Tech News Feed

No, James Webb Space Telescope Images Do Not Debunk the Big Bang - CNET

CNET News - Mon, 2022-08-22 04:00
The JWST provides an intriguing look at the early universe, but it's not yet rewriting fundamental theories of the cosmos.

Best Wheel Cleaner for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Mon, 2022-08-22 03:00
Blast away brake dust and other grime with our top wheel cleaner picks.

Best Car Plastic Restorer for 2022: Chemical Guys, Meguiar's and More - CNET

CNET News - Mon, 2022-08-22 03:00
Get your car's trim looking brand new with our favorite plastic restorers on the market.

Best Leather Cleaners and Conditioners for Cars 2022: Lexol, 3D and More - CNET

CNET News - Mon, 2022-08-22 03:00
Get your car seats looking fresh and feeling soft with our top products.

Network 'Jitters' Confuse Packet-Routing Algorithms, Make Unfair Congestion Inevitable

SlashDot - Mon, 2022-08-22 01:34
IEEE Spectrum reports that a new study finds that many key algorithms designed to control "congestion" delays on computer networks "may prove deeply unfair, letting some users hog all the bandwidth while others get essentially nothing." [A]lthough hundreds of congestion control algorithms have been proposed in the last roughly 40 years, "there is no clear winner," says study lead author Venkat Arun, a computer scientist at MIT. "I was frustrated by how little we knew about where these algorithms would and would not work. This motivated me to create a mathematical model that could make more systematic predictions...." Their new study finds that given the real-world complexity of network paths, there will always be a scenario where a problem known as "starvation" cannot be avoided — where at least one sender on a network receives almost no bandwidth compared to other users.... Congestion control algorithms rely on packet losses and delays as details to infer congestion and decide how fast to send data. However, packets can get lost and delayed for reasons other than network congestion. For example, data may be held up and then released in a burst with other packets, or a receiver's acknowledgement that it received packets might get delayed. The researchers called delays that do not result from congestion "jitter." Congestion control algorithms cannot distinguish the difference between delays caused by congestion and jitter. This can lead to problems, as delays caused by jitter are unpredictable. This ambiguity confuses senders, which can make them each estimate delay differently and send packets at unequal rates. The researchers found this eventually leads to situations where starvation occurs and some users get shut out completely. In the new study, the researchers analyzed whether every congestion control algorithm of which they were aware, as well as some new ones they devised, could avoid starvation. The scientists were surprised to find there were always scenarios with each algorithm where some people got all the bandwidth, and at least one person got basically nothing.... "Extreme unfairness happens even when everybody cooperates, and it is nobody's fault." Although existing approaches toward congestion control may not be able to avoid starvation, the aim now is to develop a new strategy that does, Arun says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Elon Musk Interviewed by Tesla Owners, Hears from a Former Professor

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 22:34
In June a YouTube channel called "Tesla Owners Silicon Valley" ran an hour-long interview with Elon Musk. (Musk begins by sharing an example of the "comedically long" list of things that can disrupt a supply chain, remembering an incident where a drug gang shoot out led to the mistaken impounding of a nearby truck that was delivering parts for a Tesla Model S factory -- ultimately shutting down Model S production for three days.) There's some candid discussions about the technology of electric cars - but also some surprisingly personal insights. Musk also reveals he's been thinking about electric cars since high school, as "the way cars should be, if you could just solve range... People will look back on the internal combustion car era as a strange time. Quaint." And then he remembers the moment in 1995 when he put his graduate studies at Stanford "on hold" to pursue a business career, reassuring Stanford professor William Nix that "I will probably fail" and predicting an eventual return to Stanford. Nix had responded that he did not think Musk would fail. It turns out that 27 years later, now-emeritus professor William Nix heard the interview, and typed up a fond letter to Elon Musk at SpaceX's headquarters in Texas. Nix complimented Musk on the interview, noting Musk's remarks on the challenges in using silicon for the anodes of electric batteries. "About 10 years ago we at Stanford did research on the very issues you described. Indeed, it almost seemed like you had read all the papers." Musk's hour-long interview with the group was followed by two more hour-long interviews, and since then the group has been sharing short excerpts that give candid glimpses of Musk's thinking. (The overwhelming focus is solving full self-driving," Musk says in one clip. "That's essential. That's really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money and being worth basically zero.")

