By BeauHD from Slashdot's cut-ties department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Snopes, a fact-checking organization, announced on Friday its decision to end its partnership with Facebook, which has been ramping its efforts to curb misinformation on its services since the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook and Snopes had been working together since December 2016 to fact check content on the social network. The company in 2017 paid Snopes as much as $100,000 for the work, according to Snopes. "At this time we are evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services, and we want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff," Snopes said in a statement. Snopes said it has not closed the door on working with the company again, but it encouraged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to meet "with fact-checkers as part of his recently announced series of public discussions" in 2019. The partnership is ending weeks after a report by The Guardian, in which multiple former Snopes employees criticized Facebook's efforts to stop fake content on its services.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
One of the most important takeaways from Amazon's 2018 fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report, released Jan. 31, had little to do with the usual financial results. Amazon disclosed in the report that it received a record 850,000 work applications for hourly jobs in the US in October 2018 after announcing it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour starting Nov. 1. From a report: The company said that was more than double its previous record for job applications received in a single month. Amazon said the new $15 minimum affects more than 250,000 employees in the US and 17,000 employees in the UK (where the increase was 10.50 pound in the London area and 9.50 pound everywhere else), plus more than 200,000 workers who were hired for the holiday season. As of Dec. 31, Amazon had 647,500 full- and part-time employees, up 14% from the same period a year earlier.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's advances-in-robotics department
In the basement of MIT's Building 3, a robot is carefully contemplating its next move. It gently pokes at a tower of blocks, looking for the best block to extract without toppling the tower, in a solitary, slow-moving, yet surprisingly agile game of Jenga. From a report: The robot, developed by MIT engineers, is equipped with a soft-pronged gripper, a force-sensing wrist cuff, and an external camera, all of which it uses to see and feel the tower and its individual blocks. As the robot carefully pushes against a block, a computer takes in visual and tactile feedback from its camera and cuff, and compares these measurements to moves that the robot previously made. It also considers the outcomes of those moves -- specifically, whether a block, in a certain configuration and pushed with a certain amount of force, was successfully extracted or not. In real-time, the robot then "learns" whether to keep pushing or move to a new block, in order to keep the tower from falling.
Details of the Jenga-playing robot are published in the journal Science Robotics. Alberto Rodriguez, the Walter Henry Gale Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, says the robot demonstrates something that's been tricky to attain in previous systems: the ability to quickly learn the best way to carry out a task, not just from visual cues, as it is commonly studied today, but also from tactile, physical interactions.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said today he would "soon" introduce a bill to permanently reinstate the net neutrality rules that were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission, led by chairman Ajit Pai, in 2017. From a report: Markey's announcement comes as a federal court is set to hear oral arguments over the FCC's repeal of net neutrality regulations in 2017. Markey, who is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, has previously introduced a bill that would permanently reinstate net neutrality as a member of the House of Representatives, although the measure ultimately failed.
It's unclear when the bill would be formally introduced, but Markey said it was imminent. "We will soon lay down a legislative marker in the Senate in support of net neutrality to show the American people that we are on their side in overwhelming supporting a free and open internet." Further reading: Net Neutrality Repeal at Stake as Key Court Case Starts: Oral arguments are set to begin Friday in the most prominent lawsuit challenging the federal government's repeal of broadband access rules known as net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission approved the rules in 2015 to ensure internet users equal and open access to all websites and services. The commission, under new leadership, rolled the rules back in 2017. The plaintiffs in the suit to be argued Friday, led by the internet company Mozilla and supported by 22 state attorneys general, say the commission lacked a sound legal reason for scrapping the regulations. The government is expected to argue that the rules were repealed because of the burden they imposed on broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Christopher Forno, CTO at Singapore Data Company writes: When looking for .com names, I've been frustrated by how many are already taken but appear to be unused. It can feel like people are registering every pronounceable combination of letters in every major language, and even the unpronounceable short ones. Is there rampant domain speculation, or do I just think of the same names as everyone else? Let's look at the data.
There are currently 137 million .com domain names registered. Of these, roughly 1/3 are in use (businesses, personal websites, email, etc.), another 1/3 appear to be unused, and the last 1/3 are used for a variety of speculative purposes. I started by crawling a random sample of the domains from the top-level .com DNS zone file, until reaching 100,000 valid domains. [...] For most categories I've included a random sample of screenshots from that category, excluding redundant ones: Content (31% or ~43 million), Ads (23% or ~31 million), No Web Server (11% or ~16 million), Empty (9.2% or ~13 million), For Sale (7.1% or ~9.8 million), Error (5.7% or ~7.9 million), Parked (4.8% or ~6.5 million), Gambling (3.0% or ~4 million), Mail (2.6% or ~3.5 million), Redirect (1.1% or ~1.6 million), Private (0.64% or ~0.9 million), and Porn (0.59% or ~0.8 million).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
It's a big year for comic book anniversaries. Batman's 80th is this year, and Asterix is turning 60. But at the Angouleme International Comics Festival in France, which finished on Sunday, there was a sense that the form's best days may be yet to come -- in the French-speaking world, at least. From a report: "It's a kind of golden age," said Jean-Luc Fromental, a comic book author who also runs a graphic-novel imprint for the publisher Denoel. "There has never been so much talent. There have never been so many interesting books published."
