Linux fréttir

'South Park' Nears $500-Million Deal for US Streaming Rights

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 22:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Los Angeles Times: "South Park" is the latest beneficiary of Hollywood's rerun mania. The show's creators and media giant Viacom Inc. expect to share between $450 million and $500 million by selling the streaming rights to the animated comedy, one of the longest-running TV series in U.S. history, according to people familiar with the matter. As many as a half-dozen companies are bidding for exclusive U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of the show, which has been available on Walt Disney Co.'s Hulu in recent years. Viacom and the show's creators hope to secure a new deal by the end of 2019 and could decide on the winning bidder as soon as this weekend, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. The value of popular TV reruns has skyrocketed, fueled by new streaming platforms seeking programming that can attract subscribers and provide an edge over rivals. Viacom and "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone expect the multiyear deal to net more than double what Hulu paid in 2015.... One company that probably won't be bidding is Apple Inc., the people said. The tech giant has eschewed controversial programming that could damage its brand, and it's wary of offending China, where it sells a lot of iPhones. "South Park" was just banned in China after an episode mocked the country's censorship of Western movies and TV.

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Australia's Buggy Automated System Suspended 1 Million Welfare Payments This Year

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 21:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian's report on last year's update to Australia's automated system for welfare benefits: Welfare advocates say the consequences have been disastrous... In 12 months, welfare payments were stopped an extra 1 million times... [A] recipient's money is cut off automatically until they satisfy their job agency consultant that they are committed to looking for work... Consultants have less discretion when a welfare recipient does not turn up to an appointment or misses another compulsory activity. They enter a code into a system that automatically triggers a payment suspension. The same goes when the welfare recipient fails to report their income or confirm they met their job search requirements via digital channels. Money is stopped first, and questions are asked later. The idea is that this will encourage people to follow the rules. "In some cases it's left single parents without money for food for their children over a weekend because they haven't logged in and reported their attendance," says Adrianne Walters, a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre. "And so the computer says, 'No payments'. And then that person is left without anywhere to turn until their employment service provider opens up again on the Monday...." Since the new policies were introduced, about 50,000 suspension notifications now go out to welfare recipients across the country each week... analysis of government statistics by the Guardian shows about 75% of the time, benefits recipients who had their payments suspended under the new system were not at fault... Meanwhile, across a controversial welfare-to-work program for single parents with children under five, 85% had their payments suspended automatically but were later cleared of wrongdoing. The overwhelming majority were single mothers.

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Why The 'Not-Com' Stock Bubble Is Popping

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 20:34
"In the dot-com bubble, public investors got hosed," remembers The Atlantic. "Today, it's public investors that are doing the hosing." When the web browser Netscape went public on August 9, 1995 -- the day many cite as the beginning of the dot-com bubble -- its stock skyrocketed from $28 to $75 in a matter of hours, even though the company wasn't profitable. In today's market, the opposite is happening: Unicorns with no positive earnings are getting slaughtered at the gates. WeWork's valuation fell more than 80 percent pre-IPO when investors balked at its mounting losses. Peloton, Lyft, and Uber have also struggled to persuade public markets to grade them on a curve; all saw their stock prices fall on the day of the public offering. Institutions and retail investors are refusing to fork over to unicorns the valuations that private investors were expecting -- particularly Softbank, a major backer of Uber, Lyft, and WeWork. This isn't a picture of mass mania. It's a picture of public sobriety, where the masses are diagnosing an acute fever in private markets. Second, there is little sign of a crisis for firms whose main product is pure software. Judging from the news, you might think this has been a terrible year for technology companies. But tech IPOs have been strong for the past two years, "as long as what you're buying is actually a real tech company," JP Morgan's chair of market and investment strategy, Michael Cembalest, wrote in an October 7 research note. By "real tech," Cembalest was referring to companies whose principal product is software, rather than, say, WeWork, which is in truth a real-estate company caught wearing an Actual Tech Company costume before Halloween. The article makes it case by citing three "real tech" companies which grab fewer headlines because they sell cloud services or business-to-business software. "But all of them are trading more than 100 percent above their listed IPO price."

