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News for nerds, stuff that mattersSearch Slashdot stories



Published: 2017-03-31T00:50:18+00:00

 



IBM Technology Creates Smart Wingman For Self-Driving Cars

2017-03-30T23:20:00+00:00

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: IBM said that it has patented a machine learning technology that defines how to shift control of an autonomous vehicle between a human driver and a vehicle control processor in the event of a potential emergency. Basically the patented IBM system employs onboard sensors and artificial intelligence to determine potential safety concerns and control whether self-driving vehicles are operated autonomously or by surrendering control to a human driver. The idea is that if a self-driving vehicle experiences an operational glitch like a faulty braking system, a burned-out headlight, poor visibility, bad road conditions, it could decide whether the on-board self-driving vehicle control processor or a human driver is in a better position to handle that anomaly. If the comparison determines that the vehicle control processor is better able to handle the anomaly, the vehicle is placed in autonomous mode," IBM stated. "The technology would be a smart wingman for both the human and the self-driving vehicle," said James Kozloski, manager, Computational Neuroscience and Multiscale Brain Modeling, IBM Research and co-inventor on the patent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Verizon To Force 'AppFlash' Spyware On Android Phones

2017-03-30T01:25:00+00:00

saccade.com writes: Verizon is joining with the creators of a tool called "Evie Launcher" to make a new app search/launcher tool called AppFlash, which will be installed on all Verizon phones running Android. The app provides no functionality to users beyond what Google Search does. It does, however, give Verizon a steady stream of metrics on your app usage and searches. A quick glance at the AppFlash privacy policy confirms this is the real purpose behind it: "We collect information about your device and your use of the AppFlash services. This information includes your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them. We also access information about the list of apps you have on your device. [...] AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Westinghouse Files For Bankruptcy, In Blow To Nuclear Power

2017-03-30T00:45:00+00:00

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Westinghouse Electric Co, a unit of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, hit by billions of dollars of cost overruns at four nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S. Southeast. The bankruptcy casts doubt on the future of the first new U.S. nuclear power plants in three decades, which were scheduled to begin producing power as soon as this week, but are now years behind schedule. The four reactors are part of two projects known as V.C. Summer in South Carolina, which is majority owned by SCANA Corp, and Vogtle in Georgia, which is owned by a group of utilities led by Southern Co. Costs for the projects have soared due to increased safety demands by U.S. regulators, and also due to significantly higher-than-anticipated costs for labor, equipment and components. Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse said it hopes to use bankruptcy to isolate and reorganize around its "very profitable" nuclear fuel and power plant servicing businesses from its money-losing construction operation. Westinghouse said in a court filing it has secured $800 million in financing from Apollo Investment Corp, an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, to fund its core businesses during its reorganization. Westinghouse's nuclear services business is expected to continue to perform profitably over the course of the bankruptcy and eventually be sold by Toshiba, people familiar with the matter said. When regulators in Georgia and South Carolina approved the construction of Westinghouse's AP1000 reactors in 2009, it was meant to be the start of renewed push to develop U.S. nuclear power. However, a flood of cheap natural gas from shale, the lack of U.S. legislation to curb carbon emissions and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan dampened enthusiasm for nuclear power. Toshiba had acquired Westinghouse in 2006 for $5.4 billion. It expected to build dozens of its new AP1000 reactors -- which were hailed as safer, quicker to construct and more compact -- creating a pipeline of work for its maintenance division.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Hobbyist Turns Nintendo 64 Console Into Nintendo Switch Dock

2017-03-30T00:05:00+00:00

adosch writes: Polygon reports that a Reddit user "modified a broken Nintendo 64 and transformed it into a functioning Switch dock." The modder, who goes by the handle "Tettzan Zone," has "been keeping fellow Switch fans updated on his adventures in console customization on Reddit, sharing the steps he took to making the entire Nintendo 64 workable as a dock." The original post about full mod details can be found here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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'Samsung Dex' Is a Galaxy S8 Dock That Turns Your Phone Into a Desktop

