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The New 2019 MacBook Air Features a Slower SSD Than 2018 Model

Slashdot - 56 min 49 sec ago
The new 2019 MacBook Air with a True Tone display, upgraded keyboard and a price cut has been out for a week already, but we're finding out more about. The latest bit of information from Consomac confirms an unfortunate drawback: the SSD is slower than the previous 2018 model. From a report: The French site conducted some tests on the new 2019 MacBook Air using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test and it achieved speeds of 1.3 GB/s read and 1 GB/s write. Compare it to the 2018 MacBook Air, which achieved 2 GB/s read and 0.9 GB/s write. Apple's newer laptop improved slightly on the writing side, but its performance downgraded by 35% on the reading side. That can be attributed to a slower SSD Apple included in the new MacBook Air.

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Gartner, IDC Agree that PC Sales Are Up -- But They Don't Agree What a PC Is

Slashdot - 1 hour 36 min ago
We've been hearing for quite some time that the traditional PC is dying, but it's not quite dead yet. Business analyst firms Gartner and IDC tackle the numbers differently, but both agree that sales of traditional PCs were up -- in some regions, way up -- in Q2 2019. From a report: While both firms reported market growth in year-on-year PC sales, their actual figures differed. IDC reported a 4.7% growth in Q2 sales, where Gartner only reported 1.5%. The two firms' numbers for US regional sales differed even more sharply, with Gartner claiming a 0.4% loss and IDC claiming a "high single digit gain." We spoke to IDC's Jitesh Ubrani about the difference, and it turns out the two companies don't quite agree on what is or is not a traditional PC. IDC counts Chromebooks as traditional PCs but doesn't count Microsoft Surface tablets; Gartner does count Surface but doesn't count Chromebooks. The higher numbers from IDC indicate a stronger market for Chromebooks than Surface, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone with children in North American schools, where the inexpensive and easily locked-down Chromebooks are ubiquitous.

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TurboGrafx-16 Mini Launches In March With 50-ish Games

Slashdot - 2 hours 15 min ago
You'll be able to complete the trifecta of tiny 16-bit throwback systems on March 19, 2020, when Konami releases the TurboGrafx-16 Mini. From a report: It'll include Dracula X, Bonk's Revenge, Gradius and many more games, including many Japanese exclusives. Konami said last week that it will sell the device exclusively through Amazon, with preorders opening up on Monday, July 15 during the online retailer's "Prime Day" promotion. The U.S. will get the TurboGrafx-shaped device shown above, while Japan will get a version modeled after the PC Engine and Europe's model will be styled after the CoreGrafx revision. No price has been announced for the U.S. model, but the Japanese one will cost 10,500 yen or around $100. The game library will be almost identical across all three systems, including 24 American versions of games and 26 Japanese versions. There is a little bit of overlap between the two -- for example, both the U.S. and Japanese versions of the action RPG Neutopia are included. That means it's not quite 50 games total, but it's still a rich lineup, which even includes CD-ROM games and some games from the Japanese SuperGrafx system.

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Facebook-Driven Area 51 Storming May Be Countered With Force, Says US Air Force

Slashdot - 2 hours 56 min ago
Fun and games on Facebook may have serious consequences for the foolish. That was the message delivered by the US Air Force, who have responded to a Facebook's group's efforts to have 450,000 people storm a top secret military base. From a report: Conspiracy theorists have always believed that Area 51 in Nevada holds information about extra-terrestrial activities on our planet, possibly including actual alien remains and aircraft. That belief spawned a Facebook group suggesting that a wave of humanity could overwhelm the defenses at the base and discover the truth. More than 400,000 people have joined a Facebook event page calling for storming Area 51, with many more indicating interest. The proposed event is scheduled for Sept. 20. "We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry," the event description reads. "If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens."