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'House of the Dragon' Episode 1 Recap, What You Missed - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-08-21 22:16
"The only thing that could tear down the house of the dragon... is itself."

HBO shares first footage of 'The Last of Us' TV series

Engadget - Sun, 2022-08-21 20:26

HBO has shared the first footage from its upcoming live-action adaptation of The Last of Us. In a trailer the streamer published on YouTube before the premiere of House of the Dragon, we see about 20 seconds of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie. Despite the short length of the clip, it's filled with moments fans will recognize. We see an exchange between Joel and Ellie that's lifted directly from the original game. There's even a flashback featuring Joel's biological daughter. The footage also offers a glimpse of Nick Offerman as Bill.

Expectations for the series are already riding high. In addition to a star-studded cast, Craig Mazin of Chernobyl fame is involved in the project as writer, creator and executive producer, as is the game's original creative director, Neil Druckmann. The series is expected to premiere in early 2023. The first season will feature 10 episodes.  

Employers are Tracking Employees 'Productivity' - Sometimes Badly

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 20:26
Here's an interesting statistic spotted by Fortune. "Eight out of the 10 largest private employers in the U.S. are tracking productivity metrics for their employees, according to an examination from The New York Times." "Some of this software measures active time, watches for keyboard pauses, and even silently counts keystrokes." J.P. Morgan, Barclays Bank, and UnitedHealth Group all track employees, The Times reported, seeing everything from how long it takes to write an email to keyboard activity. There are repercussions if workers aren't meeting expectations: a prodding note, a skipped bonus, or a work-from-home day taken away, to name a few. For employers surrendering in the fight to return to the office, such surveillance is a way to maintain a sense of control. As Paul Wartenberg, who installs monitor systems, told The Times, "If we're going to give up on bringing people back to the office, we're not going to give up on managing productivity.... But tracking these remote workers' every move doesn't seem to be telling employers much. "We're in this era of measurement but we don't know what we should be measuring," Ryan Fuller, former vice president for workplace intelligence at Microsoft, told the Times. From the New York Times' article. (Alternate URLs here, here, and here.) In lower-paying jobs, the monitoring is already ubiquitous: not just at Amazon, where the second-by-second measurements became notorious, but also for Kroger cashiers, UPS drivers and millions of others.... Now digital productivity monitoring is also spreading among white-collar jobs and roles that require graduate degrees. Many employees, whether working remotely or in person, are subject to trackers, scores, "idle" buttons, or just quiet, constantly accumulating records. Pauses can lead to penalties, from lost pay to lost jobs. Some radiologists see scoreboards showing their "inactivity" time and how their productivity stacks up against their colleagues'.... Public servants are tracked, too: In June, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority told engineers and other employees they could work remotely one day a week if they agreed to full-time productivity monitoring. Architects, academic administrators, doctors, nursing home workers and lawyers described growing electronic surveillance over every minute of their workday. They echoed complaints that employees in many lower-paid positions have voiced for years: that their jobs are relentless, that they don't have control — and in some cases, that they don't even have enough time to use the bathroom. In interviews and in hundreds of written submissions to The Times, white-collar workers described being tracked as "demoralizing," "humiliating" and "toxic." Micromanagement is becoming standard, they said. But the most urgent complaint, spanning industries and incomes, is that the working world's new clocks are just wrong: inept at capturing offline activity, unreliable at assessing hard-to-quantify tasks and prone to undermining the work itself.... But many employers, along with makers of the tracking technology, say that even if the details need refining, the practice has become valuable — and perhaps inevitable. Tracking, they say, allows them to manage with newfound clarity, fairness and insight. Derelict workers can be rooted out. Industrious ones can be rewarded. "It's a way to really just focus on the results," rather than impressions, said Marisa Goldenberg, [who] said she used the tools in moderation... [I]n-person workplaces have embraced the tools as well. Tommy Weir, whose company, Enaible, provides group productivity scores to Fortune 500 companies, aims to eventually use individual scores to calibrate pay.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Watch the First Trailer for HBO Max's 'The Last of Us' - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-08-21 20:09
See Pedro Pascal in action as Joel from Naughty Dog's hit video game.

