Linux (en)

  • 'Boring Company' Video Suggests Company Is Abandoning Underground Rails (Slashdot)
    An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider: Shortly after news broke that Elon Musk's Boring Company landed its first tunnel-building project in Las Vegas, it released a video of two Teslas racing in its tunnel near Los Angeles -- one using the roads, and the other using a Boring Company tunnel. The Tesla in the tunnel took one minute and 36 seconds to get to the destination, reaching 127 mph, the video, posted early Friday, showed. The car using the roads arrived in four minutes and 45 seconds, after getting stuck at a red light. The video revealed that the Boring Company had done away with a key element of the tunnel's original design: rails that guide the car. The video revealed that a key element of the design of the Boring Company's 1.14-mile test tunnel in Hawthorne had changed. This demonstration of the tunnel differed from earlier ones in which cars were whisked along on rails. Replying to a tweet asking whether there were no more rails and the car was driving on Autopilot, Tesla's semi-autonomous driver-assist system, Musk said, "Pretty much." When asked why the original rail system had been abandoned, Musk added, "This is simple and just works." The automotive site Jalopnik complains this misses the dream of a vacuum-based hyperloop system transporting speedy proprietary vehicles on frictionless electrified skates: Yes, for those keeping score, in a mere two years we've gone from a futuristic vision of electric skates zooming around a variety of vehicles in a network of underground tunnels to -- and I cannot stress this enough -- a very small, paved tunnel that can fit one (1) car. The video's marketing conceit is that the car in the tunnel beats a car trying to go the same distance on roads. You'll never believe this, but the car that has a dedicated right of way wins... To recap: Musk's company spent two years developing a very narrow car tunnel.

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  • How a Professor Beat Roulette, Crediting a Non-Existent Supercomputer (Slashdot)
    I loved this story. The Hustle remembers how in 1964 a world-renowned medical professor found a way to beat roulette wheels, kicking off a five-year winning streak in which he amassed $1,250,000 ($8,000,000 today). He noticed that at the end of each night, casinos would replace cards and dice with fresh sets -- but the expensive roulette wheels went untouched and often stayed in service for decades before being replaced. Like any other machine, these wheels acquired wear and tear. Jarecki began to suspect that tiny defects -- chips, dents, scratches, unlevel surfaces -- might cause certain wheels to land on certain numbers more frequently than randomocity prescribed. The doctor spent weekends commuting between the operating table and the roulette table, manually recording thousands upon thousands of spins, and analyzing the data for statistical abnormalities. "I [experimented] until I had a rough outline of a system based on the previous winning numbers," he told the Sydney Morning Herald in 1969. "If numbers 1, 2, and 3 won the last 3 rounds, [I could determine] what was most likely to win the next 3...." With his wife, Carol, he scouted dozens of wheels at casinos around Europe, from Monte Carlo (Monaco), to Divonne-les-Bains (France), to Baden-Baden (Germany). The pair recruited a team of 8 "clockers" who posted up at these venues, sometimes recording as many as 20,000 spins over a month-long period. Then, in 1964, he made his first strike. After establishing which wheels were biased, he secured a £25,000 loan from a Swiss financier and spent 6 months candidly exacting his strategy. By the end of the run, he'd netted £625,000 (roughly $6,700,000 today). Jarecki's victories made headlines in newspapers all over the world, from Kansas to Australia. Everyone wanted his "secret" -- but he knew that if he wanted to replicate the feat, he'd have to conceal his true methodology. So, he concocted a "fanciful tale" for the press: He tallied roulette outcomes daily, then fed the information into an Atlas supercomputer, which told him which numbers to pick. At the time, wrote gambling historian, Russell Barnhart, in Beating the Wheel, "Computers were looked upon as creatures from outer space... Few persons, including casino managers, were vocationally qualified to distinguish myth from reality." Hiding behind this technological ruse, Jarecki continued to keep tabs on biased tables -- and prepare for his next big move... In the decades following Jarecki's dominance, casinos invested heavily in monitoring their roulette tables for defects and building wheels less prone to bias. Today, most wheels have gone digital, run by algorithms programmed to favor the house.