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Computer Pioneer and Codebreaker Alan Turing To Appear On UK Money

Slashdot - 3 hours 36 min ago
sandbagger writes: Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England's 50 pound note. He is celebrated for his code-cracking work that proved vital to the Allies in World War Two. The 50 pound note will be the last of the Bank of England collection to switch from paper to polymer when it enters circulation by the end of 2021. The note was once described as the "currency of corrupt elites" and is the least used in daily transactions. However, there are still 344 million 50 pound notes in circulation, with a combined value of 17.2bn pound, according to the Bank of England's banknote circulation figures. "Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today," said Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

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Facebook's $5 Billion FTC Fine is an Embarrassing Joke

Slashdot - 4 hours 14 min ago
Facebook's stock went up after news of a record-breaking $5 billion FTC fine for various privacy violations broke last week. From a report: That, as The New York Times' Mike Isaac points out, is the real story here: the United States government spent months coming up with a punishment for Facebook's long list of privacy-related bad behavior, and the best it could do was so weak that Facebook's stock price went up. From some other perspectives, that $5 billion fine is a big deal, of course: it's the biggest fine in FTC history, far bigger than the $22 million fine levied against Google in 2012. And $5 billion is a lot of money, to be sure. It's just that like everything else that comes into contact with Facebook's scale, it's still entirely too small: Facebook had $15 billion in revenue last quarter alone, and $22 billion in profit last year. The largest FTC fine in the history of the country represents basically a month of Facebook's revenue, and the company did such a good job of telegraphing it to investors that the stock price went up.

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Europe Relies on American GPS as Its Own Galileo System Suffers Massive Outage

Slashdot - 4 hours 43 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Europe's Galileo satellite network -- used by satnavs, financial institutions and more -- is in the throes of a huge outage. The system has been down since Friday meaning that travelers (and others) in Europe have instead had to fall back on the American Global Positioning System (GPS) -- or even Russia or Chinese systems. Galileo has been struck by what is being described as a "technical incident related to its ground infrastructure", and it's not clear when the situation will be remedied. The European GNSS Agency (Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, or GSA) says that the incident affects only the Galileo initial navigation and timing services. It stresses that "the SAR service -- used for locating and helping people in distress situations for example at sea or mountains -- is unaffected and remains operational".

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Huawei Reportedly Plans Massive US Layoffs

Slashdot - 5 hours 40 min ago
Huawei is planning major layoffs at its US research labs as it struggles under the weight of the Commerce Department blacklisting, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. From a report: The embattled Chinese telecom's Futurewei R&D subsidiary employs about 850 people in Texas, California and Washington state. The layoffs may number in the hundreds, according to the Journal, which cited anonymous sources. A few people apparently already know that they'll be dismissed, but further cuts are expected and some Chinese workers are being allowed to continue with Huawei if they return home.

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Qualcomm's New Snapdragon 855 Plus is a Natural Fit For Tomorrow's Gaming Phones

Slashdot - 6 hours 20 min ago
Qualcomm has announced a mid-year refresh of its flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset. The new Snapdragon 855 Plus is further optimized for gaming, VR, AI, and 5G connectivity. From a report: It sticks to the same overall design and chip layout as the 855, but Qualcomm says the Plus's eight-core Kryo CPU runs at higher peak clock speeds of up to 2.96GHz. But more important to gamers is a 15 percent performance improvement from the Adreno 640 GPU. That will likely result in the 855 Plus making its way into the next wave of gaming-focused smartphones like those we've seen from Asus, Razer, and other companies. As for AI and VR improvements, Qualcomm is continuing to talk up its fourth-generation AI Engine that's capable of "more than 7 trillion operations per second." The Snapdragon 855 Plus will deliver "best-in-class cellular performance, superior coverage and all-day battery life in premium 5G devices," according to the company. It's still using two separate modems to get there, however, with both a Snapdragon X24 LTE 4G modem and Qualcomm's X50 5G modem on board. I guess we won't see a more efficient approach until the inevitable Snapdragon 865.

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A Cell Tower In the Swiss Alps Is Struck By Lightning More Than 100 Times a Year

Slashdot - 8 hours 47 min ago
Wave723 quotes IEEE Spectrum: Atop a rocky peak in the Swiss Alps sits a telecommunications tower that gets struck by lightning more than 100 times a year, making it perhaps the world's most frequently struck object. Taking note of the remarkable consistency with which lightning hits this 124-meter structure, researchers have adorned it with instruments for a front-row view of these violent electric discharges... To anyone who has witnessed a lightning strike, everything seems to happen all at once. But [New Mexico Tech's Mark] Stanley's sensor captures several gigabytes of data about the many separate pulses that occur within each flash. Those data can be made into a video that replays, microsecond by microsecond, how "channels" of lightning form in the clouds.... [T]hey intend to use data gathered by the tower's many instruments (which include a collection of six antennas called a lightning mapping array, two Rogowski coils to measure current, two B-Dot sensors to measure the current time-derivative, broadband electric and magnetic field sensors, and a high-speed camera) to reconstruct the total path of strikes soon after they happen, tracing the electromagnetic radiation all the way back to its original source... The Santis team's work has held particular relevance for wind farm operators. That's because most strikes recorded at the tower are examples of upward lightning -- which travels from ground-to-cloud instead of cloud-to-ground. They hope to eventually help make progress on predicting where lightning will strike. And by the end of this year, the team at the tower expect to record their 1,000th lightning strike.

