It's funny.  Laugh.

Seven Science Journals Have A Dog On Their Editorial Board (atlasobscura.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes: A professor of health policy at Australia's Curtin University got seven different science journals to put his dog on their editorial board. The dog is now associate editor for the Global Journal of Addiction & Rehabilitation Medicine, and sits on the editorial board of Psychiatry and Mental Disorders. The professor says he feels sorry for one researcher who recently submitted a paper about how to treat sheath tumors, because "the journal has sent it to a dog to review." The official profile of the dog lists its research interests as "the benefits of abdominal massage for medium-sized canines" and "avian propinquity to canines in metropolitan suburbs."
An Australian news site points out that career-minded researchers pay up to $3,000 to get their work published in predatory journals so they can list more publications on their resumes. "While this started as something lighthearted," says the dog-owning professor, "I think it is important to expose shams of this kind which prey on the gullible, especially young or naive academics and those from developing countries."
Windows

Windows 10 Is Just 'A Vehicle For Advertisements', Argues Tech Columnist (betanews.com) 353

A new editorial by BetaNews columnist Mark Wilson argues that Windows 10 isn't an operating system -- it's "a vehicle for ads". An anonymous reader quotes their report: They appear in the Start menu, in the taskbar, in the Action Center, in Explorer, in the Ink Workspace, on the Lock Screen, in the Share tool, in the Windows Store and even in File Explorer.

Microsoft has lost its grip on what is acceptable, and even goes as far as pretending that these ads serve users more than the company -- "these are suggestions", "this is a promoted app", "we thought you'd like to know that Edge uses less battery than Chrome", "playable ads let you try out apps without installing". But if we're honest, the company is doing nothing more than abusing its position, using Windows 10 to promote its own tools and services, or those with which it has marketing arrangements.

The article suggests ads are part of the hidden price tag for the free downloads of Windows 10 that Microsoft offered last year (along with the telemetry and other user-tracking features). Their article has already received 357 comments, and concludes that the prevalence of ads in Windows 10 is "indefensible".
Mozilla

After 19 Years, DMOZ Will Close, Announces AOL 60

Its volunteer-edited web directory formed the basis for early search offerings from Netscape, AOL, and Google. But 19 years later, there's some bad news. koavf writes: As posted on the DMOZ homepage, the Open Directory Project's web listing will go offline on March 14, 2017. Founded in 1998 as "Gnuhoo", the human-curated directory once powered Google and served as a model for Wikipedia.
A 1998 Slashdot editorial prompted Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation to complain about how "Gnu" was used in the site's name. "We renamed GnuHoo to NewHoo," a blog post later explained, "but then Yahoo objected to the 'Hoo' (and our red letters, exclamation point, and 'comical font')." After being acquired for Netscape's "Open Directory Project," their URL became directory.mozilla.org, which was shortened to DMOZ. Search Engine Land predicts the memory of the Open Directory Project will still be kept alive by the NOODP meta tag.

The site was so old that its hierarchical categories were originally based on the hierarchy of Usenet newsgroups. As it nears its expiration date, do any Slashdot readers have thoughts or memories to share about DMOZ?
Government

Uber Has Been Using a Secretive Program To Identify Enforcement Officers And Prevent Them From Hailing Cars (nytimes.com) 218

Uber has been using a secretive program to evade authorities for years, particularly at times when city regulators were trying to block the ride-hailing service, according to a new report by the New York Times. From the report: Uber is using a tool called "Greyball" to work identify requests made by certain users and deny them service, according to the report. The application, later renamed the "violation of terms of service" or VTOS program, is said to employ data analysis on info collected by the Uber app to identify individuals violating Uber's terms of service, and blocks riders from being able to hail rides who fall into that category -- including, according to the report, members of code enforcement authorities or city officials who are attempting to gather data about Uber offering service where it's currently prohibited. The report claims that that Uber's "violation of terms of service" or VTOS program, briefly known as Greyball, began around 2014, and has sign-off from Uber's legal team.In a statement, Uber said, "This program denies ride requests to users who are violating our terms of service -- whether that's people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret 'stings' meant to entrap drivers."

