European lawmakers questioned Mark Zuckerberg in Brussels today for almost an hour and a half, asking him to address concerns about the Cambridge Analytica data leak and Facebook's potential monopoly. German MEP Manfred Weber asked whether the Facebook CEO could name a single European alternative to his "empire," which includes apps like WhatsApp and Instagram in addition to Facebook. "I think it's time to discuss breaking up Facebook's monopoly, because it's already too much power in only one hand," said Weber. "So I ask you simple, and that is my final question: can you convince me not to do so?" Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt then chimed in and asked whether Facebook would cooperate with European antitrust authorities to determine whether the company was indeed a monopoly, and if it was, whether Facebook would accept splitting off WhatsApp or Messenger to remedy the problem. The Verge reports: The panel's format let Zuckerberg selectively reply to questions at the end of the session, and he didn't address Verhofstadt's points. Instead, he broadly outlined how Facebook views "competition" in various spaces. "We exist in a very competitive space where people use a lot of different tools for communication," said Zuckerberg. "From where I sit, it feels like there are new competitors coming up every day" in the messaging and social networking space. He also said that Facebook didn't hold an advertising monopoly because it only controlled 6 percent of the global advertising market. (It's worth noting: this is still a huge number.) And he argued that Facebook promoted competition by making it easier for small businesses to reach larger audiences -- which is basically unrelated to the question of whether Facebook itself is a monopoly.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Amazon -- which for years has maintained the standard for free returns online -- might now ban users for making too many returns. From a report:The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday documented complaints that the e-commerce giant had barred customers who had returned items. Amazon apparently failed to alert the customers that they had returned too many items before the bans. The Journal spoke with two people and cited dozens more online who said they had been barred from Amazon, as well as others who received emails from the company after returning some items. The two people who spoke with The Journal seem to be part of a wave of hundreds of people who were barred from Amazon in late March and early April, as previously reported by Business Insider.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
In iOS 9, back in the good times, Apple introduced the ability to install ad blockers on your iPhone or iPad, and lo, the mobile browsing experience was improved. Fewer ads, less tracking, etc.
For a couple of years, I’d been pretty happily using 1Blocker, which was extremely effective. Recently, though I’d noticed a lot more . . . dreck on my mobile devices. Some of it–let’s face it: some of it is because Liverpool have been on an epic European cup run, and the Liverpool Echo‘s website is pretty sketchy. Sites with comments were causing lots of performance problems, as well.
Just as I started to look about for a new ad blocker, or to see if I was doing something wrong, 1Blocker X was released, and it is amazing. In effect, it tricks Safari into thinking that it’s seven different content blockers instead of just one, expanding the number of potential blocking rules from 50,000 to 350,000 (it’s really about 120,000 at install)–you get separate classes of rules for ads, trackers, “annoyances,” adult sites, comments, rules for international sites, and custom rules. And you get fairly granular control over each of these classes.
1Blocker X is $4.99 from the App Store, and it is worth every penny. It makes a huge difference in speed (45% faster, according to the app’s creators) and irritation, and offers some security benefits as well. MacStories recommends it, as does iMore, and Cult of Mac. It’s a nifty app.
Do you have a preferred content blocker for iOS [or other platforms]? Let us know in comments!
TV watchers are far more satisfied with streaming video services than cable or satellite TV systems, a new survey has found. That isn't much of an accomplishment, as cable and satellite TV providers were already among the most-hated companies in the US and saw their customer-satisfaction scores sink even lower in the latest survey.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) included video streaming in its annual telecom report for the first time. Streaming video services averaged a score of 75 on the ACSI's 100-point scale, better than all other telecom sectors and well ahead of the broadband and pay-TV industry scores of 62.
"Customer satisfaction with subscription television service falls 3.1 percent to an ACSI score of 62, an 11-year low as the industry faces a seismic shift of subscribers defecting to lower-cost online video streaming services," the report said. "In response, many cable and telecom companies are offering new Internet TV streaming in addition to legacy pay TV, but cord cutting continues."
The House Armed Services Committee has sent its report on the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the floor. And buried in that report are words of caution about the F-35C, the Navy's version of the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter—and the Navy's whole carrier air capability in general. The reason for that concern is that the F-35C doesn't have the range to conduct long-range strikes without in-flight refueling—and the Navy's tanker planes are not exactly "stealth."