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Review: 'Solid State' by Jonathan Coulton

Slashdot - 12 hours 48 min ago
We're reviving an old Slashdot tradition -- the review. Whenever there's something especially geeky -- or relevant to our present moment -- we'll share some thoughts. And I'd like to start with Jonathan Coulton's amazing 2017 album Solid State, and its trippy accompanying graphic novel adaptation by Matt Fraction. I even tracked down Jonathan Coulton on Friday for his thoughts on how it applies to our current moment in internet time... "When I started work on Solid State, the only thing I could really think of that I wanted to say was something like, 'The internet sucks now'," Coulton said in 2017 in an epilogue to the graphic novel. "It's a little off-brand for me, so it was a scary place to start..." So what does he think today? And what did we think of his album...?

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How America's Tech Giants Are Helping Build China's Surveillance State

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 11:36pm
"An American organization founded by tech giants Google and IBM is working with a company that is helping China's authoritarian government conduct mass surveillance against its citizens," the Intercept reports. The OpenPower Foundation -- a nonprofit led by Google and IBM executives with the aim of trying to "drive innovation" -- has set up a collaboration between IBM, Chinese company Semptian, and U.S. chip manufacturer Xilinx. Together, they have worked to advance a breed of microprocessors that enable computers to analyze vast amounts of data more efficiently. Shenzhen-based Semptian is using the devices to enhance the capabilities of internet surveillance and censorship technology it provides to human rights-abusing security agencies in China, according to sources and documents. A company employee said that its technology is being used to covertly monitor the internet activity of 200 million people... Semptian presents itself publicly as a "big data" analysis company that works with internet providers and educational institutes. However, a substantial portion of the Chinese firm's business is in fact generated through a front company named iNext, which sells the internet surveillance and censorship tools to governments. iNext operates out of the same offices in China as Semptian, with both companies on the eighth floor of a tower in Shenzhen's busy Nanshan District. Semptian and iNext also share the same 200 employees and the same founder, Chen Longsen. [The company's] Aegis equipment has been placed within China's phone and internet networks, enabling the country's government to secretly collect people's email records, phone calls, text messages, cellphone locations, and web browsing histories, according to two sources familiar with Semptian's work. Promotional documents obtained from the company promise "location information for everyone in the country." One company representative even told the Intercept they were processing "thousands of terabits per second," and -- not knowing they were talking to a reporter -- forwarded a 16-minute video detailing their technology. "If a government operative enters a person's cellphone number, Aegis can show where the device has been over a given period of time: the last three days, the last week, the last month, or longer," the Intercept reports. Joss Wright, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford's Internet Institute, told the Intercept that "by any meaningful definition, this is a vast surveillance effort." Read what the U.S. companies had to say about their involvement with Chinese surveillance technology:

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US Lawmakers Consider Ban On Big Tech Companies Launching Cryptocurrencies

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 9:44pm
PolygamousRanchKid quotes Reuters: A proposal to prevent big technology companies from functioning as financial institutions or issuing digital currencies has been circulated for discussion by the Democratic majority that leads the House Financial Services Committee, according to a copy of the draft legislation seen by Reuters. In a sign of widening scrutiny after Facebook Inc's (FB.O) proposed Libra digital coin aroused widespread objection, the bill proposes a fine of $1 million per day for violation of such rules.... Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Libra and other cryptocurrencies and demanded that companies seek a banking charter and make themselves subject to U.S. and global regulations if they wanted to "become a bank." His comments came after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers that Facebook's plan to build a digital currency called Libra could not move forward unless it addressed concerns over privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability. The article concedes this proposal "would likely spark opposition" in the House and Senate, but adds that "Nevertheless, the draft proposal sends a strong message to large tech firms increasingly eyeing the financial services space." The draft legislation's title? The "Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act."