Journalists, putting things in context. Russell Brandom, a reporter at The Verge said, This is the kind of thing a DA would put in front of a judge if they wanted to subpoena Uber's business records for an entire city. Matt Rosoff, editorial director at CNBC Digital added, I've been a tech journalist on and off for 21 years and I can't remember any company having a worse month news cycle-wise than Uber is now.
Government

Ask Slashdot: Can US Citizens Trust Government Data? (msn.com) 460

mmell writes: An editorial in the Washington Post and made publicly available via an MSN news feed has asked the question: "In the Trump administration era of 'alternative facts,' what happens to government data?" Given that Slashdot members (and readers) may represent a somewhat more in-the-know crowd on matters concerning data integrity and trustworthiness, I thought this would be a good place to ask: can we trust (or has anyone ever really trusted) government data? One might think government data would all be cut 'n' dried and not subject to manipulation, but I personally remember when government data back early in the Reagan presidency went from reporting nearly 15% unemployment nationwide to well under 6% by redefining what "unemployed" meant. So . . . has government data ever been trustworthy, and is it still so?
Security

Top Security Researchers Ask The Guardian To Retract Its WhatsApp Backdoor Report (technosociology.org) 70

Earlier this month The Guardian reported what it called a "backdoor" in WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned instant messaging app. Some security researchers were quick to call out The Guardian for what they concluded was irresponsible journalism and misleading story. Now, a group of over three dozen security researchers including Matthew Green and Bruce Schneier (as well as some from companies such as Google, Mozilla, Cloudflare, and EFF) have signed a long editorial post, pointing out where The Guardian's report fell short, and also asking the publication to retract the story. From the story: The WhatsApp behavior described is not a backdoor, but a defensible user-interface trade-off. A debate on this trade-off is fine, but calling this a "loophole" or a "backdoor" is not productive or accurate. The threat is remote, quite limited in scope, applicability (requiring a server or phone number compromise) and stealthiness (users who have the setting enabled still see a warning; "even if after the fact). The fact that warnings exist means that such attacks would almost certainly be quickly detected by security-aware users. This limits this method. Telling people to switch away from WhatsApp is very concretely endangering people. Signal is not an option for many people. These concerns are concrete, and my alarm is from observing what's actually been happening since the publication of this story and years of experience in these areas. You never should have reported on such a crucial issue without interviewing a wide range of experts. The vaccine metaphor is apt: you effectively ran a "vaccines can kill you" story without interviewing doctors, and your defense seems to be, "but vaccines do kill people [through extremely rare side effects]."
Cellphones

Faulty Phone Battery May Have Caused Fire That Brought Down EgyptAir Flight MS80 (ibtimes.co.uk) 142

New submitter drunkdrone writes: "French authorities investigating the EgyptAir crash that killed 66 people last year believe that the plane may have been brought down by an overheating phone battery," reports International Business Times. Investigators say the fire that broke out on the Airbus A320 in May 2016 started in the spot where the co-pilot had stowed his iPad and iPhone 6S, which he placed on top of the instrument panel in the plane's cockpit. From the report: "EgyptAir flight MS804 was traveling from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar on 19 May 2016. Egyptian investigators have speculated that the crash, which killed all 56 passengers, seven crew members and three security personnel on board, was caused by an act of terrorism due to traces of explosives reported to be found on some the victims. Investigators in France have disputed these claims, saying that data recorded from the aircraft around the time it disappeared points to an accidental fire on the right-hand side of the flight deck, next to the co-pilot. According to The Times, CCTV pulled from cameras at Paris' Charles de Gualle airport show that the co-pilot stored a number of personal items above the dashboard, where the first signs of trouble were detected. This included an automated alert indicating a series of malfunctions on the right-hand flight deck window, followed by smoke alerts going off in a toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit, minutes before the plane vanished."
Social Networks

