By msmash from Slashdot's everywhere-around-you department
How did Choc, a quirky calligraphic typeface drawn by a French graphic designer in the 1950s, end up on storefronts everywhere? From a report: Stand just about anywhere on Broadway, or on Canal Street with its sprightly neon and overstuffed souvenir shops, or the long stretch of restaurants, hardware stores, pharmacies, bars, realtors, barber shops, groceries and auto shops that extends through Fifth Avenue in South Brooklyn, and you'll find a surplus of vibrant and overstated signage -- a cacophony of typography. Steven Heller, a co-chairman at the School of Visual Arts' M.F.A. program, sees it somewhat differently. "You say 'cacophony,'" he said. "I call it chaos." But amid all of this chaos there is the occasional beacon. Choc, for instance.
It's a typeface that draws the eye with its inherent contradictions. It seems to have been drawn improvisationally with a brush, and yet it's so hefty it looks like it could slip off a wall. It's both delicate and emphatic, a casual paradox, like a Nerf weapon. Choc is far from the most popular typeface on the storefronts of New York, but it can still be found everywhere and in every borough. It's strewn on fabric awnings and etched in frosted glass. It gleams in bright magenta or platinum lighting. It's used for beauty salons, Mexican restaurants, laundromats, bagel shops, numerous sushi bars. It may be distorted, stacked vertically, or shoehorned into a cluster of other typefaces. But even here Choc remains clear and articulate, its voice deep and friendly, its accent foreign, perhaps, yet endearing. You've already seen it, probably repeatedly, like a stranger you recognize from your morning commute.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's future-of-social-media? department
Ryan Holmes, writing on Medium: Back in March of last year, Conde Nast Traveler did something a little unusual in the social media universe. They played hard to get. Instead of courting new followers with clickbait and promo codes, the company required that interested people apply to get into their closed Facebook Group, focused on female travelers. To be considered for membership, applicants had to explain why the Group was important to them, and show an understanding of the community guidelines. Today, the Women Who Travel Facebook Group counts more than 50,000 members. And it boasts a level of activity many brands could only dream of -- three-quarters of users are active on a daily basis. The initiative has been so successful, in fact, that Conde Nast has since extended Facebook Groups across eight of its brands, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Allure, BRIDES, Golf Digest, SELF and Teen Vogue.
The Facebook Group is nothing new. Spaces for like-minded people to congregate and discuss specific subjects -- from hobbies to pets and celebrities -- date in one form or another to the platform's earliest days. These Groups have long been segmented into three classes: open (or general admission), closed (requiring admin approval for new members) and secret (invisible to outside search and accessible only with a direct link). But for a combination of technical and cultural reasons, Groups are suddenly having their moment. (Apart from Facebook, LinkedIn revamped its own Groups offering this fall for its 500-plus million users, adding the ability to share pics and videos, as well as receive comment notifications.) In the past year alone, Facebook Group membership is up 40 percent, with 1.4 billion people -- more than half of Facebook's massive user base -- now using Groups every month. Of those, 200 million people belong to so-called "meaningful Groups," considered a vital part of users' daily lives.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's happy-thanksgiving department
The 2018 holiday season is predicted to be a bumper year for e-commerce, helped by economic forces like lower unemployment and underlying trends like an ever-growing proportion of shoppers opting to spend their money online, and specifically on mobile devices. From a report: Thanksgiving, a day when brick-and-mortar stores tend to be closed, is a big one for online spending, and so far it's off to a flying start. Adobe, which puts out real-time analytics tracking e-commerce sales, said that as of 10am ET, $406 million had already been spent online today -- growth of 23.2 percent on 2017. Adobe tracks e-commerce transactions across 80 of the top 100 US online retailers and says its analytics are based on over 1 trillion visits to retail sites and 55 million SKUs.
