By msmash from Slashdot's law-of-the-land department
While the European Union has worked hard to strengthen its copyright laws in recent years, one country in the heart of the continent chooses its own path. Switzerland is not part of the EU, which means that its policies deviate quite a bit from its neighbors. According to Hollywood, that's not helping creators. From a report: Responding to recent submission to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has identified several foreign "trade barriers" around the world. In Hollywood's case, many of these are related to piracy. One of the countries that's highlighted, in rather harsh terms, is Switzerland. According to the MPAA, the country's copyright law is "wholly inadequate" which, among other things, makes it "extremely attractive" to host illegal sites. "Switzerland's copyright law is wholly inadequate, lacking crucial mechanisms needed for enforcement in the digital era," MPAA writes. [...] The European country has plans to update its laws, but the proposed changes are not significant improvements, Hollywood's trade group notes.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Your phone knows where you shop, where you work and where you sleep. Hedge funds are very interested in such data, so they are buying it. From a report: When Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said the car maker would work around the clock to boost production of its Model 3 sedan, the number crunchers at Thasos Group decided to watch. They circled Tesla's 370 acres in Fremont, Calif., on an online map, creating a digital corral to isolate smartphone location signals that emanated from within it. Thasos, which leases databases of trillions of geographic coordinates collected by smartphone apps, set its computers to find the pings created at Tesla's factory, then shared the data with its hedge-fund clients [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], showing the overnight shift swelled 30% from June to October.
Last month, many on Wall Street were surprised when Tesla disclosed a rare quarterly profit, the result of Model 3 production that had nearly doubled in three months. Shares shot up 9.1% the next day. Thasos is at the vanguard of companies trying to help traders get ahead of stock moves like that using so-called alternative data. Such suppliers might examine mine slag heaps from outer space, analyze credit-card spending data or sort through construction permits. Thasos's specialty is spewing out of your smartphone.
Thasos gets data from about 1,000 apps, many of which need to know a phone's location to be effective, like those providing weather forecasts, driving directions or the whereabouts of the nearest ATM. Smartphone users, wittingly or not, share their location when they use such apps. Before Thasos gets the data, suppliers scrub it of personally identifiable information, Mr. Skibiski said. It is just time-stamped strings of longitude and latitude. But with more than 100 million phones providing such coordinates, Thasos says it can paint detailed pictures of the ebb and flow of people, and thus their money.Read Replies (0)
When No One Retires
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '18 at 01:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's food-for-thought department
More and more Americans want to work longer -- or have to, given that many aren't saving adequately for retirement. From a report: Before our eyes, the world is undergoing a massive demographic transformation. In many countries, the population is getting old. Very old. Globally, the number of people age 60 and over is projected to double to more than 2 billion by 2050 and those 60 and over will outnumber children under the age of 5. In the United States, about 10,000 people turn 65 each day, and one in five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030. By 2035, Americans of retirement age will eclipse the number of people aged 18 and under for the first time in U.S. history.
[...] Soon, the workforce will include people from as many as five generations ranging in age from teenagers to 80-somethings. Are companies prepared? The short answer is "no." Aging will affect every aspect of business operations -- whether it's talent recruitment, the structure of compensation and benefits, the development of products and services, how innovation is unlocked, how offices and factories are designed, and even how work is structured -- but for some reason, the message just hasn't gotten through. In general, corporate leaders have yet to invest the time and resources necessary to fully grasp the unprecedented ways that aging will change the rules of the game.
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By msmash from Slashdot's unravelling-mysteries department
Paradoxically, the abundance of tight interactions among living species usually leads to disasters in ecological models. New analyses hint at how nature seemingly defies the math. Veronique Greenwood, writing for Quantamagazine: Behind the beautiful facade of a rainforest, a savanna or a placid lake is a world teeming with contests and partnerships. Species are competing for space, consuming one another for resources, taking advantage of one another's talents, and brokering trades of nutrients. But there's something funny about this picture. When ecologists try to model ecosystems using math, they tend to find that the more interactions there are among species, the more unstable the system. For a simple ecosystem model to be stable, all the interactions among its species must be in perfect harmony. Maintaining that balancing act gets much harder, however, as the number of coupled species and the strengths of their interactions rise: Any disturbance or imbalance for one couple ripples outward and sows chaos throughout the network.
