Month: August 2016

These Are the Four Stages of Your Brain on Math

by Jennifer Ouellette   Image: Carnegie Mellon University Have you ever wondered what your brain is really doing as you sweat your way through a math test? Now you can see for yourself, thanks to a new brain imaging study from Carnegie Mellon University that captured the brain activity of people in the act of solving math problems. As described in a paper in Psychological Science, the researchers did it by combining two different brain imaging techniques. One captured moments of neurons firing, while the other followed the neural firing patterns over time to reveal the shifting of mental states. “How students were solving these kinds of problems was a total mystery to us until we applied these techniques,” lead author John Anderson said in a statement. “Now, when students are sitting there thinking hard, we can tell what they are thinking each second.” The study was carefully tailored to show that the results mapped onto genuine stages of cognition. As Benedict Carey writes in The New York Times: To capture these quicksilver mental operations, the team first taught 80 men and women how to interpret a set of math symbols and equations they had not seen before. The underlying math itself wasn’t difficult, mostly addition and subtraction, but manipulating the newly learned symbols required some thinking. The research team could vary the problems to burden specific stages of...

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Reviewing Microsoft’s Automatic Insertion of Telemetry into C++ Binaries

by Jeff Martin   Recently Reddit user “sammiesdog” posted claims that Visual Studio’s C++ compiler was automatically adding function calls to Microsoft’s telemetry services.  The screenshot accompanying their post showed how a simple 5 line CPP file produced an assembly language file that included a function call titled  “telemetry_main_invoke_trigger”. The ensuing discussion then revolved around how to disable this unannounced “feature” while also speculating its purpose.  “sammiesdog” noted that this appears in release builds, while user “ssylvan” also indicated that it appeared in debug builds too.  The telemetry function is intended to communicate with ETW.  User “xon-xoff” explains their concerns in a posting to a related thread: You are correct, ETW by itself just logs events. That in itself is not a problem. Here are the problems: ETW can and is sometimes used as part of solutions for remote telemetry. These events are coming from the program itself whenever the CRT is statically linked into the program. It’s called telemetry. While conducting research for this article, this author was able to view the telemetry function calls reported by “sammiesdog” using the following CPP code when compiled under Visual Studio 2015 Update 2: #include "stdafx.h"#include <iostream> int main() {    return 0; } telemetry_main_invoke_trigger was found in both Debug and Release builds when the project was compiled under both Windows 7 and Windows 10. The ensuing controversy and conversation about the...

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