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  • 'The Future of AT&T Is An Ad-tracking Nightmare Hellworld' (Slashdot)
    There's something scary in Fortune's new article about AT&T: "Say you and your neighbor are both DirecTV customers and you're watching the same live program at the same time," says Brian Lesser, who oversees the vast data-crunching operation that supports this kind of advertising at AT&T. "We can now dynamically change the advertising. Maybe your neighbor's in the market for a vacation, so they get a vacation ad. You're in the market for a car, you get a car ad. If you're watching on your phone, and you're not at home, we can customize that and maybe you get an ad specific to a car retailer in that location." Such targeting has caused privacy headaches for Yahoo, Google, and Facebook, of course. That's why AT&T requires that customers give permission for use of their data; like those other companies, it anonymizes that data and groups it into audiences -- for example, consumers likely to be shopping for a pickup truck -- rather than targeting specific individuals. Regardless of how you see a directed car ad, say, AT&T can then use geolocation data from your phone to see if you went to a dealership and possibly use data from the automaker to see if you signed up for a test-drive -- and then tell the automaker, "Here's the specific ROI on that advertising," says Lesser. AT&T claims marketers are paying four times the usual rate for that kind of advertising. "This is a terrifying vision of permanent surveillance," argues the Verge (in an article shared by schwit1): In order to make this work, AT&T would have to: - Own the video services you're watching so it can dynamically place targeted ads in your streams - Collect and maintain a dataset of your personal information and interests so it can determine when it should target this car ad to you - Know when you're watching something so it can actually target the ads - Track your location using your phone and combine it with the ad-targeting data to see if you visit a dealership after you see the ads - Collect even more data about you from the dealership to determine if you took a test-drive - Do all of this tracking and data collection repeatedly and simultaneously for every ad you see - Aggregate all of that data in some way for salespeople to show clients and justify a 4x premium over other kinds of advertising, including the already scary-targeted ads from Google and Facebook. If this was a story about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, this scheme would cause a week-long outrage cycle... AT&T can claim up and down that it's asked for permission to use customer information to do this, but there is simply no possible way the average customer has ever even read their AT&T contracts, let alone puzzled out that they're signing up to be permanently tracked and influenced by targeted media in this way.

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  • In A World First, Scientists Change Snail's Shell-Coiling Direction With CRISPR (Slashdot)
    "Most snails are 'righties'. Now scientists have found genes that can change the shell coiling direction," writes the New York Times. ( Non-paywalled version here ) Suren Enfiajyan shares their report: Studying these snails offers clues to the evolution of body plans in many animals. It also could be important for understanding why up to 10 percent of people are born with sinus inversus, a condition where their internal organs are flipped like a lefty snail's shell. Now scientists are turning to Crispr -- the powerful gene editing tool -- to figure out why some snails turn out this way. A team in Japan led by Reiko Kuroda, a chemist and biologist, has successfully used the technique to manipulate a single gene responsible for shell direction in a species of great pond snail. The research, published last week in the journal Development, offers definitive proof of the genetic underpinnings of handedness in this species, and could lead to clues about left- and right-handed mysteries in other organisms. "Ten years ago you might not imagine there were any similarities in the left/right asymmetry of a snail and the left/right asymmetry of humans. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that is the case," said Angus Davison, an evolutionary geneticist, who has studied chiral pond snails, but was not a part of Dr. Kuroda's study... In the current study, Dr. Kuroda and Masanori Abe used Crispr to edit out the Lsdia1 gene, and then raised the resulting mutant snails. Confirming previous work, they showed that even in the first embryonic cell, genetic information started picking sides. And by the third cleavage, when four cells become eight, the mutant cells were rotating in the opposite direction of what is expected. These snails grew into lefties, and so did their offspring. Without two working copies of Lsdia1, snails can survive with Lsdia2 -- but their shells won't coil to the right. In the article Dr. Davison says that there's still more research to do. "Unfortunately, snail research doesn't move quickly."

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  • DragonFlyBSD Is Seeing Better Performance Following A Big VM Rework (Phoronix)
    DragonFlyBSD lead developer Matthew Dillon has been reworking the virtual memory (VM) infrastructure within their kernel and it's leading to measurable performance improvements...
  • Will Disney+ Destroy Netflix? (Slashdot)
    "Netflix has 175 days left to pull off a miracle... or it's all over," argues a headline at Forbes for an article by the chief analyst at disruption research firm RiskHedge: Netflix is not the future of TV. Netflix changed how we watch TV, but it didn't really change what we watch... Netflix has achieved its incredible growth by taking distribution away from cable companies. Instead of watching The Office on cable, people now watch The Office on Netflix. This edge isn't sustainable. In a world where you can watch practically anything whenever you want, dominance in distribution is very fragile. Because the internet has opened up a whole world of choice, featuring great exclusive content is now far more important than anything else... Netflix management knows content is king. The company spent $12 billion developing original shows last year... To fund its new shows, Netflix is borrowing huge sums of debt. It currently owes creditors $10.4 billion, which is 59% more than it owed this time last year. The problem is that no matter how much Netflix spends, it has no chance to catch up with its biggest rival... in about 175 days, Disney is set to launch its own streaming service called Disney+. It's going to charge $6.99/month -- around $6 cheaper than Netflix. And it's pulling all its content off of Netflix. This is a big deal. Disney owns Marvel, Pixar Animations, Star Wars, ESPN, National Geographic, Modern Family, and The Simpsons. Not to mention all the classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. In six of the past seven years, Disney has produced the world's top-selling movie... Disney has shown it can produce movies and shows people want to watch. No competitor comes within 1,000 miles of Disney's world of content. Disney's ownership of iconic franchises like Star Wars gives it something no money can buy. Meanwhile, Netflix will lose a lot of its best content -- and potentially millions of subscribers who switch to Disney+. While Netflix is running into debt "trying out" new shows, Disney already has the best of the best in its arsenal.