The F-35C suffers somewhat from the length of its development cycle. Competition for the Joint Strike Fighter program began in 1993—25 years ago—when the military threats facing the United States were significantly different. In 1993, there was no concern about Chinese "carrier killer" anti-ship ballistic missiles, for example; but in 2010, China introduced the Dongfeng (or Dong-Feng) 21D, an anti-ship ballistic missile with a range of 900 miles and a circular error probability of 20 meters. That's accurate enough, with satellite tracking and terminal guidance, to hit an aircraft carrier far offshore.
The F-35C's advertised range is 1,200 nautical miles (roughly 2,200 kilometers), roughly 10 percent longer than that of the F/A-18. But for most strikes, that would require the carriers launching F-35C sorties to be much closer to the coast than falls within the comfort zone. And with advanced air and coastal defense systems—including, for example, the sorts that are popping up on islands in the South China Sea these days—less-than-stealthy tanker planes would give up the whole game.
If you caught John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight this past Sunday, you saw a lengthy segment detailing the atrocities of the rehabilitation industry. As Oliver pointed out, it’s largely an unregulated, unstandardized market rife with bad actors, scams, and bunkum that offers little help to patients desperate to recover from deadly addictions. With some charging tens of thousands of dollars for a month of treatment, rehab facilities often rely on therapies with little evidence of efficacy—such as horse petting—and report largely made-up percentages for their success rates.
Even experts in the field find themselves at a loss for how to identify effective, quality facilities. The result is that many patients pay large sums only to go on to struggle with or die from their condition. And these devastating consequences are only heightened by the country’s current epidemic of opioid addiction.
While Oliver gave a skillful overview of some of the rampant problems, an ongoing investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting picked out a particularly egregious case this week—Recovery Connections Community, a rehabilitation program outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
SpaceX launched a total of seven satellites for Iridium and NASA, reusing part of a previously flown rocket for its 10th mission of 2018. "Five Iridium NEXT satellites were launched as part of the company's campaign to replace the world's largest commercial satellite network," reports Bloomberg. "SpaceX's mission also includes launching twin satellites for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO)," which will "measure the distribution of the Earth's mass" and "monitor changes in ice sheets, glaciers and sea level." From the report: The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast about 12:47 p.m. local time. The GRACE-FO satellites deployed roughly 11 minutes after launch, while the Iridium satellites are due to be released roughly an hour after the launch. SpaceX won't attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket, which flew in January during the Zuma mission, according to a SpaceX press kit. CBS News has some additional details about the GRACE-FO satellites. They were reportedly "designed to fly in tandem 137 miles apart in a 305-mile orbit around Earth's poles," reports CBS News. "Using a microwave tracking system, the distance between the two 1,300-pound satellites can be measured to within the diameter of a red blood cell. By precisely measuring the distance between the satellites, scientists can determine how much mass is below the flight path and then calculate the contribution of water, creating global maps every 30 days." UPDATE: SpaceX has confirmed that all five Iridium satellites have been successfully deployed.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Walter Stabosz writes, "Delaware was the first state to ratify the US constitution, giving it the moniker 'The First State.' It is also the second smallest state, and has only three counties. Tonight in Delaware's most populous county, New Castle County, there will be a vote that may decide the fate of a library built in one of New Castle's most underserved and at-risk communities. (more…)
A year before Columbine, a streak of school shootings had America debating whether they were a blip or a trend. The last fatal mass shooting of the 1998 school year was in Springfield, Ore.
(Image credit: Hector Mata/AFP/Getty Images)
Richard Goodwin served as a speechwriter for President Lyndon Johnson and was the man responsible for the Johnson's "Great Society" speech. Goodwin died Sunday at 86.
The White House is brokering a meeting between the Justice Department and Congress at which lawmakers will receive highly secret information about the Russia investigation. No one, however, seems to know yet when it will take place, who will attend or what materials will be presented.
NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Robert Costa of The Washington Post about Stefan Halper, the FBI informant and Cambridge University professor who met with several advisers to the Trump campaign in 2016.
President Trump and his South Korean counterpart met in Washington, D.C., to discuss North Korea. Trump is supposed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, but the North Koreans recently cast doubt on that happening.