2017-03-29T23:20:00+00:00

Samsung has officially launched their new Galaxy S8 smartphone today, along with several different accessories. One of the accessories is the Samsung Dex, a dock that aims to replace your desktop computer with your phone. If the idea sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft attempted to do this with its Microsoft Display Dock that requires a Windows 10 Lumia 950 or 950 XL with Continuum and a USB-C connector. Given the abysmal market share of Windows 10 Mobile, it's no wonder the dock didn't take off. Samsung, on the other hand, may have more luck convincing users to get rid of their desktop in favor of the Dex. Andrew Cunningham provides some more details in his report via Ars Technica: Samsung hasn't announced pricing or a release date, and most of what we know comes from Samsung's presentation. The dock is small and circular, includes two USB ports and an HDMI port, and it is powered via USB-C (same as the S8 itself). The Verge reports that there's a small cooling fan inside the dock that presumably keeps the phone from throttling too much, enabling more desktop-y performance. The desktop UI looks mostly straightforward: there's a lock screen, a desktop, and a Windows or Chrome OS-esque taskbar with app icons on it. You can use apps full-screen or keep them in windows -- we're still talking about Android apps, and not all of them are well-suited to running on anything other than a phone or a small, narrow window.

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One in Five Mobile Phones Shipped Abroad Are Phoney

2017-03-29T18:00:00+00:00

Nearly one-fifth of mobile phones and one-quarter of video game consoles shipped abroad are fake, according to a report by the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Register adds: The Trade in Counterfeit ICT Goods report, published ahead of the 2017 OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum this month, identified a growing trend in fake goods. Smartphone batteries, chargers, memory cards, magnetic stripe cards, solid state drives and music players are also increasingly falling prey to counterfeiters. On average, 6.5 per cent of global trade in ICT goods is in counterfeit products, according to analysis of 2013 customs data, that is up from 2.5 per cent of overall traded goods found to be fake in a 2016 report. China is the primary source of fake ICT goods, and US manufacturers are the worst affected by lost revenue and erosion of brand value, the report said. Almost 43 per cent of seized fake ICT goods infringe the IP rights of US firms, followed by 25 per cent for Finnish firms and 12 per cent for Japanese firms.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Samsung Launches Galaxy S8 Smartphone

2017-03-29T15:25:00+00:00

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled the Galaxy S8, its latest flagship smartphone boasting a new voice assistant and larger display as the technology titan looks to steal a march on Apple and regain ground after the embarrassing Note 7 saga. The phone comes in two models with different screen sizes -- the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8 Plus. From a report: Some of the key features of the device include a so-called "infinity display", giving the device a bezel-less curved edge and a 12 megapixel back camera. [...] Samsung also revealed Bixby, a smart voice assistant to rival Apple's Siri. It will be able to answer questions you ask, but Samsung highlighted how it's different. One use case involved taking a picture of a monument and Bixby being able to tell you information about this as well as recommendations of restaurants nearby. The display has a resolution of 2960 x 1440. The Galaxy S8 (both variants) comes powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core SoC (in international markets, Exynos octa-core). Other features include 12MP rear camera, 8MP front-facing camera, 3,000 mAh battery (3,500 mAh battery on Plus model), USB-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water and dust resistance capability, support for wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.0, and support for LTE Cat 16. It runs Android 7.0. Prices are yet to be announced.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scientists Turn Mammalian Cells Into Complex Biocomputers

