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Wells Fargo Tells Employees: Delete TikTok from Company Phones

Slashdot.org - Sun, 07/12/2020 - 08:34
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: Wells Fargo does not want TikTok on its employees' phones. According to The Information, the financial institution sent its employees a note, telling them to remove the app from corporate devices immediately... A Wells Fargo spokesperson confirmed the company's move to The Information, explaining that it came to the decision due to concerns about TikTok's privacy practices: "We have identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device. Due to concerns about TikTok's privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices."

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TIOBE's Surprisingly Popular Programming Languages: R, Go, Perl, Scratch, Rust, and Visual Basic 6

Slashdot.org - Sun, 07/12/2020 - 06:34
The R programming language is experiencing a surge in popularity "in the slipstream of Python," according to this month's TIOBE index, leaping into the top ten. "For historical context, we wrote of R's spot in TIOBE nearly two years ago, and it had just made the leap from #50 to #39," writes programming columnist Mike Melanson. ZDNet writes: In May, when R crashed out of the top 20 for the first time in three years, Tiobe speculated that the language could be a victim of consolidation in statistical programming, with more developers in the field gravitating towards Python. But there's been a lot of motion since then, Tech Republic reports: R rose one space to eighth place in July, but its comparison to 2019 is where the real surprise lies: It was in 20th place at the same time last year. TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen cites two reasons why R may be increasing in popularity: - Universities and research institutes have moved away from commercial statistical languages like SAS and Stata in favor of open source languages Python and R. - The increase in analytics being used to search for a COVID-19 vaccine.... The largest gainers in popularity between July 2019 and July 2020 are Go, which jumped from 16th to 12th place, Perl, jumping from No. 19 to No. 14, Scratch, jumping from No. 30 to No. 17, Rust, which moved from No. 33 to No. 18, and PL/SQL, which moved from No. 23 to No. 19. Ruby fell the most, moving from 11th place to 16th, while SQL, MATLAB, and Assembly Language also slipped down the list. ZDNet adds that "Besides R's upwards shift, Tiobe's July index doesn't show much movement in the popularity of the top languages. The top 10 in descending order are C, Java, Python, C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, R, PHP and Swift." Visual Studio magazine argues that the biggest surprise may be that the 29-year-old language classic Visual Basic is still in the top 20 — since its last stable release was 22 years ago, and by 2008 it was finally retired by Microsoft. "VB6 just refuses to go away, achieving cult-like status among a group of hard-core supporters."

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Newly-Discovered Comet Neowise: Now Visible at Dawn and Dusk

Slashdot.org - Sun, 07/12/2020 - 04:04
"A newly-discovered comet is giving skywatchers quite the show during the month of July," reports CBS News: Astronomers discovered the comet, known as Comet C2020 F3 NEOWISE, back in March. It was named for the NASA mission that spotted it, for the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer... But astronomers knew they found something unique when they spotted Neowise. On July 3, Neowise was closer to the sun than the orbit of Mercury, coming dangerously close to breaking apart. The sun heated up much of the comet's icy makeup, erupting in a large debris trail of gas and dust. Measuring about 3 miles across, Neowise is considered a fairly large comet — providing skywatchers with a spectacular view from Earth. The comet, which has a bright opulent tail, has been putting on a stunning show in the early hours before sunrise in the Northern Hemisphere... But late sleepers need not worry — the comet will start appearing in the evening, just after sunset, starting Saturday. To view it, people in the Northern Hemisphere can look to the northwestern sky, just below Ursa Major, commonly known as the Big Dipper constellation. Scientists say the comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere for about another month. The comet is made up of material dating back 4.6 billion years, to the origins of our solar system, according to the article. "The event is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience — the comet takes about 6,800 years to complete its path around the sun, according to NASA..." "NASA says it will be one of the brightest comets this century."

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Is Our Solar System's Ninth Planet Actually a Primordial Black Hole?

