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Earth-Sized Telescope Set To Snap First Picture of a Black Hole
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 07:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's big-picture department:
An anonymous reader writes from a New Scientist report: This week, we will have our first chance to take a picture of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. The image could teach us how black holes work and even how the largest and smallest forces governing the universe fit together. The Event Horizon Telescope is switching on. It consists of eight radio observatories around the world, including telescopes in Spain, the US and Antarctica. And for just four or five nights between 5 and 14 April, if the weather is clear at all of the observatories, they will all turn on at once. Each telescope will point at Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and measure every radio wave coming from its direction. Linking together observatories spread across such a huge area and combining their observations to filter out extra light will effectively create a powerful "virtual telescope" almost the size of Earth. These telescopes will together capture sharper and more detailed data than we've ever had from Sagittarius A, which we still know very little about, as well as the larger black hole at the centre of nearby galaxy M87. With the telescopes generating a total of 2 petabytes of data per night -- enough to store the full genomes of some 2 billion people -- astronomers hope to take the first image of the event horizon around a black hole, and the bright matter hurtling around it.

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Employers Added Just 98,000 Jobs in March Below Expectations of 180,000
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 06:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-are-moving department:
Employers slowed their pace of hiring while the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in almost a decade in March, highlighting steady but sometimes mixed progress across the labor market. From a report on USA Today: Payroll growth weakened significantly last month amid harsher winter weather as employers added 98.000 jobs in a sharper pullback than anticipated. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell to 4.5% from 4.7%, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected 180,000 employment gains, based on their median estimate. Analysts expected some payback in March after unseasonably mild temperatures pulled forward hiring to early in the year, especially in sectors such as construction, resulting in 200,000-plus job gains in January and February. And a snowstorm that slammed into the Midwest and East Coast in mid-March likely further curtailed job growth, says economist Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics. [...] But some economists also have said the outsize job gains early this year defied a low unemployment rate that's supplying businesses a shrinking pool of available workers. Many analysts expect that trend ultimately to result in average monthly job gains of about 170,000 this year, down from 187,000 last year and 226,000 in 2015.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Plans Fast-Track Repeal of Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 06:13 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-blink department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is moving quickly to replace the Obama administration's landmark net neutrality rules and wants internet service providers to voluntarily agree to maintain an open internet, three sources briefed on the meeting said Thursday. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, met on Tuesday with major telecommunications trade groups to discuss his preliminary plan to reverse the rules, the sources said. The rules approved by the FCC under Democratic President Barack Obama in early 2015 prohibited broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a "fast lane," to certain internet services over others. As part of that change, the FCC reclassified internet service providers much like utilities. Pai wants to overturn that reclassification, but wants internet providers to voluntarily agree to not obstruct or slow consumer access to web content, two officials said late Tuesday. The officials briefed on the meeting said Pai suggested companies commit in writing to open internet principles and including them in their terms of service, which would make them binding. It is unclear if regulators could legally compel internet providers to adopt open internet principles without existing net neutrality rules. As part of that move, the Federal Trade Commission would assume oversight of ensuring compliance.Three sources said Pai plans to unveil his proposal to overturn the rules as early as late April and it could face an initial vote in May or June.

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China Court Orders Samsung Units To Pay $11.6 Million To Huawei Over Patent Case
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 02:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's paying-Chinese department:
A Chinese court has ordered Samsung Electronics's mainland subsidiaries to pay 80 million yuan ($11.60 million) to Huawei Technologies for patent infringement, the China firm's first victory against Samsung on its legal challenges over intellectual property. From a report: Three units of Samsung have been ordered by the Quanzhou Intermediary Court to pay the sum for infringing a patent held by Huawei Device Co Limited, the handset unit of Huawei, the Quanzhou Evening News, a government-run newspaper, said on its website on Thursday. The verdict is the first on several lawsuits of Huawei against the South Korean technology giant. Huawei filed lawsuits against Samsung in May in courts in China and the United States -- the first by it against Samsung -- claiming infringements of smartphone patents. Samsung subsequently countersued Huawei in China for IP infringement.

