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Bitcoin

Venezuelan Developers Are Using Bitcoin, Rare Pepe Trading Cards To Fight Against a Dismal Economy (cryptoinsider.com) 86

According to Crypto Insider, Venezuelan developers have been selling "rare pepes" -- trading cards that contain unique illustrations and photoshops of the character Pepe the Frog. While the trading cards started out as nothing more than a joke, many of them have been traded for thousands of dollars on the Counterparty platform, which is built on top of Bitcoin, and have provided a way for many developers to sustain themselves in Venezuela's poor economy. From the report: The basic idea behind the issuance of rare pepes on top of the Counterparty platform is that it enables scarcity in a digital world. Each rare pepe card is linked to a little bit of bitcoin through a practice known as coin coloring. Whoever owns the private keys associated with the address where the bitcoins that represent a specific rare pepe card is located is the one who owns that particular trading card. Now, a group of developers in Venezuela are building games similar to Hearthstone and Pokemon where the rare pepe trading cards will play an integral role. If you go to rarepepe.party right now, you're mainly presented with a video of what the first game based on the Rare Pepe digital trading cards will look like. The concept is similar to Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering where players essentially do battle with their opponents via characters on trading cards, which have specific stats and features. In this case, the characters are various rare pepes. With many rare pepes already released (you can view them in the official rare pepe directory), the developers behind Rare Pepe Party are attempting to provide a use case for these new trading cards. While some rare pepe cards already have stats on them, the developer who chatted with Crypto Insider says those stats may not mean much when it's time to play the game. While rare pepes are nothing more than fun and games for much of the developed world, they're a matter of survival in Venezuela. "We're based in Venezuela, and our business has been saved by bitcoin many times," said the developer. The developer claims roughly 80 percent of the offices around the area where Rare Pepe Party is being developed have shut down over the past year. The biggest businesses on their street have also dropped as much as 90 percent of their employees.
Stats

America's Most Affordable Cities For Tech Workers: Seattle, Austin, and Pittsburgh (prnewswire.com) 126

"Seattle tech workers who own their homes can expect to have about $2,000 more in disposable income each month than tech workers in the Bay Area," according to a new study from LinkedIn and Zillow. An anonymous reader writes: "For technology workers who rent, Seattle, Austin and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania came out on top among the housing markets analyzed, with the Bay Area at #4..." the two companies reported. "Salaries for other industries don't hold up as well in the San Francisco area, though. Even highly-paid finance workers keep only about 32 percent of their incomes after paying for housing and taxes. In Charlotte or Chicago, they can pocket a median of 61 percent."

The Bay Area's high housing prices are apparently offset by the high salaries paid there to tech workers, according to the study. Even so, both home owners and renters pay roughly half the median income for housing on the west coast, "while a rental in the middle of the country costs more like 25 percent of the median income."

The report also identified the best cities for health workers -- Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Boston -- as well as for finance workers, who do best in Charlotte, Chicago and Dallas. The top 15 cities for tech workers also included those same cities except Chicago and Phoenix, while also including known tech hotspots like Denver, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. But surprisingly the top 15 best cities for tech workers also included Detroit, Nashville, St. Paul (Minnesota) and Tampa, Florida.
Television

Streaming TV Sites Now Have More Subscribers Than Cable TV (axios.com) 47

Nielsen reported this week that millennials "spend about 27% less time watching traditional TV than viewers over the age of 35," possibly threatening the dominance of cable TV. An anonymous reader quotes Axios: Streaming service subscribers (free or paid) increased again (68% in 2016 vs. 63% in 2014) and have caught up with the percentage of paid TV service providers (67%) for the first time ever, according to the Consumer Technology Association's new study, The Changing Landscape for Video and Content. The rise of streaming services represents a shift in consumption habits towards cord-cutting, primarily amongst millennials.
Some other trends are impossible to ignore. 2016 also saw a saw dramatic drops in the use of physical disks -- from 41% in 2015 to just 28% -- as well as another big drop in the use of antennas, from 18% to just 10%.
Microsoft

