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In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

Animats When cars are self-driving and shared (332 comments)

...they'll all be owned by Uber.

There's a network effect for shared vehicles. Availablility is best if you have one big pool of cars rather than lots of little ones. So there will be a single winner in that space for each city.

Imagine Uber having the power of GM and Google combined. Run by the current team of assholes.

7 hours ago
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Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

Animats Now Apple will announce a round monitor (287 comments)

OK, a square monitor. Now maybe Apple will announce a round monitor. They already make a round PC, after all. All the Apple fanboys will then insist that round monitors are great.

yesterday
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Does Being First Still Matter In America?

Animats Re:Amazon Elastic Cloud? (233 comments)

decades ago, Cray Computers were assembled by people (housewives) who were allowed to spend no more time than they could be maximally effective in, using wires cut to millimeter-precise lengths.

Yes, and there's a Cray I at the Computer Museum here in Silicon Valley, upholstered base and all. You can sit on it if you like. It's not useful for much else.

All modern supercomputers are composed of a large number of microprocessors. The interconnects are faster than with ordinary hosting/cloud operations, but the CPUs are the same. The biggest supercomputer in the world, in China, is 3,120,000 cores of Intel Xeons, running at 2.2GHz each.

The question is whether the problem you're solving needs tight interconnection. If not, you can run it on a large number of ordinary computers. Weather may not be that tightly coupled; propagation time in air is kind of slow.

2 days ago
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Does Being First Still Matter In America?

Animats Amazon Elastic Cloud? (233 comments)

Does the National Weather Service need that computing power all the time, or could they buy it during major hurricanes from cloud services?

3 days ago
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As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

Animats They'll be replaced by robots soon. (482 comments)

Don't worry, most of those jobs will go away soon. Amazon's newer warehouses use Kiva robots to move merchandise around to picking stations. Picking is still manual; the computers do all the thinking, the humans just pick up what the laser pointer points at. But Bezos owns a robotics startup working on automating that. At Amazon, being replaced by robots isn't a future problem. It's here now.

Customer service is already mostly automated. It's can't be long until customer service chat is with a computer, not a human. Then Amazon will need fewer people.

3 days ago
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Firefox Signs Five-Year Deal With Yahoo, Drops Google as Default Search Engine

Animats Yahoo doesn't have a search engine. (382 comments)

Yahoo doesn't have a search engine. They resell Bing. Yahoo got out of search five years ago. So this is puzzling. One could see Bing paying to be the default in Firefox, but what's the gain in running it through Yahoo?

3 days ago
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Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

Animats Re:That is not what the halting problem say (317 comments)

Mod parent up.

That's correct. The best known demonstration of this is the Microsoft Static Driver Verifier, which every signed driver since Windows 7 has passed. It's a proof of correctness system which checks drivers for buffer overflows, bad pointers, and bad parameters to the APIs drivers use. It works by symbolically tracing through the program, forking off a sub-analysis at each branch point. It can be slow, but it works.

Microsoft Research reports that in about 5% of the cases, the Verifier cannot reach a decision. It can't find a bug, but it can't demonstrate the lack of one either. After 45 minutes of case analysis it gives up.

If your driver is such a mess that it's anywhere near undecidable, it's broken. Those drivers get rewritten with a less ambiguous design, usually by adding more run-time checks. Problem solved.

(Remember when driver bugs crashed Windows all the time? Notice that's not happening any more? That's why.)

4 days ago
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Nokia's N1 Android Tablet Is Actually a Foxconn Tablet

Animats How much longer will Foxconn need Apple? (107 comments)

This is the problem with outsourcing manufacturing and keeping the "brand". Eventually, if they're good, the outsourcing company takes over. It's about time for this to happen to Apple. The hardware is approaching maturity. The last rev of the iPhone was only a minor change over the previous one, and the technology was comparable to HTC's product of two years ago.

4 days ago
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Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative"

Animats Re:Here we go again (226 comments)

I don't recall seeing boot camps for Electrical Engineers or boot Camps for Medical Doctors.

The military has run short courses for electronic technicians and paramedics for decades. Paramedic boot camp is about 14 weeks.

about a week ago
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Preview Jaunt's Made-for-VR 360 Degree, 3D Short Films

Animats Re:What is it, an ad? (26 comments)

Technically, this is quite do-able. Then again, consider what a dud 3D TV was.

Headgear for a game, like an FPS shooter, should be fun. But for passive watching, it's too much work.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With VoIP Fraud/Phishing Scams?

Animats Re:Sue Them or Give Up (141 comments)

There is no technological solution. (The phone system as a whole is just so old).

No, it's the new part of the system that's broken. The big hole on caller ID is where VoIP enters the switched telephone network without cryptographic source identification.

When caller ID was generated by physical wires strung through the holes of a Dimond ring translator (this was ROM, 1950s style), there was no way to spoof it from outside the central office.

about a week ago
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Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

Animats Re:Only 1 of 4 videos is up. (81 comments)

Oh, good, the other videos are up now. So that's how the machine is used for analysis.