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Craigslist Founder: Most Online Outrage is Faked For Profit

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 7:57pm
The Guardian profiles 66-year-old Craigslist founder (and former IBM programmer) Craig Newmark, calling him "a survivor from the era of internet optimism." He's now investing "significant sums" to protect the future of the news industry -- "and rejects the idea his website helped cause journalism's financial crisis" [H]e firmly rejects any notion that all the philanthropy -- an estimated $50m in the past year including to New York Public Radio, new publication the Markup and local journalism efforts such as the American Journalism Project -- is an attempt to assuage guilt, a reach for atonement. "That takes an active imagination that I don't understand. I have very little imagination...." Newmark, by his own admission not a journalist, says: "I had great hopes for citizen journalism 10, 15 years ago. It hasn't worked out. One reason is that journalism is a profession. You have to know how to write well. You have to fact-check. You have to know how to develop sources, often over years. You have to have specialised knowledge on a beat like disinformation or crime or birds. Citizen journalists can complement what's going on and, sometimes, citizens come to journalism with skills... Now I think more: what are the practical problems of professional journalism? For example, we've seen a couple of cases where bad actors will try to really hurt a publication by engaging in lengthy, frivolous lawsuits. There is a great need for shared risk pool insurance, media insurance in the US, and I talk to people about that...." Social media fights, he insists, get attention but are not representative of what is really going on. Much of it is manufactured. "Americans are much more reasonable and moderate than what you might guess when you see a little Twitter war. But I'm guessing that the purpose of many Twitter wars is to polarise people and, in fact, we've seen that happen because you can often trace some of the fighting groups to the same location. Outrage is profitable. Most of the outrage I've seen in the online world -- I would guess 80% -- someone's faking it for profit..." Indeed, he remains convinced that the internet is still a positive for humanity. "It allows people of goodwill to get together and work together for common good...." The Guardian notes that during their interview, Craig also "cheerfully admits he is 'simulating' social skills."

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First E-Bikes, Then Flying Cars: a Do-Anything 3D Printing Tech

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 6:34pm
Tekla Perry shares an interesting story from the IEEE's "View from the Valley" blog: Arevo was aiming to get into the aircraft parts business when it started developing software and hardware to print 3D structures using a composite containing continuous carbon fibers. Its technology lays out the lines of the material in ways to maximize strength and minimize the amount of composite used. Printing out a bike frame? That was just going to be a demo for investors. Now the company is in the e-bike manufacturing business, but thinks the ultimate application of its technology will be flying cars. That's not a joke, the article explains: Bheda says the flying car market could turn out to be Arevo's sweet spot. "They will be manufactured in a larger volume than airplanes, the manufacturing technology being used for current aircraft won't scale to that, and they want to use thermoplastic. Our technology is at least three years ahead of any other thermoplastic technology, so we will be ready." They're now marketing their in-house printing capabilities as a service, "keeping the manufacture of any products in house."

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NASA Funds Company To 3D-Print Spacecraft Parts in Orbit

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 6:03pm
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: NASA is expanding its efforts to bring 3D printing to space. The agency has given Made In Space a $73.3 million contract to demonstrate the ability to 3D-print spacecraft parts in orbit using Archinaut One, a robotic manufacturing ship due to launch in 2022 or later. The vessel will fly aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket and 3D-print two 32-foot beams on each side, with each unfurling two solar arrays. The completed arrays could produce up to five times more power than the solar panels you normally find on spacecraft this size, NASA said... If successful, it could alter how NASA and others approach building and fixing spacecraft. This could lead to building spacecraft (albeit smaller ones at this stage) in orbit, of course, but it could also let space agencies launch small satellites that receive large power collectors once they're floating above Earth. It could also lead to fewer spacewalks by having robots build items that would otherwise require human involvement.