94% of Microsoft Vulnerabilities Can Be Mitigated By Turning Off Admin Rights (computerworld.com) 238

An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: If you want to shut out the overwhelming majority of vulnerabilities in Microsoft products, turn off admin rights on the PC. That's the conclusion from global endpoint security firm Avecto, which has issued its annual Microsoft Vulnerabilities report. It found that there were 530 Microsoft vulnerabilities reported in 2016, and of these critical vulnerabilities, 94% were found to be mitigated by removing admin rights, up from 85% reported last year. This is especially true with the browser, for those who still use Microsoft's browsers. 100% of vulnerabilities impacting both Internet Explorer and Edge could be mitigated by removing admin rights, Avecto reported... Windows 10 was found to have the highest proportion of vulnerabilities of any OS (395), 46% more than Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (265 each). Avecto found that 93% of Windows 10 vulnerabilities could be mitigated by removing admin rights.
Of course, the stats are based on vulnerabilities announced in Microsoft Security Bulletins, but there's an overwhelming pattern. Turning off admin rights mitigated the vast majority of vulnerabilities, whether it was Windows Server (90%) or older versions of Microsoft Office (99%). And turning off admin rights in Office 2016 mitigated 100% of its vulnerabilities.
Wikipedia

34 'Highly Toxic Users' Wrote 9% of the Personal Attacks On Wikipedia (bleepingcomputer.com) 174

Researchers used machine learning to analyze every single comment left on Wikipedia in 2015. An anonymous reader shares their results: 34 "highly toxic users" were responsible for 9% of all the personal attacks in the comments on Wikipedia, according to a research team from Alphabet's Jigsaw and the Wikimedia Foundation. They concluded that "significant progress could be made by moderating a relatively small number of frequent attackers." But at the same time, in Wikipedia's comments "less than half of attacks come from users with little prior participation; and perhaps surprisingly, approximately 30% of attacks come from registered users with over a 100 contributions. These results suggest the problems associated with personal attacks do not have an easy solution... the majority of personal attacks on Wikipedia are not the result of a few malicious users, nor primarily the consequence of allowing anonymous contributions."

The researchers "developed a machine learning algorithm that was able to identify and distinguish different forms of online abuse and personal attacks," reports Bleeping Computer, adding that the team "hopes that Wikipedia uses their study to build a comments monitoring dashboard that could track down hotspots of abusive personal attacks and help moderators ban or block toxic users." The paper describes it as a method "that combines crowdsourcing and machine learning to analyze personal attacks at scale."

Open Source

LinuxQuestions Users Choose Their Favorite Distro: Slackware (zdnet.com) 145

ZDNet summarizes some of the surprises in this year's poll on LinuxQuestions, "one of the largest Linux groups with 550,000 member". An anonymous reader quotes their report: The winner for the most popular desktop distribution? Slackware...! Yes, one of the oldest of Linux distributions won with just over 16% of the vote. If that sounds a little odd, it is. On DistroWatch, a site that covers Linux distributions like paint, the top Linux desktop distros are Mint, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Manjaro. Slackware comes in 28th place... With more than double the votes for any category, it appears there was vote-stuffing by Slackware fans... The mobile operating system race was a runaway for Android, with over 68% of the vote. Second place went to CyanogenMod, an Android clone, which recently went out of business...

Linux users love to debate about desktop environments. KDE Plasma Desktop took first by a hair's breadth over the popular lightweight Xfce desktop. Other well-regarded desktop environments, such as Cinnamon and MATE, got surprisingly few votes. The once popular GNOME still hasn't recovered from the blowback from its disliked design change from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3.

Firefox may struggle as a web browser in the larger world, but on Linux it's still popular. Firefox took first place with 51.7 percent of the vote. Chrome came in a distant second place, with the rest of the vote being divided between a multitude of obscure browsers.

