By msmash from Slashdot's kudos-to-you department
Walmart will begin offering to subsidize college tuition for its 1.5 million workers in the United States, joining a growing list of companies that are helping employees pay for higher education as a perk in a tight labor market. From a report: The retailer's 1.5 million employees can now pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in business or supply-chain management at three nonprofit schools for $1 a day, according to a statement Wednesday. Walmart will subsidize tuition, books and fees and provide support with the application and enrollment processes. As many as 68,000 employees might sign up, Walmart executives estimated. "Many of our associates don't have the opportunity to complete a degree," said Drew Holler, Walmart's U.S. vice president of people innovation, in an interview. "We felt strongly that this is something that would improve their lives and help us run a better business." The tuition program -- offered to part-time staff as well as full-timers -- is the latest move by Walmart to improve employee retention and engagement. A handful of other companies, including Starbucks and Amazon, also offer tuition support.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's a-look-back department
Mary Meeker has published her anticipated internet trends report of 2018. This year, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner released 284 slides in rapid succession, covering everything from smartphone behavior in the U.S. to tech company competition in China. Some takeaways: 1. 2017 was the first year in which smartphone unit shipments didn't grow at all. As more of the world become smartphone owners, growth has been harder and harder to come by. The same goes for internet user growth, which rose 7 percent in 2017, down from 12 percent the year before. With more than half the world online, there are fewer people left to connect. 2. People, however, are still increasing the amount of time they spend online. U.S. adults spent 5.9 hours per day on digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours the year before. Some 3.3 of those hours were spent on mobile, which is responsible for overall growth in digital media consumption. 3. Despite the high-profile releases of $1,000 iPhones and Samsung Galaxy Notes, the global average selling price of smartphones is continuing to decline. 4. Mobile payments are becoming easier to complete. China continues to lead the rest of the world in mobile payment adoption, with over 500 million active mobile payment users in 2017. 5. Voice-controlled products like Amazon Echo are taking off. The Echo's installed base in the U.S. grew from 20 million in the third quarter of 2017 to more than 30 million in the fourth quarter. 6. Tech companies are facing a "privacy paradox." They're caught between using data to provide better consumer experiences and violating consumer privacy. The most popular courses on learning platform Coursera last year were (in descending order): Machine Learning (Stanford), Neural Networks & Deeper Learning (Deeplearning.ai), Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects (UC San Diego), Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (Stanford), Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Technologies (Princeton), Programming for Everybody (University of Michigan), Algorithms, Part I (Princeton), English for Career Development (University of Pennsylvania), Neural Networks / Machine Learning (University of Toronto), and Financial Markets (Yale).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Thailand is a new dumping ground for scrap electronics from around the world, say police and environmentalists, the latest country to feel the impact of China's crackdown on imports of high-tech trash. From a report: Police at Laem Chabang port, south of Bangkok, showed on Tuesday seven shipping containers each packed with about 22 tonnes of discarded electronics, including crushed game consoles, computer boards and bags of scrap materials. Electronic refuse, or e-waste, is turning up from Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, police said, some of it imported by companies without the required permits. "This ... shows that electronic waste from every corner of the world is flowing into Thailand," Deputy Police Chief Wirachai Songmetta said as he showed the containers to the media. While "e-waste" -- defined as any device with an electric cord or battery -- can be "mined" for valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper, it can include hazardous material such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Police said they filed charges against three recycling and waste processing companies in Thailand. Anyone found guilty could be jailed for up to 10 years.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-never-out-of-fashion department
An anonymous reader writes: With Netflix and Amazon Prime, Facebook Video and YouTube, it's tempting to imagine that the tech industry destroyed TV. The world is more than 25 years into the web era, after all, more than half of American households have had home Internet for 15 years, and the current smartphone paradigm began more than a decade ago. But no. Americans still watch an absolutely astounding amount of traditional television. In fact, television viewing didn't peak until 2009-2010, when the average American household watched 8 hours and 55 minutes of TV per day. And the '00s saw the greatest growth in TV viewing time of any decade since Nielsen began keeping track in 1949-1950: Americans watched 1 hour and 23 minutes more television at the end of the decade than at the beginning. Run the numbers and you'll find that 32 percent of the increase in viewing time from the birth of television to its peak occurred in the first years of the 21st century. Over the last 8 years, all the new, non-TV things -- Facebook, phones, YouTube, Netflix -- have only cut about an hour per day from the dizzying amount of TV that the average household watches. Americans are still watching more than 7 hours and 50 minutes per household per day.