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  • MIDI Association Explains 'Capability Inquiry' Features In MIDI 2.0 (Slashdot)
    Friday the MIDI Association published an introduction to MIDI 2.0, describing updates to the already-evolving 36-year-old standard, including MIDI-CI, Profiles and Property Exchange: MIDI 2.0 updates MIDI with new auto-configuration, extended resolution, increased expressiveness, and tighter timing -- all while maintaining a high priority on backward compatibility. This major update of MIDI paves the way for a new generation of advanced interconnected MIDI devices, while still preserving interoperability with the millions of existing MIDI 1.0 devices. One of the core goals of MIDI 2.0 is to also enhance the MIDI 1.0 feature set whenever possible. The additional capabilities that MIDI 2.0 brings to devices are enabled by MIDI-Capability Inquiry (MIDI-CI). The basic idea is that if devices have a bidirectional connection, they can exchange their capabilities with each other. Devices can share their configuration and what MIDI functions are supported. Devices use a bidirectional link to configure MIDI features when both devices agree to support that feature. MIDI-CI discovers and configures device features using three categories of inquiry: Profile Configuration, Property Exchange, and Protocol Negotiation. If a device does not support any new features, it uses the MIDI 1.0 as usual. Devices connected to that device will continue to use MIDI 1.0 in communication with that device... MIDI 2.0 has a new Universal MIDI Packet format for carrying MIDI 1.0 Protocol messages and MIDI 2.0 Protocol messages... The foundational specification, MIDI-CI has been published and is available for download. Other key MIDI 2.0 specifications are nearing completion in the MIDI Manufacturers Association. But it will take several years to write numerous Profile and Property Exchange specifications to follow.... [W]e do not expect any MIDI 2.0 products to be released in 2019. For MIDI to be fully useable, the industry needs devices, applications, operating systems, and DAWs to support these new specifications. It will take time for a whole system of devices to be available. The post emphasizes that the original MIDI 1.0 "is not being replaced. Rather it is being extended and is expected to continue, well integrated with the new MIDI 2.0 environment. It is part of the Universal MIDI Packet, the fundamental MIDI data format... "MIDI 2.0 is just part of the evolution of MIDI that has gone on for 36 years. The step by step evolution continues."

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  • What If We Could Reuse The Packaging on Consumer Products? (Slashdot)
    "The shampoo bottle, the deodorant stick, razors and even your toothbrush -- they all get thrown away when they're empty or worn out. But if they were reusable -- or refillable -- just imagine how much waste could be avoided." That's how Bloomberg describes the new "Loop" initiative being tested for one year by the New Jersey recycling company TerraCycle: This week, Loop began its U.S. trial, allowing consumers to use steel, glass and durable plastic reusable packaging for everyday items. Kroger Co. and Walgreens, along with such consumer brands as Procter & Gamble, Nestle, The Clorox Co. and Unilever, are taking part... For the trial, Loop is available online to customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can order products made by the participating companies that will be delivered to you in special reusable packaging. Under the program, manufacturers have redesigned product containers for some of their most well-known products. Loop will collect a refundable deposit, sometimes $5 to $10, that customers will get back when they return their containers. UPS will pick up your empties for no additional charge... Procter & Gamble has unveiled its Crest mouthwash in a sleek glass bottle -- with a rubber base to prevent breakage. It also has non-electric Oral B toothbrushes that have a head that pops off so users can keep the base and replace the brush. But it was the stainless steel ice cream container for Nestle's Haagen-Dazs (which isn't too cold to the touch but keeps ice cream cool longer) that was the crowd favorite at a Manhattan rollout this week.... During Loop's trial, returned containers will go to New Jersey and then Pennsylvania for washing, then back to the companies' factories for refilling... [W]hile reusable packaging may require more energy and materials when first made, Tom Szaky, chief executive of TerraCycle, said the carbon cost becomes equal to that of disposable packaging after just two or three uses. His goal, he said, is to produce items that can be reused 100 times... Szaky explained that Loop is all about bringing back the milkman model, where glass bottles of milk were left on your porch, and you put the empties there to be picked up... "We want you to see Loop packaging 50 years from now still going around," Szaky said.