Facebook Is Clamping Down On Fake News, Partners With Fact Checkers To Flag Stories (slate.com) 415

After weeks of criticism over its role in spreading fake news during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Facebook said today it is taking concrete steps to halt the sharing of hoaxes on its platform. From a report on Slate: The company announced on Thursday several new features designed to identify, flag, and slow the spread of false news stories on its platform, including a partnership with third-party fact-checkers such as Snopes and PolitiFact. It is also taking steps to prevent spammers and publishers from profiting from fake news. The new features are relatively cautious and somewhat experimental, which means they may not immediately have the intended effects. But they signal a new direction for a company that has been extremely reticent to take on any editorial oversight of the content posted on its platform. And they are likely to evolve over time as the company tests and refines them. First, it's trying to make it easier for users to report fake news stories. The drop-down menu at the top right of each post in your feed will now include an explicit option to report it as a "fake news story," after which you'll be prompted to choose among multiple options, which include notifying Facebook and messaging the person who shared it.
Businesses

CNN Acquires Social-Video Startup Beme, Co-Founded By YouTube Star Casey Neistat (variety.com) 62

CNN announced Monday that it has purchased video-sharing app Beme, and will work with its founder, Casey Neistat, to build a new media brand next year focused on storytelling for a younger audience. Casey Neistat is a YouTube celebrity and tech entrepreneur who launched Beme last year. Variety reports: CNN said the new venture that it's forming out of the acquisition -- aimed at reaching millennial viewers with the street cred of Neistat's reporting and commentary -- will launch in the summer of 2017. All 11 of Beme's employees will join CNN; the cable news network will be shutting down Beme, which had garnered more than 1 million downloads. New York-based filmmaker Neistat, who has more than 5.8 million subscribers on YouTube, announced earlier this month on his channel that he would be suspending his personal vlog to focus on new projects, one of which turns out is the pact with CNN. His daily vlog dispatches cover current political and news events as well as action sequences like his viral "Snowboarding With the NYPD" video last winter. Led by Hackett, formerly VP of engineering at Yahoo's Tumblr, Beme's development team will "build technology to enable the new company and also develop mobile video capabilities for CNN's portfolio of digital properties," according to the Turner-owned cable news network. Neistat, 35, will lead the new venture's "editorial vision" as executive producer. CNN said it will employ its global resources to launch the new media brand, and plans to hire dozens of producers, builders, developers, designers and content creators for the new company. CNN said the new Beme-based company will operate as a standalone business under the CNN Digital umbrella.
Businesses

China Threatens To Cut Sales of iPhones and US Cars if 'Naive' Trump Pursues Trade War (theguardian.com) 742

US president-elect Donald Trump would be a "naive" fool to launch an all-out trade war against China, a Communist party-controlled newspaper has claimed. From a report on The Guardian:During the acrimonious race for the White House Trump repeatedly lashed out at China, vowing to punish Beijing with "defensive" 45% tariffs on Chinese imports and to officially declare it a currency manipulator. "When they see that they will stop the cheating," the billionaire Republican, who has accused Beijing of "the greatest theft in the history of the world", told a rally in August. On Monday the state-run Global Times warned that such measures would be a grave mistake. "If Trump wrecks Sino-US trade, a number of US industries will be impaired. Finally the new president will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence," the newspaper said in an editorial. The Global Times claimed any new tariffs would trigger immediate "countermeasures" and "tit-for-tat approach" from Beijing.
Censorship

WikiLeaks Calls for Pardons From President Obama -- Or President Trump (wikileaks.org) 445

