By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department
According to data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is over 415 parts per million (ppm), far higher than at any point in the last 800,000 years, since before the evolution of homo sapiens. From a report: Holthaus spotted the new high on Sunday when it was tweeted out by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which measures daily CO2 rates at Mauna Loa along with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Measurements have been ongoing since the program was started in 1958 by the late Charles David Keeling, for whom the Keeling Curve, a graph of increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, is named. "This is the first time in human history our planet's atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2," Holthaus said in a widely shared tweet. "Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago," added Holthaus.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Indian video streaming giant Hotstar, owned by Disney, today set a new global benchmark for the number of people an OTT service can draw to a live event. From a report: Some 18.6 million users simultaneously tuned into Hotstar's website and app to watch the deciding game of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. The streaming giant, which competes with Netflix and Amazon in India, broke its own "global best" 10.3 million concurrent views milestone that it had set last year. Hotstar topped the 10 million concurrent viewership mark a number of times during this year's 51-day IPL season. More than 12.7 million viewers huddled to watch an earlier game in the tournament, a spokesperson for the four-year-old service said. In mid-April, Hotstar said that the cricket series had already garnered a 267 million overall viewership, creating a new record for the streamer. (Last year's IPL had clocked a 202 million overall viewership.) These figures coming out of India, the fastest-growing internet market, are astounding to say the least. In comparison, a 2012 live stream of skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumping from near-space to the Earth's surface, remains the most concurrently viewed video on YouTube. It amassed about 8 million concurrent viewers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Amazon is rolling out machines to automate a job held by thousands of its workers: boxing up customer orders. From a report: The company started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelopes them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item, two people who worked on the project told Reuters. Amazon has considered installing two machines at dozens more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one, these people said. These facilities typically employ more than 2,000 people. That would amount to more than 1,300 cuts across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory. Amazon would expect to recover the costs in under two years, at $1 million per machine plus operational expenses, they said. The plan, previously unreported, shows how Amazon is pushing to reduce labor and boost profits as automation of the most common warehouse task -- picking up an item -- is still beyond its reach.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-heard-that department
"Many are seduced by the idea that they can listen in silence," complains ZDNet columnist Chris Matyszczyk.
"This doesn't seem to be true," he writes, describing a typical experience with some $279.95 Beats Studio3 wireless over-ear headphones:
I could still hear so much of what was going on beyond the soccer match or movie upon which my headphones were supposed to be focused. This wasn't noise-canceling. It was noise-dulling... I did a little research. This noise-canceling thing is a splendid hype. The technology works best on quashing -- somewhat -- low-frequency sounds. The more high-pitched elements of life -- human speech, babies on planes, high-revving engines, the Darkness in concert -- get a little flattening at best, once you don your headphones. Door bells, a glass being dropped on the floor, a dog barking -- all these sounds were slightly dulled by my headphones, but still perfectly audible.
I'm not suggesting Beats is solely responsible for the promise of noise-canceling being overblown. I understand it's the same with all other headphones of the genre. It's like a self-driving car that actually needs you to check it's not about to kill you....
Yes, if I wear my Beats for a couple of hours and then take them off, I feel like I'm returning from some sort of purgatorial netherworld. But these things are supposed to cancel noise. You know, like you cancel a subscription or an air ticket. When I decide to cancel my flight from San Francisco to New York, I don't expect to still have to fly to Boise, Idaho.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's wait-wait-hear-me-out department
"2019 is truly, finally shaping up to be the year of Linux on the desktop," writes PC World's senior editor, adding "Laptops, too!"
But most people won't know it. That's because the bones of the open-source operating system kernel will soon be baked into Windows 10 and Chrome OS, as Microsoft and Google revealed at their respective developer conferences this week... Between lurking in Windows 10 and Chrome OS, and the tiny portion of actual Linux distro installs, pretty much any PC you pick up will run a Linux kernel and Linux software. Macs won't, but it's based on a Unix-like BSD system that already runs many Linux apps with relative ease (hence Apple's popularity with developers).