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  • Intel Core i9 9900KS Allowing 5.0GHz All-Core, Icelake News Coming This Week (Phoronix)
    Intel has jumped ahead of AMD and NVIDIA news expected tomorrow in their Computex 2019 keynotes with some pre-announcements...
  • TurboTax Is Using A 'Military Discount' to Trick Troops Into Paying to File Their Taxes (Slashdot)
    "Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, created and promoted a 'military discount' that charges service members who are eligible to file for free," reports ProPublica, in a story co-published with The Military Times: In patriotism-drenched promotions, press releases and tweets, TurboTax promotes special deals for military service members, promising to help them file their taxes online for free or at a discount. Yet some service members who've filed by going to the TurboTax Military landing page told ProPublica they were charged as much as $150 -- even though, under a deal with the government, service members making under $66,000 are supposed to be able to file on TurboTax for free... To find TurboTax's Free File landing page, service members typically have to go through the IRS website. TurboTax Military, by contrast, is promoted on the company's home page and elsewhere. Starting through the Military landing page directs many users to paid products even when they are eligible to get the same service for no cost using the Free File edition... The New York regulator investigating TurboTax is also examining the military issue, according to a person familiar with the probe. The authors of the article tested the software by entering tax information for a military household in Virginia that was eligible for free filing. TurboTax Military "tried to upgrade us or convince us to pay for side products six times. We declined those extras each time. "Finally, the program told us we had to pay $159.98 to finish filing. And that 'military discount'? All of $5."

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  • The First Usable Electric Car Was Invented In Britain In 1884 (Slashdot)
    "Thomas Parker, sometimes described as the 'Edison of Britain', was a British engineer and electrical technologies inventor working in the 1800s who was also one of the world's first environmentalists," remembers Slashdot reader dryriver. Parker had been troubled by the pollution in coal-burning cities around London -- and decided to do something about it: Parker was very adept both at inventing new things and at significantly improving technologies that others had invented before him. He improved everything from steam pumps, to electrical batteries, electric motors, alternators and dynamos, invented the award winning "Kyrle Grate," which was designed to allow anthracite coal to be burned inside of it, and was responsible for the electrification of London's "Underground" Subway system and tramways build in other British cities. There has been attempts at electrical cars before Parker's going back as far as the 1830s, but his was revolutionary in many aspects. The Elwell-Parker car was fitted with Parker's high-capacity rechargeable batteries, and later vehicles had hydraulic brakes on all four wheels, as well as four-wheel steering. These features are even now being described as revolutionary. While Parker's electrical cars were quite popular in America and Britain for a number of years (read more here), soon improved gas- and diesel-based vehicles caused public interest in electric cars to wane. Parker's company Elwell Parker, which survives to this day, then focused on making electrical speciality vehicles for factories and warehouses -- electric carts for moving equipment and crates around, and precursors of modern forklifts, for example. While everybody knows electrical inventors like Edison and Tesla today, Thomas Parker is barely known and barely remembered...

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  • British Consumers Have Started To Dump Huawei Phones (Slashdot)
    "British consumers have begun trading in smartphones from Huawei Technologies Co. in growing numbers since the Chinese tech giant was hit by a U.S. supply blacklist," reports Bloomberg: Trade-in and price-tracking companies report a surge in U.K. consumers trading in devices from the Shenzhen-based manufacturer, while interest from buyers fizzles. The numbers show that concerns around the company have extended beyond trade talks and corporate procurement and turned into backlash at retail, where Huawei makes most of its sales. Gadget trade-in website WeBuyTek, which buys and resells about 36,000 handsets a year, has seen a 540% increase in the number of Huawei devices booked this week versus last. That's the biggest jump it's ever seen, the company's director, Paul Walsh, said by email. "'We have temporarily stopped accepting any new trade-ins, as we expect the value of these devices to plummet," he said... The website www.SellMyMobile.com reported a rise of up to 282% in the number of people assessing the value of their Huawei handsets from May 20 to May 22, compared with previous days, according to a representative... The rush follows the decision by BT Group and Vodafone Group to pull the Huawei Mate 20 X phone from their launches of fifth-generation wireless products. The British carriers joined others from around the world, citing uncertainty after Huawei was cut off from U.S. companies by new trade restrictions and barred from receiving software support for the Android operating system from Alphabet Inc.'s Google. In other news, Microsoft removed Huawei laptops from its online store on Friday.