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Huawei Says US Firms Have Expressed Interest In Licensing Its 5G Technology

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 20:04
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei is in early-stage talks with some U.S. telecoms companies about licensing its 5G network technology to them, a Huawei executive told Reuters on Friday. Vincent Pang, senior vice president and board director at the company said some firms had expressed interest in both a long-term deal or a one-off transfer, declining to name or quantify the companies. "There are some companies talking to us, but it would take a long journey to really finalize everything," Pang explained on a visit to Washington this week. "They have shown interest," he added, saying conversations are only a couple of weeks old and not at a detailed level yet.

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Forbes Raves Upcoming Linux Desktop Will 'Embarass' Windows 10 and macOS

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 19:34
Forbes senior contributor Jason Evangelho dedicated a whole article to a coming update for one Chinese-domestic Linux distribution: If you haven't been paying attention to a little Linux desktop distribution called Deepin, it's time to put it on your radar. Nevermind that Huawei chose Deepin to ship on their MateBook laptop lineup. Nevermind that Deepin Cloud Sync [for system settings] is a killer, forward-thinking feature that every Linux distro needs to adopt. Nevermind that its slide-out control center resembles something sexy and sensible straight out of the future. But looking toward 2020, Deepin is poised to be absolutely stunning. This is without question the most beautiful desktop environment I've ever laid eyes on... For me, the UX is more intuitive and more enjoyable than macOS and Windows 10. And fortunately, a quick setting can also transform Deepin to resemble the traditional Windows or macOS desktop paradigms you're already comfortable with. Hell, even the installer is a breath of fresh air. But let's take a peek at what's coming next. This week, the Deepin Linux Youtube channel quietly released a preview of its Deepin v20 Launcher (just one component of the forthcoming OS), and it's bound to turn some heads. Take a look [YouTube video]. It's merely a tease ahead of this November's expected Deepin v20 beta release, but the Deepin developers have apparently devoted most of 2019 working on the upcoming version. From the category-driven app browser and animations, to the basic desktop layout we see in the teaser video, things appear quite polished already. The article points out that Deepin is also a stand-alone desktop environment for any current Linux distribution -- and that it's one of the 248 operating systems available for online testing at DistroTest.net.

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Google Criticized After Voice From 'Nest' Camera Threatens to Steal Baby

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 18:34
Jack Newcombe, the Chief Operating Officer of a syndication company with 44 million daily readers, describes the strange voice he heard talking to his 18-month old son: She says we have a nice house and encourages the nanny to respond. She does not. The voice even jokes that she hopes we don't change our password. I am sick to my stomach. After about five minutes of verbal "joy riding," the voice starts to get agitated at the nanny's lack of response and then snaps, in a very threatening voice: "I'm coming for the baby if you don't answer me...." We unplug the cameras and change all passwords... Still helpless, I started doing the only thing I could do -- Googling. I typed "Nest + camera + hacked" and found out that this happens frequently. Parent after parent relayed stories similar to mine -- threatening to steal a baby is shockingly common -- and some much worse, such as playing pornography over the microphone to a 3-year-old... What is worse is that anyone could have been watching us at any time for as long as we have had the cameras up. This person just happened to use the microphone. Countless voyeurs could have been silently watching (or worse) for months. However, what makes this issue even more terrifying is a corporate giant's complete and utter lack of response. Nest is owned by Google, and, based on my experience and their public response, Google does not seem to care about this issue. They acknowledge it as a problem, shrug their shoulders and point their fingers at the users. Their party line is to remind people that the hardware was not hacked; it was the user's fault for using a compromised password and not implementing two-step authentication, in which users receive a special code via text to sign on. That night, on my way home from work, I called Nest support and was on hold for an hour and eight minutes. I followed all directions and have subsequently received form emails in broken English. Nobody from Google has acknowledged the incident or responded with any semblance of empathy. In every email, they remind me of two-step authentication. They act as if I am going to continue to use Nest cameras.