You have to wonder where that leaves proper Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint, though. They already suffer from a minuscule user share, and developers may shift toward Windows and Chrome if the Linux kernels in those operating systems get the same job done. Could this fruit wind up poisonous over the long term? We'll have to see. That said, Linux is healthier than ever. The major distros are far more polished than they used to be, with far fewer hardware woes than installs of yesteryear. You can even get your game on relatively well thanks to Valve's Proton technology, which gets many (but not all) Steam games working on Linux systems. And hey, Linux is free.
Normal users may never be aware of it, but 2019 may finally be the year of Linux on the desktop -- just not Linux operating systems on the desktop.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's rise-of-the-machines department
"Boeing is pushing ahead on a plan to cut about 900 inspectors, replacing their jobs with technology improvements at its Seattle area factories, despite being under fire for software flaws in the 737 Max and quality issues in its other aircraft," reports USA Today.
"The union has raised an outcry, calling it a 'bad decision' that will 'eliminate the second set of eyes on thousands of work packages' in its newsletter to members."
Some 451 inspectors will be transferred to other jobs this year, and about the same number next year, out of a total of about 3,000 at its commercial aircraft operations in the Seattle area, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 751, has told its members.... When it comes to paring its inspection staff on the West Coast, Boeing says the "QA Transformation Plan" won't undermine safety. Substituting technology gains, it says, will increase quality and effect only "stable" procedures, those in which there is a low probability of mistakes.
For instance, Boeing says when it is bringing out a new aircraft with wings made out of composites, there is equipment now that can do the inspections more thoroughly than humans. Once the inspection equipment has verified that it can do the job -- with humans overseeing the process -- traditional inspectors can be redeployed to other tasks. "As we identify and reduce second-layer inspections for stable processes, quality assurance professionals will be redeployed and take on new roles such as leading and supporting efforts to prevent defects and rework," Boeing said in a statement. It adds that it is working to try to convince regulators and others that the changes "will not jeopardize our quality, but will, in fact, lead to higher levels."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's happy-Mother's-Day department
The Guardian profiles stay-at-home mom Jessa Jones, who taught herself how to fix her daughter's iPhone with online tutorials, eventually leading to motherboard repair work that she found through eBay.
"After recruiting other stay-at-home moms in her neighborhood and teaching them electronics repair, she launched a small business from her dining room called MommyFixits. 'Suddenly our play dates became moms sitting around the dining table fixing mailed-in iPhones,' she told me."
As Jones's expertise grew, she discovered that technology manufacturers used underhanded techniques to discourage independent repair. Phone and tablet parts were glued together, causing components to break when pried apart. Schematics and manuals were copyrighted and kept under trade secret. Apple even used their own proprietary "pentalobe" screws, which cannot be removed with common screwdrivers. Despite these barriers to repair, Jones knew that fixing things independently, instead of taking them back to the manufacturer, was almost always possible and often cheaper. To spread her knowledge, she started a YouTube channel called iPad Rehab, which offered step-by-step repair tutorials for other DIY enthusiasts...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's angry-in-Appalachia department
"Two years after dozens of West Virginians left their jobs to take classes from Mined Minds, a nonprofit that promised to teach them to write computer code, former students have filed a lawsuit claiming the entire operation was a fraud," according to a report:
The program promised a better life and room for career advancement, which resonated with people in Appalachia, where career opportunities are limited. According to the New York Times, Mined Minds offered a paid apprenticeship in which students learned to code as they earned $10 an hour... [Students were also told they'd be paid while taking the classes -- which they discovered wasn't true on their first day of class] after many left their jobs to take the 16-week boot camp, which eventually stretched weeks longer than promised.
Many students dropped out. Those who stayed say they were given vague assignments with little instruction and told to "Google it" when they had questions... Only ten students made it to the final weeks of the program, and just one graduated. He now delivers takeout.
The Times reports that the program received a $1.5 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission -- though the lawsuit from former students quickly grew to at least 60 plaintiffs.
On Twitter this afternoon, one of the program's founders described the Times' story as "mostly false," arguing that it was based on the "same crazy lawsuit from 2017" with "no new developments."