Ahead of the June 12 meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House issued a commemorative coin that shows the two men facing each other.
Confirming what NPR reported in 2016, new studies show the rate of the advanced stage of the deadly disease black lung growing in central Appalachia, including more demand for lung transplants.
(Image credit: Tyler Stableford/Getty Images)
Democrats are on offense in this year's congressional campaign. The party is putting up candidates in districts where Democrats haven't even bothered to challenge Republicans in recent years.
Six women are suing the University of Southern California, alleging they were victimized by a campus gynecologist who was allowed to practice for decades despite complaints.
In response to exclusive NPR reporting into a troubled federal grant program for public school teachers, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Congressional leaders Tuesday that she is aware of the program's problems and has taken steps to fix it.
The lynx is the very paragon of majesty and grace — until it opens its mouth. A couple in Canada filmed some lynxes locked in a rousing argument and, well, it actually sounds pretty familiar.
(Image credit: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)
Authorities in Texas have said little about the suspect accused of killing 10 people at Santa Fe High School last Friday. People who knew the 17-year-old are helping to fill in the details.
The bronze depiction of the U.S. soccer legend called to mind Jimmy Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gary Busey. Chastain took it in stride: "It's not the most flattering, but it's nice."
(Image credit: Mike Blake/Reuters)
Democrats will be tested Tuesday night, with primaries in four states. Some activists are concerned the party could nominate candidates who are too liberal just as President Trump's popularity is rising in the polls.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and President Trump met at the White House Tuesday to discuss strategy on North Korea negotiations moving forward. NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Ambassador Wendy Sherman for her views.
Best Buy has launched a $200 per year subscription version of its Geek Squad service called Total Tech Support, which — despite the name — is anything but total, and is probably also a questionable value for tech support.
The service offers subscribers 24/7 tech support over the phone or online, for most tech products in the home (even if they weren’t purchased from Best Buy). Subscribers will also be able to go into Best Buy stores to receive help with basic tech support asks, like transferring data between computers, removing a virus, and something called “Level 1 Data Recovery,” which is where this also starts to sound like a Scientology scam. What is Level 2 Data Recovery? I’m not entirely sure. But I know you have to pay for it.
Wireless chargers are cheaper than ever, making it easy to put charging pads throughout your house. But what if instead of just putting charging pads everywhere, you built them straight into the wall?
That’s what Legrand envisions with the Radiant charger, which is designed to replace your regular wall outlet with a wall-mounted Qi charger (via 9to5Mac.) It’s an interesting idea with a slick look to it, but it also seems like it’d limited in actual practice.
First off, it assumes that you actually have a wall outlet that’s conveniently located at a height near eye level. (In my apartment, I’d basically be charging my phone by sticking it behind a bookshelf.) Next, if you do happen to have an outlet that’s in a good place, you’ll need to...
Humans can be great acrobats, but what about Disney robots? Disney Research has one such human-scale robot — called Stickman, because it’s literally a robotic stick — that is capable of aerial acrobatics, like backflips.
Just as certain human inventions take after nature (like body armor), it seems as if robots can take after humans. During a full backflip maneuver, Stickman swings from a ceiling-mounted wire 19.6 feet (six meters) above ground, tucks into a ball at peak height, and executes the stunt.
Stretched out, Stickman measures seven feet tall or as the Disney Research paper puts it, “to approximate the height of a human stunt performer with arms raised over his or her head” — although, it’s worth noting most gymnasts are...