"President Obama has a political moment to pardon Manning & Snowden," WikiLeaks tweeted on Friday, adding "If not, he hands a Trump presidency the freedom to take his prize." And a new online petition is also calling for a pardon of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying Assange is "a hero and must be honoured as such," attracting over 10,000 supporters in just a few days. An anonymous reader writes: Monday WikiLeaks also announced, "irrespective of the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the real victor is the U.S. public which is better informed as a result of our work." Addressing complaints that they specifically targeted Hillary Clinton's campaign, the group said "To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump's campaign, or Jill Stein's campaign, or Gary Johnson's campaign or any of the other candidates that fulfills our stated editorial criteria." But they also objected to the way their supporters were portrayed during the U.S. election, arguing that Trump and others "were painted with a broad, red brush. The Clinton campaign, when they were not spreading obvious untruths, pointed to unnamed sources or to speculative and vague statements from the intelligence community to suggest a nefarious allegiance with Russia. The campaign was unable to invoke evidence about our publications -- because none exists."
Thursday a WikiLeaks representative expressed surprise that, despite the end of the U.S. election, Julian Assange's internet connection in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London has not yet been restored.
The Media

Gawker Pays $750,000 To That Guy Who Didn't Invent Email (gizmodo.com) 121

Shiva Ayyadurai still claims he invented email -- rather than the late ARPANET pioneer Ray Tomlinson. Now Gizmodo reports that Ayyadurai "will receive a $750,000 settlement from Gawker Media, the bankrupt publisher that he sued for defamation earlier this year." As part of the settlement, Gawker Media has agreed to delete three stories from the archive of Gawker.com, including one about Ayyadurai. Univision, which purchased most of Gawker Media's assets [including Gizmodo] out of bankruptcy in September, deleted two Gizmodo posts concerning Ayyadurai -- over the objections of the editorial staff -- immediately after closing the transaction... The offending Gizmodo articles made the case that "a lot of people don't believe that Ayyadurai invented email," and that "networked communication actually predates [his] computer program by a few years." As Tomlinson told Gizmodo in one of the stories Ayyadurai succeeded in getting unpublished, the email formats that are so familiar today -- to:, from:, etc. -- were in use years before Ayyadurai "invented" them.
The third post was titled, "If Fran Drescher Read Gizmodo She Would Not Have Married This Fraud."
Communications

City ISP Makes Broadband Free Because State Law Prohibits Selling Access (arstechnica.com) 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A municipal ISP that was on the verge of shutting off Internet service outside its city boundaries to comply with a state law has come up with a temporary fix: it will offer broadband for free. The free Internet service for existing customers outside Wilson, North Carolina, will be available for six months, giving users more time to switch to an alternative. But Wilson also hopes that six months will be enough time to convince elected officials to change the state law that prohibits the municipal ISP from selling Internet service to non-residents. As [Ars Technica] covered previously, the Federal Communications Commission voted in February 2015 to preempt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson subsequently began offering service outside of Wilson. But officials in both states sued the FCC and in August won reinstatement of their laws that protect private ISPs from municipal competitors. In mid-September, the Wilson City Council reluctantly voted to turn off the fiber Internet service it provides to customers outside Wilson city limits. But that decision was reversed in a City Council vote last week, The Wilson Times reported. (The news came to our attention today via DSLReports.) A Wilson Times editorial reported: "City leaders are walking a tightrope as they balance their desire to keep Vick Family Farms in rural Nash County and 200 customers in the Edgecombe County town of Pinetops connected to Greenlight with their obligation to obey a federal court ruling that blocks the municipal broadband service from branching out beyond county lines. The council agreed Thursday night to provide six months of free internet access and phone service to Greenlight customers outside Wilson County while Wilson lobbies the General Assembly for permission to keep the town connected on a permanent basis."
The Military

Greenland Is Very Mad About the Toxic Waste the US Left Buried Under Its Ice (vice.com) 208

Kate Lunau, reporting Motherboard:Greenland isn't happy about being treated as a dumping ground for abandoned US military bases established at the height of the Cold War -- and in a newspaper editorial, it's calling on Denmark to deal with the mess left behind by the Americans, since the Danish long ago took responsibility for them. This editorial notes that, after decades, Greenland is "losing its patience." One of the abandoned bases, called Camp Century, is full of nasty chemicals and some radioactive material, as Motherboard previously reported. At Camp Century, which was built in 1959, soldiers called "Iceworms" practiced deployment of missiles against Russia and literally lived inside the ice. When the US decommissioned the base in the 1960s, the military left basically everything behind, thinking that its waste would stay locked up in the Greenland ice sheet forever. Well, climate change has made that unlikely. Melting ice threatens to expose all kinds of toxic debris in decades to come, and Greenland wants it cleaned up, now.
Yahoo!