Meta AI and Wikimedia Foundation Build an ML-Powered, Citation-Checking Bot

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 19:12
Digital Trends reports: Working with the Wikimedia Foundation, Meta AI (that's the AI research and development research lab for the social media giant) has developed what it claims is the first machine learning model able to automatically scan hundreds of thousands of citations at once to check if they support the corresponding claims.... "I think we were driven by curiosity at the end of the day," Fabio Petroni, research tech lead manager for the FAIR (Fundamental AI Research) team of Meta AI, told Digital Trends. "We wanted to see what was the limit of this technology. We were absolutely not sure if [this AI] could do anything meaningful in this context. No one had ever tried to do something similar [before]." Trained using a dataset consisting of 4 million Wikipedia citations, Meta's new tool is able to effectively analyze the information linked to a citation and then cross-reference it with the supporting evidence.... Just as impressive as the ability to spot fraudulent citations, however, is the tool's potential for suggesting better references. Deployed as a production model, this tool could helpfully suggest references that would best illustrate a certain point. While Petroni balks at it being likened to a factual spellcheck, flagging errors and suggesting improvements, that's an easy way to think about what it might do.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dad Photographs Son for Doctor. Google Flags Him as Criminal, Notifies Police

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 17:51
"The nurse said to send photos so the doctor could review them in advance," the New York Times reports, decribing how an ordeal began in February of 2021 for a software engineer named Mark who had a sick son: Mark's wife grabbed her husband's phone and texted a few high-quality close-ups of their son's groin area to her iPhone so she could upload them to the health care provider's messaging system. In one, Mark's hand was visible, helping to better display the swelling. Mark and his wife gave no thought to the tech giants that made this quick capture and exchange of digital data possible, or what those giants might think of the images. With help from the photos, the doctor diagnosed the issue and prescribed antibiotics, which quickly cleared it up.... Two days after taking the photos of his son, Mark's phone made a blooping notification noise: His account had been disabled because of "harmful content" that was "a severe violation of Google's policies and might be illegal." A "learn more" link led to a list of possible reasons, including "child sexual abuse & exploitation...." He filled out a form requesting a review of Google's decision, explaining his son's infection. At the same time, he discovered the domino effect of Google's rejection. Not only did he lose emails, contact information for friends and former colleagues, and documentation of his son's first years of life, his Google Fi account shut down, meaning he had to get a new phone number with another carrier. Without access to his old phone number and email address, he couldn't get the security codes he needed to sign in to other internet accounts, locking him out of much of his digital life.... A few days after Mark filed the appeal, Google responded that it would not reinstate the account, with no further explanation. Mark didn't know it, but Google's review team had also flagged a video he made and the San Francisco Police Department had already started to investigate him.... In December 2021, Mark received a manila envelope in the mail from the San Francisco Police Department. It contained a letter informing him that he had been investigated as well as copies of the search warrants served on Google and his internet service provider. An investigator, whose contact information was provided, had asked for everything in Mark's Google account: his internet searches, his location history, his messages and any document, photo and video he'd stored with the company. The search, related to "child exploitation videos," had taken place in February, within a week of his taking the photos of his son. Mark called the investigator, Nicholas Hillard, who said the case was closed. Mr. Hillard had tried to get in touch with Mark but his phone number and email address hadn't worked.... Mark appealed his case to Google again, providing the police report, but to no avail.... A Google spokeswoman said the company stands by its decisions... "The day after Mark's troubles started, the same scenario was playing out in Texas," the Times notes, quoting a technologist at the EFF who speculates other people experiencing the same thing may not want to publicize it. "There could be tens, hundreds, thousands more of these." Reached for a comment on the incident, Google told the newspaper that "Child sexual abuse material is abhorrent and we're committed to preventing the spread of it on our platforms."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Search ads could arrive in Apple Maps as early as next year