Zeljka Zorz, writing for Help Net Security: The number of open source components in the codebase of proprietary applications keeps rising and with it the risk of those apps being compromised by attackers leveraging vulnerabilities in them, a recent report has shown. Compiled after examining the findings from the anonymized data of over 1,100 commercial codebases audited in 2017 by the Black Duck On-Demand audit services group, the report revealed two interesting findings: 96 percent of the scanned applications contain open source components, with an average 257 components per application. The average percentage of open source in the codebases of the applications scanned grew from 36% last year to 57%, suggesting that a large number of applications now contain much more open source than proprietary code.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Computer History Museum (CHM), an institution which explores the history of computing and its impact on the human experience, announced on Tuesday the public release and long-term preservation of the Eudora source code, one of the early successful email clients, as part of its Center for Software History's Historical Source Code. The release comes after a five-year negotiation with Qualcomm. From the press release: The first version of Eudora was created in the 1980s by Steve Dorner who was working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It took Dorner over a year to create the first version of Eudora, which had 50,000 lines of C code and ran only on the Apple Macintosh. In 1991, Qualcomm licensed Eudora from the University of Illinois and distributed it free of charge. Qualcomm later released Eudora as a consumer product in 1993, and it quickly gained popularity. Available both for the IBM PC and the Apple Macintosh, in its heyday Eudora had tens of millions of users. After 15 years, in 2006, Qualcomm decided that Eudora was no longer consistent with their other major project lines, and they stopped development. The discussion with Qualcomm for the release of the Eudora source code by the company's museum took five years. Len Shustek, the chairman of the board of trustees of the Computer History Museum, writes: Eventually many email clients were written for personal computers, but few became as successful as Eudora. Available both for the IBM PC and the Apple Macintosh, in its heyday Eudora had tens of millions of happy users. Eudora was elegant, fast, feature-rich, and could cope with mail repositories containing hundreds of thousands of messages. In my opinion it was the finest email client ever written, and it has yet to be surpassed. I still use it today, but, alas, the last version of Eudora was released in 2006. It may not be long for this world. With thanks to Qualcomm, we are pleased to release the Eudora source code for its historical interest, and with the faint hope that it might be resuscitated. I will muse more about that later.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Molten lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has entered the grounds of Puna Geothermal Venture, a geothermal power plant that provides about 25 percent of the Big Island's power. The 38 Megawatt Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) power plant, which is located in the east rift zone of the Kilauea volcano, was shut down soon after the eruptions began on May 3. Yesterday, lava from Fissure 22 came to within 820 feet (250 meters) of the plant's nearest well pad before stalling, as Reuters reports. Overnight, workers managed to cap the 11th and final well at the facility in anticipation of the lava eventually reaching the facility, and to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases. Mercifully, the lava flow stopped at a ridge near the PGV plant, but as the events of the past two weeks have shown, Mount Kilauea is in an extremely volatile state. The HCCD said Fissure 22 is producing most of the lava feeding the flows, so the situation near the power plant remains precarious.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
At this year's Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researcher Chen Chen presented a cool project that vastly improves the quality of images captured in low-light conditions.
Via his presentation:
Imaging in low light is challenging due to low photon count and low SNR. Short-exposure images suffer from noise, while long exposure can induce blur and is often impractical. A variety of denoising, deblurring, and enhancement techniques have been proposed, but their effectiveness is limited in extreme conditions, such as video-rate imaging at night. To support the development of learning-based pipelines for low-light image processing, we introduce a dataset of raw short-exposure low-light images, with corresponding long-exposure reference images. Using the presented dataset, we develop a pipeline for processing low-light images, based on end-to-end training of a fully-convolutional network. The network operates directly on raw sensor data and replaces much of the traditional image processing pipeline, which tends to perform poorly on such data. We report promising results on the new dataset, analyze factors that affect performance, and highlight opportunities for future work.
Here's the full project page for more information.
• CVPR 2018: Learning to See in the Dark (YouTube / Chen Chen)
Waiting for the price to come down before switching to a new technology sounds like a frugal decision. But when it comes to a country’s electrical grid, what saves you money now could actually cost you much more in the long run. That’s the central conclusion of a new study led by Imperial College London’s Clara Heuberger.
Almost every nation in the world (depending on how you categorize the United States’ erratic behavior) has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of limiting global warming. A large component of that pledge is the conversion of electrical generation from fossil fuels to renewables. But there is a tension between the cheap and immediate availability of fossil fuels and the varied status of different renewable technologies.
It may make some economic sense to watch the price of solar continue its fall before installing. But there’s also the temptation to wait for what the researchers categorize as “unicorn technologies”—things like next-generation batteries for grid-scale storage, cheaper systems for capturing carbon dioxide from power plants, or even fusion. In other words, there’s a tendency to think that renewables aren’t worth pursuing too hard until some game-changing, cheap technology comes along that revolutionizes the grid.
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is led by a deal on Samsung's Gear VR headset, which is down to $30 at Verizon. That's a big drop from its usual $100-130 price range.