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Russian Cyber-Espionage Group Controlled Its Malware Partly Through Reddit Posts

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 17:34
"Cyber-espionage operations from Cozy Bear, a threat actor believed to work for the Russian government, continued undetected for the past years by using malware families previously unknown to security researchers," reports BleepingComputer -- citing a surprisingly detailed report: Relying on stealthy communication techniques between infected systems and the command and control servers, the group managed to keep their activity under the radar for a long time. Cyber-espionage campaigns that likely started in 2013, collectively named "Operation Ghost," have been attributed to this group, and continued through 2019... Researchers at ESET tracking this threat actor found at least three victims of Operation Ghost, all being European Ministries of Foreign Affairs including the Washington DC embassy of a European Union country. The victim count is likely larger but identifying them is difficult because the threat actor uses unique command and control infrastructure for each target. The report notes the group used sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Imgur to deliver the URLs for some command-and-control servers, along with information hidden in images. And another stage of its malware platform used an even more robust site for its command-and-control server: Dropbox.

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Blizzard Suspended Three College 'Hearthstone' Players For Pro-Hong Kong Protests

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 17:04
An anonymous reader quotes the Verge: Blizzard has suspended three college Hearthstone players for six months after they held up a sign that read "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz" while participating in an official competition stream. The ban, which was first reported by VICE Games, comes just over a week after Blizzard suspended a professional Hearthstone player, Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung for six months... Similar to Blitzchung's ban, the three college players didn't receive word about their ban until a couple of days after they held up the sign... Team player Casey Chambers tweeted out an email from a member of the Hearthstone team at Blizzard, which stated that the entire team received the ban for violating the company's official rules. eSports consultant Rod Breslau posted on Twitter that now Blizzard is also not allowing post-game interviews for Collegiate Hearthstone teams. He adds, "I'm impressed with just how many bad decisions Blizzard has made through all of this..."

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Blizzard Criticized By Bipartisan Group of US Lawmakers (Including Ron Wyden, Marco Rubio, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 16:34
"If Blizzard wanted to keep politics out of its eSports scene, the Hearthstone publisher has failed miserably in just about every regard," reports Forbes. After suspending a player for his pro-Hong Kong protest, Blizzard faced a backlash which Forbes describes as "swift," "fierce," and "almost universal. From across the political spectrum, from socialist left to alt-right, gamers were incensed." Earlier today, Ron Wyden (D, Oregon) and Marco Rubio (R, Florida) signed a bipartisan letter addressed to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, urging the company to reverse its decision to ban Blitzchung. The letter was co-signed by Co-signed by Congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY), Mike Gallagher (R, WI) and Tom Malinowski (D, NJ)... The Blizzard backlash could have been avoided entirely if Blizzard had placed principles over profits, according to Fight For The Future Deputy Director, Evan Greer, who said in statement: "Decisions about how to moderate online content are some of the most important decisions that humans are making right now. Full stop... I've seen a lot of Internet outrage in my time. This feels different. People are setting aside their differences and working together to organize protests at BlizzCon, reach out to gaming companies and demand that they take a stand for free expression, and put pressure on companies generally to not cave to authoritarian demands. It's a good reminder that the Internet still knows how to fight for freedom." It's great to see Congress and other community leaders outside the gaming community weigh in on this matter, though whether any of it will have any impact on Blizzard's decision remains to be seen. The real question is whether boycotts will hold enough sway over the company to alter its course. After all, there's plenty of money to be made in China. VentureBeat notes that the same group had also sent a separate letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook criticizing Apple's decision to remove an app from its store at the request of China.

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Would You Trust Amazon To Run Free and Fair Elections?