LibreOffice won a whopping 89.6% of the vote for "best office suite" -- and Vim beat Emacs.
Education

Pioneering Data Genius Hans Rosling Passes Away At Age 68 (bbc.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: On Tuesday, Sweden's prime minister tweeted that Hans Rosling "made human progress across our world come alive for millions," and the public educator will probably best be remembered as the man who could condense 200 years of global history into four minutes. He was a geek's geek, a former professor of global health who "dropped out" because he wanted to help start a nonprofit about data. Specifically, it urged data-based decisions for global development policy, and the Gapminder foundation created the massive Trendalyzer tool which let users build their own data visualizations. Eventually they handed off the tool to Google who used it with open-source scientific datasets. The BBC describes Rosling as a "public educator" with a belief that facts "could correct 'global ignorance' about the reality of the world, which 'has never been less bad.'" Rosling's TED talks include "The Best Data You've Never Seen" and "How Not To Be Ignorant About The World," and in 2015 he also gave a talk titled "How to Beat Ebola." Hans Rosling died Tuesday at age 68.
Security

Which US Cities Have The Worst Malware Infection Rates? (techrepublic.com) 52

A new report from Enigma Software Group identifies the American cities with abnormally high infection rates for malware. An anonymous reader quotes TechRepublic: In 2016, Tampa, Orlando, and St. Louis each had malware infection rates per capita more than five times the national average -- the highest in the U.S., the report found. Those same three cities were also at the top of the list of highest infection rates in 2015... ESG compiled malware detection data from its SpyHunter anti-spyware software in the 100 largest cities in the US in all of 2016.
Two Ohio cities also made it into the top ten for malware infection rates -- Cleveland and Cincinnati -- as well as Washington D.C. (with an infection rate 242% higher than the national average). But the infection rates drop noticeably after the top 10, with Miami (at #14) the last city with an infection rate more than double the national average. Interestingly, the top 35 cities include major high-tech centers like Seattle, Austin, Boston, and San Jose.
Stats

Massive Study Links IP Addresses Per Capita To GDP (itnews.com.au) 64

Three researchers "decided to scan the entire IPv4 address range every 15 minutes between 2006-2012 to work out what insights they could gain from humanity's mass connection to the internet," reports ITnews. The study...analysed data from 411 large regions from middle to high-income countries and found a positive correlation between GDP per capita and the number of IP addresses per head. A 10% increase in IP addresses per capita was associated with an 0.8% hike in GDP, the analysis found. The researchers cautioned that the output and productivity growth they noted when the number of IP address increased was correlation rather than causation. Service-oriented sectors -- such as publishing, news, film production, administrative support, and education -- appear to have suffered a negative effect from increasing internet penetration [PDF]. The researchers believe these sectors were susceptible to competition from cheaper outsourcing providers.
Slashdot Bismillah pointed out that the researchers also measured sleeping patterns over seven years, assuming IP addresses of internet-connected devices generally correlated to people who were awake. According to the article, "They found that sleep patterns may be changing and converging around the world: Europeans slept less, East Asians more, while Americans' sleeping patterns remained static over the seven-year period."
Social Networks

Kaspersky Lab Promises New Backup Tool To Help Unhappy Social Media Users Quit (kaspersky.com) 54

Kaspersky Lab surveyed 16,750 people and concluded that often negative experiences on social experience overpower their positive effects -- and they're doing something about it. JustAnotherOldGuy pointed us to their latest announcement. 59% have felt unhappy when they have seen friends' posts from a party they were not invited to, and 45% revealed that their friends' happy holiday pictures have had a negative influence on them. Furthermore, 37% also admitted that looking at past happy posts of their own can leave them with the feeling that their own past was better than their present life. Previous research has also demonstrated peoples' frustration with social media as 78% admitted that they have considered leaving social networks altogether. The only thing that makes people stay on social media is the fear of losing their digital memories, such as photos, and contacts with their friends.

To help people decide more freely if they want to stay in social media or leave without losing their digital memories, Kaspersky Lab is developing a new app -- FFForget will allow people to back up all of their memories from the social networks they use and keep them in a safe, encrypted memory container and will give people the freedom to leave any network whenever they want, without losing what belongs to them -- their digital lives.

