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Role Playing (Games)

Analysts Tout 'State of The Developer' Survey By Awarding RPG Characters (amazon.com) 26

An anonymous reader writes: Analysts at VisionMobile have begun conducting this year's "State of the Developer" Survey -- their perennial assessment of salaries, skills, and tools -- but this time with a twist. "Based on your responses, you'll find out what kind of character you'd be in a fantasy world: A mage? A fighter? A dragon slayer?" according to a blog post publicizing the event by Amazon's manager of developer marketing. "As in previous years, you'll also receive your personal Developer Scorecard showing how you compare to other developers in your country, a free copy of the final State of the Developer Nation report, and a chance to win some cool prizes."
The survey presents a map of seven "kingdoms" -- IoT, Mobile, Desktop, Backend, Web, Machine learning, and AR/VR -- and invites developers to complete their "quest," awarding virtual badges and real-world prizes, which include an Oculus Rift headset, a Surface Pro 3, an Apple Watch, and a Pixel Phone. Along your "journey," a developer owl even dispatches encouraging geeky jokes. (Like "Whenever I see a door that says 'push', I always pull first, to avoid conflicts.")
Google

Google Asked to Remove a Billion 'Pirate' Search Results in a Year (torrentfreak.com) 68

Copyright holders asked Google to remove more than 1,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine over the past twelve months, TorrentFreak reports. According to stats provided in Google's Transparency Report for the past one year, Google was asked to remove over one billion links -- or 1,007,741,143 links. From the article: More than 90 percent of the links, 908,237,861 were in fact removed. The rest of the reported links were rejected because they were invalid, not infringing, or duplicates of earlier requests. In total, Google has now processed just over two billion allegedly infringing URLs from 945,000 different domains. That the second billion took only a year, compared to several years for the first, shows how rapidly the volume of takedown requests is expanding. At the current rate, another billion will be added by the end of next summer. Most requests, over 50 million, were sent in for the website 4shared.com. However, according to the site's operators many of the reported URLs point to the same files, inflating the actual volume of infringing content.
Stats

Julian Assange Could Be Time's 'Person Of The Year', And Is Also Still Not Dead (time.com) 145

Long-time Slashdot reader cstacy noticed Saturday that Julian Assange hadn't made any communications or public appearances in six weeks. But today an anonymous reader writes: Julian Assange is still not dead, reports The Inquisitr, noting "the WikiLeaks founder made his first appearance in weeks, speaking with an interviewer for a conference in Beirut" including comments about the recent death of Fidel Castro.

Assange is also in the running to be chosen as "Person of the Year" in Time magazine's annual online reader's poll, and last Monday even moved briefly into first place, inching past Donald Trump. "It's worth noting that the poll presents people alphabetically," Time reported, "so Assange is the first option participants consider and Trump comes near the end of the poll."

I think the poll's being hacked by state actors, since Vladimir Putin now leads with 38%, followed by Theresa May (16%) and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (13%), and Donald Trump is locked in a tie for fourth place with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 9%. Time worked with Opentopic and IBM's Watson to assemble the initial list for reader's votes, which also included Apple CEO Tim Cook and FBI director James Comey. Surprisingly, a few celebrities also turned up on the list too, including comedian Samantha Bee, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
Desktops (Apple)

New MacBook Pro's Dedicated AMD Graphics Chips Are 'Significantly' Faster and Support Dual 5K Displays (macrumors.com) 170

Whereas Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pros feature integrated Iris Pro graphics, the 15-inch MacBook Pros feature dedicated AMD graphics, resulting in significant performance improvements over previous MacBook Pro models. Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham found the Radeon Pro 455 graphics chip in particular to be a "significant boost" over the dedicated GPUs available in the 2012-2015 MacBook Pro models, such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 650M, Nvidia GeForce GTX 750M, and AMD Radeon R9 M370X. MacRumors reports: AMD's Polaris-based Radeon Pro 450, Radeon Pro 455, and built-to-order Radeon Pro 460 GPUs in the new 15-inch MacBook Pro support up to six displays, whereas Intel's integrated GPUs affixed to the logic board can drive a total of three displays. The expanded support enables the new MacBook Pro to drive two of Apple and LG's new UltraFine 5K displays at 60Hz simultaneously. Intel's GPUs can't because, due to bandwidth limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 spec, the two 5K displays technically function as four displays. This method is known as Multi-Stream Transport (MST). Apple could have used Nvidia's faster Pascal-based GPUs, which support DisplayPort 1.3, but Thunderbolt 3 and most monitors do not support the higher-bandwidth spec yet. In the meantime, Nvidia's GPUs can only drive up to three displays beyond the main MacBook Pro screen -- not enough for dual 5K displays over MST. Apple officially says the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers up to 130% faster graphics performance, and up to 2.5x more computing power per watt, compared to the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro, but those stats are based on the built-to-order Radeon Pro 460 chip that costs between $100 and $200 extra.
Microsoft