2017-03-29T03:30:00+00:00

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Computer hardware is getting a softer side. A research team has come up with a way of genetically engineering the DNA of mammalian cells to carry out complex computations, in effect turning the cells into biocomputers. The group hasn't put those modified cells to work in useful ways yet, but down the road researchers hope the new programming techniques will help improve everything from cancer therapy to on-demand tissues that can replace worn-out body parts. To upgrade their DNA "switches," Wong and his colleagues steered clear of transcription factors and instead switched human kidney cell genes on and off using scissor-like enzymes that selectively cut out snippets of DNA. These enzymes, known as DNA recombinases, recognize two target stretches of DNA, each between 30 to 50 or more base pairs long. When a recombinase finds its target DNA stretches, it cuts out any DNA in between, and stitches the severed ends of the double helix back together. To design genetic circuits, Wong and his colleagues use the conventional cellular machinery that reads out a cell's DNA, transcribes its genes into RNA, and then translates the RNA into proteins. This normal gene-to-protein operation is initiated by another DNA snippet, a promoter, that sits just upstream of a gene. When a promoter is activated, a molecule called RNA polymerase gets to work, marching down the DNA strand and producing an RNA until it reaches another DNA snippet -- a termination sequence -- that tells it to stop. To make one of their simplest circuits, Wong's team inserted four extra snippets of DNA after a promoter. The main one produced green fluorescent protein (GFP), which lights up cells when it is produced. But in front of it was a termination sequence, flanked by two snippets that signaled the DNA recombinase. Wong and his team then inserted another gene in the same cell that made a modified recombinase, activated only when bound to a specific drug; without it, the recombinase wouldn't cut the DNA. When the promoter upstream of the GFP gene was activated, the RNA polymerase ran headfirst into the termination sequence, stopped reading the DNA, and didn't produce the fluorescent protein. But when the drug was added, the recombinase switched on and spliced out the termination sequence that was preventing the RNA polymerase from initiating production of GFP. Voila, the cell lit up. The approach Wong and his colleagues used worked so well that they were able to build 113 different circuits, with a 96.5% success rate. The study has been published in the journal Nature. Read more of this story at Slashdot.[...]



Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Lies Programmers Tell Themselves?

2017-03-29T00:20:00+00:00

snydeq writes: "Confidence in our power over machines also makes us guilty of hoping to bend reality to our code," writes Peter Wayner, in a discussion of nine lies programmers tell themselves about their code. "Of course, many problems stem from assumptions we programmers make that simply aren't correct. They're usually sort of true some of the time, but that's not the same as being true all of the time. As Mark Twain supposedly said, 'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'" The nine lies Wayner mentions in his discussion include: "Questions have one answer," "Null is acceptable," "Human relationships can be codified," "'Unicode' stands for universal communication," "Numbers are accurate," "Human language is consistent," "Time is consistent," "Files are consistent," and "We're in control." Can you think of any other lies programmers tell themselves?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Galaxy S8 Will Be Samsung's Biggest Test Ever

2017-03-28T23:40:00+00:00

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: You know what's coming tomorrow, you've known and waited for it for months now. Samsung's 2017 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, will be officially announced, and one of the most critical periods in the company's history will begin. The phone Samsung launches on Wednesday will carry greater expectations and have to prove a lot more than usual. Even as the world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung's mobile credibility was deeply shaken by the Galaxy Note 7 snafu, so it now needs to reassert its reliability while also rebooting its technological advantage. Vlad Savov provides a "rundown of the biggest challenges facing Samsung" in his report. While Samsung will need to nail the design and camera performance, as well as many other things, the most critical area will be the battery, given how the Note 7 was recalled due to battery issues. Even though that incident took place half a year ago, we are still faced with the consequences. Samsung is still trying to figure out what to do with the "recalled units" and people are still making bad jokes about "explosive Samsung news." If the Galaxy S8 is to have any battery issues whatsoever, the result could be catastrophic for the company. Though, Samsung is well aware of this and has likely packed "the most robust and durable batteries we've ever seen in a smartphone" inside the Galaxy S8 devices.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Hong Kong Government Loses Laptops Containing Personal Data of 3.7 Million Voters

2017-03-28T22:00:00+00:00

New submitter fatp writes: Hong Kong Free Press reports that the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) has lost two laptops containing the personal data of all 3.7 million voters after the chief executive election [on Sunday]. The REO said "the personal data was encrypted and there was no evidence that it had been leaked." Only 1,194 people had right to vote in the election.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs

2017-03-28T16:00:00+00:00

Who is winning the race for jobs between robots and humans? Last year, two leading economists described a future in which humans come out ahead. But now they've declared a different winner: the robots. From a report on the New York Times: The industry most affected by automation is manufacturing. For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent, according to a new paper by the economists, Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University. It appears to be the first study to quantify large, direct, negative effects of robots. The paper is all the more significant because the researchers, whose work is highly regarded in their field, had been more sanguine about the effect of technology on jobs. In a paper last year, they said it was likely that increased automation would create new, better jobs, so employment and wages would eventually return to their previous levels. Just as cranes replaced dockworkers but created related jobs for engineers and financiers, the theory goes, new technology has created new jobs for software developers and data analysts. From a report on The Verge, which looks at another finding in the study: They found that each new robot added to the workforce meant the loss of between 3 and 5.6 jobs in the local commuting area. Meanwhile, for each new robot added per 1,000 workers, wages in the surrounding area would fall between 0.25 and 0.5 percent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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GameStop To Close At Least 150 Stores Due To Poor Q4 Sales