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India Plans Historic Launch of a Rocket to the Moon

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 4:49pm
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch a rocket to the moon. UPDATE: 2:28: The launch "has been called off for today," the ISRO posted on Twitter. But when the re-scheduled launch happens, you can watch it live on two YouTube channels, on Twitter, Facebook, or webcast on the ISRO's web site. TechCrunch has also embedded a livestreaming video in their report: Chandrayaan-2 will carry lunar lander Vikram, which will deliver ISRO rover Pragyan to the surface at the pole, with a target landing zone of a plain that covers the ground between two of the Moon's craters, Simpelius N and Manzinus C. The rocket used for the launch is the GSLV Mk-III, India's most powerful launch vehicle ever, and the orbiter used for this mission will relay back information from the lander and rover to Earth via the Indian Deep Space Network, as well as make its own observations during its planned one-year mission lifespan. The mission will seek to take a number of measurements of the lunar surface, including topographic, mineral makeup, seismographic, chemical analytics and more, with an eye to shedding more light on the Moon's origins. If all goes to plan, the lunar orbiter will make its way to to Moon over the next couple of months and aim to soft land the Vikram at the South Pole target site on September 6, 2019. This is a historic mission for a few reasons, including being the first ever soft-landing attempt at the Moon's South Pole region, as well as being the first Indian mission to attempt a soft landing using all home-grown lander and rover technology. If successful, India will be only the fourth country ever to have soft-landed a vehicle on the lunar surface.

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Watch India Launch a Historic Rocket to the Moon

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 4:49pm
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is launching a rocket to the moon within the next hour. You can watch the launch live on two YouTube channels, on Twitter, Facebook, or webcast on the ISRO's web site. TechCrunch has also embedded a livestreaming video in their report: Chandrayaan-2 will carry lunar lander Vikram, which will deliver ISRO rover Pragyan to the surface at the pole, with a target landing zone of a plain that covers the ground between two of the Moon's craters, Simpelius N and Manzinus C. The rocket used for the launch is the GSLV Mk-III, India's most powerful launch vehicle ever, and the orbiter used for this mission will relay back information from the lander and rover to Earth via the Indian Deep Space Network, as well as make its own observations during its planned one-year mission lifespan. The mission will seek to take a number of measurements of the lunar surface, including topographic, mineral makeup, seismographic, chemical analytics and more, with an eye to shedding more light on the Moon's origins. If all goes to plan, the lunar orbiter will make its way to to Moon over the next couple of months and aim to soft land the Vikram at the South Pole target site on September 6, 2019. This is a historic mission for a few reasons, including being the first ever soft-landing attempt at the Moon's South Pole region, as well as being the first Indian mission to attempt a soft landing using all home-grown lander and rover technology. If successful, India will be only the fourth country ever to have soft-landed a vehicle on the lunar surface.

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Google Tries Social Networking Again, Challenging Facebook Events

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 4:04pm
What's Google working on after shuttering Google+ ? An anonymous reader quotes The Verge: Google's in-house incubator, Area 120, is working on a new social networking app called Shoelace which is aimed at organizing local events and activities. You use it by listing your interests in the app, allowing it to recommend a series of "hand-picked" local activities which it calls "Loops." You can also organize your own events, and there's a map interface to view and RSVP to other people's Loops. Shoelace's soft-launch comes just months after Google shut down Google+, its most prominent attempt at building a social media platform. However, rather than trying to create a new all-encompassing social network to rival the likes of Facebook, Shoelace seems to have much more modest ambitions that take aim at Facebook's ubiquitous Events functionality... [I]t's also only available in New York City at the moment; the team says it's hoping to expand to more cities across the US soon.

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America's FBI Wants To Build a Social Media-Monitoring Tool

Slashdot - July 14, 2019 - 3:34pm
America's FBI "wants to gather more information from social media," reports Engadget. Friday, it issued a call for contracts for a new social media monitoring tool. According to a request-for-proposals (RFP), it's looking for an "early alerting tool" that would help it monitor terrorist groups, domestic threats, criminal activity and the like. The tool would provide the FBI with access to the full social media profiles of persons-of-interest. That could include information like user IDs, emails, IP addresses and telephone numbers. The tool would also allow the FBI to track people based on location, enable persistent keyword monitoring and provide access to personal social media history. According to the RFP, "The mission-critical exploitation of social media will enable the Bureau to detect, disrupt, and investigate an ever growing diverse range of threats to U.S. National interests." But a tool of this nature is likely to raise a few red flags, despite the FBI's call for "ensuring all privacy and civil liberties compliance requirements are met." Back in 2011 a video by The Onion jokingly described Facebook as "the massive online surveillance program run by the CIA." Looks like they had the right idea -- but the wrong government agency. On Twitter the ACLU's senior staff attorney highlighted some key phrases from the FBI's request for proposals -- including "constant monitoring of social media platforms." He added that "They're not beating around the bush in terms of how pervasively they're monitoring social media content:"

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