The FFForget app will be released in 2017, but there's already a web page where you can sign up for early access. Kaspersky plans to monetize this by creating both a free version of the app -- limited to one social network -- and a $1.99-per-month version which automatically backs up social content from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram in real-time with a fancier interface and more powerful encryption.
Stats

Peter Thiel Thinks There's Not Enough Sex In Silicon Valley (businessinsider.com) 283

Peter Thiel recently complained parts of Silicon Valley are "hyper-politically correct" about sexual activity, and shared a friend's theory that conservative parts of America tolerate Silicon Valley "because people there just don't have that much sex. They're not having that much fun." Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes Business Insider's investigation into Thiel's claim. Silicon Valley has the highest ratio of single men to single women... (However, it's worth noting that the San Francisco metropolitan area also has the highest ratio of people who identify as LGBT in the U.S.) In fact, Dr. Sandra Lindholm, a sex therapist and clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, recently told Forbes that she's now seeing an uptick in young, male clients who complain about a variety of sexual challenges and issues. "They're coming to sex therapy because they don't feel they have time or energy for sex," Lindhold said.

Some of the common issues include low sexual desire, difficulty meeting women, and performance issues. Plus, she points out people in tech generally have a reputation for being introverted. Another particular issue that frequently comes up is what she calls "tech overload": people spend so much time on their gadgets that they "forget about being in the moment." Although there's no official data on Silicon Valley's sex frequency, a 2012 survey by condom maker Trojan revealed that Bay Area residents had the least amount of sex and the shortest time in bed, in a sample of 10 major US cities including New York, Chicago, Miami, and so on.

United States

Solar Energy Now Employs More Americans Than Oil, Coal and Gas Combined (computerworld.com) 364

Solar energy now accounts for 43% of the workers in the U.S. power-generating industry, surpassing the 22% from all workers in the coal, oil, and gas industries combined, according to new figures from the Department of Energy. Slashdot reader Lucas123 writes: In 2016, the solar workforce in the U.S. increased by 25% to 374,000 employees, compared to 187,117 electrical generation jobs in the coal, gas and oil industries... [N]et power generation from coal sources declined by 53% between 2006 and September 2016; electricity generation from natural gas increased by 33%; and solar grew by over 5,000% -- from 508,000 megawatt hours (MWh) to just over 28 million MWh.
Solar industry created jobs at a rate 20 times faster than the national average, according to the Energy Department, while 102,000 more workers also joined the wind turbine industry last year, a 32% increase. In fact, 93% of the new power in America is now coming from solar, natural gas, and wind -- but it's building out new solar-generating capacity that's causing much of the workforce increases, according to the Energy Department. "The majority of U.S. electrical generation continues to come from fossil fuels," their report points out, adding that the latest projections show that will still be true in the year 2040.
Mozilla

Mozilla Releases New Open Source 'Internet Health Report' (venturebeat.com) 69

Slashdot reader Krystalo shared this VentureBeat article: Fresh off its brand redesign, Mozilla has released The Internet Health Report, an open-source initiative to document the state of the internet, combining research and reporting from multiple sources... Mozilla's goal is to start a constructive discussion about the health of the internet by exploring what is currently healthy and unhealthy, as well as what lies ahead...

One notable statistic is the number of people who can't get online in the first place. The report shows that 57.8% of the world's population cannot afford broadband internet, and 39.5% cannot afford an internet connection on their mobile device. Other findings include the fact that there were 51 intentional internet shutdowns across 18 countries in the first 10 months of 2016; almost one-third of the world's population has no data protection rights; and 52% of all websites are in English, even though only 25% of the global population understands the language.

They're now gathering feedback and choosing which metrics to revisit every year, but five key topics include "decentralization: who controls the internet" and "open innovation: how open is it?" as well as security, web literacy, and digital inclusion. But Mozilla says their ultimate goal is very simple: to identify what's helping -- and what's hurting -- the internet.
AI

Newest Tesla Autopilot Data Shows A 40% Drop in Crashes (bloomberg.com) 167

There's a surprise in the data from an investigation into Tesla safety by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: [W]hile all Tesla vehicles come with the hardware necessary for Autopilot, you need a software upgrade that costs thousands of dollars to make it work. Since buyers can add Autopilot features after purchase, this provides a perfect before-and-after comparison. It turns out that, according to the data Tesla gave investigators, installing Autopilot prevents crashes -- by an astonishing 40 percent...