Microsoft Survey Shows Negative Online Interactions Affect People In Real Life (computerworld.com) 60

"Preliminary results of a new Microsoft survey show nearly two-thirds of people surveyed had at least one negative online experience that had an impact on them in the real world, ranging from a loss of trust in others, increased stress or sleep deprivation," reports Computerworld. Microsoft's chief online safety officer writes: Both adults and teens said they became less trusting of others in the real world after a negative interaction online (adults: 31%, teens: 29%). Consequences to adults that outpaced those to teens included the older generation becoming less trusting of people online (42% of adults vs. 37% of youth), and a reluctance to participate in blogs and other online forums (23% of adults vs. 20% of teens)... The study, "Civility, Safety and Interaction Online -- 2016," polled youth ages 13-17 and adults ages 18-74 in 14 countries... Half reported being "extremely or very" worried about online risks generally, with the most common concerns being unwanted contact (43%) and various forms of harassment (39%).
Microsoft's blog post urges people to "Embrace digital civility and model healthy behaviors for young people both online and off" -- and also notes that today is World Kindness Day.
Businesses

Amazon May Handle 30% Of All US Retail Sales (usatoday.com) 70

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: Amazon's yearly sales account for about 15% of total U.S. consumer online sales, according to the company's statements and the Department of Commerce. But the Seattle e-commerce company may actually be handling double that amount -- 20% to 30% of all U.S. retail goods sold online -- thanks to the volume of sales it transacts for third parties on its website and app. Only a portion of those sales add to its revenue.

"The punchline is that Amazon's twice as big as people give them credit for, because there's this iceberg under the surface, but you only see the tip," said Scot Wingo, executive chairman of Channel Advisor, an e-commerce software company that works with thousands of online sellers. When third-party sales are taken into account, Amazon's share of what U.S. shoppers spend online could be as high as $125 billion yearly...

Amazon's share will grow even larger when they can offer two-hour deliveries, warns one analyst, while another puts it more succinctly. "Amazon's just going to slowly grab more and more of your wallet."
The Almighty Buck

Silicon Valley Big Data Startup Palantir Responds To Labor Department's Discrimination Lawsuit (fortune.com) 80

Silicon Valley's big data startup Palantir, founded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, has filed a response to the Department of Labor after the agency sued the company for discriminating against Asian job applicants. From a Fortune report: Palantir says that no discrimination took place and that the Labor Department's statistical analysis -- the basis for the recent suit -- is faulty. The suit, according to Palantir's 15-page response, wrongly suggests that the company "should have hired a workforce that matched the racial composition of the group of individuals whose resumes Palantir received, without regard to candidate qualifications." Palantir's response also points out that the suit addressed only three out of 44 job titles for which Palantir hired employees within the 18-month analysis period conducted by the Labor Department. What's more, says the response, 36% of those eventually hired across all the job openings within that timeframe were Asian -- a rate that exceeds the percentage of qualified Asian employees in the external labor market, according to stats from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
China

Baidu's Voice Recognition Software Is More Accurate Than Typing (thestack.com) 55

The massive Chinese web services company Baidu has launched their sophisticated new TalkType 'keyboard' which defaults to voice recognition app. An anonymous reader quotes The Stack: Baidu claims that the app's speech recognition is more accurate than actual typing, having developed and tested the technology alongside speech software experts at Stanford University...The researchers concluded that Baidu's technology was three times faster than a typical user typing in English. The results showed that the TalkType error rate was 20.4% lower than an English texter hunting and tapping for letters. The accuracy was even greater for those typing in Mandarin, with the error rate dropping 63.4% when using TalkType.
Of course, last year Baidu was also accused of gaming the testing for their image-recognition software.
Earth