Bring in mutualisms, relationships in which species contribute directly to each other's survival, and things can really fly off the handle. Pairs of organisms that live off each other sometimes do so well in the mathematical simulations -- thriving exponentially in extreme cases, in what Robert May, the theoretical ecology pioneer, once called "an orgy of mutual benefaction" -- that everything else can go extinct. It seems unlikely that real ecosystems are quite this flimsy. In a new paper in Nature Communications, a pair of theoretical ecologists at the University of Illinois explored more precisely how the give-and-take in mutualism affects ecosystem stability and how, under the right conditions, it might contribute to it. Their result joins previous work in suggesting how real-world communities manage to be more resilient than the models imply.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's greenback-boogie department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The ironic thing about the compressed state of air travel today is that planes are getting larger. The jet I was on, an Airbus A321, stretches nearly 23 feet longer than its predecessor, the A320. More space, more passengers, more profit. These bigger planes are increasingly the most common Âvariants -- both on American Airlines and across all carriers. The current Boeing 737s, the world's most flown craft, are all longer than the original by up to 45 feet. And yet, on the inside, we're getting squeezed. That's because more space doesn't equal more space in Airline World. It equals more seats -- and typically less room per person. In 2017, for example, word leaked that American was planning to add six economy spots to its A320s, nine to its A321s, and 12 (that's two rows) to its Boeing 737-800s. JetBlue is reportedly ramming 12 extras into its A320s, and Delta's will gain 10. And, come 2020, you'll likely find more seats on every United plane. In Airline World, they call this densification, which is a silly word. Passengers call it arrrgh! Consumer Reports recently polled 55,000 of its members about air travel. There were complaints about all aspects, from ticketing to agents checking carry-ons at the gate. But 30 percent of coach-class fliers rated their seats as outright uncomfortable, and every airline received extremely low scores on legroom and cushiness in economy. Clearly, things are dismal and seem to be getting even worse. They're so bad, in fact, that last year, nonprofit consumer-advocacy group FlyersRights.org filed a suit against the Federal Aviation Administration, after lobbying the agency to stop the squeeze and standardize seat sizes.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Smartphone data from riders and drivers schlepping meals for restaurant-to-home courier service Deliveroo shows that bicycles are faster than cars and motorized two-wheelers. From a news writeup, which sources its data from Deliveroo, a UK-headquartered food delivery company with more than 30,000 riders and drivers in 13 countries: That bicyclists are faster in cities will come as no surprise to bicycle advocates who have staged so-called "commuter races" for many years. However, these races -- organized to highlight the swiftness of urban cycling -- are usually staged in locations and at hours skewed towards bicycle riders. The Deliveroo stats are significant because they have been extracted from millions of actual journeys. And it's all thanks to Frank. Frank is the name Deliveroo gives its routing algorithm (the name was chosen for the Danny DeVito character in the TV series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.") Delivering millions of simultaneous orders from thousands of restaurants to hungry consumers within 30 minutes using roving self-employed couriers equipped with smartphones is a complex vehicle routing problem: consumers want piping hot food; restaurants want meals picked up when cooked; riders -- paid per drop -- want multiple deliveries per hour, and Deliveroo needs to make money. The algorithm team employs data scientists with PhDs in computer vision, computer science, operations research, cognitive neuroscience, econometrics, machine learning, and physics.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
