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Alaska's Engineering Colleges Prepare To Slash Programs, Lay Off Faculty

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 20:25
In response to Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy's dramatic budget cuts to the state's only public institution of higher education, the University of Alaska's engineering colleges in Fairbanks and Anchorage are preparing to cut faculty members and slash a number of programs. "Dozens of engineering faculty, researchers, and staff could see their positions eliminated, and even tenured faculty members could lose their jobs. Students may not be able to finish their degrees in the programs or locations in which they started," reports IEEE Spectrum. "Many engineering students have already lost merit-based scholarships promised to them via the Alaska Performance Scholarship program." From the report: On 28 June, Gov. Dunleavy vetoed US $130 million in state funding for the University of Alaska system for the fiscal year that began on 1 July -- a step he said was necessary to contend with the state's $1.6 billion budget deficit, inflicted in large part by sluggish oil prices. Those cuts came on top of a $5 million reduction proposed by Alaska's legislature. Overall, state funding for the University of Alaska has been reduced by $136 million [PDF], or 41 percent, for the fiscal year that began 1 July. That translates to a 17 percent reduction to the University of Alaska's total operating budget. Citing reputational damage caused by these cuts, the University of Alaska's Board of Regents expects tuition, grant funding, and charitable donations to also drop, adding to a total loss of more than $200 million [PDF] in funding for the current fiscal year. The University of Alaska is now widely expected to declare financial exigency [PDF], an emergency status that would allow administrators to take extreme measures to reduce costs by closing campuses, slashing salaries and programs, or laying off tenured faculty. However, closing the university's flagship Fairbanks campus would still not be enough to cover the shortfall. In response to budget cuts in previous years, the university has already suspended or discontinued more than 50 degree programs and certificates, including its MS in Engineering Management program.

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Emotion-Detection Applications Are Built On Outdated Science, Report Warns

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 20:03
maiden_taiwan writes: Can computers determine your emotional state from your face? A panel of senior scientists with backgrounds in neuroscience, psychology, computer science, electrical engineering, biology, anthropology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and public affairs spent two years reviewing over 1,000 research papers on the topic. Two years later, they have published the most comprehensive analysis to date and concluded: "It is not possible to confidently infer happiness from a smile, anger from a scowl, or sadness from a frown, as much of current technology tries to do when applying what are mistakenly believed to be the scientific facts.... [How] people communicate anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise varies substantially across cultures, situations, and even across people within a single situation." Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of the book How Emotions are Made and behind a popular TED talk on emotion, who was an author on the paper, further elaborates: "People scowl when angry, on average, approximately 25 percent of the time, but they move their faces in other meaningful ways when angry. They might cry, or smile, or widen their eyes and gasp. And they also scowl when not angry, such as when they are concentrating or when they have a stomach ache. Similarly, most smiles don't imply that a person is happy, and most of the time people who are happy do something other than smile." The American Civil Liberties Union has also commented on the impact of the study. "This paper is significant because an entire industry of automated purported emotion-reading technologies is quickly emerging," writes the ACLU. "As we wrote in our recent paper on 'Robot Surveillance,' the market for emotion recognition software is forecast to reach at least $3.8 billion by 2025. Emotion recognition (aka 'affect recognition' or 'affective computing') is already being incorporated into products for purposes such as marketing, robotics, driver safety, and (as we recently wrote about) audio 'aggression detectors.'"

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QuickBooks Cloud Hosting Firm iNSYNQ Hit In Ransomware Attack

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 19:20
Cloud hosting provider iNSYNQ says it was hit with a ransomware attack that shut down its network and left customers unable to access their accounting data for the past three days. "Unfortunately for iNSYNQ, the company appears to be turning a deaf ear to the increasingly anxious cries from its users for more information about the incident," reports Krebs On Security." From the report: Gig Harbor, Wash.-based iNSYNQ specializes in providing cloud-based QuickBooks accounting software and services. In a statement posted to its status page, iNSYNQ said it experienced a ransomware attack on July 16, and took its network offline in a bid to contain the spread of the malware. "The attack impacted data belonging to certain iNSYNQ clients, rendering such data inaccessible,"; the company said. "As soon as iNSYNQ discovered the attack, iNSYNQ took steps to contain it. This included turning off some servers in the iNSYNQ environment." iNSYNQ said it has engaged outside cybersecurity assistance and to determine whether any customer data was accessed without authorization, but that so far it has no estimate for when those files might be available again to customers.

