By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
From a report: Last summer, employees of Guaranteed Rate posted a stream of negative reviews about the mortgage broker on Glassdoor, a company-ratings website. The company's rating on Glassdoor, which is determined by employee feedback, fell to 2.6 stars out of 5. Concerned that negative reviews could hurt recruiting, Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli instructed his team to enlist employees likely to post positive reviews, said a person familiar with his instructions. In September and October these employees flooded Glassdoor with hundreds of five-star ratings. The company rating now sits at 4.1.
Glassdoor has become an important arbiter of employee sentiment in today's highly competitive job market. A Wall Street Journal investigation shows it can be manipulated by employers trying to sway opinion in their favor. An analysis of millions of anonymous reviews posted on Glassdoor's site identified more than 400 companies with unusually large single-month increases in reviews. During the vast majority of these surges, the ratings were disproportionately positive compared with the surrounding months, the Journal's analysis shows. Glassdoor's problem echoes the challenged faced by other online rating platforms, who are trying to ensure their rankings are real and maintain users' trust. Amazon.com, local-business site Yelp and hotel-and-restaurant site TripAdvisor have all had to fend off attempts to game reviews and ratings.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Google wants to popularize a more upbeat way of describing data: It's more like sunlight than oil. From a report: Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday morning, Google's chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, said that "data is more like sunlight than oil," adding, "It is like sunshine -- we keep using it, and it keeps regenerating." It's a twist on the well-known phrase "data is the new oil," meaning the world's most valuable resource is information rather than petroleum. Like the oil barons who preceded them, Silicon Valley titans such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have risen quickly to profit from this new resource and even control its flow. And in another echo of history, regulators are eyeing the industry.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Imagine a laboratory growing human hearts - and imagine that laboratory floating in space hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth. That may sound like science fiction, but bizarre as it seems, it could bring new hope for transplant patients within the next decade. From a report: While about 7,600 heart transplants were carried out around the world in 2017, there's a desperate shortage of organs, with thousands of people on waiting lists dying every year. Efforts to grow human hearts in the lab are showing promise, but are hampered by the need for the organs to grow around a "scaffolding" to make sure they don't collapse during the process. Reliably removing the scaffolding once the heart is complete is proving to be a challenge.
Space tech company Techshot believes zero gravity could be the answer. The International Space Station (ISS) is in constant freefall around the planet, meaning that anything inside experiences effective weightlessness, known technically as microgravity. This means organs could be grown without the need for any scaffolding, believes Rich Boling, the firm's vice-president of corporate advancement. One day hearts could be grown commercially for transplant, Techshot believes. [...] Developed in partnership with Nasa, Techshot's BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is a microwave oven-sized device that uses 3D printing techniques to create patches for heart repairs using a patient's own stem cells.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-not-all-rainbows-and-butterflies department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Google: Over the weekend, four commits were posted to various parts of Android's Gerrit source code management, all entitled "Carrier restriction enhancements for Android Q." In them, we see that network carriers will have more fine-grained control over which networks devices will and will not work on. More specifically, it will be possible to designate a list of "allowed" and "excluded" carriers, essentially a whitelist and a blacklist of what will and won't work on a particular phone. This can be done with a fine-grained detail to even allow blocking virtual carrier networks that run on the same towers as your main carrier.
Restriction changes are also on the way for dual-SIM devices. At the moment, carriers can set individual restrictions for each SIM slot, but with Android Q, carriers will be able to lock out the second slot unless there's an approved SIM card in the first slot. This SIM lock restriction is applied immediately and will persist through restarting the phone, and even doing a factory reset. Thankfully, in both cases, emergency phone calls will still work as expected, regardless of any restrictions on the particular SIM cards in your phone.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's past-vs-future department
SpaceX is reportedly shifting its work on prototypes of its next-gen "Starship" launch vehicle from Los Angeles to Texas. The news comes less than a week after the aerospace company announced its plans to lay off 10% of its 6,000-person workforce to tackle its more ambitious projects. An anonymous reader shares the report from Space.com: In a statement, SpaceX said it was now planning to build prototypes of its Starship vehicle, the upper stage of its next-generation reusable launch system, at its site in South Texas originally designed to serve as a launch site. An initial prototype version of that vehicle has been taking shape in recent weeks at the site in advance of 'hopper' tests that could begin in the next one to two months. A shift to South Texas, industry sources said, could be a way to reduce expenses, given the lower cost of living there versus the Los Angeles area. However, that region of Texas has a much smaller workforce, particularly in aerospace, compared to Southern California.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A rapid rise in temperature on ancient Earth triggered a climate response that may have prolonged the warming for many thousands of years, according to scientists. Their study, published online in Nature Geoscience, provides new evidence of a climate feedback that could explain the long duration of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is considered the best analogue for modern climate change. The findings also suggest that climate change today could have long-lasting impacts on global temperature even if humans are able to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Increased erosion during the PETM, approximately 56 million years ago, freed large amounts of fossil carbon stored in rocks and released enough carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere to impact temperatures long term, researchers said. Scientists found evidence for the massive carbon release in coastal sediment fossil cores. They analyzed the samples using an innovative molecular technique that enabled them to trace how processes like erosion moved carbon in deep time. Global temperatures increased by about 9 to 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit during the PETM, radically changing conditions on Earth. Severe storms and flooding became more common, and the warm, wet weather led to increased erosion of rocks. As erosion wore down mountains over thousands of years, carbon was released from rocks and transported by rivers to oceans, where some was reburied in coastal sediments. Along the way, some of the carbon entered the atmosphere as greenhouse gas.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's green-light department
