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Android Gets a New Software-Based AV1 Decoder

Slashdot - 2시간 55분 지남
Ben Schoon reports via 9to5Google: Google's Arif Dikici confirmed on LinkedIn this week that Android is now using VideoLAN's (the makers of VLC) "dav1d" software decoder to allow AV1 to work on more devices. This is now available on all devices running Android 12 or higher via a software update. Mishaal Rahman points out that this started to roll out with the March 2024 Google Play system update. Dikici says that "most" devices can at least support 720p at 30 frames per second, but that apps will need to opt in "for now" to support AV1 via software decoding. One app that has opted in is YouTube, which now uses AV1 on all compatible devices (though it may have reverted this). This may result in increased power usage depending on your device, though. Improvements on that front may be coming, though, says VideoLAN on Twitter/X.

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Firefox Nightly Expands To Linux On ARM64

Slashdot - 3시간 38분 지남
BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: Mozilla has announced Firefox Nightly for ARM64. This release will cater to the growing demand for support on ARM64 platforms, commonly referred to as AArch64. Feedback from the community has led Mozilla to expand the availability of Firefox Nightly. Users can now access the browser as both .tar archives and .deb packages, depending on their preference and requirements for installation. For those who favor traditional methods, the .tar.bz2 binaries are accessible through Mozilla's downloads page by selecting the option for Firefox Nightly for Linux ARM64/AArch64. Meanwhile, users looking to utilize updates and installation through Mozilla's APT repository can follow specific instructions to install the firefox-nightly package.

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Dutch Privacy Watchdog Recommends Government Organizations Stop Using Facebook

Slashdot - 4시간 20분 지남
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The Dutch privacy watchdog AP on Friday said it was recommending that government organizations should stop using Facebook as long as it is unclear what happens with personal data of users of the government's Facebook pages. "People that visit a government's page need to be able to trust that their personal and sensitive data is in safe hands," AP chairman Aleid Wolfsen said in a statement. Junior minister for digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen said Facebook parent company Meta had to make clear before the summer how it could take away the government's concerns on the safety of data. "Otherwise we will be forced to stop using Facebook, in line with this advice," she said.

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23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki Considers Taking Company Private

Slashdot - 5시간 49초 지남
Ashley Capoot reports via CNBC: Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of 23andMe, is considering a proposal to take the genetic testing company private after its stock price tumbled more than 95% from its 2021 highs. A late Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wojcicki is working with advisors and plans to speak with possible financing sources and partners. She "wishes to maintain control" of the company and will "not be willing to support any alternative transaction," the filing said. [...] In November, 23andMe received a deficiency letter from the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Department, which said the company had 180 days to bring its share price back above $1. The company's board of directors formed a "Special Committee" in late March to help explore options that could juice the stock. A press release on Thursday said the committee was made aware of Wojcicki's interest in acquiring all of 23andMe's outstanding shares. Wojcicki owns shares that make up more than 20% of those outstanding, which equates to about 49% of voting power, the release said. "The Special Committee will carefully review Ms. Wojcicki's proposal when and if it is made available and evaluate it in light of other available strategic alternatives, including continuing to operate as a publicly traded company," the committee said in the release. "The Special Committee is committed to acting in the best interests of 23andMe and its shareholders." The committee has engaged Wells Fargo as its financial advisor, and it said there is "no assurance" that Wojcicki's offer would result in the proposed outcome.

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'Women Who Code' Shuts Down Unexpectedly

Slashdot - 5시간 38분 지남
Women Who Code (WWC), a U.S.-based organization of 360,000 people supporting women who work in the tech sector, is shutting down due to a lack of funding. "It is with profound sadness that, today, on April 18, 2024, we are announcing the difficult decision to close Women Who Code, following a vote by the Board of Directors to dissolve the organization," the organization said in a blog post. "This decision has not been made lightly. It only comes after careful consideration of all options and is due to factors that have materially impacted our funding sources -- funds that were critical to continuing our programming and delivering on our mission. We understand that this news will come as a disappointment to many, and we want to express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who have been a part of our journey." The BBC reports: WWC was started 2011 by engineers who "were seeking connection and support for navigating the tech industry" in San Francisco. It became a nonprofit organization in 2013 and expanded globally. In a post announcing its closure, it said it had held more than 20,000 events and given out $3.5m in scholarships. A month before the closure, WWC had announced a conference for May, which has now been cancelled. A spokesperson for WWC said: "We kept our programming moving forward while exploring all options." They would not comment on questions about the charity's funding. The most recent annual report, for 2022, showed the charity made almost $4m that year, while its expenses were just under $4.2m. WWC said that "while so much has been accomplished," their mission was not complete. It continued: "Our vision of a tech industry where diverse women and historically excluded people thrive at every level is not fulfilled."