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Google released earlier today Chrome 67, the latest stable release of its web browser. According to changelogs released with Chrome 67, this version adds support for a Generic Sensors API, improves AR and VR experiences, and deprecates the HTTP-Based Public Key Pinning (HPKP) security feature. Probably the biggest change in Chrome 67 is the addition of the Generic Sensors API. As the name implies, this is an API that exposes data from device sensors to public websites. The new API is based on the Generic Sensor W3C standard. This API is meant primarily for mobile use, and in its current version, websites can use Chrome's Generic Sensors API to access data from a device's accelerometer, gyroscope, orientation and motion sensors. Another API that shipped with Chrome is the WebXR Device API. Developers can use this API to build virtual and augmented reality experiences on Chrome for mobile-based VR headsets like Google Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR, as well as desktop-hosted headsets like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality Headsets.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's age-discrimination department
A proposed class-action lawsuit alleging Facebook's ad placement tools facilitate discrimination against older job-seekers has been expanded to identify additional companies. "When Facebook's own algorithm disproportionately directs ads to younger workers at the exclusion of older workers, Facebook and the advertisers who are using Facebook as an agent to send their advertisements are engaging in disparate treatment," a communications union alleged in the amended complaint, citing a legal test for employment discrimination, filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court. The union added claims under California's fair employment and unfair competition statutes to the lawsuit, which was initially filed in December. Chicago Tribune reports: The Communications Workers of America is suing on behalf of union members and other job seekers who allegedly missed out on employment opportunities because companies used Facebook's ad tools to target people of other ages. The original filing named defendants are Amazon.com Inc., Cox Media Group, Cox Communications Inc. and T-Mobile, as well as what the union estimates to be hundreds of employers and employment agencies who used Facebook's tools to filter out older job hunters when seeking to fill positions. The amended filing adds Ikea, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the University of Maryland Medical System to its list of companies who allegedly used Facebook's tools to filter by age. Those three entities, as well as Facebook, aren't named defendants in the lawsuit.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's something-doesn't-add-up department
A new study by game research firm SuperData Research and payment company PayPal found that eSports and game videos are driving explosive growth in livestreams. But PayPal also found a gender imbalance in pay. Women are less likely to be paid for their streams than men. VentureBeat reports: PayPal said that 34 percent of livestream viewers in the U.S. have spent more than $50 on livestream content in the past few months. But despite the growth in spending, almost half of women content creators (43 percent globally, 47 percent in the U.S.) don't get paid for what they create. The U.S. had the largest gender pay gap of the countries surveyed: Almost half as many men (24 percent) do not get paid for content they create. Globally, active paying gamers polled shop across 14 different gaming platforms and nearly 30 different storefronts over the last three months, an incredible variety.
In the U.S., respondents surveyed purchased from 26 different gaming storefronts -- the third most in the world, behind Russia (27), and Australia and Canada (28 each). While Steam is highly popular among millennials globally (31 percent buy from Steam), GameStop was resoundingly popular, with 45 percent of U.S. millennial respondents reporting shopping there for gaming content. In most countries, in-game spending is within a few dollars of average spend on full games. Surprisingly, in-game spending is skewing higher among older U.S. players: those aged 35-and-over have spent $50 on average, compared to $40 for those aged 18 to 34. Meanwhile, younger gamers are spending more in full-game downloads: $63, versus $48 for gamers 35-and-over.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's change-of-mind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: De Beers, which almost single-handedly created the allure of diamonds as rare, expensive and the symbol of eternal love, now wants to sell you some party jewelry that is anything but. The company announced today that it will start selling man-made diamond jewelry at a fraction of the price of mined gems, marking a historic shift for the world's biggest diamond miner, which vowed for years that it wouldn't sell stones created in laboratories. The strategy is designed to undercut rival lab-diamond makers, who having been trying to make inroads into the $80 billion gem industry. De Beers will target younger spenders with its new diamond brand and try to capture customers that have been resistant to splurging on expensive jewelry. The company is betting that it can split the market -- with mined gems in luxury settings and engagement rings at the top, and lab-made fashion jewelry aimed at millennials at the bottom. "Lab grown are not special, they're not real, they're not unique. You can make exactly the same one again and again," Bruce Cleaver, chief executive officer of De Beers, said in an interview Tuesday. De Beers says the man-made diamonds will not compete with mined stones. It's so adamant about this that it will not grade them in the traditional way. "We're not grading our lab-grown diamonds because we don't think they deserve to be graded," Cleaver said. "They're all the same."