At this rate, Adobe said it believes that sales today will total a record $3.5 billion, versus $2.9 billion a year ago. Notably, this is revised up from figures Adobe put out earlier this month, when it projected $3.1 billion in sales today. It's the first day of the "big five" for holiday shopping. Figures from Internet Retailer research predict that the total amount that will be spent over the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will be $21.6 billion. While rising tides might lift all boats, the biggest will reap the most rewards: it estimates that Amazon will account for nearly one-third of all sales.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what-the-hell-is-going-on? department
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out an unusually strong statement telling Americans to toss any romaine lettuce in any form: whole, chopped, pre-bagged into Caesar salads, combined into spring mix, and so on. The warning covered not just homes but retailers and restaurants, and came with a recommendation to empty any fridge where romaine has been stored, and wash it out with soap and warm water. From a report: The CDC said it was making the recommendation to not eat, serve or sell any romaine lettuce because 32 people in 11 states, plus 18 people in Ontario and Quebec, have been made ill by E. coli O157:H7, which causes very serious illness because it produces a toxin that destroys cells lining the intestines and kidneys. The patients are all infected with the same strain, based on genetic fingerprinting, and the only thing they have in common is that they all ate romaine.
But, the CDC said, "no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified." The agency isn't usually so sweeping in its statements, but with a holiday coming -- one that's centered around eating and that takes people offline into the real world of airports and cars and dinner tables -- it warned against all romaine until the threat can be better defined. The Food and Drug Administration, which does have the power to compel foods to be recalled, is investigating, along with health departments in the 11 states where people have gotten sick.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Google is not complying with European demands that it must make the search for products fairer, rivals say. In an open letter to the EU's Competition Commissioner on Thursday, they wrote: We are writing to you as leading European comparison shopping services (CSSs) to express our collective view that Google's "compliance mechanism" in the Google Search (Comparison Shopping) case does not comply with the European Commission's June 2017 Prohibition Decision. It has now been more than a year since Google introduced its auction-based "remedy", and the harm to competition, consumers and innovation caused by Google's illegal conduct has continued unabated. We therefore respectfully urge you to commence non-compliance proceedings against Google. BBC offers some background: In June 2017, European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager ruled that Google had abused its power by promoting its own shopping service at the top of search results, and demanded that it provide equal treatment to rival comparison sites in future. She issued a record fine of $2.7bn -- the largest penalty the European Commission has ever imposed. She also demanded that Google end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face further costs. Google is still appealing against the fine, but has come up with a system that it says makes shopping fairer. It changed the shopping box, which is displayed at the top of search results, so that it is no longer populated with just Google Shopping ad results, but gives space to other shopping comparison services, who can bid for advertising slots.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's machine-learning department
CV Compiler is a new web app that uses machine learning to analyze and repair your technical resume, "allowing you to shine to recruiters at Google, Yahoo and Facebook," reports TechCrunch. "The app essentially checks your resume and tells you what to fix and where to submit it," reports TechCrunch. "It's been completely bootstrapped thus far and they're working on new and improved machine learning algorithms while maintaining a library of common CV fixes." From the report: "There are lots of online resume analysis tools, but these services are too generic, meaning they can be used by multiple professionals and the results are poor and very general. After the feedback is received, users are often forced to buy some extra services," said Andrew Stetsenko. "In contrast, the CV Compiler is designed exclusively for tech professionals. The online review technology scans for keywords from the world of programming and how they are used in the resume, relative to the best practices in the industry."
The product was born out of Stetsenko's work at GlossaryTech, a Chrome extension that helps users understand tech terms. He used a great deal of natural language processing and keyword taxonomy in that product and, in turn, moved some of that to his CV service. "We found that many job applications were being rejected without even an interview, because of the resumes. Apparently, 10 seconds is long enough for a recruiter to eliminate many candidates," he said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The first ever "solid state" plane, with no moving parts in its propulsion system, has successfully flown for a distance of 60 meters, proving that heavier-than-air flight is possible without jets or propellers. The flight represents a breakthrough in "ionic wind" technology, which uses a powerful electric field to generate charged nitrogen ions, which are then expelled from the back of the aircraft, generating thrust. Steven Barrett, an aeronautics professor at MIT and the lead author of the study published in the journal Nature, said the inspiration for the project came straight from the science fiction of his childhood.