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A Chess Formula Is Taking Over the World

Slashdot - 6시간 15분 지남
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Atlantic: In October 2003, Mark Zuckerberg created his first viral site: not Facebook, but FaceMash. Then a college freshman, he hacked into Harvard's online dorm directories, gathered a massive collection of students' headshots, and used them to create a website on which Harvard students could rate classmates by their attractiveness, literally and figuratively head-to-head. The site, a mean-spirited prank recounted in the opening scene of The Social Network, got so much traction so quickly that Harvard shut down his internet access within hours. The math that powered FaceMash -- and, by extension, set Zuckerberg on the path to building the world's dominant social-media empire -- was reportedly, of all things, a formula for ranking chess players: the Elo system. Fundamentally, what an Elo rating does is predict the outcome of chess matches by assigning every player a number that fluctuates based purely on performance. If you beat a slightly higher-ranked player, your rating goes up a little, but if you beat a much higher-ranked player, your rating goes up a lot (and theirs, conversely, goes down a lot). The higher the rating, the more matches you should win. That is what Elo was designed for, at least. FaceMash and Zuckerberg aside, people have deployed Elo ratings for many sports -- soccer, football, basketball -- and for domains as varied as dating, finance, and primatology. If something can be turned into a competition, it has probably been Elo-ed. Somehow, a simple chess algorithm has become an all-purpose tool for rating everything. In other words, when it comes to the preferred way to rate things, Elo ratings have the highest Elo rating. [...] Elo ratings don't inherently have anything to do with chess. They're based on a simple mathematical formula that works just as well for any one-on-one, zero-sum competition -- which is to say, pretty much all sports. In 1997, a statistician named Bob Runyan adapted the formula to rank national soccer teams -- a project so successful that FIFA eventually adopted an Elo system for its official rankings. Not long after, the statistician Jeff Sagarin applied Elo to rank NFL teams outside their official league standings. Things really took off when the new ESPN-owned version of Nate Silver's 538 launched in 2014 and began making Elo ratings for many different sports. Some sports proved trickier than others. NBA basketball in particular exposed some of the system's shortcomings, Neil Paine, a stats-focused sportswriter who used to work at 538, told me. It consistently underrated heavyweight teams, for example, in large part because it struggled to account for the meaninglessness of much of the regular season and the fact that either team might not be trying all that hard to win a given game. The system assumed uniform motivation across every team and every game. Pretty much anything, it turns out, can be framed as a one-on-one, zero-sum game. Arpad Emmerich Elo, creator of the Elo rating system, understood the limitations of his invention. "It is a measuring tool, not a device of reward or punishment," he once remarked. "It is a means to compare performances, assess relative strength, not a carrot waved before a rabbit, or a piece of candy given to a child for good behavior."

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EPA Will Make Polluters Pay To Clean Up Two 'Forever Chemicals'

Slashdot - 6시간 55분 지남
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Biden administration is designating two "forever chemicals," man-made compounds that are linked to serious health risks, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, shifting responsibility for their cleanup to polluters from taxpayers. The new rule announced on Friday empowers the government to force the many companies that manufacture or use perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, known as PFOS, to monitor any releases into the environment and be responsible for cleaning them up. Those companies could face billions of dollars in liabilities. [...] The announcement follows an extraordinary move last week from the E.P.A. mandating that water utilities reduce the PFAS in drinking water to near-zero levels. The agency has also proposed to designate seven additional PFAS chemicals as hazardous waste. "President Biden understands the threat that forever chemicals pose to the health of families across the country," Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the E.P.A., said. "Designating these chemicals under our Superfund authority will allow E.P.A. to address more contaminated sites, take earlier action, and expedite cleanups, all while ensuring polluters pay for the costs to clean up pollution threatening the health of communities."

