetitive over time, as Morris points out: "2014 is the most repetitive year on record. An average song from this year compresses 22% more efficiently than one from 1960."

Of course, none of this means that pop songs are any less fun. They may be slower and sadder than before, but if pop songs are now simpler and louder and more repetitive than they used to be, that might make up for it. In fact, a 2011 report called Music and Emotions in the Brain: Familiarity Matters, compiled by a team led by Carlos Silva Pereira suggests that the human brain enjoys knowing what is coming next in music. Having conducted fMRI scans on people listening to songs, the report concludes that, "Familiarity seems to be a crucial factor in making the listeners emotionally engaged with music."

Source: Has pop music lost its fun?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday January 17, @08:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the do-they-come-pre-tapped dept.

Google Cloud will add Montreal, the Netherlands, Los Angeles, Finland, and Hong Kong as new cloud computing regions. Google will also invest in three new undersea cables:

Google is extending its cloud computing infrastructure with the introduction of five new regions and plans to build its own undersea cable.

The advertising-to-cloud-computing giant said its new Netherlands and Montreal cloud computing regions will open in the first quarter of 2018, followed by Los Angeles, Finland, and Hong Kong.

Like other cloud infrastructure companies, Google orders its cloud computing resources into regions which are then subdivided into zones, which include one or more data centers from which customers can run their services. It currently has 15 regions made up of 44 zones.

The new cables will connect Los Angeles to Chile, the U.S. to Denmark and Ireland, and Hong Kong to Guam. The Los Angeles to Chile cable will be Google's first private undersea cable.

Google will be investing in a total of 11 undersea cables, although it would prefer not to be in the cable-building consortium business.

Also at WSJ, Reuters, and CNBC.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday January 17, @07:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the chips-on-the-table dept.

Ford Motor Company plans to substantially increase its investment in electric vehicles:

Ford Motor Co's plan to double its electrified vehicle spending is part of an investment tsunami in batteries and electric cars by global automakers that now totals $90 billion and is still growing, a Reuters analysis shows.

That money is pouring in to a tiny sector that amounts to less than 1 percent of the 90 million vehicles sold each year and where Elon Musk's Tesla Inc, with sales of only three models totaling just over 100,000 vehicles in 2017, was a dominant player.

[...] "We're all in," Ford Motor Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr said of the company's $11 billion investment, announced on Sunday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. "The only question is, will the customers be there with us?"

[...] Investments in electrified vehicles announced to date include at least $19 billion by automakers in the United States, $21 billion in China and $52 billion in Germany.

Also at CNBC.

Related: Ford Pumps Cash Into Company Creating Maps for Self-Driving Cars
Ford Invests in Michigan's Autonomous Car Testing Grounds

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 17, @05:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the faceblocked dept.

On January 15th, 2018, World Socialist Web Site reported that users are unable to share a promotional video for a January 16th online meeting, "Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship."

Facebook has blocked users from sharing a social media video promoting the January 16 online meeting "Organizing resistance to Internet censorship," featuring World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board Chairman David North and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. The initial post of the video, uploaded Friday, cannot be shared by any user. Those who attempt to do so receive an error message that seems to imply a technical failure.

Users reported, however, that upon clicking "If you think you're seeing this message by mistake, please let us know," they were presented with a notice that clearly indicates the content had been blocked in the name of keeping Facebook "safe."

WSWS published an open letter about internet censorship and net neutrality on November 25. The FCC repealed net neutrality rules on December 14, 2017.

In this AC's opinion, Facebook is certainly within their rights to refuse to host any content for any reasons they choose. However, for many people, Facebook is the internet.

Should we worry about entrenched services such as Facebook and Google using their positions to suppress information? Does the presence or absence of net neutrality change one's analysis of the situation?

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 17, @04:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the end-run dept.

[...] A work that might look infringing because it includes public domain material used elsewhere therefore runs the risk of being widely blocked.[...]

Although in theory those using public domain materials might be able to appeal against such an action, it would require them to know how to do that, and to have the time and the inclination to do so. One of biggest strengths of public domain materials is that they can be used without permission by anyone – especially by those who know nothing about the finer points of copyright law, and who have limited financial resources. It is precisely these individuals who will be unwilling or unable to challenge erroneous blocking by upload filters. Over time, people may even avoid drawing on public domain materials for fear that their posts will be blocked, and that they may be subject to other punishments by sites hosting their material because of their repeated copyright "offences".

Those pushing for upload filters will doubtless insist this outcome is not their intent, and that may be so. But given the impossibility of incorporating detailed legal knowledge about this famously complex area into online censorship systems, and the vulnerability of the public domain, which is particularly at risk because there is no organisation to defend it, it is inevitable that this rich resource, built up over three hundred years, will be badly affected by automated filters. If it adopts this approach, the EU will end up undermining the basic quid pro quo of copyright – that works can be used freely after a temporary monopoly has elapsed – and thus the public's acceptance that the current framework is in some sense "fair". Ironically, a draconian upload filter system brought in supposedly to defend copyright could end up leading to it being seriously de-legitimised.

Source : Don't Let Upload Filters Undermine the Public Domain

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 17, @02:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the that-smell-again dept.

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are a source of methane in the atmosphere:

An unexpected source of methane in the environment has been inadvertently discovered.

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are the chief means by which nitrogen gas in the air is changed into a form that plants and animals can use. Roughly 10 percent of these nitrogen-fixing microorganisms contain the genetic code for manufacturing a back-up enzyme, called iron iron-only nitrogenase, to do their job.

Recent research reveals that this enzyme allows these microorganisms to convert nitrogen gas to ammonia and carbon dioxide into methane at the same time. The ammonia is the main product; the methane is only a sideline.

This enzymatic pathway is a previously unknown route for the natural biological production of methane.