But the Times also reported more complaints from this April at the code school, from employees who said they were fired for offenses like failing to make enough new LinkedIn connections, not submitting their resumes for review, or for failing to read the self-help book The Start-Up of You.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's full-disk-unencryption department
I'm a retired IT guy and ransomware was not a huge thing 3-5 years ago (at least few victims were self-reporting) and I'm very curious about protection schemes.
In my, now ancient, world we did not encrypt anything -- anywhere. Seems to me the trick would be to mark certain places as "unencryptable," similar to long-time attributes like "hidden," "system," "read-only," etc.
Do solutions exist that would mark local data folders and backup drives as "unencryptable," and if not, do you think it could be done? If so, how?
Leave your best thoughts and suggestions in the comments. Could we fight ransomware with 'unencryptable' folders?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's peeking-at-peek-oil department
"Between global warming, Elon Musk, and a worldwide crackdown on carbon, the future looks treacherous for Big Oil," argues CNN Business writer Matt Egan, calling the rise of electric vehicles "an existential threat to the oil industry."
"Passenger vehicles are the No. 1 source of demand for oil -- and tomorrow's transportation system may no longer rely on the gas station."
Reliance on oil will probably peak between 2030 and 2035 if countries adhere to their recent low-carbon pledges, Barclays said [in a new report published this week]. However, the peak could arrive as soon as 2025 -- just six years from now -- if the world increases its focus on slashing carbon emissions. Electric vehicle sales have surged faster than anticipated, but they still represent a small portion of overall car sales. That means EVs are hurting oil demand, but they have yet to put a dent in it....
Research firm DNV GL estimates that peak oil will become a reality during the 2020s and demand will flat-line through the entire decade. "By 2030, oil shareholders will feel the impact," said Sverre Alvik, lead author of the firm's energy transition outlook report. Electric vehicles are likely to cause light vehicle oil demand to plunge by nearly 50% by 2040, Alvik said. Jens Peers, an executive at Mirova, an ESG affiliate of Natixis, advised owners of oil stocks to get out while they can. "We do not find them financially attractive today," Peers said, noting "prohibitively high" regulatory and technological risks....
The deep uncertainty surrounding the future of oil demand that long-term investors should use caution in this space by carefully monitoring trends and steering clear of companies that are in denial about the future.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's there's-an-app-for-that department
Salon tech editor Keith A. Spencer just published a new article describing what happens when "venture capital-backed entrepreneurs jackhammer their way into a new industry, 'tech'-ify it in some way, undermine the competition and declare their new way superior once the old is bankrupted."
- Being a taxi driver was once a much-vaunted job, so much so that a taxi medallion was perceived of as a ticket to the middle class. Then came Uber and Lyft, who flooded the market for private transit and undercut the taxi industry by de-skilling the industry and paying their workers far, far less....
- Building devices to quantize as much fitness data as possible wasn't an example of capitalism fulfilling consumer desire -- no one, save a few data scientists, ever said, "I want to turn my leisure activities and exercise regime into spreadsheets" -- but the tech industry has been very effective at making us desire just that....
- The thing is, baristas and cashiers aren't things that we are all dying to get rid of... Silicon Valley is only trying to put baristas and cashiers out of business because human labor costs money; the difference between a $4 coffee from a robot and a $4 coffee from a human is that there are no labor costs in the former purchase, something that makes Silicon Valley go googly-eyed with dollar signs. The tech industry's vision of the future is of a world with less human interaction, less conversation, less humanity; and more surveillance and more monetization of our buying habits. No one wants this, but it's being forced upon us.
The article is adapted from Spencer's recent book, A People's History of Silicon Valley: How the Tech Industry Exploits Workers, Erodes Privacy and Undermines Democracy.