2017-03-28T10:00:00+00:00

GameStop announced last week that it will be closing more than 150 of its stores globally due to "weak sales of certain AAA titles and aggressive console promotions by other retailers." The chain also mentioned it "anticipates that it will close between two percent to three percent of its global store footprint" in 2017. Nintendo Wire reports: The Q4 window is often the high point of video game sales, yet despite the launch of new hardware in the PlayStation 4 Pro and a few major releases, it wasn't enough in the company's eyes. Despite this, GameStop still plans on opening 100 stores in 2017 which will likely focus more on non-gaming business, such as the Spring Mobile brand and vinyl collectibles. GameStop CEO Paul Raines said in a statement: "The video game category was weak, particularly in the back half of 2016, as the console cycle ages. Looking at 2017, Technology Brands and Collectibles are expected to generate another year of strong growth, and new hardware innovation in the video game category looks promising." You can view GameStop's 2016 earnings report here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New AI Algorithm Beats Even the World's Worst Traffic

2017-03-28T01:30:00+00:00

"Computer scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a new intelligent routing algorithm that attempts to minimize the occurrence of spontaneous traffic jams -- those sudden snarls caused by greedy merges and other isolated disruptions -- throughout a roadway network," reports Motherboard. "It's both computationally distributed and fast, requirements for any real-world traffic management system. Their work is described in the April issue of IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computational Intelligence." From the report: The Nanyang researchers' algorithm starts off by just assuming that, given enough traffic density, shit is going to happen. Someone is going to make a greedy merge -- something is going to cause enough of a traffic perturbation to result in a network breakdown. Breakdown in this context is a technical-ish term indicating that for some period of time the traffic outflow from a segment of roadway is going to be less than the traffic inflow. "We assume that the traffic breakdown model has already been given, and the probability of traffic breakdown occurrence is larger than zero (meaning that traffic breakdowns would occur), and our goal is to direct the traffic flow so that the overall traffic breakdown probability is minimized," Hongliang Guo and colleagues write. Put differently, "our objective is to maximize the probability that none of the network links encounters a traffic breakdown." So, the goal of the algorithm is this maximization, which reduces to a fairly tidy equation. It then becomes a machine learning problem. Things get pretty messy at this point, but just understand that we're taking the current traffic load, adding an unknown additional load that might enter the network at any time, and then coming up with probabilities of network breakdown at each of the network's nodes or intersections. Crunch some linear algebra and we wind up with optimal routes through the network. Crucially, Guo and co. were able to come up with some mathematical optimizations that make this kind of calculation feasible in real-time. They were able to demonstrate their algorithm in simulations and are currently working on a further analysis with BMW, which is providing a vast trove of data from its Munich car-sharing fleet. This may not be as distant a technology as it might seem. As it turns out, only 10 percent of cars in a network need to be driving according to the optimizations for those optimizations to have a positive effect on the entire network. Read more of this story at Slashdot.[...]



Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Working Environment For a Developer?

2017-03-28T00:10:00+00:00

New submitter Dorgendubal writes: I work for a company with more than a thousand developers and I'm participating in activities aimed at improving the work experience of developers. Our developers receive an ultrabook that is rather powerful but not really adapted for development (no admin rights, small storage capacity, restrictive security rules, etc.). They also have access to VDIs (more flexibility) but often complain of performance issues during certain hours of the day. Overall, developers want to have maximum autonomy, free choice of their tools (OS, IDE, etc.) and access to internal development environments (PaaS, GIT repositories, continuous delivery tools, etc.) . We recently had a presentation of VMWare on desktop and application virtualization (Workstation & Horizon), which is supposedly the future of the desktops. It sounds interesting on paper but I remain skeptical. What is the best working environment for a developer, offering flexibility, performance and some level of free choice, without compromising security, compliance, licensing (etc.) requirements? I would like you to share your experiences on BYOD, desktop virtualization, etc. and the level of satisfaction of the developers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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