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  • Intel's Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Drivers Seeing Minor Performance Gains With Mesa 19.1 (Phoronix)
    With Mesa 19.1 due to be released in the coming days as the quarterly update to this open-source OpenGL/Vulkan driver stack, here are some fresh benchmarks looking at how the current Intel (i965) OpenGL and ANV Vulkan drivers performance compare to that of the existing Mesa 19.0 stable series.
  • Linux 5.1.5 Kernel Fixes The Latest Data Corruption Bug (Phoronix)
    For those concerned by the kernel's most recent data corruption bug involving LVM, dm-crypt, and Samsung SSD drive combinations leading to FSTRIM/Discard wiping too much data, the issue should be resolved in the newly-minted Linux 5.1.5 kernel...
  • Microsoft Adds Python To Windows -- Sort Of (Slashdot)
    A post this week on Microsoft's developer blog explains "what we, the Python team, have done to make Python easier to install on Windows" after the next update. TLDR: Typing 'python' in Windows' Command Prompt will take you to the Microsoft Store's Python page: Microsoft has been involved with the Python community for over twelve years, and currently employ four of the key contributors to the language and primary runtime. The growth of Python has been incredible, as it finds homes among data scientists, web developers, system administrators, and students, and roughly half of this work is already happening on Windows. And yet, Python developers on Windows find themselves facing more friction than on other platforms. It's been widely known for many years that Windows is the only mainstream operating system that does not include a Python interpreter out of the box... So we made things easier. First, we helped the community release their distribution of Python to the Microsoft Store. This version of Python is fully maintained by the community, installs easily on Windows 10, and automatically makes common commands such as python, pip and idle available (as well as equivalents with version numbers python3 and python3.7, for all the commands, just like on Linux). Finally, with the May 2019 Windows Update, we are completing the picture. While Python continues to remain completely independent from the operating system, every install of Windows will include python and python3 commands that take you directly to the Python store page. We believe that the Microsoft Store package is perfect for users starting out with Python, and given our experience with and participation in the Python community we are pleased to endorse it as the default choice. And while this fix is only for Python, the Microsoft post adds that "Over time, we plan to extend similar integration to other developer tools and reduce the getting started friction."

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  • Wine-Staging 4.9 Released With A Few New & Updated Patches (Phoronix)
    Wine-Staging continues chugging along and as of the version 4.9 release is more than 830 patches atop the upstream Wine code-base...
  • KDE Plasma 5.17 To Properly Support Screen Sharing On Wayland (Phoronix)
    Sadly it didn't make it in time for the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.16 release, but come Plasma 5.17 there will be working screen sharing support under Wayland...
  • More HDR Display Bits On The Way For The Linux 5.3 Kernel (Phoronix)
    For years there have been open-source developers working on plumbing support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays into the Linux desktop stack and it looks like the Direct Rendering Manager driver support is slowly but surely getting there...
  • Can James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger Revive The 'Terminator' Franchise? (Slashdot)
    "The Resistance's war against Skynet rages on with the sixth installment of the Terminator series," reports Variety, adding that the James Cameron-produced film "serves as a direct sequel to the first two movies in the franchise, relegating the events of the intervening films to alternate timelines." Or, as ET Online: puts it, "Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and James Cameron are together again!" On Thursday, Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate, and it's a reunion for the film franchise's original stars and filmmaker. Hamilton steps back into her role as the badass Sarah Connor, who teams up with Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a woman from the future who shows up in New Mexico and first appears much like Schwarzenegger's character did in the first movie. Directed by Deadpool's Tim Miller, Cameron wrote the story treatment for the sequel and was a producer on the film. After several action scenes, Sarah Connor knocks on the door of an old house, and the original Terminator (Schwarzenegger) appears with a salt-and-pepper beard. "We're back," Schwarzenegger, 71, tweeted along with the trailer, alluding to his iconic line "I'll be back." After two days the trailer has racked over 12.5 million views on YouTube, and James Cameron "not only assures that the new entry will be R-rated, but he makes it clear this will be, in more than one way, much more similar to the first two movies in the series," reports Movieweb -- quoting these remarks from one of Cameron's recent interviews. "I think, tonally, what makes this a direct sequel to T1 and T2 is as much about the tone as it is about the narrative: it's R rated, it's grim, it's gritty, it's fast, it's intense, it's linear."