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 15:34
More than 40 of America's 50 states now use Amazon's technology infrastructure for their elections, according to this Reuters article shared by joeblog. And so do both of America's political parties: While it does not handle voting on election day, AWS -- along with a broad network of partners -- now runs state and county election websites, stores voter registration rolls and ballot data, facilitates overseas voting by military personnel and helps provide live election-night results, according to company documents and interviews... Amazon pitches itself as a low-cost provider of secure election technology at a time when local officials and political campaigns are under intense pressure to prevent a repeat of 2016 presidential elections, which saw cyber-attacks on voting systems and election infrastructure.... Most security experts Reuters spoke to said that while Amazon's cloud is likely much harder to hack than systems it is replacing, putting data from many jurisdictions on a single system raises the prospect that a single major breach could prove damaging. "It makes Amazon a bigger target" for hackers, "and also increases the challenge of dealing with an insider attack," said Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at cybersecurity startup Upguard. A recent hack into Capital One Financial Corp's data stored on Amazon's cloud service was perpetrated by a former Amazon employee. The breach affected more than 100 million customers, underscoring how rogue employees or untrained workers can create security risks even if the underlying systems are secure... Vickery uncovered at least three instances where voter data on Amazon's cloud servers was exposed to the internet, which have been reported previously. For example, in 2017, he found a Republican contractor's database for nearly every registered American voter hosted on AWS exposed on the internet for 12 days. In 2016, he found Mexico's entire voter database on AWS servers was leaked. Amazon said the breaches were caused by customer errors, adding that while AWS secures the cloud infrastructure, customers are responsible for security of what goes in the cloud.

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Unpatched Linux Bug May Open Devices To Serious Attacks Over Wi-Fi

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 14:34
Long-time Slashdot reader Kekke shared this article from Ars Technica: A potentially serious vulnerability in Linux may make it possible for nearby devices to use Wi-Fi signals to crash or fully compromise vulnerable machines, a security researcher said. The flaw is located in the RTLWIFI driver, which is used to support Realtek Wi-Fi chips in Linux devices. The vulnerability triggers a buffer overflow in the Linux kernel when a machine with a Realtek Wi-Fi chip is within radio range of a malicious device. At a minimum, exploits would cause an operating-system crash and could possibly allow a hacker to gain complete control of the computer. The flaw dates back to version 3.10.1 of the Linux kernel released in 2013... The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2019-17666. Linux developers proposed a fix on Wednesday that will likely be incorporated into the OS kernel in the coming days or weeks. Only after that will the fix make its way into various Linux distributions. Nico Waisman, who is a principal security engineer at Github [and discovered the bug] said he has not yet devised a proof-of-concept attack that exploits the vulnerability in a way that can execute malicious code on a vulnerable machine. "I'm still working on exploitation, and it will definitely... take some time (of course, it might not be possible)," he wrote in a direct message. "On paper, [this] is an overflow that should be exploitable. Worst-case scenario, [this] is a denial of service; best scenario, you get a shell." The article notes that the flaw "can't be triggered if Wi-Fi is turned off or if the device uses a Wi-Fi chip from a different manufacturer."

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Guess what's on the receiving end of more NASA dollars for SLS?

TheRegister - Sat, 2019-10-19 14:02
Hint: It rhymes with 'throwing' as lawmakers baulk at lobbing an unknown amount of cash into the 2024 lunar bonfire

NASA brought a smile to faces of Boeing shareholders this week with the announcement that it would be ordering 10 Space Launch System (SLS) core stages from the US aviation giant for Artemis rocket launches to the Moon. Although paying for the things could be tricky.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

The Most Important Right-To-Repair Hearing Yet Is On Monday

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 13:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On Monday, the right-to-repair movement will have its best chance at advancing legislation that would make it easier to repair your gadgets. The Massachusetts state legislature is holding a three-hour hearing on the Digital Right to Repair act, a bill that would require electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts and tools, make repair guides available, and would prevent them from using software to artificially prevent repair. So far this year, 19 other states have considered similar legislation. It hasn't passed in any of them. But Massachusetts is one of the most likely states to pass the legislation, for a few different reasons. Most notably, the legislation is modeled on a law passed unanimously in Massachusetts in 2012 that won independent auto shops the right to repair, meaning lawmakers there are familiar with the legislation and the benefits that it has had for auto repair shops not just in Massachusetts but around the country. Crucially, important legislative hurdles have already been cleared in the state: Both the House and Senate bills are identical and has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. The hearing is going to be held in the Gardner Auditorium, which holds 600 people, making this the largest and highest-profile hearing on the topic in any state thus far.