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Linus Torvalds on 'Hilarious' AI Hype

Slashdot - 7시간 35분 지남
Linus Torvalds, discussing the AI hype, in a conversation with Dirk Hohndel, Verizon's Head of the Open Source Program Office: Torvalds snarked, "It's hilarious to watch. Maybe I'll be replaced by an AI model!" As for Hohndel, he thinks most AI today is "autocorrect on steroids." Torvalds summed up his attitude as, "Let's wait 10 years and see where it actually goes before we make all these crazy announcements." That's not to say the two men don't think AI will be helpful in the future. Indeed, Torvalds noted one good side effect already: "NVIDIA has gotten better at talking to Linux kernel developers and working with Linux memory management," because of its need for Linux to run AI's large language models (LLMs) efficiently. Torvalds is also "looking forward to the tools actually to find bugs. We have a lot of tools, and we use them religiously, but making the tools smarter is not a bad thing. Using smarter tools is just the next inevitable step. We have tools that do kernel rewriting, with very complicated scripts, and pattern recognition. AI can be a huge help here because some of these tools are very hard to use because you have to specify things at a low enough level." Just be careful, Torvalds warns of "AI BS." Hohndel quickly quipped, "He meant beautiful science. You know, "Beautiful science in, beautiful science out."

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Microsoft's VASA-1 Can Deepfake a Person With One Photo and One Audio Track

Slashdot - 8시간 10분 지남
Microsoft Research Asia earlier this week unveiled VASA-1, an AI model that can create a synchronized animated video of a person talking or singing from a single photo and an existing audio track. ArsTechnica: In the future, it could power virtual avatars that render locally and don't require video feeds -- or allow anyone with similar tools to take a photo of a person found online and make them appear to say whatever they want. "It paves the way for real-time engagements with lifelike avatars that emulate human conversational behaviors," reads the abstract of the accompanying research paper titled, "VASA-1: Lifelike Audio-Driven Talking Faces Generated in Real Time." It's the work of Sicheng Xu, Guojun Chen, Yu-Xiao Guo, Jiaolong Yang, Chong Li, Zhenyu Zang, Yizhong Zhang, Xin Tong, and Baining Guo. The VASA framework (short for "Visual Affective Skills Animator") uses machine learning to analyze a static image along with a speech audio clip. It is then able to generate a realistic video with precise facial expressions, head movements, and lip-syncing to the audio. It does not clone or simulate voices (like other Microsoft research) but relies on an existing audio input that could be specially recorded or spoken for a particular purpose.

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Indian IT Outsourcing Firms Cut 60,000 Jobs in First Layoffs in 20 Years

Slashdot - 8시간 59분 지남
An anonymous reader shares a report: TCS, Infosys, and Wipro, India's top three IT outsourcing firms, have collectively seen their workforce shrink for the first time in at least 20 years. The trio reported a combined reduction of more than 63,750 employees in the financial year ending March 31, 2024.

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Porn Sites Face Strict EU Rules, Commission Says

Slashdot - 9시간 38분 지남
Adult content companies Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos will have to do risk assessment reports and take measures to address systemic risks linked to their services to comply with new EU online content rules, the European Commission said on Friday. From a report: The three companies were designated as very large online platforms last December under the Digital Services Act (DSA) which requires them to do more to remove illegal and harmful content on their platforms. Pornhub and Stripchat will have to comply with these DSA obligations, among the strictest, on April 21 and XVideos on April 23, the EU executive said. "These specific obligations include submitting risk assessment reports to the Commission, putting in place mitigation measures to address systemic risks linked to the provision of their services," it said in a statement.

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Meta's Not Telling Where It Got Its AI Training Data

Slashdot - 10시간 18분 지남
An anonymous reader shares a report: Today Meta unleashed its ChatGPT competitor, Meta AI, across its apps and as a standalone. The company boasts that it is running on its latest, greatest AI model, Llama 3, which was trained on "data of the highest quality"! A dataset seven times larger than Llama2! And includes 4 times more code! What is that training data? There the company is less loquacious. Meta said the 15 trillion tokens on which its trained came from "publicly available sources." Which sources? Meta told The Verge that it didn't include Meta user data, but didn't give much more in the way of specifics. It did mention that it includes AI-generated data, or synthetic data: "we used Llama 2 to generate the training data for the text-quality classifiers that are powering Llama 3." There are plenty of known issues with synthetic or AI-created data, foremost of which is that it can exacerbate existing issues with AI, because it's liable to spit out a more concentrated version of any garbage it is ingesting.