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  • X.Org Server Closer To Better Handling On-Demand XWayland Startup (Phoronix)
    Merged this week to the X.Org Server code-base was an EGL-based GLX provider for helping XWayland and allowing some games to run nicely now under this X11 code-path for Wayland compositors. While not yet merged, another interesting bit of XWayland code is now under review as a merge request...
  • Firefox 68 Integrates BigInt Support (Phoronix)
    In addition to Firefox 68's WebRender slated to deliver much better performance, another headlining feature of this next Mozilla Firefox web-browser update is BigInt support...
  • SpaceX's Train of Satellites Creates Temporary 'Mega-Constellation' (Slashdot)
    "SpaceX's unorthodox card-dealing launch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites has led to an unusual viewing opportunity for skywatchers -- and an occasion to wonder about the impact of such mega-constellations on the natural night sky," reports GeekWire: A video captured by satellite-watcher Marco Langbroek in the Netherlands sums up the awe... It didn't take long for Langbroek and other skywatchers to work out the coordinates for the long train of satellites, and to plug those coordinates into online satellite-pass calculators such as CalSky. On Twitter, David Dickinson, author of "The Universe Today: Ultimate Guide to Viewing the Cosmos," started doling out location-specific sighting predictions based on the Orbitron satellite-tracking program. CalSky automatically picks up your coordinates for satellite sightings, but for those in the Seattle area, the best time to look for the Starlink train passing by tonight is likely to be in the range of 10:50 to 11:10 p.m. PT, going from southwest to northeast. That's a liberal stretch of time that accounts for a range of locations (say, Port Townsend vs. North Bend), plus uncertainties in the orbital estimates. There are other passes overnight at around 12:30, 3:50 and 5:20 a.m. PT. The brightness of the satellites is a question mark. Some say they can be seen with the naked eye, while others advise scanning with binoculars. A lot depends on how the satellites pick up the glint of the sun after dusk or before dawn. Tonight Langbroek reported that the satellite train wasn't as bright as it was the night before. Speaking of brightness, astronomers and SpaceX fans have already begun the debate over the prospect of having thousands of broadband-beaming satellites in low Earth orbit. The 60 satellites launched this week merely represent the beginning of a campaign aimed at launching as many as 11,000 such spacecraft. And that's just for SpaceX's Starlink system. Thousands more could go into orbit for the constellations being contemplated by OneWeb, Telesat, LeoSat Enterprises and Amazon's Project Kuiper. Today Elon Musk tweeted defensively that "sats will be in darkness when stars are visible" -- while GeekWire points out that the satellites are also scheduled to spread. "Within just a few days, the tightly spaced 'train' will turn into a dispersed chain that girdles the globe," their article concludes. "And once that happens, chances are that skywatchers and sky-worriers alike will turn their attention to the next batch of Starlink satellites."

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  • CrossFit Storms Off Facebook and Instagram (Slashdot)
    "CrossFit, the branded workout regimen, deleted its Facebook and Instagram pages earlier this week and explained the reasoning through an impassioned press release," reports the Verge. TechSpot has more details: In a press release, CrossFit revealed the breaking point: the deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan user group, without warning or explanation. Banting is an alternative high-fat low-carb diet with no set meal times or processed foods, and its Facebook group had 1.65 million users, including 1 million from South Africa. The group mostly posts testimonials and discusses the merits of the diet or how it might be implemented. While the group has been reinstated (still without explanation), CrossFit is right to call into question why Facebook removed it in the first place. While Banting is probably inadvisable, groups advocating for it have a right to exist. Still, that's far from the only reason CrossFit abandoned the platforms... CrossFit sees itself as a community of 15,000 affiliates and millions of individuals against "an unholy alliance of academia, government, and multinational food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies," according to their press release -- so they may be feeling vulnerable. CrossFit, Inc. defends relentlessly the right of its affiliates, trainers, and athletes to practice CrossFit, build voluntary CrossFit associations and businesses, and speak openly and freely about the ideas and principles that animate our views of exercise, nutrition, and health... Facebook and its properties host and oversee a significant share of the marketplace of public thought... Facebook thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square, arbitrating a worldwide exchange of information as well as overseeing the security of the individuals and communities who entrust their ideas, work, and private data to this platform. This mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process. CrossFit, Inc., as a voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community. CrossFit says they're "suspending" all activity on the platforms while they investigate "the circumstances pertaining to Facebook's deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company," adding that CrossFit "will no longer support or use Facebook's services until further notice."