Moving Beyond Flash: the Yahoo HTML5 Video Player (streamingmedia.com) 96

Slashdot reader theweatherelectric writes: Over on Streaming Media, Amit Jain from Yahoo has written a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Yahoo's HTML5 video player. He writes, "Adobe Flash, once the de-facto standard for media playback on the web, has lost favor in the industry due to increasing concerns over security and performance. At the same time, requiring a plugin for video playback in browsers is losing favor among users as well. As a result, the industry is moving toward HTML5 for video playback...

At Yahoo, our video player uses HTML5 across all modern browsers for video playback. In this post we will describe our journey to providing an industry-leading playback experience using HTML5, lay out some of the challenges we faced, and discuss opportunities we see going forward."

Yet another brick in the wall? YouTube and Twitch have already switched to HTML5, and last year Google started automatically converting Flash ads to HTML5.
Communications

The Verge's Deputy Editor Chris Ziegler Was Secretly Working For Apple For Two Months (gizmodo.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Late this afternoon, Nilay Patel, the editor-in-chief of The Verge, published a post detailing the circumstances around the departure of Chris Ziegler, a founding member of the site. As it turns out, according to Patel, Ziegler had been pulling double duty as an employee of both The Verge and Apple. "The circumstances of Chris' departure from The Verge raised ethical issues which are worth disclosing in the interests of transparency and respect for our audience," Patel wrote. "We're confident that there wasn't any material impact on our journalism from these issues, but they are still serious enough to merit disclosure." According to Patel, Ziegler, whose most recent post was published in July, began working for Apple in July but didn't disclose his new job; The Verge apparently didn't discover he'd been working there until early September. Patel noted that Ziegler continued to work for The Verge in July, but "was not in contact with us through most of August and into September." What's not clear is how The Verge leadership went six weeks without hearing from their deputy editor or taking serious action (like filing a missing person's report) to try to find him. Patel says they "made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed." Patel noted the obvious conflict of interest, and added that Ziegler was fired the same day they verified his employment at Apple. "Chris did not attempt to steer any coverage towards or away from Apple, and any particular decisions he helped make had the same outcomes they would have had absent his involvement," Patel wrote. However, it's still unclear how exactly the team at Vox Media, The Verge's parent company, ascertained there was no editorial consequences from the dual-employment. You can read Patel's full statement here. Vox Media's Fay Sliger followed up with a statement to Gizmodo: "Chris is no longer an employee of The Verge or Vox Media. Chris accepted a position with Apple, stopped communicating with The Verge's leadership, and his employment at The Verge was terminated. Vox Media's editorial director Lockhart Steele conducted an internal review of this conflict of interest, and after a thorough investigation, it was determined that there was no impact on editorial decisions or journalism produced at The Verge or elsewhere in Vox Media. We've shared details about this situation with The Verge's audience and will continue to be transparent should any new information come to light."
Medicine

Sugar Industry Bought Off Scientists, Skewed Dietary Guidelines For Decades (arstechnica.com) 527