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Chrome 76 Prevents NYT and Other News Sites From Detecting Incognito Mode

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 18:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google Chrome 76 will close a loophole that websites use to detect when people use the browser's Incognito Mode. Over the past couple of years, you may have noticed some websites preventing you from reading articles while using a browser's private mode. The Boston Globe began doing this in 2017, requiring people to log in to paid subscriber accounts in order to read in private mode. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers impose identical restrictions. Chrome 76 -- which is in beta now and is scheduled to hit the stable channel on July 30 -- prevents these websites from discovering that you're in private mode. Google explained the change yesterday in a blog post titled, "Protecting private browsing in Chrome." Google wrote: "Today, some sites use an unintended loophole to detect when people are browsing in Incognito Mode. Chrome's FileSystem API is disabled in Incognito Mode to avoid leaving traces of activity on someone's device. Sites can check for the availability of the FileSystem API and, if they receive an error message, determine that a private session is occurring and give the user a different experience. With the release of Chrome 76 scheduled for July 30, the behavior of the FileSystem API will be modified to remedy this method of Incognito Mode detection." If websites find new loopholes to detect private mode, Google said they will close those, too. "Chrome will likewise work to remedy any other current or future means of Incognito Mode detection," Google's blog post said.

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Pwn20wnd launches unc0ver v3.3.7 with reliability improvements for the Sock Port exploit

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 18:30

Pwn20wnd just pushed another update for unc0ver, bringing it up to version 3.3.7. This update makes the Sock Port exploit more reliable on 4K devices.
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Smart Money Said 'Skip Bitcoin, Bet on Blockchain.' Not Any More

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 18:05
As cryptocurrency prices tumbled across the board last year, venture capitalists focused their attention on the promise of the underlying technology, the ledger known as blockchain. That, many said, was the smarter bet. Now, the tables have turned. From a report: While Bitcoin's price has rebounded this year, a fresh batch of data shows the flow of cash into blockchain startups dropped dramatically. So far, traditional venture capital investments in blockchain companies have totaled $784 million via 227 deals, according to CB Insights. At that pace, businesses focusing on that technology may only draw $1.6 billion this year, down roughly 60% from a record $4.1 billion in 2018, the research firm said. Money coming from corporations is on "an even sharper decline," despite interest from companies such as Facebook in creating their own digital coins, CB Insights said. Maturing startups are drawing less support, while young startups are faring better, it said.

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Apollo Reddit developer donating all proceeds from Saturday’s sales to SPCA animal shelter

9to5Mac - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 18:00

Following up on a successful donation campaign last year, the developer behind the highly popular iOS Reddit app Apollo is again giving 100% of proceeds to the SPCA animal shelter tomorrow, July 20. The campaign comes during an important busy season for shelters.

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Unc0ver v3.3.6 released to address Sock Port exploit issues on 4K devices

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:48

Pwn20wnd has updated the unc0ver jailbreak again on Friday to version 3.3.6, this time to resolve an issue that would prevent certain 4K devices from being jailbroken with the Sock Port exploit.
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Daily Deals: $34 SteelSeries Nimbus controller, $20 iTunes movie bundles, and more

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:45

Welcome to our Daily Deals column, where we round up the best tech deals from around the web. Here you'll find discounts on everything from Apple products to accessories, video games and much more. But you better hurry, these prices won't be around forever!
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Arctic Summer Melt Shows Ice Is Disappearing Faster Than Normal

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:26
Ice covering the Arctic Ocean reached the second-lowest level recorded for this time of year after July temperatures spiked in areas around the North Pole. From a report: The rate of ice loss in the region is a crucial indicator for the world's climate and a closely-watched metric by bordering nations jostling for resources and trade routes. This month's melt is tracking close to the record set in July 2012, the Colorado-based National Snow & Ice Data Center said in a statement. This year's heatwave in the Arctic Circle has led to record temperatures in areas of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, extending long-term trends of more ice disappearing. Ice flows are melting faster than average rates observed over the last three decades, losing an additional 20,000 square kilometers (12,427 miles) of cover per day -- an area about the size of Wales. Ice begins melting in the Arctic as spring approaches in the northern hemisphere, and then it usually starts building again toward the end of September as the days grow shorter and cooler. The U.K.'s Met Office said that the chance of a record low by September "is higher than it has been in the previous few years." This summer, several dramatic images showing the pace and extent of Arctic ice melt have been seen around the world underlining the harsh reality of global warming and the struggle governments face in trying to slow it down. Globally, June was the hottest year on record, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