The article's title? "Silicon Valley makes everything worse: Four industries that Big Tech has ruined."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'm-feeling-lucky department
"You heard the headline, surely. Google is giving you privacy. Lots of privacy. Privacy here, there and everywhere. You're free. Rejoice. Leap in the air," writes Inc. columnist Chris Matyszczyk -- arguing that there's one huge and painful catch:
Google needs to know everything about you because, as my colleague Bill Murphy Jr. reported, it's after as much of the advertising industry as it can swallow whole. However, Google also needs to look as if it's doing something about privacy, because privacy is the new big thing. Everyone's talking about it and Google is finding itself the subject of more and more lawsuits, as it emerges that the company keeps on tracking you whether you want it to or not.
So what has Google really done with this privacy effort? Yes, it's introduced more privacy and security controls which, in the latest version of Android, might even amount to 50 elements for you to toggle away at. And that is the wicked psychological point. Google is posing to regulators by doing this. It's also putting it entirely in users' hands to work out how all these controls work and what they all mean.
Because it knows the vast majority of users just don't and won't do it.
The column argues that Google "is inviting people to be full-time monitors of what Google may or may not be spying on" -- while at the same time "making sure this is far too much work."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's double-plus-unlike department
Thursday Facebook's co-founder called for the government to break up the company. Saturday Facebook responded, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader soldersold:
Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs and communications wrote the piece, and in it, he agrees with Hughes that "companies should be held accountable for their actions," and that tech companies such as Facebook shouldn't be the ones handling all of the "important social, political and ethical questions" for the internet. But he notes that breaking Facebook up -- as Hughes calls for -- would be the wrong way to go. "The challenges he alludes to," Clegg writes, "including election interference and privacy safeguards, won't evaporate by breaking up Facebook or any other big tech company...." Zuckerberg also responded to the op-ed while in France, saying that "my main reaction was that what [Hughes is] proposing that we do isn't going to do anything to help solve those issues."
Notably, Clegg sidesteps what's probably the op-ed's main focus: Zuckerberg himself. Hughes notes that while the CEO is a good person, he holds far too much power at Facebook, and can't be held accountable there -- he calls the shots. "The government must hold Mark accountable," Hughes wrote.
The article also notes that Clegg "pushed back" against the argument that Facebook is a dominant monopoly, by "saying that its revenue only makes up 20 percent of the advertising marketplace..."
"He goes on to reiterate many of Facebook's regular talking points: that it's been a net-positive for the world by connecting everyone, allowing businesses to thrive and people to raise lots of money for important causes around the world."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's where-do-you-want-to-go-today department
"Microsoft has very quietly confirmed the death of Windows 10 passwords this week," claims Forbes -- though I think they may be overstating things a bit:
Microsoft's crypto, identity and authentication team group manager, Yogesh Mehta, has made an announcement that he says puts "the 800 million people who use Windows 10 one step closer to a world without passwords...."
Mehta confirmed that with the release of the forthcoming Windows 10 May update, Windows Hello becomes a fully FIDO2 certified authenticator... [Windows Hello is "a biometrics-based technology that enables Windows 10 users to authenticate secure access to their devices, apps, online services and networks with just a fingerprint, iris scan or facial recognition."]
So does the arrival of FIDO2 certification for Windows 10 mean that passwords are now dead? Not quite. The death of the password for Window 10 could yet be a lingering and painful one. "We encourage companies and software developers to adopt a strategy for achieving a passwordless future and start today by supporting password alternatives such as Windows Hello," Mehta says, before admitting that to arrive in this future requires "interoperable solutions that work across all industry platforms and browsers."
I say painful, by the way, as there will no doubt be no shortage of stories about password security fails until the final nail is hammered into this authentication coffin.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's we're-having-a-heat-wave department
Long-time Slashdot reader William Robinson writes:
Using cores drilled from coral, scientists have been able to produce the first 400-year-long seasonal record of El Niño events. "This understanding of El Niño events is vital because they produce extreme weather across the globe with particularly profound effects on precipitation and temperature extremes in Australia, South East Asia and the Americas," reports Phys.org.
The results? A new category of El Niño "has become far more prevalent in the last few decades than at any time in the past four centuries," reports Scientific American. "Over the same period, traditional El Niño events have become more intense."
Obtaining this data was considered impossible, until a Melbourne PhD researcher realized that coral cores, like tree rings, captured the "signature" of El Niño events going back for several centuries, according to the article. They were then able to identify that signature using machine learning techniques, and after three years of work produced the 400-year record.