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Back in the 1960s, a sugar industry executive wrote fat checks to a group of Harvard researchers so that they'd downplay the links between sugar and heart disease in a prominent medical journal -- and the researchers did it, according to historical documents reported Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. One of those Harvard researchers went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where he set the stage for the federal government's current dietary guidelines. All in all, the corrupted researchers and skewed scientific literature successfully helped draw attention away from the health risks of sweets and shift the blame to solely to fats -- for nearly five decades. The low-fat, high-sugar diets that health experts subsequently encouraged are now seen as a main driver of the current obesity epidemic. The bitter revelations come from archived documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (now the Sugar Association), dug up by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Their dive into the old, sour affair highlights both the perils of trusting industry-sponsored research to inform policy and the importance of requiring scientists to disclose conflicts of interest -- something that didn't become the norm until years later. Perhaps most strikingly, it spotlights the concerning power of the sugar industry. In a statement also issued today, the Sugar Association acknowledged that it "should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities." However, the trade-group went on to question the UCSF researchers' motives in digging up the issue and reframing the past events to "conveniently align with the currently trending anti-sugar narrative." The association also chastised the journal for publishing the historical analysis, which it implied was insignificant and sensationalist. "Most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research -- we're disappointed to see a journal of JAMA's stature being drawn into this trend," the association wrote. But scientists disagree with that take. In an accompanying editorial, nutrition professor Marion Nestle of New York University argued that "this 50-year-old incident may seem like ancient history, but it is quite relevant, not least because it answers some questions germane to our current era."
Science

Sri Lanka, Once Severely Affected By Malaria, Now Absolutely Free Of It (thehindu.com) 30

The World Health Organization has declared Sri Lanka free of malaria, calling it a "remarkable public health achievement" for the Indian Ocean island, which was once the most affected nations in the world. The Hindu reports:Sri Lanka has become malaria-free. On September 5, the World Health Organisation officially recognised this huge public health achievement. The WHO certifies a country so when the chain of local transmission is interrupted for at least three consecutive years; the last reported case was in October 2012. With no local transmission reported, Sri Lanka's priority since October 2012 has been to prevent its return from outside, particularly from malaria-endemic countries such as India. There were 95, 49 and 36 cases reported in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively, all contracted outside Sri Lanka. In a commendable initiative, Sri Lanka adopted a two-pronged strategy of targeting both vector and parasite, undertaking active detection of cases and residual parasite carriers by screening populations irrespective of whether malaria symptoms were present.
Open Source

Netflix Finds x265 20% More Efficient Than VP9 (streamingmedia.com) 178

Reader StreamingEagle writes (edited): Netflix conducted a large-scale study comparing x264, x265 and libvpx (Google-owned VP9), under real-world conditions, and found that x265 encodes used 35.4% to 53.3% fewer bits than x264, and between 21.8% fewer bits than libvpx, when measured with Netflix's advanced VMAF assessment tool. This was the first large-scale study to use real-world encoder implementations, and a large sample size of high quality, professional content.A Netflix spokesperson explained why they did the test in the first place; "We wanted to understand the current state of the x265 and libvpx codec implementations when used to generate non-realtime encodes optimized for OTT use case. It was important to see how the codecs performed when testing on a diverse set of premium content from our catalog. This test can help us find areas of improvement for the different codecs."
Mars

NASA Announces New Mars Probe, While SpaceX Is Urged To Focus on Launches 84

NASA will land a new probe on Mars on November 26, 2018, "paving the way toward an ambitious journey to send humans to the Red Planet," according to one NASA official. The $828 million project will investigate how the planet was formed, NASA announced Friday, calling it "an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about the internal structure of the Red Planet."

Meanwhile, long-time Slashdot reader taiwanjohn shares an editorial published by Ars Technica the same day, titled "We love you SpaceX, and hope you reach Mars. But we need you to focus." Noting that SpaceX receives the majority of its funding from NASA, the site's senior space editor writes that the company's business model requires that they ultimately deliver a reusable launch system. "I understand SpaceX has a master plan -- the company wants to colonize Mars... But at some point you have to focus on the here and now, and that is the Falcon 9 rocket... if there is no Falcon 9, there is no business."
In a related story, Saturday NASA's history office shared a photograph from the Viking 2's landing on the surface of Mars -- which happened exactly 40 years ago.

Slashdot Top Deals