Now -- thanks to an investigation that initially hurt the company -- there is finally some real data, and it's good news for Tesla... As the software matures to match the new hardware, Musk said on Thursday via a Tweet, Tesla is targeting a 90 percent reduction in car crashes.

Programming

Is The C Programming Language Declining In Popularity? (dice.com) 286

An anonymous reader writes: Java overtook C as the most popular language in mid-2015 on the TIOBE Programming Community index. But now over the last 13 months, they show C's popularity consistently dropping more and more. C's score had hovered between 15% and 20% for over 15 years but as 2016 ended, the language's popularity is now down to 8.7%. "There is no clear way back to the top," reports the site, asking what happened to C? "It is not a language that you think of while writing programs for popular fields such as mobile apps or websites, it is not evolving that much and there is no big company promoting the language."

But the Insights blog at Dice.com counters that TIOBE "has hammered on C for quite some time. Earlier this year, it again emphasized how C is 'hardly suitable for the booming fields of web and mobile app development.' That being said, job postings on Dice (as well as rankings compiled by other organizations) suggest there's still widespread demand for C, which can be used in everything from operating systems to data-intensive applications, and serves many programmers well as an intermediate language."

i-programmer suggests this could just be an artifact of the way TIOBE calculates language popularity (by totaling search engine queries). Noting that Assembly language rose into TIOBE's top 10 this year, their editor wrote, "Perhaps it is something to do with the poor state of assembly language documentation that spurs on increasingly desperate searches for more information." Maybe C programmers are just referring to their K&R book instead of searching for solutions online?
Operating Systems

Apple Could Finally Sell More Devices Than Microsoft In 2017 (computerworld.com) 98

Gartner predicts Apple will ship more iOS and macOS devices in 2017 than Windows-powered devices "for the first time this century," and then increase their lead over the next two years. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: Gartner predicted that iOS + macOS, unlike Windows, will recover in 2017. Apple's OSes will climb 8% to 268 million this year, add 3% in 2018 to reach 276 million, then increase another 3% in 2019, with that year's device shipment forecast at 285 million. Windows will dip this year, then stagnate for the following two years... The gap between Microsoft and Apple -- 12 million last year, with Microsoft atop -- will widen to 27 million by 2019, advantage Apple.

"The global devices market is stagnating," said Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal in a statement Wednesday. Mobile phone shipments are growing only in emerging markets in the Asia and Pacific markets, Atwal added, and noted that "The PC market is just reaching the bottom of its decline." The PC industry's troubles have affected Microsoft most of all; Windows is almost entirely dependent on PC shipments, which have been stuck in a protracted slump. Future shipments were further hit when Microsoft walked away from the smartphone business last year.

The article also points out that even in 2016, Windows devices came in second, and "accounted for approximately 11.2% of the total devices, which overwhelmingly ran Google's Android."
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Was 2016's Best-Performing Currency (newsweek.com) 104

The co-founder of Blockchain published an opinion piece in Newsweek today mocking predictions about the death of bitcoin, saying "each is more wrong than the last... Bitcoin was again declared the world's best performing currency in 2016 by Bloomberg. In fact, it's held that title every year since 2010, with the notable exception of 2014, when it was the worst." An anonymous reader writes: Bitcoin president Nicolas Cary writes that bitcoin has become more stable than many of the world's top currencies, while the British pound "has dropped by more than 17% in a colossal collapse of confidence... In Africa, the Egyptian pound dropped 59% and the Nigerian naira fell 37%. In South America, the Argentine peso plummeted over 17% and the Venezuelan bolivar tumbled so far off a cliff it's difficult to measure -- even bricks of cash are worthless for everyday purchases there. Perhaps most dramatically of all, India, the world's second most populated country, introduced a stunning policy of demonetization declaring banknotes illegal overnight...

