Apple

How Jony Ive Masterminded Apple's New Headquarters (wsj.com) 25

Reader cdreimer writes: As reported by The Wall Street Journal (paywalled, summary by Apple Insider), Jony Ive explains how he brought forth Steve Jobs' final design, Apple Park, Apple's newest campus headquarters, to life: "On a sunny day in May, Jonathan Ive -- Jony to anyone who knows him -- first encounters a completed section of Apple Park, the giant campus in Cupertino, California, that has turned into one of his longest projects as Apple's chief designer. A section of workspace in the circular, Norman Foster -- designed building is finally move-in-ready: sliding-glass doors on the soundproof offices, a giant European white oak collaboration table, adjustable-height desks, and floors with aluminum-covered hinged panels, hiding cables and wires, and brushed-steel grating for air diffusion. Ive's characteristically understated reaction -- "It's nice, though, isn't it?" -- masks the anxiety he feels each time a product he's designed is about to be introduced to the world. "There's the same rather strange process you go through when you finish a product and you prepare to release it -- it's the same set of feelings," says Ive, who turned 50 in February. "That feels, I don't know, encouragingly healthy, because I would be concerned if we lost that sense of anxiety. I think that would suggest that we were not as self-critical, not as curious, not as inquisitive as we have to be to be able to be effective and do good work." Apple Park is unlike any other product Ive has worked on. There will be only one campus -- in contrast to the ubiquity of Apple's phones and computers -- and it doesn't fit in a pocket or a hand. Yet Ive applied the same design process he brings to technological devices: prototyping to minimize any issues with the end result and to narrow what he calls the delta between the vision and the reality of a project. Apple Park is also the last major project Ive worked on with Steve Jobs, making it more personal for the man Jobs once called his "spiritual partner.""
Intel

Intel Exits the Maker Movement (hackaday.com) 83

Reader szczys writes: Intel just killed off its last "maker movement" hardware offering without fanfare by quietly releasing a Product Change Notification PDF. The Arduino 101 is halting production on September 17th. This microcontroller board is built around the Intel Curie module around which Intel bankrolled a television series called America's Greatest Makers. News on the end of life for the Arduino 101 board follows the recent cancellations of their Joule, Galileo, and Edison boards. This is the entirety of Intel's maker offerings and seems to signal their exit from entry-level embedded hardware.
NASA

How NASA Glimpsed The Mysterious Object 'New Horizons' Will Reach In 2019 (popsci.com) 66

necro81 writes: After its successful flyby of Pluto in July 2015, the New Horizons probe received a mission extension to fly past a Kuiper Belt object -- named 2014 MU69 -- in January 2019. However, we know few details about the object -- its size, shape, albedo, whether it has any companions -- which are crucial for planning the flyby. Based on observations from Hubble, the New Horizons team knew that the object would pass in front of a star -- an occultation -- on July 17th, which could provide some of this data. But the occultation would last for less than a second, would only be visible in Patagonia, and the star itself is quite dim.

NASA set up 24 telescopes near one community to capture the event, and received lots of cooperation from locals: turning off streetlights, shutting down a nearby highway, and setting up trucks as windbreaks. At least five of those telescopes captured the occultation. This was the latest in a series of observations ahead of the flyby.

"We had to go up to farmers' doors and say 'Hi, we're here from NASA, we're wondering if we can set up telescopes in your back pasture?'" one astronomer told Popular Science. "More often than not people were like 'that sounds awesome, sure, we'll help out!'"
Star Wars Prequels

Predatory Journals Hit By "Star Wars" Sting (discovermagazine.com) 111

intellitech quotes an article from Discover's Neuroskeptic blog: A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper...an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it... I created a spoof manuscript about "midi-chlorians" -- the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars...and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr. Lucas McGeorge and Dr. Annette Kin... The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn't pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof.
At one point the paper simply transcribes dialogue from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. ("Did you ever hear of the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? I thought not. It is not a story the Jedi would tell you....") And the author also cut-and-pasted big chunks of the Wikipedia page for mitochondrion (after globally replacing mitochondr* with midichlor*), then admitted in the paper's "Methodology" section that "The majority of the text in the current paper was Rogeted from Wikipedia" -- with a direct link back to that Wikipedia page. One sentence even mentions "JARJAR syndrome."