You may be thinking: But sand is everywhere, there are whole deserts filled with the stuff. The sand in a desert, though, is useless as a construction material. The grains are out in the open and blow around for thousands of years. From a report: This rounds them off until they become useless as building blocks. Imagine trying to make a building with golf balls. In order to build, sand with angular edges must be used. The preferential type is the kind found in a river bed, sea, or beach. The fact that desert sand is useless makes for some unexpected situations. Despite being surrounded by endless miles of sand, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was built with sand imported from Australia. Dubai also imports sand for its beaches from Australia. Apparently desert sand doesn't do well in a beach atmosphere either. Sand also regenerates slowly. It takes thousands upon thousands of years for rock and sediment to break down into the usable grains we all rely on. The world has seen a construction boom in recent years. The base that boom is built on, quite literally, is concrete. The United Nations estimates that the world consumes more than 40 billion tons of building aggregate -- sand, gravel, and crushed stone -- each year. Some estimates predict consumption will top 50 billion tons by next year, with China alone gobbling up much of the world's concrete supply as it undergoes a massive urbanization. According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, between 2011 and 2013 China used more concrete than the U.S. used throughout the entire 20th century. Other parts of Asia, such as India, are rapidly expanding as well. The urbanization driving this construction boom, and increasing reliance on concrete, shows no signs of slowing. By 2030 the U.N. expects 60 percent of the world's population to live in urban areas. [...] One of the prime issues with sand is that it's heavy. Heavy items incur large transportation costs, especially over a long distance. The scarcity and high prices attract the attention of criminals. Why go to a legal mining area when sand can be extracted for next to nothing elsewhere? "Sand mafias" are groups of criminals that illegally dredge sand from areas where extraction is prohibited. Since they're not following laws, all environmental protocols are ignored. Often rivers are illegally mined, destroying the habitat for fish and fishermen. Sometimes land from private villages is even taken over by these mafias. If they're confronted, violence often results. And according to a 2015 Wired story on sand mafias in India, police are typically of little help: "The conventional wisdom says that many local authorities accept bribes from the sand miners to stay out of their business -- and not infrequently, are involved in the business themselves."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's social-media-vs-social-issues department
You can have a disaster-free Election Day in the social media age, writes New York Times columnist Kevin Roose, "but it turns out that it takes constant vigilance from law enforcement agencies, academic researchers and digital security experts for months on end."
It takes an ad hoc "war room" at Facebook headquarters with dozens of staff members working round-the-clock shifts. It takes hordes of journalists and fact checkers willing to police the service for false news stories and hoaxes so that they can be contained before spreading to millions. And even if you avoid major problems from bad actors domestically, you might still need to disclose, as Facebook did late Tuesday night, that you kicked off yet another group of what appeared to be Kremlin-linked trolls...
Most days, digging up large-scale misinformation on Facebook was as easy as finding baby photos or birthday greetings... Facebook was generally responsive to these problems after they were publicly called out. But its scale means that even people who work there are often in the dark... Other days, combing through Facebook falsehoods has felt like watching a nation poison itself in slow motion. A recent study by the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at the University of Oxford, found that 25 percent of all election-related content shared on Facebook and Twitter during the midterm election season could be classified as "junk news"...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's swiped department
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
New chip-enabled credit cards, which were rolled out to U.S. consumers starting in 2015, were supposed to put an end to rampant credit card fraud. So much for that. A new report from the research firm Gemini Advisory has found that, of more than 60 million cases of credit card theft in the last 12 months, a whopping 93% of the stolen cards had the new chip technology...
In theory, EMV should reduce fraud because every card transaction requires an encrypted connection between the chip card and the merchant's point-of-sale terminal... But while the EMV standard is supposed to ensure the card data cannot be captured, many merchants are failing to properly configure their systems, according to a Gemini Advisory executive who spoke with Fortune... The upshot is that criminals have been able to insert themselves into the transaction data steam, either by hacking into merchant networks or installing skimmer devices in order to capture card information... The report concludes by noting that big merchants have begun to tighten up their implementation of the EMV system, which will make them less of a target. Instead, criminals are likely to begin focusing on smaller businesses.
