By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Independence-Day department
An anonymous reader writes:
As America headed into its "Independence Day weekend," the U.S. Congress passed -- and President Obama signed -- the "FOIA Improvements Act of 2016". It now establishes a "presumption of disclosure" by law, and will even allow the disclosure of "deliberative process" records after 25 years, meaning those records from the Reagan (and prior) administrations should now become open, according to the Washington Post. In addition, the law also creates a comprehensive new "online request portal" for requesting records from all agencies, and even requires those agencies to make digital copies available for any records requested three or more times.
"By updating FOIA for the digital age, our law puts more government information than ever before online in a format familiar and accessible to the American people," said Senator Leahy, who sponsored the legislation. On the 50th anniversary of America's original Freedom of Information Act, Leahy added that "a government of, by, and for the people cannot be one that is hidden from them... "
It's the law's 50th anniversary, and Leahy imagined a world 50 years in the future, when the next generation "will look back at this moment and gauge our commitment to the founding principles of our democracy. Let them see that we continued striving for a 'more perfect union' by strengthening the pillar of transparency that holds our government accountable to "We the People.' "Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's American-evolution department
CRBE has released their annual list of the top tech cities in the U.S., analyzing 13 metrics (including salaries and housing costs) to "gauge the competitive advantage of markets and their ability to attract, grow and retain tech-talent pools." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Geekwire:
Seattle is the third best tech market in North America, trailing only the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington D.C.... Seattle passed New York for third this year on the back of a growing, well-paid and well-educated class of tech employees and a strong roster of big companies...with New York and Austin rounding out the top five.
The report shows a big divide in Seattle between a prosperous tech community and everyone else. Tech workers in Seattle make $110,999 on average, and their wages have increased close to 20 percent since 2010... The 177,380 people who work in other professional fields like finance, sales and marketing make an average of $57,603 per year and their wages have only increased 6.3 percent since 2010. During that same time period, apartment rents increased 39 percent to an average of $1,619 a month.
San Francisco had the highest annual salary for tech workers -- $123,921 -- followed by Seattle, which also had the highest percentage of workers with at least a bachelor's degree -- 59%. And there's also an interesting second list of the top small tech markets, which is led by Columbus, Ohio followed by Charlotte, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sound-advice department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Fortune:
Rdio goes bankrupt, Pandora hangs out a 'For Sale' sign and then gets rid of its CEO, artists and labels ramp up their criticism of YouTube. Now we have Tidal in acquisition talks with Apple, while Spotify complains about Apple treating it unfairly... the digital music business is becoming an industry in which only a truly massive company with huge scale and deep pockets can hope to compete... Rdio went bankrupt last year in large part because it couldn't afford to make the licensing payments the record industry requires of streaming services. Deezer, a European service, postponed a planned initial public offering partly because its business is financially shaky for the same reason... [Rhapsody] is still racking up massive losses... Spotify has found it almost impossible to make money, primarily because of onerous licensing payments...
[A]ll the available evidence seems to show that the digital-music business, at least the way it is currently structured, simply isn't economic. The only way for anyone to even come close to making it work is to make it part of a much larger company, like Apple or Amazon or Google. That way they can absorb the losses, they have the heft to negotiate with the record industry, and they can find synergies with their other businesses. In other words, music as a standalone business appears to be dead, or at least on life support.
The article links to an essay by a former eMusic CEO arguing high royalty rates make it impossible to have a profitable business, and the music industry "buried more than 150 startups -- now they are left to dance with the giants."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's IT-ESP department
"Okay, as of last night, who were the people who were most disgruntled...? Show me the top 10." An anonymous Slashdot reader shares their report on a fascinating Fortune magazine article:
"One company says it can spot 'insider threats' before they happen -- by reading all your workers' email." Working with a former CIA consultant, Stroz Friedberg developed a software that "combs through an organization's emails and text messages -- millions a day, the company says -- looking for high usage of words and phrases that language psychologists associate with certain mental states and personality profiles...
"Many companies already have the ability to run keyword searches of employees' emails, looking for worrisome words and phrases like 'embezzle' and 'I loathe this job'. But the Stroz Friedberg software, called Scout, aspires to go a giant step further, detecting indirectly, through unconscious syntactic and grammatical clues, workers' anger, financial or personal stress, and other tip-offs that an employee might be about to lose it... It uses an algorithm based on linguistic tells found to connote feelings of victimization, anger, and blame."