The study's lead author now says that "By understanding the past, we are better equipped to understand the future, especially in the context of climate change."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's gotta-recognize-em-all department
"By scanning the brains of adults who played Pokemon as kids, researchers learned that this group of people have a brain region that responds more to the cartoon characters than to other pictures," reports the Verge.
"More importantly, this charming research method has given us new insight into how the brain organizes visual information."
For the study, published Monday in the journal Nature Human Behavior, researchers recruited 11 adults who were "experienced" Pokemon players -- meaning they began playing between the ages of five and eight, continued for a while, and then played again as adults -- and 11 novices. First, they tested all of the participants on the names of pokemon to make sure the pros actually could tell a Clefairy from a Chansey. Next, they scanned the participants' brains while showing them images of all 150 original pokemon (in rounds of eight) alongside other images, like animals, faces, cars, words, corridors, and other cartoons. In experienced players, a specific region responded more to the pokemon than to these other images. For novices, this region -- which is called the occipitotemporal sulcus and often processes animal images -- didn't show a preference for pokemon.
It's not that surprising that playing many hours of Pokemon as a kid would lead to brain changes; looking at almost anything for long enough will do the same thing. We already know that the brain has cell clusters that respond to certain images, and there's even one for recognizing Jennifer Aniston... The results support a theory called "eccentricity bias," which suggests that the size of the images we're looking at and whether we're looking at it with central or peripheral vision will predict which area of the brain will respond.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's continental-divides department
pgmrdlm quotes National Geographic: For years, João Duarte has puzzled over a seemingly boring underwater expanse off the coast of Portugal. In 1969, this site spawned a massive earthquake that rattled the shore and sparked a tsunami. But you would never know why just from looking at the broad, featureless surface of the seabed. Duarte, a marine geologist from the Instituto Dom Luiz at the University of Lisbon, wanted to find out what was going on.
Now, 50 years after the event, he may finally have an answer: The bottom of the tectonic plate off Portugal's coast seems to be peeling away from its top. This action may be providing the necessary spark for one plate to start grinding beneath another in what's known as a subduction zone, according to computer simulations Duarte presented in April at the European Geosciences Union meeting.
If confirmed, the new work would be the first time an oceanic plate has been caught in the act of peeling—and it may mark one of the earliest stages of the Atlantic Ocean shrinking, sending Europe inching toward Canada as predicted by some models of tectonic activity.
"Duarte is not the first to propose these curious happenings off Portugal's coast," the article points out, "but it's the first time there are data to back it up."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's wrong-to-repair department
Vice's "Future Relics" column asks what people 1,000 years from now will think when they keep discovering abandoned Airpods from 2019:
For roughly 18 months, AirPods play music, or podcasts, or make phone calls. Then the lithium-ion batteries will stop holding much of a charge, and the AirPods will slowly become unusable. They can't be repaired because they're glued together. They can't be thrown out, or else the lithium-ion battery may start a fire in the garbage compactor. They can't be easily recycled, because there's no safe way to separate the lithium-ion battery from the plastic shell. Instead, the AirPods sit in your drawer forever...
According to the headphones review team at Rtings.com, AirPods are "below-average" in terms of sound quality. According to people on every social media platform, AirPods are a display of wealth. But more than a pair of headphones, AirPods are an un-erasable product of culture and class. People in working or impoverished economic classes are responsible for the life-threatening, exhaustive, violent work of removing their parts from the ground and assembling them. Meanwhile, people in the global upper class design and purchase AirPods.
Even if you only own AirPods for a few years, the earth owns them forever. When you die, your bones will decompose in less than a century, but the plastic shell of AirPods won't decompose for at least a millennia. Thousands of years in the future, if human life or sentient beings exist on earth, maybe archaeologists will find AirPods in the forgotten corners of homes. They'll probably wonder why they were ever made, and why so many people bought them. But we can also ask ourselves those same questions right now.
Why did we make technology that will live for 18 months, die, and never rot?Read Replies (0)