By timothy from Slashdot's at-what-margin-do-you-pivot? department
There's been some positive news in the last year (and the last few) for American cellphone customers: certainly there's more visible competition for their business among the largest players in the market. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal reports that while more competition may translate into some more attractive service bundles, flexibility in phone options, or smoother customer service, it doesn't actually mean that the customers are on average reaping one of the benefits that competition might be expected to provide: lower price. Instead, the bills for customers on the major wireless providers have actually gone up
, if not dramatically, in recent months — which means U.S. cell service remains much more expensive than it is in many other countries. The article could stand a sidebar on MVNOs
and other low-cost options, though -- I switched to one of these from AT&T, and now pay just under $40 for one version of the new normal of unlimited talk and text, plus quite limited (1GB) data, but still using AT&T towers. Has your own cost to talk gone up or down?Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's in-violation-of-the-go-along-to-get-along-directive department
As reported by the Washington Post, Edward Snowden <a>denies in no uncertain terms the idea that he failed to go through proper channels</a> to expose what he thought were troubling privacy violations being committed by the NSA, and that he observed as a contractor employed by the agency. The article begins: "[Snowden] said he repeatedly tried to go through official channels to raise concerns about government snooping programs but that his warnings fell on the deaf ears. In testimony to the European Parliament released Friday morning, Snowden wrote that he reported policy or legal issues related to spying programs to more than 10 officials, but as a contractor he had no legal avenue to pursue further whistleblowing."
Further, "Elsewhere in his testimony, Snowden described the reaction he received when relating his concerns to co-workers and superiors. The responses, he said, fell into two camps. 'The first were well-meaning but hushed warnings not to "rock the boat," for fear of the sort of retaliation that befell former NSA whistleblowers like Wiebe, Binney, and Drake.' All three of those men, he notes, were subject to intense scrutiny and the threat of criminal prosecution."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's sure-you-want-to-know? department
Georgetown researcher (and executive dean of Georgetown's medical school) Howard Federoff
has taken a "systems" approach to diagnostics for certain chronic diseases. By comparing blood samples taken from patients who subsequently developed Alzheimer's to blood samples after the disease has manifested, Federoff has identified markers and created a blood test that is described as "90 percent accurate"
(the BBC article does not delve into the ratio of false positives to false negatives) in predicting whether a currently healthy patient is likely to develop Alzheimer's in the following three years. Understandably, this raises some ethical and practical questions
. What would you do differently if this test came back positive for yourself? Or for a parent? Here's the (paywalled) paper
, at Nature Medicine
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By timothy from Slashdot's zum-beispiel department
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an intriguing article at TechDirt about the sometimes very low-tech methods of the East German Stasi. They may have been using more pencils than computers, but they were gathering information on their targets using the same kind of metadata whose significance the U.S. government has lately been downplaying: "They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime. But their spycraft — while incredibly invasive — was also technologically primitive by today's standards. While researching my book Dragnet Nation, I obtained the above hand drawn social network graph and other files from the Stasi Archive in Berlin, where German citizens can see files kept about them and media can access some files, with the names of the people who were monitored removed. The graphic shows forty-six connections, linking a target to various people (an 'aunt,' 'Operational Case Jentzsch,' presumably Bernd Jentzsch, an East German poet who defected to the West in 1976), places ('church'), and meetings ('by post, by phone, meeting in Hungary')."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's School-Complaints-Lead-to-Chicago-Area-Shutdown-For-Social-App-Yik-Yak department
The Chicago Tribune reports that Yik Yak, a mobile app that can (among other things) be used for anonymous communications, has drawn complaints from several local schools, who are unhappy that students can use it to bully or pester others."'The problem, as you might imagine, is that the anonymity is empowering certain individuals to post comments about others that are hurtful, harassing and sometimes quite disturbing,' Joseph Ruggiero, head of the Upper School at Francis W. Parker School in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, wrote in an email to parents last week. ... In light of the controversy, Yik Yak's co-founder said the company was disabling the app in the Chicago area and will attempt to specifically prevent it from being used on high school or middle school grounds."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's ebbs-and-flows department
An anonymous reader writes to this article about a series of visualizations built from London bike rental data
. "My favourite is the second map, it shows the main routes that exist between rental areas, coloured according to the local communities that exist in the network. So you can see the major flows of bike traffic within the city, which are mostly between major railway stations and work destinations. You can also see how the different local networks relate to each other — Hyde Park is its own little world, for example, while the networks around Kings Cross, Waterloo, and Liverpool Street are far more interconnected."
(Several more just-as-interesting maps here, too
. Wish every city had an interface to this kind of data, would make interesting reading for visitors as well as for locals.)Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's when-free-will-isn't-quite-good-enough department
theodp writes "Android is free and open," reiterated Google Android Chief Andy Rubin in 2010 as Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7. Rubin added, 'Competition is good for the consumer and if somebody has an idea for a feature or a piece of functionality in their platform and Android doesn't do it, great. I think it's good to have the benefit of choice, but in the end I don't think the world needs another platform.' But now, CNET and Digitimes report that Google is holding up the Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300 (specs), a laptop-tablet hybrid that can instantly switch between Android and Windows 8.1. A source familiar with the Asus Duet told CNET that Google is the one that has not favored the idea, while Microsoft has not, to date, been actively opposed to the idea. 'If true,' reports Apple Insider, 'it may not be the first time Google has helped to quash such a product.' South Korean electronics giant Samsung quietly canceled plans for its hybrid Ativ Q tablet last year, and Digitimes notes that Asus may not be the only company to bow to Google's wishes."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's are-they-feeding-you-well? department
Daniel_Stuckey writes with an excerpt from his story at Motherboard: "Yesterday, I got as close as any media physically can to Barrett Brown, the American journalist that was locked up in late 2012 for pasting a hyperlink in a chatroom, which federal prosecutors alleged contained leaked credit card data from the Statfor hacks. Due to a media gag order upheld by the US District Court in the Northern District of Texas, Brown isn't allowed to make "any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (included, but not limited to bloggers)," with the exception of Kevin M. Gallagher, who heads his defense fund. ... Earlier this week, US Attorney Sarah Saldaña filed a motion to dismiss 11 of Brown's charges, namely those related to the pasted hyperlink (including trafficking in stolen authentication features, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud). The motion came as both a victory for Brown's case, and a sigh of relief to supporters who have continuously cited the absurdity of his charges related to hyperlinking."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-not-earth-musk's-after department
mknewman writes with an article at NASA SpaceFlight which lays out the details of a plan from SpaceX to send a craft to Mars
, using an in-development engine ("Raptor") along with the company's Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle. "Additionally, Mr. Musk also introduced the mysterious MCT project, which he later revealed to be an acronym for Mars Colonial Transport. This system would be capable of transporting 100 colonists at a time to Mars, and would be fully reusable. Article is technically dense but he does seem to follow through on his promises!"
This is an endeavor that's been on Elon Musk's mind for a while
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