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  • Is Go Google's Programming Language, Not Ours? (Slashdot)
    Chris Siebenmann is a Unix sys-admin for the CS department at the University of Toronto. He recently saw a tweet asking about the possibility of community-implemented generics for the Go programming language, and posted a widely-read response on his blog. "There are many answers for why this won't happen, but one that does not usually get said out loud is that Go is Google's language, not the community's." Yes, there's a community that contributes things to Go, some of them important and valued things; you only have to look at the diversity of people in CONTRIBUTORS or see the variety of people appearing in the commits. But Google is the gatekeeper for these community contributions; it alone decides what is and isn't accepted into Go. To the extent that there even is a community process for deciding what is accepted, there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room. Nothing is going to go into Go that Google objects to, and if Google decides that something needs to be in Go, it will happen. (The most clear and obvious illustration of this is what happened with Go modules, where one member of Google's Go core team discarded the entire system the outside Go community had been working on in favour of a relatively radically different model. See eg for one version of this history.) Or in short, Go has community contributions but it is not a community project. It is Google's project. This is an unarguable thing, whether you consider it to be good or bad, and it has effects that we need to accept. For example, if you want some significant thing to be accepted into Go, working to build consensus in the community is far less important than persuading the Go core team. (As a corollary, sinking a lot of time and effort into a community effort that doesn't have enthusiastic buy-in from the Go core team is probably a waste of time....) On the good and bad scale, there is a common feeling that Go has done well by having a small core team with good taste and a consistent vision for the language, a team that is not swayed by outside voices and is slow moving and biased to not making changes. The essay also concedes that "I like Go and have for a fair while now, and I'm basically okay with how the language has been evolving and how the Go core team has managed it. I certainly think it's a good idea to take things like generics slowly. "But at the same time, how things developed around Go modules has left a bad taste in my mouth and I now can't imagine becoming a Go contributor myself, even for small trivial changes."

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  • GNOME 3.33.2 Released As Another Step Towards The GNOME 3.34 Desktop (Phoronix)
    GNOME 3.33.2 is now available as the latest development snapshot in the trek towards this September's GNOME 3.34...
  • Strict 'Do Not Track' Law Proposed By US Senator (Slashdot)
    This week a Republican senator "unveiled a 'Do Not Track' bill with tough penalties for companies who break its protections," reports The Hill. Trailrunner7 shares more information from the security news site Decipher: Senator Hawley's bill makes the Federal Trade Commission the enforcement authority for the system and any person who violates the measure would be liable for penalties of $50 per user affected by a violation for every day that the violation is ongoing. "Big tech companies collect incredible amounts of deeply personal, private data from people without giving them the option to meaningfully consent. They have gotten incredibly rich by employing creepy surveillance tactics on their users, but too often the extent of this data extraction is only known after a tech company irresponsibly handles the data and leaks it all over the internet," Hawley said. "The American people didn't sign up for this, so I'm introducing this legislation to finally give them control over their personal information online.... [The bill] just says that a consumer can make a one time choice to not be tracked. I think we should make it compulsory and give it the force of law and give consumers real choice and force the companies to comply." DuckDuckGo's founder had proposed similar legislation, and the Hill reports that he's since been approached by "a few other" U.S. lawmakers. They also remind readers that a 2010 push for Do Not Track legislation "never panned out amid enormous pressure from industry representatives, who could not come to an agreement over what 'tracking' means in the first place... "Consumer advocates and tech industry critics say Hawley's bill could find better traction amid a larger backlash against tech behemoths including Google, Facebook and Amazon."

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  • Consumer Reports: Tesla's New Automatic Lane-Changing Is Much Worse Than a Human Driver (Slashdot)
    "Tesla's updated Navigate on Autopilot software now lets some drivers choose whether the car can automatically change lanes without his or her input," writes Consumer Reports -- before complaining that the feature "doesn't work very well and could create safety risks for drivers." An anonymous reader quotes their report: In practice, we found that the new Navigate on Autopilot lane-changing feature lagged far behind a human driver's skills. The feature cut off cars without leaving enough space, and even passed other cars in ways that violate state laws, according to several law enforcement representatives CR interviewed for this report. As a result, the driver often had to prevent the system from making poor decisions. "The system's role should be to help the driver, but the way this technology is deployed, it's the other way around," says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' senior director of auto testing. "It's incredibly nearsighted. It doesn't appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can't anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it...." Multiple testers reported that the Tesla often changed lanes in ways that a safe human driver wouldn't -- cutting too closely in front of other cars, and passing on the right. An area of particular concern is Tesla's claim that the vehicle's three rearward-facing cameras can detect fast-approaching objects from the rear better than the average driver can. Our testers found the opposite to be true in practice. "The system has trouble responding to vehicles that approach quickly from behind," Fisher says. "Because of this, the system will often cut off a vehicle that is going at a much faster speed, since it doesn't seem to sense the oncoming car until it's relatively close." Fisher says merging into traffic is another problem. "It is reluctant to merge in heavy traffic, but when it does, it often immediately applies the brakes to create space behind the follow car," he says, "and this can be a rude surprise to the vehicle you cut off... This isn't a convenience at all. Monitoring the system is much harder than just changing lanes yourself." In the article David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports, complains that Tesla "is showing what not to do on the path toward self-driving cars: release increasingly automated driving systems that aren't vetted properly."