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Apple Hid a Lightning Connector For Debugging In the Apple TV 4K's Ethernet Port

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 10:00
Twitter user Kevin Bradley discovered a Lightning port hidden in the Apple TV 4K's ethernet port. There's a number of theories for why the port exists, but one of the more logical explanations is that it's simply there for Apple to use for debugging. 9to5Mac reports: While earlier Apple TV models had Micro USB and USB-C, the Apple TV 4K dropped all outwardly-facing ports other than Ethernet and HDMI. Under the hood, however, there's a hidden Lightning port, as Bradley discovered. The Lightning port is hidden in the ethernet connector on the Apple TV 4K. Bradley teased on Twitter: "None of us looked THAT closely to the hardware of the AppleTV 4K and the magic locked in the ethernet port until fairly recently." As for getting the Lightning port itself to work, Steven Barker said in a tweet that this is proving to be "difficult." The Lightning port is stuck at the very back of the ethernet port. Ultimately, it's not really clear what the Lightning port discovery could mean. One thing it could lead towards is the expansion of jailbreak capabilities for the Apple TV 4K, though Bradley cautions: "Just because we know it's lightning doesn't mean anything past that. Just because we find a way in doesn't mean anything will DEFINITELY be released due to what we discover. The barrier for entry might be way too high."

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Air Force Finally Retires 8-Inch Floppies From Missile Launch Control System

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 07:00
Five years after CBS publicized the fact that the Air Force still used eight-inch floppy disks to store data critical to operating the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile command, the aerial and space warfare service branch decided it was time to officially retire them. Ars Technica reports: The system, once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), relied on IBM Series/1 computers installed by the Air Force at Minuteman II missile sites in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the contention by the Air Force at the time of the 60 Minutes report that the archaic hardware offered a cybersecurity advantage, the service has completed an upgrade to what is now known as the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS), as Defense News reports. SAACS is an upgrade that swaps the floppy disk system for what Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force's 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, described as a "highly secure solid state digital storage solution." The floppy drives were fully retired in June. But the IBM Series/1 computers remain, in part because of their reliability and security. And it's not clear whether other upgrades to "modernize" the system have been completed. Air Force officials have acknowledged network upgrades that have enhanced the speed and capacity of SACCS' communications systems, and a Government Accountability Office report in 2016 noted that the Air Force planned to "update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017." But it's not clear how much of that has been completed.

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Unnatural Selection: the Eye-Opening Netflix Docuseries On Gene Editing

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 03:30
Dream McClinton from The Guardian writes about a new Netflix docuseries, called Unnatural Selection, that "explores the various forms of genetic engineering, as well as the societal and environmental implications of its research and use." An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Today, we are learning the language in which God created life," said then-president Bill Clinton, alongside the British prime minister, Tony Blair, in 2000. In the grainy archival clip, scientists and dignitaries had just mapped out the human genome, dissecting the complex science of biological being to code sequences of A, C, G and T in a style similar to binary computer code. But almost 20 years later, science has surpassed this once-unimaginable feat with the discovery of technology which can alter that genetic code. This zeitgeist-y innovation is the subject of a new Netflix series, Unnatural Selection, from film-makers Joe Egender and Leeor Kaufman, and explores the various forms of genetic engineering, as well as the societal and environmental implications of its research and use. The four-part docuseries delves into the burgeoning field of gene technology, made possible by the aforementioned human genome project and the discovery of the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats or Crispr. Co-discovered by Dr Jennifer Doudna, the gene serves a bit like "a molecular scalpel", she says, essentially removing and replacing gene material in a DNA strand. The technology makes it possible to modify genetics, giving it near unlimited biological potential, or as Salk Institute developmental biologist Professor Juan Izpuisua Belmonte puts it, "... rewriting the book of life." For Egender and Kaufman, the series had to tell the broader, more intricate story of genetic engineering, a story filled with great risk, benefits, consequences, emotions, sentiments and future, to better illuminate the field and further the discussion on the technology. "[M]any are depending on gene therapy treatment to change and possibly save lives," writes McClinton. "But, the series shows, the treatments are expensive, with some emerging drugs costing over $500,000, and patients are often at the mercy of startup genetic therapy companies who choose to weigh the 'meaning' of the treatment versus the cost for the patient, leaving many to fight their insurance companies for the cost of treatment."