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Have multiple Apple Health data sources? Here’s how to get the best results

9to5Mac - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 17:22

Apple’s Health app is a great place to see a summary of your activity and other health data. But if you have multiple devices that are acting as sources for the same data, you may get the best results by choosing which devices are prioritized for different measurements like steps, heart rate, distance traveled, and more.

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My Browser, the Spy: How Extensions Slurped Up Browsing Histories From 4M Users

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 16:45
Dan Goodin, reporting for ArsTechnica: When we use browsers to make medical appointments, share tax returns with accountants, or access corporate intranets, we usually trust that the pages we access will remain private. DataSpii, a newly documented privacy issue in which millions of people's browsing histories have been collected and exposed, shows just how much about us is revealed when that assumption is turned on its head. DataSpii begins with browser extensions -- available mostly for Chrome but in more limited cases for Firefox as well -- that, by Google's account, had as many as 4.1 million users. These extensions collected the URLs, webpage titles, and in some cases the embedded hyperlinks of every page that the browser user visited. Most of these collected Web histories were then published by a fee-based service called Nacho Analytics, which markets itself as "God mode for the Internet" and uses the tag line "See Anyone's Analytics Account." Web histories may not sound especially sensitive, but a subset of the published links led to pages that are not protected by passwords -- but only by a hard-to-guess sequence of characters (called tokens) included in the URL. Thus, the published links could allow viewers to access the content at these pages. (Security practitioners have long discouraged the publishing of sensitive information on pages that aren't password protected, but the practice remains widespread.) Further reading: More on DataSpii: How extensions hide their data grabs -- and how they're discovered.

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A Rust-Based TLS Library Outperformed OpenSSL in Almost Every Category

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 16:05
A tiny and relatively unknown TLS library written in Rust, an up-and-coming programming language, outperformed the industry-standard OpenSSL in almost every major category. From a report: The findings are the result of a recent four-part series of benchmarks carried out by Joseph Birr-Pixton, the developer behind the Rustls library. The findings showed that Rustls was 10% faster when setting up and negotiating a new server connection, and between 20 and 40% faster when setting up a client connection. But while handshake speeds for new TLS connections are important, most TLS traffic relies on resuming previously negotiated handshakes. Here, too, Rustls outperformed the aging OpenSSL, being between 10 and 20% in resuming a connection on the server-side, and being between 30 and 70% quicker to resume a client connection. Furthermore, Rustls also fared better in sheer bulk performance -- or the speed at which data is transferred over the TLS connection. Birr-Pixton said Rustls could send data 15% faster than OpenSSL, and receive it 5% faster as well.

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Introducing Apple @ Work, a new 9to5Mac series covering Apple in the enterprise

9to5Mac - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 16:04

Since March of 2018, I’ve written a weekly column called Making the Grade covering Apple in K-12 education. A lot of the content I’ve wanted to cover has leaned a little into the enterprise (corporate world), so I’ve created a new column called Apple @ Work where I will talk about more enterprise content with how it relates to Apple. I will be moving Making the Grade to every other Saturday, with Apple @ Work publishing on the other Saturday.

In the first installment, I cover the Top 3 mistakes Apple IT managers make including a 25-minute webinar video available now (below).