Engadget - Sun, 2022-08-21 17:10

Apple could integrate ads into Maps as early as next year, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says the company’s engineering team has already begun preparing the software to support search ads. Consumers will reportedly see Apple begin integrating that work starting sometime in 2023.

Gurman previously reported that the company had recently tested an internal version of Maps that included search ads. Apple already serves such advertisements through the App Store. Developers can pay the company to prioritize their software in search results, ensuring it shows up at the top of the page when users input specific terms. Gurman said search ads within Maps would work in much the same way. For example, a Mexican restaurant could pay Apple for their business to show up higher in local listings when people search for terms like “tacos” and “ceviche.”

At the time, Gurman suggested the test was part of a plan by Apple to significantly expand its advertising revenue. He attributed the push to Todd Teresi, the vice president in charge of the company’s ads business. The division generates about $4 billion in annual revenue, a number Teresi hopes to increase to at least $10 billion per year over time.

Lenovo's Back to School Sale Offers Big Savings on Laptops and Tech Sitewide - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-08-21 16:26
Plus, you can save a little more if you're actually heading back to school this fall as a student or teacher.

New Study Results: Ivermectin Failed to Help Covid-19 Patients Avoid Hospitalization

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 16:05
This week the New England Journal of Medicine published results from a one year, randomized, placebo-controlled study on whether Ivermectin (or the drugs metformin and fluvoxamine) helped patients when administered at the beginning of a COVID-19 infection. Here's how MarketWatch summarized the results: Ivermectin "failed to prevent the kind of severe COVID-19 that leads to an emergency-room visit or hospitalization." "None of the medications showed any impact on the primary outcome, which included experiencing low oxygen as measured on an home oxygen monitor," said Dr. Carolyn Bramonte, principal investigator of the study and an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Having low blood oxygen levels, or hypoxemia, is a common reason why COVID-19 patients end up seeking care in an ER, being hospitalized, or dying.... Each of the three generic medications has been held up as a possible COVID-19 drug, particularly ivermectin, which gained a cult following over the course of the pandemic despite well-documented issues with the flawed science that in some cases fraudulently touted the drug's benefits. Yet none so far have demonstrated in robust clinical trials that they actually help treat people with COVID-19. A long-awaited double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted by Duke University School of Medicine and funded by the U.S. concluded in June that ivermectin did not improve symptom duration among COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate forms of the disease. The same research found that the drug did not reduce hospitalizations or death.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pegasus spyware creator NSO Group plans layoffs after CEO steps down

Engadget - Sun, 2022-08-21 15:32

Following more than two years of controversy, the chief executive officer of Pegasus spyware creator NSO Group is stepping down. On Sunday, co-founder and outgoing CEO Shalev Hulio said he was handing over operations of the company to chief operating officer Yaron Shohat as part of a restructuring that will see it refocus on NATO-member countries. According to Bloomberg, NSO is also cutting its headcount. The firm reportedly plans to lay off about 100 employees before it appoints a permanent replacement for Hulio.

The restructuring comes as NSO Group continues to face scrutiny from both governments and other tech companies. In November 2021, the US Commerce Department added NSO to its Entity List, effectively banning American companies from doing business with the firm unless they obtain explicit permission to do so. That same month, Apple sued NSO to “hold it accountable” for enabling governments to spy on activists and journalists.