In the prototype plane, wires at the leading edge of the wing have 600 watts of electrical power pumped through them at 40,000 volts. This is enough to induce "electron cascades", ultimately charging air molecules near the wire. Those charged molecules then flow along the electrical field towards a second wire at the back of the wing, bumping into neutral air molecules on the way, and imparting energy to them. Those neutral air molecules then stream out of the back of the plane, providing thrust. The end result is a propulsion system that is entirely electrically powered, almost silent, and with a thrust-to-power ratio comparable to that achieved by conventional systems such as jet engines. "I was a big fan of Star Trek, and at that point I thought that the future looked like it should be planes that fly silently, with no moving parts -- and maybe have a blue glow," said Barrett. "But certainly no propellers or turbines or anything like that. So I started looking into what physics might make flight with no moving parts possible, and came across a concept known as the ionic wind, which was first investigated in the 1920s."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's hands-free department
Last year, a study from the BrainGate consortium reported that a brain-computer interface (BCI) enabled a paralyzed man to type up to eight words per minute via thoughts alone. Now, according to new results from a BrainGate2 clinical trial, the same BCI was used to help three participants operate an off-the-shelf tablet. IEEE Spectrum reports: All three participants suffer from weakness or loss of movement in their arms due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease) or spinal cord injury. Each received the brain implant, an array of microelectrodes, as part of the BrainGate2 clinical trial. For this particular study, decoded neural signals from the implant were routed through an industry-standard Human Interface Device protocol, providing a virtual mouse. That "mouse" was paired to a Google Nexus 9 tablet via Bluetooth.
Each participant was asked to try out seven common apps on the tablet: email, chat, web browser, video sharing, music streaming, a weather program and a news aggregator. The researchers also asked the users if they wanted any additional apps, and subsequently added the keyboard app, grocery shopping on Amazon, and a calculator. The participants made up to 22 point-and-click selections per minute and typed up to 30 characters per minute in email and text programs. What's more, all three participants really enjoyed using the tablet.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cut-costs department
Foxconn, Apple's biggest assembler of iPhones, is planning to cut $2.9 billion from expenses in 2019 as it faces "a very difficult and competitive year." According to Bloomberg, citing an internal company memo, "The iPhone business will need to reduce expenses by [about $900 million] next year and the company plans to eliminate about 10 percent of non-technical staff." For reference, Foxconn's spending in the past 12 months is about $6.7 billion. From the report: Foxconn assembles everything from iPhones and laptop computers to Sony PlayStations at factories in China and around the world. Foxconn has been hit by a slowing smartphone market, while trade tensions with the U.S. add to global uncertainty. The company will conduct an in-depth review of managers with an annual compensation of more than $150,000, according to the memo. Other cuts include a planned [$433 million] reduction in expenses at Foxconn Industrial Internet Co., its Shanghai-listed offshoot. "The review being carried out by our team this year is no different than similar exercises carried out in past years to ensure that we enter into each new year with teams and budgets that are aligned with the current and anticipated needs of our customers, our global operations and the market and economic challenges of the next year or two," Foxconn said in a statement to Bloomberg.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bad-apples department
A new study conducted by Indian University researchers found that "relatively few accounts are responsible for a large share of the traffic that carries misinformation," with just 6 percent of Twitter accounts identified as bots responsible for 31 percent of "low-credibility" content. "Bots amplify the reach of low-credibility content, to the point that it is statistically indistinguishable from that of fact-checking articles," researchers wrote. NBC News reports: The study analyzed 14 million tweets that linked to more than 400,000 articles from May 2016 until the end of March 2017. Of those articles, 389,569 were from "low credibility sources" that had been repeatedly flagged by fact-checking organizations for containing misinformation, as well as 15,053 articles that originated from "fact-checking sources." Of that sample, over 13.6 million tweets linked to "low-credibility sources" and around 1.1 million tweets linked to known fact-checking sources, leading researchers to attribute greater virality with "fake news." To achieve maximum exposure, the study found that "social bots" used two methods to manipulate users into trusting the linked article's validity.
"First, bots are particularly active in amplifying content in the very early spreading moments, before an article goes 'viral,'" researchers wrote. "Second, bots target influential users through replies and mentions." Users struggled to differentiate bots from other human users, as humans "have retweeted bots who post low-credibility content almost as much as they retweet other humans," according to the researchers. The researchers noted that social media platforms have moved to address the spread of misinformation by bots, but said "their effectiveness is hard to evaluate."Read Replies (0)