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Researchers Have Teamed Up in India To Build a Gigantic Store of Texts and Images Extracted From 73M Journal Articles

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 15:25
A giant data store quietly being built in India could free vast swathes of science for computer analysis -- but whether it is a legal pursuit remains unclear. From a report: Carl Malamud is on a crusade to liberate information locked up behind paywalls -- and his campaigns have scored many victories. He has spent decades publishing copyrighted legal documents, from building codes to court records, and then arguing that such texts represent public-domain law that ought to be available to any citizen online. Sometimes, he has won those arguments in court. Now, the 60-year-old American technologist is turning his sights on a new objective: freeing paywalled scientific literature. And he thinks he has a legal way to do it. Over the past year, Malamud has -- without asking publishers -- teamed up with Indian researchers to build a gigantic store of text and images extracted from 73 million journal articles dating from 1847 up to the present day. The cache, which is still being created, will be kept on a 576-terabyte storage facility at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. "This is not every journal article ever written, but it's a lot," Malamud says. It's comparable to the size of the core collection in the Web of Science database, for instance. Malamud and his JNU collaborator, bioinformatician Andrew Lynn, call their facility the JNU data depot. No one will be allowed to read or download work from the repository, because that would breach publishers' copyright. Instead, Malamud envisages, researchers could crawl over its text and data with computer software, scanning through the world's scientific literature to pull out insights without actually reading the text. The unprecedented project is generating much excitement because it could, for the first time, open up vast swathes of the paywalled literature for easy computerized analysis. Dozens of research groups already mine papers to build databases of genes and chemicals, map associations between proteins and diseases, and generate useful scientific hypotheses. But publishers control -- and often limit -- the speed and scope of such projects, which typically confine themselves to abstracts, not full text. Researchers in India, the United States and the United Kingdom are already making plans to use the JNU store instead. Malamud and Lynn have held workshops at Indian government laboratories and universities to explain the idea. "We bring in professors and explain what we are doing. They get all excited and they say, 'Oh gosh, this is wonderful'," says Malamud. But the depot's legal status isn't yet clear. Malamud, who contacted several intellectual-property (IP) lawyers before starting work on the depot, hopes to avoid a lawsuit.

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How to have Siri automatically read incoming text messages out loud to you in iOS 13

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 15:03

Learn how to get handy voice announcements from Siri through your AirPods or Powerbeats Pro for texts sent to you via Messages or any third-party messaging app.
Categories: Geek

YouTube Executive Says the Video Service Doesn't Drive Its Users Down the Rabbit Hole

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 14:45
YouTube has defended its video recommendation algorithms, amid suggestions that the technology serves up increasingly extreme videos. On Thursday, a BBC report explored how YouTube had helped the Flat Earth conspiracy theory spread. But the company's new managing director for the UK, Ben McOwen Wilson, said YouTube "does the opposite of taking you down the rabbit hole". From a report: He told the BBC that YouTube worked to dispel misinformation and conspiracies. But warned that some types of government regulation could start to look like censorship. YouTube, as well as other internet giants such as Facebook and Twitter, have some big decisions to make. All must decide where they draw the line between freedom of expression, hateful content and misinformation. And the government is watching. It has published a White Paper laying out its plans to regulate online platforms. In his first interview since starting his new role, Ben spoke about the company's algorithms, its approach to hate speech and what it expects from the UK government's "online harms" legislation. [...] YouTube has never explained exactly how its algorithms work. Critics say the platform offers up increasingly sensationalist and conspiratorial videos. Mr McOwen Wilson disagrees. "It's what's great about YouTube. It is what brings you from one small area and actually expands your horizon and does the opposite of taking you down the rabbit hole," he says.

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San Mateo Apple Store planning expansion to Hillsdale Shopping Center North Block

9to5Mac - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 14:19

Apple is preparing to relocate its retail store in San Mateo, California to a substantially larger outdoor space. The move is one of many changes coming to Hillsdale Shopping Center, which is in the midst of a significant redevelopment project. Apple Hillsdale will become the 10th store in the Bay Area to feature Apple’s latest retail design. more…

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Apple Card may launch in Canada in 2019

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 14:14

Apple recently filed the necessary paperwork in Canada to lay the groundwork to launch both Apple Cash and Apple Card in the region.
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Russian Lawmakers Propose Making Local Software Mandatory on Smartphones

Slashdot - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 14:05
Russian lawmakers want to make it a legal requirement for all smartphones, computers and smart TV sets sold in Russia to come pre-installed with certain Russian software in a bid to support domestic software producers, according to a draft bill. From a report: The bill, tabled at the lower house of parliament on Thursday, would allow authorities to draw up a list of mandatory, locally-made software. If passed, it would come into force in July 2020. Russia's cell-phone market is dominated by Apple, Samsung and Huawei products. Those who do not abide by the rule, the proposed law says, would have to pay a fine.

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