"During this time period, and partially in response to it, the price of bitcoin surged... Bitcoin also trounced the stock market from a performance perspective. Brand names like McDonald's, Home Depot and Disney grew at a paltry 1.6% or less; bitcoin outpaced them by over 70 times."

In 2009 one man in Norway bought $27 worth of bitcoin while writing a thesis on encryption, then forgot about them. Six years later, he discovered they were worth nearly $500,000.
Businesses

Apple's Share of PC Users Drops To A Five-Year Low (infoworld.com) 228

Windows 10 is installed on 24.5% of devices -- but that's only half the story. "Apple's Mac share of personal computers worldwide fell to a five-year low in December," reports Computerworld, adding that Linux and Windows "both benefited, with increases of around a half percentage point during 2016." An anonymous reader quotes their report: According to web analytics vendor Net Applications, Apple's desktop and notebook operating system -- formerly OS X, now macOS -- powered just 6.1% of all personal computers last month, down from 7% a year ago and a peak of 9.6% as recently as April 2016... The Mac's 6.1% user share in December was the lowest mark recorded by Net Applications since August 2011, more than five years ago... In October, the company reported sales of 4.9 million Macs for the September quarter, a 14% year-over-year decline and the fourth straight quarterly downturn. Apple's sales slide during the past 12 months has been steeper than for the personal computer industry as a whole, according to industry researchers from IDC and Gartner, a 180-degree shift from the prior 30 or so quarters, when the Mac's growth rate repeatedly beat the business average.
Apple's success through 2016 was "fueled by Microsoft's stumbles with Windows 8 and a race-to-the-bottom mentality among rival OEMs," according to the article, which also notes that the user share for Linux exceeded 2% in June, and reached 2.3% by November.
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Announces Their Most Viewed Articles Of 2016 (wikipedia.org) 65

Slashdot reader westand writes, "Wikipedia's 5000 most-visited articles of 2016 have been released, and Donald Trump leads the pack." (Though the site's second-most popular article was about a porn site.) The top 5000 pages account for 21.6 billion views, with 42% of those being mobile traffic... After artificial traffic is discounted, election and celebrity deaths feature prominently.
Wikipedia's article about the U.S. presidential election of 2016 also came in at #11, while their articles about Melania Trump and Hillary Clinton came in at #16 and #19, respectively. Other top-20 articles covered deaths in 2016, as well as "Prince (musician)" and David Bowie, with four more articles that covered 2016 superhero movies also reaching the top 20. (Along with "List of Bollywood films of 2016".) The eighth most-popular article was about web scraping, while Wikipedia's 404.php page was actually more popular than any article on the site.

The original submission also points out that 323 million views were covered by The Wikipedia Zero project, in which mobile operators in the Global South ""'zero-rate' access to Wikimedia sites in their billing system, so their subscribers will not incur data charges while accessing Wikipedia and the sister projects on the mobile web or apps." And Wikipedia adds that their list is generated by Andrew G. West, a senior research scientist at Verisign Labs who "is particularly interested in academic collaboration regarding this English Wikipedia dataset."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

2016 Saw A Massive Increase In Encrypted Web Traffic (eff.org) 91

EFF's "Deeplinks" blog has published nearly two dozen "2016 in Review" posts over the last nine days, one of which applauds 2016 as "a great year for adoption of HTTPS encryption for secure connections to websites." An anonymous reader writes: In 2016 most pages viewed on the web were encrypted. And over 21 million web sites obtained security certificates -- often for the first time -- through Let's Encrypt. But "a sizeable part of the growth in HTTPS came from very large hosting providers that decided to make HTTPS a default for sites that they host, including OVH, Wordpress.com, Shopify, Tumblr, Squarespace, and many others," EFF writes. Other factors included the support of Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 by Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
Other "2016 in Review" posts from EFF include Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet and DRM vs. Civil Liberties. Click through for a complete list of all EFF "2016 in Review" posts.

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