Three more journals did reject the paper -- but at least one more unquestioningly asked the author to revise and resubmit it. The author calls it "a reminder that at some 'peer reviewed' journals, there really is no meaningful peer review at all" -- adding that one journal has even invited Dr. Lucas McGeorge to join their editorial board.
Sci-Fi

George A. Romero, Martin Landau Both Died This Weekend (variety.com) 53

This weekend the world lost two familiar faces from the world of fantasy, horror and science fiction films -- director George A. Romero and actor Martin Landau. An anonymous reader writes: Bronx-born director Romero started his career with a segment for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood about tonsilectomies, but is best remembered for his influential zombie movies Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), and Land of the Dead (2005), as well as the 1982 horror film Creepshow (written by Stephen King). In 1998 Romero also directed a zombie-themed ad for Resident Evil 2, and later even wrote a rejected script for the first Resident Evil movie. In 2004 Romero began work on a zombie video game City of the Dead, which was ultimately never finished. Romero appears as himself in the zombie section of Call of Duty: Black Ops, and in 2014 Marvel comics launched Empire of the Dead, a 15-issue title written by Romero.

Martin Landau began his career playing a gunfighter in the third episode of The Twilight Zone, and a time-travelling astronaut in the sixth episode of The Outer Limits. Soon he was starring as master of disguise Rollin Hand on Mission: Impossible -- which ran from 1966 to 1973 -- and on Space: 1999, which ran from 1975 to 1977. At the age of 66 Landau finally won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1994 film Ed Wood. In 2012 Landau also provided the voice of the science teacher in Burton's Frankenweenie, and had an uncredited role in the director's 1999 movie Sleepy Hollow as one of the early victims of the headless horseman. Landau was also in the 1998 X-Files movie (playing the doctor who tips off Mulder that there's something suspicious in the morgue).

Slashdot reader schwit1 remembers that Landau began his career playing a sadistic henchman in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (who appears in the climactic final scene on Mt. Rushmore) -- and that Landau famously turned down the role of Mr. Spock on Star Trek.
Programming

TechCrunch Urges Developers: Replace C Code With Rust (techcrunch.com) 502

Software engineer and TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans writes that the C programming language "gives its users far too much artillery with which to shoot their feet off" and is "no longer suitable for the world which C has built." An anonymous reader shared Evans' post: Copious experience has taught us all, the hard way, that it is very difficult, verging on "basically impossible," to write extensive amounts of C code that is not riddled with security holes. As I wrote two years ago, in my first Death To C piece... "Buffer overflows and dangling pointers lead to catastrophic security holes, again and again and again, just like yesteryear, just like all the years of yore. We cannot afford its gargantuan, gaping security blind spots any more. It's long past time to retire and replace it with another language.

"The trouble is, most modern languages don't even try to replace C... They're not good at the thing C does best: getting down to the bare metal and working at mach speed." Today I am seriously suggesting that when engineers refactor existing C code, especially parsers and other input handlers, they replace it -- slowly, bit by bit -- with Rust... we are only going to dig ourselves out of our giant collective security hole iteratively, one shovelful of better code and better tooling at a time."

He also suggests other fixes -- like using a language-theoretic approach which conceptualizes valid inputs as their own formal language, and formal verification of the correctness of algorithms. But he still insists that "C has become a monster" -- and that we must start replacing it with Rust.
Sci-Fi

Vintage SciFi Magazine 'Galaxy' Preserved Online - And Hopefully Also SoundCloud (archive.org) 52

Long-time Slashdot reader Paul Fernhout writes: Archive.org has made available 355 issues of Galaxy Magazine for free access. Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980 with stories from many sci-fi greats [including Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein]. At its peak, Galaxy greatly influenced the science fiction field. See also Open Culture and The Verge for more about the history of a magazine that help shape the imaginations of a generation of techies..
Meanwhile, Archive.org's Jason Scott -- who also founded textfiles.com -- says his own group of preservationists "plans large scale backing up of Soundcloud soon" -- or at least part of it. A placeholder page already informs visitors that "We are currently working on getting all the API data... We also are writing the scripts to get a good grab of everything we can." Scott told Motherboard Saturday "Our main concern is artists and creators suddenly finding their stuff gone, and making it so it's not in oblivion."
China