Scientists Identify Another Source of Dangerous Greenhouse Gases: Reservoirs (popsci.com) 159

A team of researchers from Canada, Holland, China, the U.S. and Brazil "found that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made reservoirs were likely equal to the equivalent of one gigaton of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year...a little less than one-sixth of the United State's greenhouse gas emissions." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Popular Science: A reservoir is usually created by damming a river, overflowing the banks and flooding the surrounding area, creating a man-made lake...the perfect conditions for microbes to generate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane (a gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide)... "When reservoirs are first flooded there's organic matter in the soil and vegetation that can be converted by microbes into methane and carbon dioxide," John Harrison, a co-author of the paper, tells Popular Science.

"Also, reservoirs because they are in line in rivers, they receive a lot of organic matter and organic sediment from upstream that can fuel the production of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide." Harrison says that reservoirs also tend to occur in areas where fertilizers are used on the surrounding land. Runoff from those fertilizers into bodies of water can cause algal blooms that can also produce more methane and carbon dioxide.

If the world's reservoirs were a country, they'd be #8 on a list of polluters -- right behind Brazil, China, the EU and the U.S.
Education

Poor Scientific Research Is Disproportionately Rewarded (economist.com) 81

A new study calculates a low probability that real effects are actually being detected in psychology, neuroscience and medicine research paper -- and then explains why. Slashdot reader ananyo writes: The average statistical power of papers culled from 44 reviews published between 1960 and 2011 was about 24%. The authors built an evolutionary computer model to suggest why and show that poor methods that get "results" will inevitably prosper. They also show that replication efforts cannot stop the degradation of the scientific record as long as science continues to reward the volume of a researcher's publications -- rather than their quality.
The article notes that in a 2015 sample of 100 psychological studies, only 36% of the results could actually be reproduced. Yet the researchers conclude that in the Darwin-esque hunt for funding, "top-performing laboratories will always be those who are able to cut corners." And the article's larger argument is until universities stop rewarding bad science, even subsequent attempts to invalidate those bogus results will be "incapable of correcting the situation no matter how rigorously it is pursued."
Facebook

Facebook Inflated Video Viewing Stats For Two Years (cnet.com) 49

Facebook has admitted inflating the average time people spend watching videos for two years by failing to count people who watched for less than three seconds. CNET reports: The metric was artificially inflated because it only counted videos as viewed if they had been seen for three or more seconds, not taking into account shorter views, the company revealed several weeks ago in a post on its advertiser help center web page. Facebook has been putting a greater emphasis on video in recent years, particularly live video. In March, Facebook began giving anyone with a phone and internet connection an easy way to broadcast live video to the 1.7 billion people who use its service every day.
Education

Stanford's New Alcohol Policy Isn't Based On Much Research (vice.com) 201

Sophia Carter-Kahn, reporting for Motherboard: Last week Stanford University announced a strict new alcohol policy in hopes to curb binge drinking. The new policy bans hard liquor at on-campus parties, and restricts hard alcohol in undergraduate possession to containers smaller than 750 milliliters ("a fifth"). Lisa Lapin, the vice president of university communications, clarified that the goal is to prevent medical transports [i.e. trips to the hospital]. Universities across the country are looking for new ways to deal with dangerous binge drinking. If this new restriction at Stanford is successful, it would set a precedent for how universities across the country grapple with a seemingly insurmountable alcohol problem. There's just one catch: there's little data to suggest restricting bottle size can change college drinking culture. Colleges have tried different strategies, from mailing parents flyers about alcoholism stats to policing campuses to break up parties. Dartmouth College, for example, implemented a hard alcohol ban last year. And the University of Virginia cracked down on liquor and Greek life on campus. But their efforts don't seem to be working. Drunkorexia -- skipping meals to have more room for alcohol -- is on the rise. And administrative desperation to find some way to reduce alcohol consumption has continued.
Stats

Older Workers Are Better At Adapting To New Technology, Study Finds (cio.com) 219