The article reports that 27% of cyber-attacks "come from within," according to a study of 562 organizations that was partly conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, with 43% of the surveyed companies reporting an "insider attack" within the last year.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's final-frontier department
MarkWhittington writes: July 4, if all goes well, will be an occasion for celebration at NASA as the Juno spacecraft, after a nearly five-year voyage, will go into orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. Juno will spend its time in a zone of intense radiation, against which it has been armored, in an effort to ferret out Jupiter's secrets. By so doing, NASA hopes to gain insights into the origin of the solar system as well as gaining more knowledge of the gas giant, comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium with trace elements of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's so-I-hear department
"Audio surveillance is increasingly being used on parts of urban mass transit systems," reports the Christian Science Monitor. Slashdot reader itwbennett writes "It was first reported in April that New Jersey had been using audio surveillance on some of its light rail lines, raising questions of privacy. This week, New Jersey Transit ended the program following revelations that the agency 'didn't have policies governing storage and who had access to data.'" From the article:
New Jersey isn't the only state where you now have even more reason to want to ride in the quiet car. The Baltimore Sun reported in March that the Maryland Transit Administration has used audio recording on some of its mass transit vehicles since 2012. It is now used on 65 percent of buses, and 82 percent of subway trains have audio recording capability, but don't use it yet, according to the Sun. And cities in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Oregon and California have either installed systems or moved to procure them, in many cases with funding from the federal Department of Homeland Security.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Robo-Drop department
Starship Technologies has begun testing their on-demand delivery robots in cities around the world -- including Washington, D.C. -- to manage the "last mile" for small deliveries. Slashdot reader Okian Warrior quotes the Starship Technologies site: Capable of carrying the equivalent of two grocery bags, the robots can complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet, for 10-15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives. Customers can choose from a selection of short, precise delivery slots -- meaning goods arrive at a time that suits them. During delivery, shoppers can track the robot's location in real time through a mobile app, and on arrival only the app holder is able to unlock the cargo. Created by two Skype co-founders, the company uses ground-based delivery drones equipped with nine cameras, two-way audio capability, and GPS, according to ABC News, which has video of the robots in action. "When confronted with any kind of issue or trouble, a human at Starship can take over. The remote operator can have a two-way conversation with those around the robot... They hope to make the robots available for 24/7 delivery and for only a $1 fee." What could go wrong?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-a-resolution department
An anonymous reader writes:
"The United Nations officially condemned the practice of countries shutting down access to the internet at a meeting of the Human Rights Council on Friday," reports the Register newspaper, saying Friday's resolution "effectively extends human rights held offline to the internet," including freedom of expression. "The resolution is a much-needed response to increased pressure on freedom of expression online in all parts of the world," said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of Article 19, a long-standing British human rights group which had pushed for the resolution. "From impunity for the killings of bloggers to laws criminalizing legitimate dissent on social media, basic human rights principles are being disregarded to impose greater controls over the information we see and share online."
Thirteen countries, including Russia and China, had unsuccessfully urged the deletion of the text guaranteeing internet access, and Article 19 says the new resolution even commits states to address "security concerns on the Internet in accordance with their obligations to protect freedom of expression, privacy and other human rights online." But they also called the resolution a missed opportunity to urge states to strengthen protections on anonymity and encryption, and to clarify the boundaries between state and private ICT actors.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's trendy-traffic department
Slashdot reader Bob768 writes: Over the last 20 months, with the rise of virtual reality technology, the number of Google searches for the phrase 'VR Porn' have soared nearly 10,000%. The leading country for these searches is Norway.
Last November searches for the term experienced the "spike of all spikes", according to a post on the VR Talk forum, which also identifies the top cities (two in Australia) for the searches -- Helsinki, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Seoul.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's low-in-fiber department
"Network operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and ATT, in cahoots with [real estate] developers and landlords, routinely use a breathtaking array of kickbacks, lawyerly games of Twister, blunt threats, and downright illegal activities to lock up buildings in exclusive arrangements," reports Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford.
itwbennett writes: Eight years ago, the FCC issued an order banning exclusive agreements between landlords and ISPs, but a loophole is being exploited, leaving many tenants in apartment buildings with only one choice of broadband service provider. The loophole works like this: Instead of having an exclusive agreement with one provider, the landlords refuse to let any other companies than their chosen providers access their properties...
"This astounding, enormous, decentralized payola scheme affects millions of American lives," Crawford writes, revealing Comcast's revenue-sharing proposals for property owners and urging cities (and national lawmakers) to require broadband neutrality in residential buildings. Other loopholes are also being exploited, Crawford writes, and "it's why commercial tenants in NYC pay through the nose for awful Internet access service in the fanciest of commercial buildings... We've got to take landlords out of the equation -- all they're doing is looking for payments and deals...and the giant telecom providers in our country are more than happy to pay up."Read Replies (0)