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Way To Experience the Chinese Internet From Outside? (fffff.at) 93

dryriver writes: In 2008, a bunch of crafty developers created a Firefox plugin called China Channel. It apparently allowed you to connect to a proxy server in China, and experience the -- heavily censored and filtered -- internet as Chinese citizens experienced it back then. The nearly decade old plugin doesn't seem to work anymore. My modern Firefox browser couldn't install it. So the question: is there a way to surf the internet as if you were inside China, and experience for yourself how much of the experience is censored or filtered? It would be interesting to experience firsthand what the Great Firewall of China lets you see of the free world and internet as we know it in 2017, and what it does not.
Wikipedia

The XHamster Wikipedia Page Is Suddenly Immensely Popular, and No One Knows Why (theoutline.com) 129

An anonymous reader shares a report: At the beginning of June I started to notice that XHamster, the third most popular adult website after Pornhub and XVideos, had one of the most viewed Wikipedia pages. On May 29, XHamster's Wikipedia page went from receiving around 100,000 views to 200,000. By June 1, it was getting more than 300,000 views a day for no apparent reason. There haven't been any viral stories about XHamster lately. There are no controversies about the page itself that would have prompted sustained attention or an edit war. [...] Pageviews on XHamster's Wikipedia page, however, has been bonkers throughout the month of June for no obvious reason. That's according to a pageview analysis tool from Wikimedia Labs, and confirmed by a Wikipedia spokesperson. I reached out to Wikipedia to see if it could shed some light on this puzzle. In an email, a spokesperson verified that the pageviews were accurate but that they didn't know what was causing the surge. Wikipedia's spokesperson pointed out that the edit activity, unlike its pageviews, has remained steady.
Media

Hulu Joins Netflix and Amazon In Promoting Royalty-free Video Codec AV1 (fiercecable.com) 134

theweatherelectric writes: Hulu has joined the Alliance for Open Media, which is developing an open, royalty-free video format called AV1. AV1 is targeting better performance than H.265 and, unlike H.265, will be licensed under royalty-free terms for all use cases. The top three over-the-top SVOD services (Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu) are now all members of the alliance. In joining the alliance, Hulu hopes "to accelerate development and facilitate friction-free adoption of new media technologies that benefit the streaming media industry and [its] viewers."
Education

PBS Bets $3 Million That Monkeys Are Better CS Preschool Teachers Than Rabbits (edsurge.com) 82

theodp writes: EdSurge reports that a new PBS show will teach preschoolers how to think like computers. Marisa Wolsky, an executive producer at WGBH Boston, believes television can be a way to teach Computational Thinking. She is in the first stages of creating an animated television show called Monkeying Around [$3,000,000 NSF award] that uses four monkeys to teach the subject. Why monkeys? EdSurge explains, "Initially, Wolsky said her team wanted to use rabbits to teach the kids, but after realizing the animal would need to use its hands, they decided to go with monkeys [Rabbits historically enjoyed success teaching the 3 R's]." In a press release announcing the new pre-K show, WGBH cited "a great deal of national interest in computer science and coding," adding that "it is never too early to start." WGBH is not the only PBS station that's bullish on CS. According to an NSF Award Abstract, "Twin Cities PBS (TPT), the National Girls Collaborative (NGC) and [tech-bankrolled] Code.org will lead Code: SciGirls! Media to Engage Girls in Computing Pathways, a three-year [$2.63 million] project designed to engage 8-13 year-old girls in coding through transmedia programming which inspires and prepares them for future computer science studies and career paths [...] Drawing on narrative transportation theory and character identification theory, TPT will commission two exploratory knowledge-building studies to investigate: To what extent and how do the narrative formats of the Code: SciGirls! online media affect girls' interest, beliefs, and behavioral intent towards coding and code-related careers?" And Code Trip, a PBS series touted by Microsoft that aired in 2016 [$200,000 NSF award], explored computer science opportunities for young people by, as Microsoft explained, following "three students traveling around the country to speak with leaders including Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, and Hadi Partovi, entrepreneur and cofounder of Code.org."
Programming

New Research Explodes Myths About Ada Lovelace (ox.ac.uk) 107

Two mathematics historians investigated the Lovelace-Byron family archives (which are available online) to confirm the early mathematical prowess of Ada Lovelace for two scholarly journals. Slashdot reader bugs2squash shares a post from the Oxford Mathematical Institute: The work challenges widespread claims that Lovelace's mathematical abilities were more "poetical" than practical, or indeed that her knowledge was so limited that Babbage himself was likely to have been the author of the paper that bears her name. The authors pinpoint Lovelace's keen eye for detail, fascination with big questions, and flair for deep insights, which enabled her to challenge some deep assumptions in her teacher's work. They suggest that her ambition, in time, to do significant mathematical research was entirely credible, though sadly curtailed by her ill-health and early death.
Ada Lovelace died in London at age 36.
Communications