"Don't let the millennial buzz fool you. Older workers handle and adapt to new systems better than younger people," writes CIO magazine. Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: A survey by London-based market research firm Ipsos Mori, sponsored by Dropbox, found that older workers are less likely to find using technology in the workplace stressful and experience less trouble working with multiple devices than the younger cohort.
Millennials "are used to using tech in their personal lives that's pretty darn good," suggests one Dropbox executive, "and that raises the expectations of what tech can be in their professional lives... So younger people will feel frustration at tools that are not up to snuff." Out of 4,000 information workers who were surveyed in the U.S. and Europe, 37% of the 18-34-year-old group reported trouble with multiple devices, compared to just 13% of respondents over 55.
Data Storage

8TB Drives Are Highly Reliable, Says Backblaze (yahoo.com) 209

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Yahoo News: Cloud backup and storage provider Backblaze has published its hard drive stats for Q2 2016. Yahoo News reports: "The report is based on data drives, not boot drives, that are deployed across the company's data centers in quantities of 45 or more. According to the report, the company saw an annualized failure rate of 19.81 percent with the Seagate ST4000DX000 4TB drive in a quantity of 197 units working 18,428 days. The next in line was the WD WD40EFRX 4TB drive in a quantity of 46 units working 4,186 days. This model had an annualized failure rate of 8.72 percent for that quarter. The company's report also notes that it finally introduced 8TB hard drives into its fold: first with a mere 45 8TB HGST units and then over 2,700 units from Seagate crammed into the company's Blackblaze Vaults, which include 20 Storage Pods containing 45 drives each. The company moved to 8TB drives to optimize storage density. According to a chart provided in the report, the 8TB drives are highly reliable. The HGST HDS5C8080ALE600 worked for 22,858 days and only saw two failures, generating an annualized failure rate of 3.20 percent. The Seagate ST8000DM002 worked for 44,000 days and only saw four failures, generating an annual failure rate of 3.30 percent." For comparison, Backblaze's reliability report for Q1 2016 can be found here.

UPDATE 8/2/16: Corrected Seagate Model "DT8000DM002" to "ST8000DM002."
The Almighty Buck

Dark Patterns Across the Web Are Designed To Trick You 128

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Harry Brignell has posted a 30-minute video documenting dark patterns, deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces (not exclusive to the internet) that trick users into setting up recurring payments, purchasing items added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through pre-checked forms on Facebook games for example. Basically, they're tactics used by online services to get users to do things they wouldn't normally do. Yael Grauer has written an in-depth report on Ars Technica about dark patterns, where he discusses Brignull's work with UX designers and business executives: "Klein [Principal at Users Known and author of UX for Lean Startups] believes many of the worst dark patterns are pushed by businesses, not by designers. 'It's often pro-business at the expense of the users, and the designers often see themselves as the defender or advocate of the user,' she explained. And although Brignull has never been explicitly asked to design dark patterns himself, he said he has been in situations where using them would be an easy solution -- like when a client or boss says they really need a large list of people who have opted in to marketing e-mails. 'The first and easiest trick to have an opt-in is to have a pre-ticked checkbox, but then you can just get rid of that entirely and hide it in the terms of conditions and say that by registering you're going to be opted in to our e-mails,' Brignull said. 'Then you have a 100-percent sign-up rate and you've exceeded your goals. I kind of understand why people do it. If you're only thinking about the numbers and you're just trying to juice the stats, then it's not surprising in the slightest.' 'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'" Brignull's website has a number of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.
Stats

Linux Grabs More Than 2% of Desktop Market Share (w3counter.com) 249

LichtSpektren writes: W3Counter's stats for June 2016 are in, and Linux desktop accounts for 2.48% of all web visits from tracked websites... (Android is counted separately from "Linux desktop.")
Meanwhile, NetMarketShare shows Linux with a 2.02% share of the desktop market. And StatCounter shows a more detailed breakdown of the top 7 operating systems, with Windows 7 at 42.02%, Windows 10 at 21.88%, OSX at 9.94%, Windows 8.1 at 8.66%, Windows XP at 6.5%, and another 4.06% for "Unknown" (which is roughly tied with "Other") -- beating Windows 8.0 at 3.52%. In May they also reported another thought-provoking statistic: that Firefox's browser usage had surpassed that of IE and Edge combined for the first time.
Security

Crypto Ransomware Attacks Have Jumped 500% In The Last Year (onthewire.io) 36

Kaspersky Lab is reporting that the last year saw a 500% increase in the number of users who encountered crypto ransomware. Trailrunner7 shares an article from On The Wire: Data compiled by Kaspersky researchers from the company's cloud network shows that from April 2015 to March 2016, the volume of crypto ransomware encountered by users leapt from 131,111 to 718,536. That's a massive increase, especially considering the fact that ransomware is a somewhat mature threat. It didn't just burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. Kaspersky's researchers said the spike in crypto ransomware can be attributed to a small group of variants. "Looking at the malware groups that were active in the period covered by this report, it appears that a rather short list of suspects is responsible for most of the trouble caused by crypto-ransomware..."