The report estimates that in just the last twelve months, 41.6 million records have been stolen from chip-enabled cards.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-see-you-are-trying-to-score department
An anonymous reader quotes Yahoo Finance:
The dating site eharmony is hoping to launch a chatbot to stop people from ghosting, or cutting off communication with potential matches, CEO Grant Langston exclusively tells Yahoo Finance. The would-be feature, which eharmony has yet to start development on, would pop up in the user interface after an online conversation with another user drops off after several days or weeks. The dating bot could analyze information on both users' dating profiles and recommend they reinitiate contact by prompting them to "Say something" or suggesting something more helpful... . "It's astounding really how many people need help. We think we can do that in an automated way..."
Langston acknowledges the business has a lot to troubleshoot with the feature before it eventually rolls it out, including addressing possible user concerns around user privacy. While having a feature like the date bot could hypothetically increase the odds of a user scoring that first date, it could also unnerve some other users wondering how their prospective suitor knew to ask about their favorite musician, movie or music to begin with. Such concerns could theoretically call for privacy options regulating what kind of profile information the bot can grab and serve up as an icebreaker. The dating site could also decide to generally reign in what the dating bot suggests based on user testing. "Just because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should do," adds Langston.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pulling-the-levers department
"Despite probing and trolling, a Russian cyberattack is the dog that did not bark in Tuesday's midterm elections," writes national security columnist Eli Lake.
This is the assessment of the Department of Homeland Security, which says there were no signs of a coordinated campaign to disrupt U.S. voting. This welcome news raises a relevant and important question: Were cyber adversaries actually deterred from infiltrating voter databases and changing election results...?
In September the White House unveiled a new policy aimed at deterring Russia, China, Iran and North Korea from hacking U.S. computer networks in general and the midterms in particular. National security adviser John Bolton acknowledged as much last week when he said the U.S. government was undertaking "offensive cyber operations" aimed at "defending the integrity of our electoral process." There aren't many details. Reportedly this entailed sending texts, pop-ups, emails and direct messages warning Russian trolls and military hackers not to disrupt the midterms. U.S. officials tell me much more is going on that remains classified. It is part of a new approach from the Trump administration that purports to unleash U.S. Cyber Command to hack the hackers back, to fight them in their networks as opposed to America's.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's learning-to-add department
"A Chinese headmaster has been fired after a secret stack of crypto-currency mining machines was found connected to his school's electricity supply," writes the BBC. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Teachers at the school in Hunan became suspicious of a whirring noise that continued day and night, local media report. This led to the discovery of the machines, which were mining the crypto-currency Ethereum. They racked up an electricity bill of 14,700 yuan [£1,600, or about $2,100]...
The headmaster had originally spent 10,000 yuan on a single machine for use at home, but allegedly decided to move it to the school after he saw how much electricity it consumed... A total of eight mining machines were installed in the Hunan school's computer room between summer 2017 and summer 2018... The deputy headmaster also became involved in the scheme and allegedly acquired a ninth machine for himself in January, which was also installed at the school. The computer network in the building became overloaded as a result of the mining activity, according to reports, and this "interfered" with teaching.
All the money earned through the mining operation has now been claimed by the local official responsible for "discipline inspection."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's adventurous-capital department
An anonymous reader quotes the Bay Area Newsgroup:
A former Tesla global supply manager was indicted Thursday by federal prosecutors alleging he embezzled more than $9 million from the Palo Alto electric car maker. Salil Parulekar, 32, is charged with felony wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Parulekar oversaw Tesla's dealings with certain auto parts and services vendors, and used that position to divert to a German auto parts company $9.3 million in payments intended for a Taiwanese supplier, according to the indictment. ... Parulekar, who was living in San Jose and working for Tesla in 2016 and 2017, falsified invoices, created fake accounts-payable documents, and impersonated an employee of the Taiwanese supplier to trick Tesla's accounts-payable department into switching the bank account information of the Taiwanese and German companies, the indictment alleged.