Slashdot.org - Sun, 07/12/2020 - 02:54
An anonymous reader quotes Forbes: Conventional theory has it that Planet 9 — our outer solar system's hypothetical 9th planet — is merely a heretofore undetected planet, likely captured by our solar system at some point over its 4.6 billion year history. But Harvard University astronomers now raise the possibility that orbital evidence for Planet 9 could possibly be the result of a missing link in the decades-long puzzle of dark matter. That is, a hypothetical primordial black hole with a horizon size no larger than a grapefruit, and with a mass 5 to 10 times that of Earth. In a paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the co-authors argue that observed clustering of extreme trans-Neptunian objects suggest some sort of massive super-earth type body lying on the outer fringes of our solar system. Perhaps as much as 800 astronomical units (Earth-Sun distances) out... If they exist, such primordial black holes would require new physics and go a long way towards solving the mystery of the universe's missing mass, or dark matter. Their argument also constitutes a "new method to search for black holes in the outer solar system based on flares that result from the disruption of intercepted comets," according to a statement from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The paper was co-authored by Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard's astronomy department, who points out that "Because black holes are intrinsically dark, the radiation that matter emits on its way to the mouth of the black hole is our only way to illuminate this dark environment." And in an explanatory video, Mike Brown, a planetary astronomy professor at CalTech, suggests another way it could be significant. "All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found."

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Disney World Reopened Today in Florida, Joining Sea World and Universal

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 23:54
"Cinderella Castle has sat silent for 116 days..." reported CNN Business. But no more — at least, not at Disney World, which today began its grand reopening: "It's three times the size of Disneyland in terms of revenue," Michael Nathanson, a media analyst and founding partner at MoffettNathanson, told CNN Business. Nathanson estimates that Disney World alone generated $11.2 billion, or about 16% of the company's total revenue in 2019 and added that it's a massive driver of growth for the company. "It's probably their most important single asset," Nathanson said... The Florida Department of Health reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the state's total to more than 220,000. [Roughly 1% of the state's entire population.] The significant uptick in cases over the last couple of weeks has led to petitions from employees asking to delay the reopening and the head of the union representing Disney World's service workers to warn that Disney "has to get it right" in terms of the reopening... When reached for comment, a Disney spokesperson pointed out a blog post by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the chief medical officer for Disney Parks. In the post, Hymel wrote that Disney remains "deeply committed" to focusing on the well-being of guests and employees... Disney World is not the only theme park open in Florida. Other popular theme parks like Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando have already had guests. And Disney has opened some of its other theme parks overseas including Shanghai Disneyland, which returned on May 11. Disneyland, Disney's resort in California, was set to reopen this month, but was postponed. [It did, however, re-open the neighboring "Downtown Disney" business district.] But Disney World is different. It's not just the most popular theme park in America; it's the most popular theme park in the world, which can set the tone for the entire tourism industry, according to Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com. "This is the future of the travel industry at this point," Niles said. "It's just wreckage throughout the entire industry at this stage... So somebody's got to figure out a way to make this work if this industry is going to survive, and Disney's got more resources than anyone else. This is an obvious leadership opportunity for Disney." CNN reports that Disney World is allowing fewer people in the park, spacing them out in lines, requiring everyone to wear a mask — and taking everyone's temperature when they arrive at the park. This week the "Disney Parks jobs" Twitter feed also shared a slick ad titled "Welcome Home" — but they've apparently since removed the tweet after facing criticism online. "Some people on Twitter found the ad more eerie than welcoming," reports Newsweek, noting that the ad "ends with a stormtrooper from Star Wars putting his own spin on the greeting. 'Welcome, citizens,' he says."

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Rust Programming Language To Use 'Allowlist' in Place of 'Whitelist'

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 23:24
"Other terms are more inclusive and precise," reads a merged Pull request for the Rust programming language titled "Avoid 'whitelist'." "This doesn't look like it affects any 'user visible' flags or anything like that," core developer Niko Matsakis had pointed out in a comment on the pull request, asking "It's purely internal...?" The pull request has since been merged.