It's difficult to overstate how much of an effect the emergence of ransomware has had on consumers, enterprises, and the security industry itself. The FBI has been warning users about crypto ransomware for some time now, and has consistently advised victims not to pay any ransoms. Security researchers have been publishing decryption tools for specific ransomware variants and law enforcement agencies have had some success in taking down ransomware gangs.

Enterprise targets now account for 13% of ransomware attacks, with attackers typically charging tens of thousands of dollars, the article reports, and "Recent attacks on networks at the University of Calgary and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have demonstrated the brutal effectiveness of this strategy."
The Internet

Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report: Messaging Apps Could Rival Home Screen (techcrunch.com) 32

Mary Meeker, a former Morgan Stanley internet analyst and now partner at venture-capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, has delivered her annual report that offers critical stats and trends about how technology is evolving. TechCrunch has highlighted the takeaways from the report: 1) The global internet adoption rate was flat year-over-year at 9%, reaching 3 billion users or 42% of the world's population.
2) Smartphone adoption's growth is slowing, while Android increases marketshare despite a shrinking average selling price.
3) Video viewership is exploding, with Snapchat and Facebook Live showing the way, though video ads aren't always effective.
4) Messaging is dominated by Facebook and WeChat, it's growing rapidly, and evolving from simple text communication to become our new home screen with options for vivid self-expression and commerce.
5) US advertising is growing, with Google and Facebook controlling 76% of the market and rising, but advertisers still spend too much on legacy media rather than new media where the audience has shifted.
6) Meeker predicts the rise of voice interfaces because they're fast, easy, personalized, hands-free, and cheap, with Google on Android now seeing 20% of searches from voice, and Amazon Echo sales growing as iPhone sales slow.

AI

Study Indicates Americans Don't Trust AI (digitaltrends.com) 151

Taco Cowboy writes: It may be brilliant, but it's not all that trustworthy. That appears to be the opinion Americans hold when it comes to Artificial Intelligence systems... And while we may be interacting with AI systems more frequently than we realize (hi, Siri), a new study from Time etc suggests that Americans don't believe the AI revolution is quite here yet, with 54 percent claiming to have never interacted with such a system

The more interesting finding reveals that 26 percent of respondents said they would not trust an AI with any personal or professional task. Sure, sending a text message or making a phone call is fine, but 51 percent said they'd be uncomfortable sharing personal data with an AI system. Moreover, 23 percent of Americans who say they have interacted with an AI reported being dissatisfied with the experience.

I thought it was interesting that 66% of the respondents said they'd be uncomfortable sharing financial data with an AI, while 53% said they'd be uncomfortable sharing professional data.
Cloud

Ubuntu Linux Continues To Dominate OpenStack and Other Clouds (zdnet.com) 23

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: One reason Ubuntu is increasing its lead is that Jujo, Canonical's application modeling and deployment DevOps tool, has been gaining in popularity. In the latest OpenStack user survey, we see that OpenStack is finally gaining real momentum in private clouds. We also see that Ubuntu Linux is continuing to dominate OpenStack. As Canonical cloud marketing manager Bill Bauman said, "Ubuntu OpenStack continues to dominate the majority of deployments with 55 percent of production OpenStack clouds. The previous survey showed Ubuntu OpenStack at 33 percent of production clouds. Ubuntu has seen almost 67 percent growth in an area where Ubuntu was already the market leader. These numbers are a huge testament to the community support Ubuntu OpenStack receives every day." The Cloud Market's latest analysis of operating systems on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) shows Ubuntu with just over 215,000 instances. Ubuntu is followed by Amazon's own Amazon Linux Amazon Machine Image (AMI), with 86,000 instances. Further back, you'll find Windows with 26,000 instances. In fourth and fifth place, respectively, you'll find Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with 16,500 instances and then CentOS with 12,500 instances.

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