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Microsoft Does Not Want You To Use iPerf3 To Measure Network Performance on Windows

Slashdot - 11시간 49초 지남
An anonymous reader shares a report: iPerf is a fairly popular cross-platform tool that is used by many to measure network performance and diagnose any potential issues in this area. The open-source utility is maintained by an organization called Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and officially supports Linux, Unix, and Windows. However, Microsoft has now published a detailed blog post explaining why you should not use the latest version, iPerf3, on Windows installations. Microsoft has highlighted three key reasons to discourage the use of iPerf3 on Windows. The first is that ESnet does not support this version on Windows, and recommends iPerf2 instead. On its website, ESnet has emphasized that CentOS 7 Linux, FreeBSD 11, and macOS 10.12 are the only supported platforms. Another very important reason not to use iPerf3 on Windows is that it does not make native OS calls. Instead, it leverages Cygwin as an emulation layer, which obviously comes with a performance penalty. This alone means that iPerf3 on Windows isn't really an ideal candidate for benchmarking your network. While Microsoft has praised the maintainers who are trying to get iPerf3 to run on Windows via emulation, another flaw with this approach is that some advanced networking options simply aren't available on Windows or may behave in unexpected ways.

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Google To Employees: 'We Are a Workplace'

Slashdot - 11시간 39분 지남
Google, once known for its unconventional approach to business, has taken a decisive step towards becoming a more traditional company by firing 28 employees who participated in protests against a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government. The move comes after sit-in demonstrations on Tuesday at Google offices in Silicon Valley and New York City, where employees opposed the company's support for Project Nimbus, a cloud computing contract they argue harms Palestinians in Gaza. Nine employees were arrested during the protests. In a note to employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said, "We have a culture of vibrant, open discussion... But ultimately we are a workplace and our policies and expectations are clear: this is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics." Google also says that the Project Nimbus contract is "not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services." Axios adds: Google prided itself from its early days on creating a university-like atmosphere for the elite engineers it hired. Dissent was encouraged in the belief that open discourse fostered innovation. "A lot of Google is organized around the fact that people still think they're in college when they work here," then-CEO Eric Schmidt told "In the Plex" author Steven Levy in the 2000s. What worked for an organization with a few thousand employees is harder to maintain among nearly 200,000 workers. Generational shifts in political and social expectations also mean that Google's leadership and its rank-and-file aren't always aligned.

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Samsung Shifts To Emergency Mode With 6-day Work Week for Executives

Slashdot - 12시간 19분 지남
Korean newspaper KED Global: Executives at all Samsung Group units will work six days a week from as early as this week in a shift to emergency mode. The move comes as the won's sharp depreciation, rising oil prices and high borrowing costs aggravate business uncertainties after some of the group's mainstay businesses delivered poorer-than-expected results in 2023. The executives of Samsung Electronics Co., including those in the manufacturing and sales divisions, will work either on Saturday or Sunday following the regular five-day work week, according to Samsung Group officials. They will review their business strategies and may modify them to adapt to the changing business environment amid mounting gepolitical risks from the prolonged war between Russia and Ukraine and escalating tensions in the Middle East. "Considering that performance of our major units, including Samsung Electronics Co., fell short of expectations in 2023, we are introducing the six-day work week for executives to inject a sense of crisis and make all-out efforts to overcome it," said a Samsung Group company executive. Top management at Samsing Display Co., Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co. and Samsung SDS Co. will adopt the six-day work week as early as this week. Samsung Life Insurance Co. and other financial services firms under the Samsung Group will likely join them soon. Executives of Samsung C&T Corp., Samsung Heavy Industries Co. and Samsung E&A Co. have already been voluntarily working six days a week since the start of this year.