As for pricing, "The lab diamonds from De Beers will sell for about $800 a carat," reports Bloomberg. "A 1-carat man-made diamond sells for about $4,000 and a similar natural diamond fetches roughly $8,000."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bright-future department
New research shows that Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality headset works well as a visual prosthesis for the vision impaired, not relaying actual visual data but guiding them in real time with audio cues and instructions. TechCrunch reports: The researchers, from Caltech and University of Southern California, first argue that restoring vision is at present simply not a realistic goal, but that replacing the perception portion of vision isn't necessary to replicate the practical portion. After all, if you can tell where a chair is, you don't need to see it to avoid it, right? Crunching visual data and producing a map of high-level features like walls, obstacles and doors is one of the core capabilities of the HoloLens, so the team decided to let it do its thing and recreate the environment for the user from these extracted features. They designed the system around sound, naturally. Every major object and feature can tell the user where it is, either via voice or sound. Walls, for instance, hiss (presumably a white noise, not a snake hiss) as the user approaches them. And the user can scan the scene, with objects announcing themselves from left to right from the direction in which they are located. A single object can be selected and will repeat its callout to help the user find it. That's all well for stationary tasks like finding your cane or the couch in a friend's house. But the system also works in motion.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-ambulance-chasers department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Patients sitting in emergency rooms, at chiropractors' offices and at pain clinics in the Philadelphia area may start noticing on their phones the kind of messages typically seen along highway billboards and public transit: personal injury law firms looking for business by casting mobile online ads at patients. The potentially creepy part? They're only getting fed the ad because somebody knows they are in an emergency room. The technology behind the ads, known as geofencing, or placing a digital perimeter around a specific location, has been deployed by retailers for years to offer coupons and special offers to customers as they shop. Bringing it into health care spaces, however, is raising alarm among privacy experts.
Law firms and marketing companies from Tennessee to California are also testing out the technology in hospital settings. "Is everybody in an emergency room going to need an attorney? Absolutely not," Kakis says. "But people that are going to need a personal injury attorney are more than likely at some point going to end up in an emergency room." The advertisers identify someone's location by grabbing what is known as "phone ID" from Wi-Fi, cell data or an app using GPS. Once someone crosses the digital fence, Kakis says, the ads can show up for more than a month -- and on multiple devices.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's justice-is-served department
The computer hacker who worked with Russian spies was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for his role in a massive security breach at Yahoo. "U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria also fined Karim Baratov $250,000 during a sentencing hearing in San Francisco," The Associated Press reports. From the report: Baratov, 23, pleaded guilty in November to nine felony hacking charges. He acknowledged in his plea agreement that he began hacking as a teen seven years ago and charged customers $100 per hack to access web-based emails. Prosecutors allege he was "an international hacker for hire" who indiscriminately hacked for clients he did not know or vet, including dozens of jobs paid for by Russia's Federal Security Service. Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan but lived in Toronto, Canada, where he was arrested last year, charged customers to obtain another person's webmail passwords by tricking them to enter their credentials into a fake password reset page. Prosecutors said Russian security service hired Baratov to target dozens of email accounts using information obtained from the Yahoo hack.
"Deterrence is particularly important in a case like this," the judge said during the hearing. He rejected prosecutors call for a prison sentence of nearly 10 years, noting Baratov's age and clean criminal record prior to his arrest. Baratov has been in custody since his arrest last year. He told the judge Tuesday that his time behind bars has been "a very humbling and eye-opening experience." He apologized to those he hacked and promised "to be a better man" and obey the law upon his release. The judge said it is likely Baratov will be deported once he is released from prison.Read Replies (0)