Someone Built a Tool To Get Congress' Browser History (vice.com) 68

A software engineer in North Carolina has created a new plugin that lets website administrators monitor when someone accesses their site from an IP address associated with the federal government. It was created in part to protest a measure signed by President Trump in April that allows internet service providers to sell sensitive information about your online habits without needing your consent. Motherboard reports: A new tool created by Matt Feld, the founder of several nonprofits including Speak Together, could help the public get a sense of what elected officials are up to online. Feld, a software engineer working in North Carolina, created Speak Together to share "technical projects that could be used to reduce the opaqueness between government and people," he told Motherboard over the phone. "It was born out of just me trying to get involved and finding the process to be confusing." The tool lets website administrators track whether members of Congress, the Senate, White House staff, or Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff are looking at their site. If you use Feld's plug-in, you'll be able to see whether someone inside government is reading your blog. You won't be able to tell if President Trump viewed a web page, but you will be able to see that it was someone using an IP address associated with the White House. The tool works similarly to existing projects like CongressEdits, an automated Twitter account that tweets whenever a Wikipedia page is edited from IP addresses associated with Congress.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On Sloot Compression? (youtube.com) 418

An anonymous reader writes: A Dutch electronics engineer named Jan Sloot spent 20 years of his life trying to compress broadcast quality video down to kilobytes -- not megabytes or gigabytes (the link in this story contains an 11 minute mini-documentary on Sloot). His CODEC, finalized in the late 1990s, consisted of a massive 370Mb decoder engine that likely contained some kind of clever system for procedurally generating just about any video frame or audio sample desired -- fractals or other generative approaches may have been used by Sloot. The "instruction files" that told this decoder what kind of video frames, video motion and audio samples to generate were supposedly only kilobytes in size -- kind of like small MIDI files being able to generate hugely complex orchestral scores when they instruct a DAW software what to play. Jan Sloot died of a heart attack two days before he was due to sign a technology licensing deal with a major electronics company. The Sloot Video Compression system source code went missing after his death and was never recovered, prompting some to speculate that Jan Sloot was killed because his ultra-efficient video compression and transmission scheme threatened everyone profiting from storing, distributing and transmitting large amounts of digital video data. I found out about Sloot Compression only after watching some internet videos on "invention suppression." So the question is: is it technically possible that Sloot Compression, with its huge decoder file and tiny instruction files, actually worked? According to Reddit user PinGUY, the Sloot Digital Coding System may have been the inspiration for Pied Piper, a fictional data compression algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley. Here's some more information about the Sloot Digital Coding System for those who are interested.
Television

Apple's 'Planet of the Apps' Reality Show Is 'Bland, Tepid, Barely Competent Knock-off of 'Shark Tank' (variety.com) 78

On Tuesday, Apple made its debut into the world of original television programming with "Planet of the Apps," a reality show that brings app developers in a competition to try to get mentoring and assistance from hosts Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Contestants describe their proposals as they ride an escalator down onto a stage where the judges sit, and then fire questions at the app developer. The problem? Critics aren't pleased. An anonymous reader shares a Variety report: Apple's first offering, "Planet of the Apps," feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party, and not given much more rigorous thought or attention after the pitcher of mojitos was drained. It's not terrible, but essentially, it's a bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of " Shark Tank." Apple made its name on game-changing innovations, but this show is decidedly not one of them. The program's one slick innovation is the escalator pitch. You read that right; I didn't mistype "elevator pitch." The show begins with an overly brief set-up segment, which doesn't spend much time explaining the rules of the show, and which also assumes that a viewer will know who host Zane Lowe is, though a reasonably large chunk of the audience won't. Soon enough, app developers step into a pitch room with a very long escalator in the middle of it. As the four judges listen (often with looks of glacial boredom on their faces), the aspiring creators have one minute of escalator time to tout the product they want funding for. After the app makers get to the bottom of the conveyance, the judges (or "advisors") vote yea or nay. As long as one judge has given the developers a green light, they can continue making their pitch.
Wikipedia

Wikimedia Executives Receive Six-figure Golden Handshakes (theregister.co.uk) 139