That Taiwanese firm's complaints to Tesla about missing money went to Parulekar, who responded by sending fake documents purporting to show the payments were made, the indictment claimed.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's charging-ahead department
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Volkswagen intends to sell electric cars for less than 20,000 euros ($22,836) and protect German jobs by converting three factories to make Tesla rivals, a source familiar with the plans said... Plans for VW's electric car, known as "MEB entry" and with a production volume of 200,000 vehicles, are due to be discussed at a supervisory board meeting on Nov. 16, the source said... The November 16 strategy meeting will discuss Volkswagen's transformation plan to shift from being Europe's largest maker of combustion engine vehicles into a mass producer of electric cars, another source familiar with the deliberations said.
VW's strategy shift comes as cities start to ban diesel engine vehicles, forcing carmakers to think of new ways to safeguard 600,000 German industrial jobs, of which 436,000 are at car companies and their suppliers.... The shift from combustion engines to electric cars would also cost 14,000 jobs at VW by 2020 as it takes less time to build an electric car than a conventional one and because jobs will shift overseas to battery manufacturers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's un-friending department
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
Facebook is the least trustworthy of all major tech companies when it comes to safeguarding user data, according to a new national poll conducted for Fortune, highlighting the major challenges the company faces following a series of recent privacy blunders. Only 22% of Americans said that they trust Facebook with their personal information, far less than Amazon (49%), Google (41%), Microsoft (40%), and Apple (39%)....
In question after question, respondents ranked the company last in terms of leadership, ethics, trust, and image... Public mistrust extended to Zuckerberg, Facebook's public face during its privacy crisis and who once said that Facebook has "a responsibility to protect your information, If we can't, we don't deserve it." The company subsequently fell victim to a hack but continued operating as usual, including debuting a video-conferencing device intended to be used in people's living rooms or kitchens and that further extends Facebook's reach into more areas outside of personal computers and smartphones. Only 59% of respondents said they were "at least somewhat confident" in Zuckerberg's leadership in the ethical use of data and privacy information, ranking him last among four other tech CEOS...
As for Facebook, the social networking giant may have a difficult time regaining public trust because of its repeated problems. Consumers are more likely to forgive a company if they believe a problem was an aberration rather than a systemic failure by its leadership, Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said.
The article concludes that "For now, the public isn't in a forgiving mood when it comes to Facebook and Zuckerberg."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's lost-in-space department
Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor writes: A paper published on Arxiv last week reports on a project to redetermine the "orbits of long period comets... We recently attempted to check, whether the assumption of a parabolic orbit for hundreds of comets discovered after 1950 is fully justified in all cases." The full work by Królikowska & Dybczynski remains in preparation (which is perfectly normal), but this intriguing result deserved early attention. During this research we found an interesting case of the comet C/2014 W10 PANSTARRS. (that's the 10th reported comet in fortnight W of year 2014, source : the PANSTARRS team)
After discovery on 2014-11-25, fourteen observations were made over three days, giving a first-estimate orbit with an eccentricity of 0.6039453. So far, so boring — as the temporary designation suggests, these get found on most days. But that orbit is subject to uncertainty so some more measurements were made on 2014-12-22 from a different observatory. When all of the data is considered, it becomes impossible to clearly assign an orbit to this object (this is possible if, for example, there is a fragmentation of the object between observations), but many of the solutions which can be obtained have a hyperbolic orbit — that is, the object is extra-solar.
If correct, this "post-covery" would double the size of the catalogue of interstellar objects known.
Unfortunately, the quality of the original data remains poor — estimates of the orbital eccentricity vary between 1.22 and 1.65 — which is in contrast to the prompt recognition and intense observation campaign for 'Oumuamua. The report's main conclusion is that Our main purpose is to show that similar cases should be treated in future with greater care by more reliable preliminary orbit determination and alerting observers about the importance of the object to initiate more follow-up observations. Which is exactly what happened with 'Oumuamua.Read Replies (0)