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The Linux Team Approves New Neutral Terminology

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 20:34
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: Linus Torvalds approved on Friday a new and more inclusive terminology for the Linux kernel code and documentation. Going forward, Linux developers have been asked to use new terms for the master/slave and blacklist/whitelist terminologies... The Linux team did not recommend any specific terms but asked developers to choose as appropriate. The new terms are to be used for new source code written for the Linux kernel and its associated documentation. The older terms, considered inadequate now, will only be allowed for maintaining older code and documentation, or "when updating code for an existing (as of 2020) hardware or protocol specification that mandates those terms." Proposed alternatives for master/slave include: primary/secondarymain/replica or subordinateinitiator/targetrequester/respondercontroller/devicehost/worker or proxyleader/followerdirector/performer Proposed alternatives for blacklist/whitelist include: denylist/allowlistblocklist/passlist

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Why Did a Tech Executive Install 1,000 Security Cameras Around San Francisco?

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 18:34
The New York Times explains why Chris Larsen installed over a thousand surveillance cameras around San Francisco to monitor 135 city blocks: It sounds sinister. A soft-spoken cryptocurrency mogul is paying for a private network of high-definition security cameras around the city. Zoom in and you can see the finest details: the sticker on a cellphone, the make of a backpack, the color of someone's eyes... While violent crime is not high in the city, property crime is a constant headache. Anyone who lives here knows you shouldn't leave anything — not a pile of change, not a scarf — in a parked car... locals are tired of the break-ins. So how do they reconcile "defund the police" with "stop the smash and grabs"? Mr. Larsen believes he has the answer: Put security cameras in the hands of neighborhood groups. Put them everywhere. He's happy to pay for it.... Here is what he is doing: Writing checks for nearly $4 million to buy cameras that record high-definition video of the streets and paying to have them maintained by a company called Applied Video Solutions. The rest is up to locals in neighborhood coalitions like Community Benefit Districts, nonprofits formed to provide services to the area. Here is how the project works: Neighbors band together and decide where to put the cameras. They are installed on private property at the discretion of the property owner, and in San Francisco many home and business owners want them. The footage is monitored by the neighborhood coalition. The cameras are always recording... As proponents of Mr. Larsen's network see things, they get the safety of a surveillance state without the state... It is arguably more compelling evidence in court because the video is monitored by a third-party intermediary who can testify that it is a continuous feed. It is time stamped. And because the network covers many blocks, the footage can tell a broader story than a single camera about an event that might be moving from block to block, in the case of, for example, a fight.... "This has underscored the importance of not just cameras but of communitywide camera coverage," Mr. Larsen said. "Body cams show some pretty core weaknesses because we don't have universal access to police body cam footage, and there's a fundamental conflict of interest if the video shows something bad for the department." The answer is more cameras, he said, and then keep that footage in the hands of citizens. He argued that trust will come in the form of full city camera coverage, so police can play a smaller, more subtle role. Individual vigilantism will not work, he argued, but strong neighborhoods with continuous video feeds on every corner will. "That's the winning formula," Mr. Larsen said. "Pure coverage." The locally-stored footage is erased after 30 days. Thought it's not covered by the city's newly-enacted ban on facial recognition software, Larsen says "We're strongly opposed to facial recognition technology. Facial recognition is too powerful given the lack of laws and protections to make it acceptable."

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Spintronics Researchers Demonstrate How to Process Magnetic Vortices for Data Storage

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 17:34
Research continues in a field which involves using the spin and magnetism of electrons in solid-state devices — spintronics. hackingbear shared this report from Nature: Electric control of magnetic vortex dynamics in a reproducible way on an ultrafast time scale is a key element in the quest for efficient spintronic devices with low-energy consumption. Researchers in China and Germany demonstrated a simple method for controlling magnetic patterns that are useful for data storage and information processing. Magnetic nanostructures are engineered as to host swirling magnetic vortices. The vortex intrinsic properties such as the vortex sense of rotations or polarity are well defined and thus are predestinate as digital information carriers. Furthermore, the magnetic nanostructures are readily integrated in existing computers. Chenglong Jia from Lanzhou University, Jamal Berakdar from Martin-Luther Universitat Halle-Wittenberg and their co-workers demonstrated how to process the so stored information swiftly by switching both the vortex's sense of rotation and the orientation of its magnetic field using at a simple sequence of ultra-short, low average-energy electric-field pulses. The team believe that their method is scalable, non-invasive, reliable and reversible, fullfing thus important prerequisites for practical implementation.