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Tesla Gets the Go-Ahead To Build Cars In China

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 02:10
Tesla has been granted approval to start manufacturing its cars in China. The BBC reports: The electric carmaker, which is run by billionaire Elon Musk, is building a $2 billion factory in the eastern city of Shanghai. Tesla plans to build at least 1,000 of its Model 3s each week in the Chinese factory, which could be up and running within weeks. The new factory will give Tesla access to China, which is the world's biggest car market. It would also help the company avoid higher import tariffs that are imposed on cars made in the US. The new factory, known as the Gigafactory 3, is the first fully-foreign owned car plant in China. Permission to build the plant has been seen as a sign that Beijing is looking to open up its car market. Authorities in Shanghai have offered Tesla some help to speed up construction of the plant. Meanwhile, China excluded Tesla vehicles from a 10% tax on cars.

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California Launches First Statewide Earthquake Early Warning System

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 01:30
hcs_$reboot writes: Everyone in California will now receive earthquake alerts on their phones seconds before the ground begins to shake, giving residents up to 20 seconds of warning before shaking begins. Developed by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley, the MyShake application (residents will need to download the app to receive the alerts in areas without cell phone coverage) is designed to alert the public when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake or greater has been detected and has been shown to be faster than other alert delivery methods. The wireless emergency alerts will be sent in the event of a more significant quake, magnitude 5.0 or greater. The system does not predict earthquakes. Rather, it uses numerous seismic stations to detect the start of an earthquake and light-speed communications to send the data to computers that instantly calculate location, magnitude, intensity of shaking and create alerts to be distributed to areas that will be affected. When the MyShake app was released back in 2016 it already detected over 200 earthquakes in more than ten countries. A paper describing the early results gives a general idea of the app's success: "On a typical day about 8,000 phones provide acceleration waveform data to the MyShake archive. The on-phone app can detect and trigger on P waves and is capable of recording magnitude 2.5 and larger events. The largest number of waveforms from a single earthquake to date comes from the M5.2 Borrego Springs earthquake in Southern California, for which MyShake collected 103 useful three-component waveforms. The network continues to grow with new downloads from the Google Play store everyday and expands rapidly when public interest in earthquakes peaks such as during an earthquake sequence."

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Motorola Teases the New Razr Phone In November Event Invitation

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 00:50
Motorola has sent out invitations to an event on Nov. 13, where the rumored foldable Razr phone could launch. CNET reports: Motorola said the evening event in downtown Los Angeles will feature the "highly anticipated unveiling of a reinvented icon." The save the date is a gif showing a device being folded and unfolded. "An original unlike any other," it reads, also displaying the numeric 11/13/19 date. According to the invitation, the event will feature special guests and musical performers, as well as "a journey through immersive experiences." "You're going to flip," Motorola's invite says. Motorola's Razr phone is rumored to have a foldable screen, but instead of opening out into a tablet, the phone could fold vertically to fit inside pockets. "It's also been reported that the phone will cost $1,500; measure 6.2 inches; run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor; come in white, black and gold; and have a 2,730mAh battery, 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GM or 128GB of storage," reports CNET.

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DeepMind AI Beats Humans At Deciphering Damaged Ancient Greek Tablets

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-10-19 00:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Scientist: Yannis Assael at DeepMind and his colleagues trained a neural network, a type of AI algorithm, to guess missing words or characters from Greek inscriptions, on surfaces including stone, ceramic and metal, that were between 1500 and 2600 years old. The AI, called Pythia, learned to recognize patterns in 35,000 relics, containing more than 3 million words. The patterns it picks up on include the context in which different words appear, the grammar, and also the shape and layout of the inscriptions. Given an inscription with missing information, Pythia provides 20 different suggestions that could plug the gap, with the idea that someone could then select the best one using their own judgement and subject knowledge. "It's all about how we can help the experts," says Assael. To test the system, the team hid nine letters of a Greek personal name from Pythia. It managed to fill in the blanks. In a head-to-head test, where the AI attempted to fill the gaps in 2949 damaged inscriptions, human experts made 30 per cent more mistakes than the AI. Whereas the experts took 2 hours to get through 50 inscriptions, Pythia gave its guesses for the entire cohort in seconds. The arXiv paper is available here.

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