This particular model won't fit the Galaxy Note 8—though the model that does is down to $50 itself—but it will work with most other flagship Galaxy phones from the past few years, this year's Galaxy S9 included. It doesn't support any non-Samsung phones, sadly, but for a mobile VR headset, the Oculus-powered Gear VR tends to have a stronger selection of apps than Google's competing Daydream View headset, and it comes with a motion controller for a little extra precision. Just don't expect it to be on the Oculus Go's level in terms of horsepower.
If you're not interested in VR, we also have deals on several gaming PCs, portable batteries, Sonos speakers, 4K TVs, monitors, and much more. Take a look for yourself below.
Yelp has filed a complaint with the EU's antitrust watchdog against Google, arguing that the search company has abused its dominance in local search and pressuring Brussels to launch new charges against the tech giant, Financial Times reported Tuesday. From the report: European antitrust authorities fined Google $2.8B in June 2017 for favouring its own shopping service over rival offerings in its search results. Google denied wrongdoing and has appealed that decision. Now Yelp, which provides user ratings, reviews and other information about local businesses, wants Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, to take action against Google for similar alleged abuse in the local search market, according to a copy of the complaint seen by the Financial Times. The move comes days after Yelp founder Jeremy Stopplelman appeared on 60 Minutes to talk about Google's search monopoly. Here's the exchange he had with reporter Steve Kroft: Jeremy Stoppelman: If I were starting out today, I would have no shot of building Yelp. That opportunity has been closed off by Google and their approach. Steve Kroft: In what way? Jeremy Stoppelman: Because if you provide great content in one of these categories that is lucrative to Google, and seen as potentially threatening, they will snuff you out. Steve Kroft: What do you mean snuff you out? Jeremy Stoppelman: They will make you disappear. They will bury you.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
I already have a metal plate on the back of my phone case because I use it with my magnetic car mount, so this magnetic desk mount looks like a good way to hold my phone on my desk. If your phone doesn't come with a plate, this mount includes one. It's regularly $15, but if you use code 87HFODR4 at checkout on Amazon, it's $9.
I love low-rent pulp magazines from the 1920s right through to the early 1980s. Trashy, flashy and a constant pleasure to read, I used to own a ton of the things in varying conditions. If I saw it and it was still in a condition where I could read it, I’d fork over folding money for the privilege of inhaling the smell of rotting, low quality paper and the sweet sense of abuse one can enjoy at the mercy of ham-handed prose. Unfortunately, I had to unload my collection a few years back: there was just no room for it in the nomadic lifestyle that my wife and I are currently living—paying for a storage space to keep stuff I just don’t need is an entanglement that I’m not OK with.
Thankfully, the good people at Open Culture discovered that a cache of over 11,000 pulp magazines has been digitized and posted online where pulp geeks like me can access them for the low, low price of free.
The Pulp Magazine Archive contains treasures printed on low-quality paper that have publication dates ranging from the late 1800s through to the 1950s. Each magazine in the Archive can be viewed online using the website or downloaded in a number of formats to be read offline, including options for use with tablets, Kindle and Kobo e-readers.
I don’t know about you, but my downtime for the next few years is spoken for. Image via The Pulp Magazine Archive
Without question the 1976 BMW R90s is the high watermark of motorcycle design and engineering. I absolutely love mine. Listening to Peter Egan, a legendary motorcycle journalist, talk about his and some other bike he compares it to, is a lot of fun.
If Egan had a Daytona Orange model no one would have noticed the other bike. Daytona Orange is not only faster, it handles better.
Go say hello to Rob Denton — he writes at the group blog, The Molecular Ecologist, and he’s got a very nice post up about species differentiation rates varying with locomotion mode. Basically, terrestrial organisms form more species than aquatic or flying organisms, because they face more geographic barriers.
No, he’s not joining freethoughtblogs. It’s even better: he’s joining the University of Minnesota, Morris biology faculty, so he’s going to be hanging around here in the upper midwest for a while. See? That job search I was part of around Christmas of this year had a successful outcome.
Also, the two job searches I chaired last month also were extremely successful, and we snared a couple of phenomenal colleagues who will also be starting here in the fall…but I’ll say no more until they’re actually here. Boy, this place is going to have a lot of new faces and some big changes this year!
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