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TikTok Pulls Out of Hong Kong

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 16:34
AmiMoJo quotes TechCrunch: TikTok announced that it would pull out of Hong Kong, which is facing an unprecedented wave of control from the Beijing government after the promulgation of the national security law. "In light of recent events, we've decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong," said a TikTok spokesperson. The company declined further comment on the decision... ByteDance, founded by Chinese serial entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, has been working to disassociate TikTok from its Chinese ownership and Beijing censorship. Efforts have ranged from keeping an overseas data center for TikTok that's supposedly out of reach by the Chinese authority, giving outside experts a glimpse into its moderation process, through to hiringDisney's Kevin Mayer as the app's new global face.

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The F-16's Replacement Won't Have a Pilot At All

Slashdot.org - Sat, 07/11/2020 - 15:34
"The next combat aircraft to enter the U.S. Air Force inventory will not be a manned sixth-generation fighter or even the Northrop Grumman B-21," reports Aviation Week. "By fiscal 2023, the Air Force expects to deliver the first operational versions of a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) called Skyborg, a provocative portmanteau blending the medium of flight with the contraction for a cybernetic organism." The Skyborg family of aircraft is expected to fill an emerging "attritable" category for combat aircraft that blurs the line between a reusable unmanned aircraft system and a single-use cruise missile. As the aircraft are developed, Skyborg also will serve as the test case of a radical change in acquisition philosophy, with ecosystems of collaborative software coders and aircraft manufacturers replacing the traditional approach with a supply chain defined by a single prime contractor... At the core of the Skyborg program is the software; specifically, the military aviation equivalent of the algorithm-fed convolutional neural networks that help driverless cars navigate on city streets... The autonomy mission system core — as integrated by Leidos from a combination of industry and government sources — will be inserted into multiple low-cost UAS designed by different companies, with each configured to perform a different mission or set of missions... "Even though we call Skyborg an attritable aircraft, I think we'll think of them more like reusable weapons," says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.... "I expect that the pilots, depending on the mission, [will] decide: Does the Skyborg return and land with them and then go to fight another day, or is it the end of its life and it's going to go on a one-way mission?" Roper explains. In some cases, the pilot may decide a target is important enough that it is worth the loss of a Skyborg, even if its service life has not been used up, he adds. "The Air Force's goal is to build up a large fleet of armed, sort-of disposable jets that don't need conventional runways to take off and land," reports Popular Mechanics: Skyborg will be available with both subsonic and supersonic engines, indicating both attack and fighter jet versions. The basic design (or designs) will likely be stealthy, carrying guided bombs, air defense suppression missiles, and air-to-air missiles inside internal weapons bays. Interesting, according to AvWeek, the Air Force is considering Skyborg as a replacement not only for the MQ-9 Reaper attack drone but early versions of the F-16 manned fighter.... Unmanned jets like Skyborg promise to remake the U.S. Air Force and other air forces. Manned aircraft have become increasingly large, difficult to develop, and expensive. This in turn means the Pentagon can afford fewer jets, ultimately leading to a smaller Air Force. Unmanned jets, on the other hand, are smaller, easier to develop, and cheap — allowing the Air Force to buy lots of them... The drone will grow the fighting arm of the U.S. Air Force, move air power away from air fields, fly alongside fighter jets, and escort traditionally undefended assets like the E-3 Sentry. And it promises to do it all affordably. If the Air Force really can get Skyborg into the game by 2023 it will dramatically change the shape of aerial warfare.

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