"The company’s products remain in high demand with governments and law enforcement agencies because of its cutting-edge technology and proven ability to assist these customers in fighting crime and terror," Shohat said. "NSO will ensure that the company's groundbreaking technologies are used for rightful and worthy purposes."

Cory Doctorow Launches New Fight against Copyrights, Creative Chokepoints, and Big Tech's 'Chokepoint Capitalism'

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 15:05
"Creators aren't getting paid," says Cory Doctorow. "That's because powerful corporations have figured out how to create chokepoints — that let them snatch up more of the value generated by creative work before it reaches creative workers." But he's doing something about it. Doctorow's teamed up with Melbourne-based law professor Rebecca Giblin, the director of Australia's Intellectual Property Research Institute, for a new book that first "pulls aside the veil on the tricks Big Tech and Big Content use..." But more importantly, it also presents specific ideas for "how we can recapture creative labor markets to make them fairer and more sustainable." Their announcement describes the book as "A Big Tech/Big Content disassembly manual," saying it's "built around shovel-ready ideas for shattering the chokepoints that squeeze creators and audiences — technical, commercial and legal blueprints for artists, fans, arts organizations, technologists, and governments to fundamentally restructure the broken markets for creative labor." Or, as they explain later, "Our main focus is action." Lawrence Lessig says the authors "offer a range of powerful strategies for fighting back." Anil Dash described it as "a credible, actionable vision for a better, more collaborative future where artists get their fair due." And Douglas Rushkoff called the book "an infuriating yet inspiring call to collective action." The book is titled "Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We'll Win Them Back." And at one point their Kickstarter page lays down a thought-provoking central question about ownership. "For 40 years, every question about creators rights had the same answer: moar copyright. How's that worked out for artists?" And then it features a quote from Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. "Copyright can't unrig a rigged market — for that you need worker power, antitrust, and solidarity." A Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 has already raised $72,171 — in its first five days — from over 1,800 backers. That's partly because, underscoring one of the book's points, their Kickstarter campaign is offering "an audiobook Amazon won't sell." While Amazon will sell you a hardcover or Kindle edition of the book.... Audible has a hard and fast rule: if you're a publisher or writer who wants to sell your audiobook on Audible, you have to let it be wrapped in "Digital Rights Management," aka DRM: digital locks that permanently bind your work to the Audible platform. If a reader decides to leave Audible, DRM stops them taking the books they've already bought with them.... Every time Audible sells a book, DRM gives it a little bit more power to shake down authors and publishers. Amazon uses that stolen margin to eliminate competition and lock-in more users, ultimately giving it even more power over the people who actually make and produce books. The announcement says their book "is about traps like the one Audible lays for writers and readers. We show how Big Tech and Big Content erect chokepoints between creators and audiences, allowing them to lock in artists and producers, eliminate competition, and extract far more than their fair share of revenues from creative labour. No way are we going to let Audible put its locks on our audiobook. "So we're kickstarting it instead." The announcement notes that Cory Doctorow himself has written dozens of books, "and he won't allow digital locks on any of them." And then in 2020, "Cory had an idea: what if he used Kickstarter to pre-sell his next audiobook? It was the most successful audiobook crowdfunding campaign in history." So now Cory's working instead with independent audiobook studio Skyboat Media "to make great editions, which are sold everywhere except Audible (and Apple, which only carries Audible books): Libro.fm, Downpour, Google Play and his own storefront. Cory's first kickstarter didn't just smash all audiobook crowdfunding records — it showed publishers and other writers that there were tons of people who cared enough about writers getting paid fairly that they were willing to walk away from Amazon's golden cage. Now we want to send that message again — this time with a book that takes you behind the curtain to unveil the Machiavellian tactics Amazon and the other big tech and content powerhouses use to lock in users, creators and suppliers, eliminate competition, and extract more than their fair share.... Chokepoint Capitalism is not just a rollicking read, and a delightful listen: it also does good. Your willingness to break out of the one-click default of buying from the Audible monopoly in support of projects like this sends a clear message to writers, publishers, and policymakers that you have had enough of the unfair treatment of creative workers, and you are demanding change. Rewards include ebooks, audiobooks, hardcover copies, and even the donation of a copy to your local library. You can also pledge money without claiming a reward, or pledge $1 as a show of support for "a cryptographically signed email thanking you for backing the project. Think of it as a grift-free NFT." Craig Newmark says the book documents "the extent to which competition's been lost throughout the creative industries, and how this pattern threatens every other worker. There is still time to do something about it, but the time to act is now."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Spend $100 on Diapers, Get a Free $30 Target Gift Card - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2022-08-21 14:27
Get some cash back when you buy diapers or baby wipes in bulk this week at Target.