This is very similar to the Great Brass Brain, a tide prediction engine.

about a week ago
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Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

Animats Only 1 of 4 videos is up. (81 comments)

We know. It was on Hacker News days ago.

When the guy publishes the videos of how to use it for Fourier analysis, that will be interesting. It's obvious how synthesis works, but not how the reverse operation works.

about a week ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Animats Pre chaos theory (242 comments)

The whole premise of the Foundation series is obsolete. The premise was that it was possible to predict the future to a moderate level of detail by calculation. Now that vast efforts have been expended in that direction by the weather and financial communities, we have a reasonably clear understanding of what can and cannot be accomplished in the prediction department. We know now that little changes grow into big ones (the "butterfly effect") rather than being filtered out. The future is driven by unpredictable noise.

about two weeks ago
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Sketches Released of New Star Wars Museum

Animats No, it's not Mies van der Rohe (65 comments)

That's not anything like a Mies van der Rohe building. Rohe was a form-follows-function glass box architect. He did some of the best glass boxes of the 20th century, notably the IIT campus in Chicago. His work is very rectangular.

Wright did more unusual forms. In his later years, he designed the Marin Civic Center which Lucas, being from Marin, would have seen. It's been called the Martian Embassy. It's so alien it's been used in several science fiction movies. Like most Wright buildings, it's nicely integrated with the terrain.

Here's the park that must be destroyed to build to satisify Lucas' ego.

about three weeks ago
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Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech

Animats Other sources of funding. (109 comments)

If all they need is $1 million to study how something goes "viral", they could probably get that much funding from Twitter, or Facebook, or Google, or any of the major ad-supported companies. Those companies probably have better data to analyze, too.

about three weeks ago
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Google Releases Open Source Nogotofail Network Traffic Security Testing Tool

Animats Re:Does it check for MITM? (36 comments)

No, that's not a man-in-the-middle detector. It's a MITM attacker for test purposes.

about three weeks ago
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Google Releases Open Source Nogotofail Network Traffic Security Testing Tool

Animats Does it check for MITM? (36 comments)

Does it have a man-in-the-middle detector? Those are rare, but useful.

about three weeks ago
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Fedora 21 Beta Released

Animats "Blocker bugs" - just ignore them like Ubuntu (56 comments)

At least they acknowlege the concept of "blocker bugs". Those doesn't seem to bother Ubuntu. See "Bug #1274672: Fresh install of 12.04.3 fails to upgrade to 14.04" You can't upgrade Ubuntu because of a packaging problem related to Xorg. Ubuntu developers tried to deny the problem, which has a few thousand hits on Google. Finally somebody installed the old version in an empty virtual machine and demonstrated that, even after a completely clean install, the upgrade wouldn't work.

(There's a workaround. Completely install Xorg and the GUI, and, from the command line, do the upgrade. Then re-install the GUI. Really. Wonder why Linux can't make it on the desktop? It's stuff like this.)

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Facebook is down, again

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Animats writes "Not just the stock. The Facebook site itself is having problems this weekend.
Facebook has had intermittent outages since Friday, the Huffington Post reports. Right now, DownRightNow reports a "likely service disruption." The symptom is very slow, but valid responses from the site. So far, Facebook hasn't made any public statements."

Link to Original Source
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Sprint discontinues phone camera support, loses pictures

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Animats (122034) writes "On April 30, Sprint discontinued their "Picture Mail" site, where pictures uploaded from Sprint phones are stored. Some users report the loss of years of pictures. Sprint didn't provide a bulk download feature that worked, so some users struggled during the last hours to get pictures off the site before it went down.

Sprint's plan was that users would switch from their system to Flickr, Facebook, or some other photo uploading site. Unfortunately, the tools for doing that were on the site they just took down. The main Sprint web site now has dead links. The old system was taken down before the new system came up. So they've left their non-smart phones in limbo.

There's a privacy issue. Pictures uploaded to Sprint's site were private. Pictures uploaded to "sharing" sites tend to get "shared"."

Link to Original Source
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CPanel installs back door into Linux servers

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Animats writes "I recently leased a new dedicated server from a well-known hosting company. The server came with CPanel, a popular system administration tool, installed, and on first log-in, I was presented with a CPanel EULA, something that wasn't present on older servers. The EULA indicates that CPanel, Inc. has a back door into the server for "authentication", and can not only "copy, access, store, disclose and use cPanel Data indefinitely in its sole discretion", but can disable the server remotely. This is like CarrierIQ's back door — something that has no business being there.

This is for a fully dedicated server, not shared, not virtual, and not managed by the hosting company. I'm leasing a bare CentOS machine in a rack here. This isn't something to give a hosting company access. It allows access by a third party company that just sells system administration software. They have no need for that access whatsoever.