There are now more comic books published annually in France and Belgium than ever before, according to the festival's artistic director, Stephane Beaujean. "The market has risen from 700 books per year in the 1990s to 5,000 this year," he said in an interview. "I don't know any cultural industry which has had that kind of increase." Research by the market research company GfK, released to coincide with the festival, showed that turnover in the comic book industry in those two countries alone reached 510 million euros, or around $580 million, in 2018.
The bumper year in France and Belgium contrasts with a mixed situation worldwide. Comichron, a website that reports on comic book sales in the United States, where the market is worth around $1 billion, says that sales there are declining. But in terms of respect and recognition, comics are on the way up.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's take-what-you-need department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Many genome studies have shown that prokaryotes—bacteria and archaea -- liberally swap genes among species, which influences their evolution. The initial sequencing of the human genome suggested our species, too, has picked up microbial genes. But further work demonstrated that such genes found in vertebrate genomes were often contaminants introduced during sequencing. [...] Debashish Bhattacharya, an evolutionary genomicist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and UD plant biochemist Andreas Weber took a closer look at a possible case of bacteria-to-eukaryote gene transfer that [William Martin, a biologist that concluded that there is no significant ongoing transfer of prokaryotic genes into eukaryotes, has challenged in 2015]. The initial sequencing of genomes from two species of red algae called Cyanidiophyceae had indicated that up to 6% of their DNA had a prokaryotic origin. These so-called extremophiles, which live in acidic hot springs and even inside rock, can't afford to maintain superfluous DNA. They appear to contain only genes needed for survival. "When we find a bacterial gene, we know it has an important function or it wouldn't last" in the genome, Bhattacharya says.
< article continued at Slashdot's take-what-you-need department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pocket-friendly department
According to a report from Nikkei, Nintendo is developing a smaller and cheaper version of the Switch focused on portability, and without some of the features in the original console. "A rumor in October suggested Nintendo was developing a new Switch, but instead of improving on the existing model, it's just as likely the company is looking for ways to streamline the system," notes Engadget. From the report: As Ars Technica speculates, the console's plastic dock could be the first thing to go. It's available separately for $90, and there are also cheaper ways to get your Switch to output to a TV (it's relying on a USB-C connection, after all). Nintendo could conceivably move towards a smaller and cheaper screen, and potentially even make the controller a physical part of the console, instead of the removable Joy-Cons. It also wouldn't be out of character for Nintendo to break existing functionality with a console revamp -- the 2DS was a cheaper spin on the 3DS that was still very playable without 3D.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's energy-harvesting department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created super-thin, bendy materials that absorb wireless internet and other electromagnetic waves in the air and turn them into electricity. The lead researcher, Tomas Palacios, said the breakthrough paved the way for energy-harvesting covers ranging from tablecloths to giant wrappers for buildings that extract energy from the environment to power sensors and other electronics. Details have been published in the journal Nature. Palacios and his colleagues connected a bendy antenna to a flexible semiconductor layer only three atoms thick. The antenna picks up wifi and other radio-frequency signals and turns them into an alternating current. This flows into the molybdenum disulphide semiconductor, where it is converted into a direct electrical current. [M]olybdenum disulphide film can be produced in sheets on industrial roll-to-roll machines, meaning they can be made large enough to capture useful amounts of energy.
Ambient wifi signals can fill an office with more than 100 microwatts of power that is ripe to be scavenged by energy-harvesting devices. The MIT system has an efficiency of between 30% and 40%, producing about 40 microwatts when exposed to signals bearing 150 microwatts of power in laboratory tests. "It doesn't sound like much compared with the 60 watts that a computer needs, but you can still do a lot with it," Palacios said. "You can design a wide range of sensors, for environmental monitoring or chemical and biological sensing, which operate at the single microwatt level. Or you could store the electricity in a battery to use later."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's full-steam-ahead department
Rei writes: Yesterday, Tesla reported their 4th quarter earnings, representing their second consecutive profit. While earnings per share missed analyst expectations ($1.93 vs. $2.20), revenue beat expectations by around $100 million and free cash flow ($910 million) was more than double the First Call consensus of $395 million. Model 3 margins were maintained at an impressive 20% level despite significant reductions in the average sale price in Q4; labor hours fell by 20% in Q4 and 65% in the second half of 2018 alone. With $3.7 billion in the bank, Tesla is now well positioned to repay its $920 million March convertible bond obligations in cash. Severance costs and an increase in inventory in transit due to shipments to Europe and China are expected to hurt Tesla's profits in Q1, but guidance for Q2 onward in 2019 is strong. Highlights planned for 2019 include introduction of faster V3 Supercharging early in the year, Model Y and pickup unveiling in the middle of the year, base Model 3 unveiling in the middle of the year, and full-vehicle production in the under-construction Shanghai Gigafactory by the end of the year -- the first wholly foreign-owned auto plant in China, which has seen extensive governmental support. Despite a generally positive earnings report and conference call, the atmosphere was soured by the news that Tesla's 11-year Tesla veteran CFO Deepak Ahuja was re-retiring. Having previously retired in 2015, Deepak returned to Tesla in 2017 to replace outgoing CFO Jason Wheeler. Ahuja will remain with the company for several months as CFO and then become a senior advisor, while his protege Zach Kirkhorn fills his role. The market reacted negatively to the news, with Tesla trading down 4.5% premarket.Read Replies (0)