Lincoln's Concept Car Replaces Steering Wheel with Mouse-Like 'Controller'

SlashDot - Sun, 2022-08-21 14:01
Engadget reports that the annual "Monterey Car Week "has been a hotbed of EV debuts this year with unveilings from Dodge, Acura, DeLorean and a host of other automakers." But then on Thursday, Lincoln unveiled its Model L100, paying homage to the opulence of Lincoln's original 1922 luxury car by "redefining" vehicle controls. A video on CNN explains that "the fully autonomous vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals," emphasizing that it's a "concept car" — a show piece. ("It's not set for production and won't be sold to customers.") But yes, it's an electric car that replaces the steering wheel with what Lincoln is calling a "chess piece controller," a hand-held, car-shaped piece of crystal that sits on a table in the center of the car. Drivers "grab it and move it around and move the actual vehicle," Kemal Curic, Global Design Director for Lincoln Motor Company, tells the Drive. (The table-top surface apparently functions like a kind of map, with the hand-held piece acting as an avatar.) Or as the Drive puts it, "Remember being a kid and pushing a toy car around on a city rug? Lincoln designers do." The site ultimately concludes that the designs "really speak to one's natural instinct of movement. As humans, whenever we want to move something we just pick it up and move it; so why should our cars be any different...? [C]oncept cars don't have to make sense. They just need to be a cool representation of our wildest ideas." In addition, CNN explains, "Because the car drives itself, the front row seats can be turned to face the rear passengers." There's other futuristic features. CNN's video shows what Lincoln is calling "smart wheel covers" which fully encase the tires while offering a decorative electric light show (which doubles as a battery indicator). Even the floor is a massive digital screen, and there's also a full-length hinged glass roof — an upper canopy which according to Engadget "can project realistic animated scenes onto the floor and ceiling." "Unfortunately many of the ideas presented here will inevitably be cut, going the way of Mercedes' awesome, Avatar-inspired trunk hatch wigglers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Netflix’s ad-supported tier might not play commercials during new movies

Engadget - Sun, 2022-08-21 13:39

Netflix’s forthcoming ad-supported tier could include programming without commercials. According to Bloomberg, the company doesn’t plan to run ads during original movies, at least when they first premiere on the platform. In doing so, Netflix reportedly hopes to keep its service appealing to high-profile filmmakers who may find the idea of commercials interrupting their stories unappealing.

Content for children could also be free of ads. Netflix has reportedly told partners it won’t run commercials during original kids programming. Some of the company’s current agreements would not allow it to run ads during licensed content either. Netflix may feel serving commercials to kids would be more trouble than it’s worth. In 2019, Google paid $170 million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act after the FTC found YouTube had illegally collected data from kids.

Bloomberg warns Netflix is still finalizing plans for its ad-supported tier, and the company’s strategy could change between now and when the service eventually launches. On that note, code recently found by developer Steve Moser suggested the new tier could also drop support for offline viewing. Netflix quickly responded to the rumor by pointing out it was still in the “early days of deciding how to launch a lower priced, ad-supported option.”

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