A pathway for biological methane production using bacterial iron-only nitrogenase (DOI: 10.1038/s41564-017-0091-5) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday January 17, @12:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the get-on-the-blockchain-train dept.

BBC and many others are reporting this story,

The US firm said it was teaming up with London-based Wenn Media Group to carry out the initial coin offering (ICO).

It is part of a blockchain-based initiative to help photographers control their image rights.

Kodak also detailed plans to install rows of Bitcoin mining rigs at its headquarters in Rochester, New York.

Anyone have further details?

Kodak's Supposed Crytocurrency Entrance Appears To Be Little More Than A Rebranded Paparazzi Copyright Trolling Scheme... With The Blockchain

For a few years now I've debated writing up a post about why a "blockchain-based DRM" is an idea that people frequently talk about, but which is a really dumb idea. Because the key point in the blockchain is that it "solves"...

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

Also at Bloomberg, The Verge, and Futurism.

Original Submission #1   Original Submission #2

posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday January 16, @11:16PM   Printer-friendly
from the less-time-suck dept.

That's enough angry Facebooking for you:

Late on Thursday, Facebook announced a plan to emphasize more "meaningful" interactions on the platform. Posts are considered meaningful when they generate lots of comments, likes, and shares. Facebook's researchers have found that when people are actively commenting on posts, they tend to feel better about using social networks — and feel better about themselves in general.

The change may sound relatively small, but it's likely to have significant consequences for the broad subset of Facebook users that aren't individual people: media companies, small businesses, big brands, and everyone else who has come to see Facebook's News Feed as an essential way to reach audiences and customers. In a post yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the pages managed by those businesses are likely to reach far fewer people in 2018.

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media," he wrote. "And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

He added: "Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too."

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday January 16, @09:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the remember-when-the-internet-was-a-safe-place? dept.

Sixty games were booted off the Play Store after security firm Check Point discovered that they contained pornographic ads and malicious components. Before their removal, the games were downloaded between 3 million and 7 million times, according to the download metrics on the Play Store.

The malware is dubbed "AdultSwine," and according to Check Point Research, it had three main features:

  1. Displaying ads from the Web that are often highly inappropriate and pornographic
  2. Attempting to trick users into installing fake "security apps"
  3. Inducing users to register to premium services at the user's expense

The 60 listings in the Play Store were generally knockoff games, like "Five Nights Survival Craft." In some cases, the creator simply stole a real IP, as in "Drawing Lessons Angry Birds." Once installed, the app would phone home, sending information about the user's phone and receiving instructions on how to operate. The app could hide its icon, making removal more difficult. Check Point says the malware could display ads from "the main ad providers" or switch to its own ad server, which provided porn ads, scareware ads, and ads that tricked the user into signing up for premium services. AdultSwine not only displayed ads while users played the game that came with the malware; it could also show pop-up ads on top of other apps.


Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday January 16, @08:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the satellites-flying-backwards dept.

What caught my eye initially was the unusual track of the flight path.

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket climbed into orbit Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with a top secret spy satellite, adding a new set of eyes in the sky for the U.S. government's intelligence community and nudging part of the Delta 4 family closer to retirement.

The 217-foot-tall (66-meter) Delta 4 rocket lifted off at 2:11 p.m. PST (5:11 p.m. EST; 2211 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg on the power of an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engine and two Orbital ATK-built solid rocket boosters.

[...] ULA confirmed the flight's successful outcome in a press release around two hours after liftoff.

[...] "It's a classified payload for the NRO," Varghese said in a pre-launch interview. "We can't go into the details of what the payload does, but it's a national security priority, and it's mission will ensure that the warfighters across the globe have the appropriate intel that they need to be able to support operations."

Codenamed NROL-47, the satellite lofted Friday will likely join the NRO's fleet of orbiting radar reconnaissance stations.

The Delta 4's trajectory toward the southwest suggested it was bound for an unusual high-inclination retrograde orbit that would allow the rocket's top secret payload to travel in the opposite direction of Earth's rotation.


Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday January 16, @06:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the that-explains-Kim-Kardashian dept.

Psychologists claim that taking three or more selfies a day could be a sign of mental illness.

In 2014, a spoof news article coined the term "selfitis," saying that the American Psychiatric Association was going to start recognising it as a real disorder.

Three years on, two researchers have looked at the term and have decided there could be some truth to it.

Psychologists Mark D. Griffiths and Janarthanan Balakrishnan have published a paper in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, in which they argue that selfitis is a real condition, and can be diagnosed as excessive selfie taking.

They also developed a "Selfitis Behaviour Scale" by surveying the selfie behaviour of 400 participants from India. The scale assesses the severity of the condition, of which there are three levels.

India was chosen for the study as the country has the most selfie-related deaths. Out of 127 selfie-related deaths that have been reported worldwide between March 2014 and September 2016, 76 occurred in India.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday January 16, @04:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the shallow-premise dept.

You may not think much about the switches that sit underneath the keycaps of your keyboard, but there's a large contingent of enthusiasts who really, really care. And for those users, Cherry's various MX-branded switches are somewhat of a standard. Because they include a number of mechanical parts, though, you won't see a lot of laptop-like thin mechanical keyboards or mechanical keyboards on more than a handful of laptops.

The trend, however, is clearly going toward slim keyboards — and that's not lost on Cherry. So at CES this week, the company is introducing a completely new line of keyboard switches that may just be small enough to bring mechanical keyboards to more laptops (or at least more niche gaming laptops) and thinner keyboards. These new switches are low-profile versions of the Cherry MX RGB switch, a switch that features colored LEDs and which is especially popular with gamers. The company tells me that, if successful, it'll launch thinner versions of its other MX switches, too.


Original Submission