The Tesla Model 3 has cleared its last regulatory hurdle in Europe and will soon go on sale in the continent home to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. "Deliveries should start in February for the Long Range Battery version of the midsize sedan -- the same variant first sold in the U.S. -- according to Tesla, after Dutch vehicle authority RDW issued the OK," reports Bloomberg. From the report: The European launch is crucial for Tesla as it navigates what Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk called a "very difficult" road ahead. The company is cutting jobs so it can profitably deliver lower-priced versions of the Model 3, Tesla's first car targeted for the mass market. Musk has pointed to sales of the sedan in Europe and China as a main reason he isn't concerned about any potential setback caused by a halving of the U.S. federal tax credit, to $3,750, on Tesla purchases as of Jan. 1. With the Model 3, Tesla also has an opportunity to broaden its attack on the premium car market dominated by Germany's BMW AG, Daimler AG-owned Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG's Audi. Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, said in its third-quarter shareholder letter that "the midsized premium sedan market in Europe is more than twice as big as the same segment in the U.S." The Model 3 became the top-selling luxury car there last year, outstripping the Audi Q5, BMW 3 Series and other well-known models. Analysts and industry executives, however, have observed that competition with Tesla cuts across traditional categories.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's drop-in-the-bucket department
schwit1 shares a report from VentureBeat: Google has been hit by a $57 million fine by French data privacy body CNIL (National Data Protection Commission) for failure to comply with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations. The CNIL said that it was fining Google for "lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization," according to a press release issued by the organization. The news was first reported by the AFP. What the CNIL is effectively referencing here is dark pattern design, which attempts to encourage users into accepting terms by guiding their choices through the design and layout of the interface. This is something that Facebook has often done too, as it has sought to garner user consent for new features or T&Cs.
It's worth noting here that Google has faced considerable pressure from the EU on a number of fronts over the way it carries out business. Back in July, it was hit with a record $5 billion fine in an Android antitrust case, though it is currently appealing that. A few months back, Google overhauled its Android business model in Europe, electing to charge Android device makers a licensing fee to preinstall its apps in Europe. Google hasn't confirmed what its next steps will be, but it will likely appeal the decision as it has done with other fines. "People expect high standards of transparency and control from us," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "We're deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR. We're studying the decision to determine our next steps."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's good-luck-with-that department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Russian government agency responsible for censorship on the Internet has accused Facebook and Twitter of failing to comply with a law requiring all servers that store personal data to be located in Russia. Roskomnadzor, the Russian censorship agency, "said the social-media networks hadn't submitted any formal and specific plans or submitted an acceptable explanation of when they would meet the country's requirements that all servers used to store Russians' personal data be located in Russia," The Wall Street Journal reported today. Roskomnadzor said it sent letters to Facebook and Twitter on December 17, giving them 30 days to provide "a legally valid response." With the 30 days having passed, the agency said that "Today, Roskomnadzor begins administrative proceedings against both companies." The law went into effect in September 2015, but Russia has had trouble enforcing it. "At the moment, the only tools Russia has to enforce its data rules are fines that typically only come to a few thousand dollars or blocking the offending online services, which is an option fraught with technical difficulties," a Reuters article said today. According to The Journal, "Facebook and Twitter could be fined for not providing information to the watchdog."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's supply-and-demand department
Data-science job openings are expanding faster than the number of technologists looking for them, says job-search firm Indeed. From a report: Back in August, a LinkedIn analysis concluded that the United States is facing a significant shortage of data scientists, a big change from a surplus in 2015. Last week, job-search firm Indeed reported that its data indicates the shortage is getting worse: While more job seekers are interested in data-science jobs, the number of job postings from employers has been rising faster than the number of interested applicants.
According to Indeed, job postings for data scientists as a share of all postings were up 29 percent in December 2018 compared with December 2017, while searches were only up around 14 percent. "The bargaining power in data science remains with the job seekers," Andrew Flowers, Indeed economist, stated in a press release. [...] Salaries for data scientists are up as well. Average salary in the area surrounding Houston, which topped the 2018 list when adjusted for the cost of living, climbed 16.5 percent since 2017, while the average salary in the San Francisco Bay Area, No. 2 on the adjusted list, jumped 13.7 percent over Indeed's 2017 numbers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
We'll likely see a rise in internet blackouts in 2019, for two reasons: countries deliberately "turning off" the internet within their borders, and hackers disrupting segments of the internet with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Above all, both will force policymakers everywhere to reckon with the fact that the internet itself is increasingly becoming centralized -- and therefore increasingly vulnerable to manipulation, making everyone less safe.
From a report: The first method -- states deliberately severing internet connections within their country -- has an important history. In 2004, the Maldivian government caused an internet blackout when citizens protested the president; Nepal similarly caused a blackout shortly thereafter. In 2007, the Burmese government apparently damaged an underwater internet cable in order to "staunch the flow of pictures and messages from protesters reaching the outside world." In 2011, Egypt cut most internet and cell services within its borders as the government attempted to quell protests against then-President Hosni Mubarak; Libya then did the same after its own unrest.
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