Andreas Kolbe writes: The Wikimedia Foundation's (WMF) recently released Form 990 shows that the organisation has developed a practice of handing outgoing managers six-figure severance payments, The Register reports. The foundation, which relies entirely on unpaid volunteers to generate the content of its websites, has taken around $300 million dollars over the past five years through fundraising banners placed on Wikipedia. The WMF says it is "committed to communicating with our volunteers, donors, and stakeholders in an open, accountable, and timely manner", but has long been criticised for providing little transparency on the salaries of its executives, limiting itself to the legally required Form 990 disclosures that only become public two years after the event.
Windows

WannaCry Exploit Could Infect Windows 10 (threatpost.com) 52

msm1267 writes: EternalBlue, the NSA-developed attack used by criminals to spread WannaCry ransomware last month, has been ported to Windows 10 by security researchers. The publicly available version of EternalBlue leaked by the ShadowBrokers targets only Windows XP and Windows 7 machines. Researchers at RiskSense who created the Windows 10 version of the attack were able to bypass mitigations introduced by Microsoft that thwart memory-based code-execution attacks. These mitigations were introduced prior to a March security update from Microsoft, MS17-010, and any computer running Windows that has yet to install the patch is vulnerable. You can read the researchers' report here (PDF), which explains what was necessary to bring the NSA exploit to Windows 10.
Data Storage

Apple Announces Native HEVC Support In MacOS High Sierra and iOS 11 (cnet.com) 136

New submitter StreamingEagle writes: Apple massively improves the quality of photo and video experiences, including High Dynamic Range. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) can double photo and video storage capacity, and cut the time to upload or share by half. HEVC video compression and HEIF photo compression are coming to iOS 11 and MacOS High Sierra. Sean Hollister adds via CNET: "Having used HEVC quite a bit myself, I can vouch that it takes up less space. I recently transcoded roughly a terabyte of video to HEVC on my Windows PC, and saw hundreds of gigabytes of savings."
Books

Technology Is Making the World More Unequal; Only Technology Can Fix This (theguardian.com) 145

mspohr shares an excerpt from an article written by Cory Doctorow via The Guardian: The inequality of badly-run or corrupt states is boosted by the power of technology -- but it's also easier than ever to destabilize these states, thanks to technology. The question is: which future will prevail?" [The article discusses two sides to the issue:] Here's the bad news: technology -- specifically, surveillance technology -- makes it easier to police disaffected populations, and that gives badly run, corrupt states enough stability to get themselves into real trouble. Here's the good news: technology -- specifically, networked technology -- makes it easier for opposition movements to form and mobilize, even under conditions of surveillance, and to topple badly run, corrupt states. Long before the internet radically transformed the way we organize ourselves, theorists were predicting we'd use computers to achieve ambitious goals without traditional hierarchies -- but it was a rare pundit who predicted that the first really successful example of this would be an operating system (GNU/Linux), and then an encyclopedia (Wikipedia). [Cory also has a new novel, Walkaway , which explores these ideas further.] The future will see a monotonic increase in the ambitions that loose-knit groups can achieve. My new novel, Walkaway, tries to signpost a territory in our future in which the catastrophes of the super-rich are transformed into something like triumphs by bohemian, anti-authoritarian "walkaways" who build housing and space programs the way we make encyclopedias today: substituting (sometimes acrimonious) discussion and (sometimes vulnerable) networks for submission to the authority of the ruling elites.
Transportation

Self-Driving Cars Will Boost the Job Market, Says Marc Andreessen (recode.net) 295

A future with self-driving cars has induced a lot of anxiety about a resulting loss of jobs, but in fact, they'll create tons more jobs, Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen (Wikipedia) said at Recode's annual conference on Tuesday evening. "The jobs crisis we have in the U.S. is that we don't have enough workers," he said. From a report: "It's a fallacy," Andreessen said (specifically citing the lump of labor fallacy and the luddite fallacy). "It's a recurring panic. This happens every 25 or 50 years, people get all amped up about 'machines are going to take all the jobs' and it never happens." Andreessen used the example of the rise of the automobile industry a century ago, which many thought would cost the livelihood of everyone whose jobs were to take care of horses. But "the car then created not only a lot of jobs creating cars" but everything else that happened because of the car: Paved streets, restaurants, motels, movie theaters, apartment complexes, office complexes, the entire buildout of suburban America, etc. "The jobs that were created by the automobile on the second, third, and fourth order effects were 100X, 1000X the number of jobs that blacksmiths had," he said.

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