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Windows 10 Will Start Pushing Users To Use Microsoft Accounts

Slashdot - 금, 2024/04/19 - 11:40오후
Microsoft is getting ready to annoy its faithful Windows 10 user base with yet another prompt. From a report: This time, Microsoft wants Windows 10 users to switch from using a local account to their online Microsoft account. As first noticed by the outlet Windows Latest, the most recent Windows 10 update Release Preview includes some information about new notifications added to the operating system intended to make users switch from their local account to their Microsoft account. "New! This update starts the [roll out] of account-related notifications for Microsoft accounts in Settings > Home," reads the update, originally from the official Windows blog, which then lays out its case for using a Microsoft account.

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[$] Weighted memory interleaving and new system calls

lwn.net - 금, 2024/04/19 - 11:12오후

Gregory Price recently posted a patch set that adds support for weighted memory interleaving — allowing a process's memory to be distributed between non-uniform memory access (NUMA) nodes in a more controlled way. According to his performance measurements, the patch set could provide a significant improvement for computers with network-attached memory. The patch set also introduces new system calls and paves the way for future extensions intended to give processes more control over their own memory.

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Apple Removes WhatsApp, Threads and Telegram From China App Store

Slashdot - 금, 2024/04/19 - 11:00오후
China ordered Apple to remove some of the world's most popular chat messaging apps from its app store in the country, the latest example of censorship demands on the iPhone seller in the company's second-biggest market. WSJ: Meta's WhatsApp and Threads as well as messaging platforms Signal, Telegram and Line were taken off the Chinese App Store Friday [non-paywalled link]. Apple said it was told to remove certain apps because of national security concerns, without specifying which. "We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. These messaging apps, which allow users to exchange messages and share files individually and in big groups, combined have more than three billion users globally. They can only be accessed in China through virtual private networks that take users outside China's Great Firewall, but are still commonly used. Beijing has often viewed such platforms with caution, concerned that these apps could be used by its citizens to spread negative content and organize demonstrations or social movements. Much of the news China censors at home often makes it beyond the Great Firewall through such channels.

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Security updates for Friday

lwn.net - 금, 2024/04/19 - 10:08오후
Security updates have been issued by AlmaLinux (gnutls, java-17-openjdk, mod_http2, and squid), Debian (firefox-esr), Fedora (editorconfig, perl-Clipboard, php, rust, and wordpress), Mageia (less, libreswan, puppet, and x11-server, x11-server-xwayland, and tigervnc), Slackware (aaa_glibc), and SUSE (firefox, graphviz, kernel, nodejs12, pgadmin4, tomcat, and wireshark).
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Chinese Cities Are Sinking Rapidly

Slashdot - 금, 2024/04/19 - 10:00오후
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Major cities across China are sinking, putting a substantial portion of the country's rapidly urbanizing population in harm's way in the coming decades, according to a sweeping new analysis by Chinese scientists. Subsidence is the technical term for when land sinks relative to its surroundings, and it's a major threat for cities around the world. It accelerates local sea level rise from climate change, because the land is getting lower as the ocean gets higher. Urban subsidence can also affect inland cities by damaging buildings and roads, and causing drainage issues when water is trapped in sinking areas. Out of 82 major Chinese cities, nearly half are measurably subsiding, according to the new study, which was published in the journal Science and conducted by more than 50 scientists at Chinese research institutes. The areas that are sinking are home to nearly one third of China's urban population. And the authors estimate that about a quarter of China's coastal land will be below sea level in the next hundred years, largely due to subsidence. That means tens of millions of people are already at risk, and that could grow to hundreds of millions if China's cities continue to both grow in population and subside at their current rate, and seas continue to rise. Oceans are rising steadily due to greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, gas and coal. This is the first time scientists have used satellite data to systematically measure how much cities are sinking across China. The study measured how much cities subsided between 2015 and 2022. Similar recent studies in Europe and the United States have also found significant subsidence in some cities, but didn't show the same widespread sinking that is present across China. "The places that really have high levels of subsidence are Asia," says Nicholls, who was one of the authors of a recent study that analyzed sinking cities across the U.S. Asia is at higher risk, he says, because many Asian cities are built on river deltas that are prone to sinking when you put heavy buildings on top and pump groundwater out from below. The places that are sinking most rapidly in the U.S., such as New Orleans, share that geology.

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