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  • Why the US Air Force Is Investigating a Cyber Attack From the US Navy (Slashdot)
    "The Air Force is investigating the Navy for a cyber intrusion into its network, according to a memo obtained by Military Times." Zorro (Slashdot reader #15,797) shares their report: The bizarre turn of events stems from a decision by a Navy prosecutor to embed hidden tracking software into emails sent to defense attorneys, including one Air Force lawyer, involved in a high-profile war-crimes case of a Navy SEAL in San Diego. The tracking device was an attempt to find out who was leaking information to the editor of Navy Times, a sister publication. A similar tracking device was also sent to Carl Prine, the Navy Times editor, who has written numerous stories about the case. Navy Capt. David Wilson, chief of staff for the Navy's Defense Service Offices, wrote in the May 19 memo that an Air Force attorney was among the defense lawyers who had received emails with the hidden tracking software, which he described as "malware"... "In fact, I've learned that the Air Force is treating this malware as a cyber-intrusion on their network and have seized the Air Force Individual Military Counsel's computer and phone for review," he wrote.

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  • Neal Stephenson Says Social Media Is Close To A 'Doomsday Machine' (Slashdot)
    PC Magazine interviewed Neal Stephenson about his new upcoming book Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell, as well as "the digital afterlife, and why social media is a doomsday machine." [Possible spoilers ahead]: The hybrid sci-fi/fantasy novel begins in the present day with Richard "Dodge" Forthrast, an eccentric multibillionaire who made his fortune in the video game industry. When a freak accident during a routine medical procedure leaves him brain-dead, his family is left to contend with his request to have his brain preserved until the technology exists to bring him back to life. The near-future world of Fall is full of familiar buzzwords and concepts. Augmented reality headsets, next-gen wireless networks, self-driving vehicles, facial recognition, quantum computing, blockchain and distributed cryptography all feature prominently. Stephenson also spends a lot of time examining how the internet and social media, which Dodge and other characters often refer to in Fall as the Miasma, is irrevocably changing society and altering the fabric of reality... Q: How would you describe the current state of the internet? Just in a general sense of its role in our daily lives, and where that concept of the Miasma came from for you. Neal Stephenson: I ended up having a pretty dark view of it, as you can kind of tell from the book. I saw someone recently describe social media in its current state as a doomsday machine, and I think that's not far off. We've turned over our perception of what's real to algorithmically driven systems that are designed not to have humans in the loop, because if humans are in the loop they're not scalable and if they're not scalable they can't make tons and tons of money. The result is the situation we see today where no one agrees on what factual reality is and everyone is driven in the direction of content that is "more engaging," which almost always means that it's more emotional, it's less factually based, it's less rational, and kind of destructive from a basic civics standpoint... I sort of was patting myself on the back for really being on top of things and predicting the future. And then I discovered that the future was way ahead of me. I've heard remarks in a similar vein from other science-fiction novelists: do we even have a role anymore? Stephenson answered questions from Slashdot's reader in 2004, and since then has "spent years as an advisor for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' private space company Blue Origin," the article points out. He's also currently the "chief futurist" for Magic Leap -- though he tells his interviewer that some ideas go back much further. Part of his new book builds on "a really old idea" from security researcher Matt Blaze, who in the mid-1990s talked about "Encyclopedia Disinformatica", which Stephenson describes as "a sort of fake Wikipedia containing plausible-sounding but deliberately false information as a way of sending the message to people that they shouldn't just believe everything that they see on the internet."

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  • GNOME Developers Plot Future Improvements For Pango (Phoronix)
    The Pango layout engine library that's been around for nearly two decades and used by GNOME's GTK and other software hasn't seen much love lately. Fortunately, Matthias Clasen and others are envisioning some improvements to this library and modeling it more around the HarfBuzz shaping engine work...
Jamais il ne fut peut-être un esprit plus sage, plus méthodique,
un logicien plus exact que M. Locke;
cependant il n'était pas grand mathématicien.
-+- Voltaire -+-