Here are the actual EULA terms:

*Authentication System*. The Software contains technological measures that, working in conjunction with cPanel computer servers, are designed to prevent unlicensed or illegal use of the Software (collectively, the "Authentication System"). You acknowledge and agree that such Authentication System allows cPanel to (among other things) (a) monitor use of the Software by you and Third Party Users as set forth in Section 2.5.4 (cPanel Data); (b) verify that the Software is only used on the Licensed Server; (c) suspend or disable access to the Software in whole or in part in the event of a breach of this Agreement or in the event of a breach by a Third Party User of cPanel-related provisions of a Third Party Agreement; and (d) terminate use of the Software upon the expiration or termination of this Agreement. You agree not to thwart, interfere with, circumvent or block the operation of any aspect of the Authentication System, including any communications between the Software and cPanelâ's computer servers. For the avoidance of doubt, the Software will not operate unless cPanel from time to time verifies the Software using the Authentication System which requires the exchange of information between the Licensed Server and cPanel over the Internet.

*cPanel Data*. You agree that, without further notice to you or any Third Party User, cPanel may use technological means, including the Authentication System, to (a) monitor use of the Software as may be necessary to monitor for compliance with the terms of this Agreement; (b) collect language file modifications as provided in Section 3.6 (License to Language File Modifications); and (c) collect cPanel Data. cPanel reserves the right to copy, access, store, disclose and use cPanel Data indefinitely in its sole discretion; provided, however, that in the event that cPanel collects information concerning which features of the Software are most often used by you or Third Party Users, cPanel will remove personally identifiable information (if any) from such data and copy, access, store, disclose and use such data solely for the purpose of improving the Software.

"

Link to Original Source
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Facebook settles with FTC, admits privacy violatio

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Animats writes "The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The settlement is soft on Facebook; there are no fines or criminal penalties.

According to the FTC, in December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. Facebook didn't warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.

Facebook represented that third-party apps that users' installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users' personal data – data the apps didn't need.

        Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with "Friends Only." In fact, selecting "Friends Only" did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.

        Facebook had a "Verified Apps" program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn't.

        Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.

        Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.

        Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn't."

Link to Original Source
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John McCarthy, founder of AI, dead at 84

Animats Animats writes  |  about 3 years ago

Animats writes "John McCarthy, who established artificial intelligence as a field and created the LISP programming language, died yesterday at age 84.

(I took his "Epistemological Problems in Artificial Intelligence" class at Stanford, almost 30 years ago.)"

Link to Original Source
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Google fined $500 million over drug ads

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Animats writes "The Wall Street Journal reports: "Google Inc. is close to settling a U.S. criminal investigation into allegations it made hundreds of millions of dollars by accepting ads from online pharmacies that break U.S. laws." Google's acceptance of ads from unlicensed "online pharmacies" is considered profiting from illegal activity. The Washington Post writes the inquiry could draw more attention to how vulnerable Google's automated system has been to the machinations of shady operators."
Link to Original Source
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Major outage at Codero

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Animats (122034) writes "Codero, which is a large dedicated hosting provider, is down today due to what they claim is a distributed denial of service attack against their routing. Their main IP block for their Phoenix data center has dropped out of routing.

Their phone system is dropping calls, and their support chat system is reporting "An online representative will be with you shortly. You are number 194 in queue. Your wait time will be approximately 806 minute(s). Thank you for waiting. ""

Link to Original Source
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SourceForge down after attack

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Animats (122034) writes "SourceForge, a hosting site for many open source projects is down today. management claims they were attacked: "We detected a direct targeted attack that resulted in an exploit of several SourceForge.net servers, and have proactively shut down a handful of developer centric services to safeguard data and protect the majority of our services." Currently, CVS and SVN access to source code, even for reading, is unavailable, and there is no announced restoration time."
Link to Original Source
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How Google uses Chrome to boost ad revenue

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Animats (122034) writes "Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman has published a paper, How Google and Its Partners Inflate Measured Conversion Rates and Increase Advertiser Costs. The trick is that Google has interactive URL completion in its URL input box, but, unlike Firefox, interactive completion doesn't take you to the real URL. It takes you through Google Search, and through Google's pay-per-click system.

As an example, Edelman typed "expedia" into Chrome. "Expedia.com" appears as a suggestion, and pressing "Enter" accepts that default. But that doesn't take you to Expedia.com directly. There's a side trip through Google Search and a Google ad. The advertiser is then charged for an unnecessary ad click.

As Edelman puts it, "As users type web addresses into Google's Chrome web browser, Chrome's "Omnibox" address bar suggests that users run searches instead of direct navigation. If a user accepts Chrome's suggestion — the user is taken to a page of Google search results for the specified term. ... As usual, Google's most prominent search result is an advertisement. If the user clicks the ad, the advertiser pays a pay-per-click fee — even though the user was nearly at the advertiser's site, for free, before Chrome interceded with its 'Search for...' suggestion."
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Explosion at Scaled Composites kills 2, injures 4

Animats Animats writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Animats (122034) writes "Details are scant at this time, but a explosion at the Scaled Composites rocket test facility has killed two people and seriously injured four more. The Los Angeles Times reports that the explosion was "ignited by a tank of nitrous oxide".

This is Burt Rutan's facility, and the home of SpaceShip One and Virgin Galactic spacecraft development."

Link to Original Source

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