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Public Crowd-sourcing Finds New Exoplanets
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 11:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
brindafella writes: A participant in a TV program "Stargazing Live" on Australia's ABC TV channel has found four planets closely orbiting a star, using an online database. Astrophysicist Dr Chris Lintott, the principal investigator of Zooniverse, reported on Thursday's show that four "Super Earth" planets had been identified in the data. They orbit closer to their star than Mercury does to our Sun. The person responsible for the find, Andrew Grey, is a mechanic by day and amateur astronomer in his spare time, and lives in the city of Darwin, Northern Territory. The data is sourced from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. "Stargazing Live" host Professor Brian Cox said he could not be more excited about the discovery. "In the seven years I've been making Stargazing Live this is the most significant scientific discovery we've ever made. The results are astonishing."

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US Strikes Syrian Base With Over 50 Tomahawk Missiles
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 10:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's proportional-response department:
mi writes: Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target -- Shayrat Airfield in Homs province in western Syria, the Defense Department said. That's the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired chemical weapons on Tuesday. There was no immediate word on casualties. U.S. officials told NBC News that people were not targeted and that aircraft and infrastructure at the site, including the runway, were hit. Slashdot reader Humbubba shares a similar report from Washington Post, adding that Thursday's strike was the "first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country's civil war began six years ago." The report also notes that the strike "dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition."

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Ancient Cannibals Didn't Turn To Cannibalism Just For the Calories, Study Suggests
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taste-like-chicken department:
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: A new, slightly morbid study based on the calorie counts of average humans suggests that man-eating was mostly ritualistic, not dietary, in nature among hominins including Homo erectus, H. antecessor, Neandertals, and early modern humans. On average, an adult male human contains 125,822 calories of fat and protein, enough to meet the 1-day dietary requirements of more than 60 people. The numbers represent a lower limit, as Neandertals and other extinct hominins likely had more muscle mass than modern humans. Still, when compared with other animals widely available to ancient man like mammoths (3,600,000 calories), wooly rhinoceroses (1,260,000 calories), and aurochs (979,200 calories), it hardly seems worthwhile to hunt hominins that are just as wily and dangerous as the hunters, the researchers conclude. Some instances of cannibalism from nine Paleolithic sites, which date from 936,000 to 14,700 years ago, might be chalked up to starvation or not wanting to waste a perfectly good body that died from natural causes.

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Alcohol-Related Car Accidents Declined In New York After Introduction of Uber, Analysis Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
According to a new paper from Jessica Lynn Peck of the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, ride-hailing services may have helped reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents by 25-30% in New York City. The report specifically focuses on Uber, which was first introduced in the city in May 2011, and looks at how the ride-hailing service has impacted New York City. The Economist notes in its report that Uber is "largely banned outside of New York City." From the report: To control for factors unrelated to Uber's launch such as adverse weather conditions, Ms Peck compares accident rates in each of New York's five boroughs to those in the counties where Uber was not present, picking those that had the most similar population density and pre-2011 drunk-driving rate. The four boroughs which were quick to adopt Uber -- Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx--
all saw decreases in alcohol-related car crashes relative to their controls. By contrast, Staten Island, where Uber caught on more slowly, saw no such decrease.

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Facebook To Use Photo-Matching To Block Repeat 'Revenge Porn'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's automated-processes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from AOL: Facebook is adding tools to make it easier for users to report so-called "revenge porn" and to automatically prevent the images from being shared again once they have been banned, the company said. "Revenge porn" refers to the sharing of sexually explicit images on the internet, without the consent of the people depicted in the pictures, in order to extort or humiliate them. The practice disproportionately affects women, who are sometimes targeted by former partners. Beginning on Wednesday, users of the world's largest social network should see an option to report a picture as inappropriate specifically because it is a "nude photo of me," Facebook said in a statement. The company also said it was launching an automated process to prevent the repeat sharing of banned images. Photo-matching software will keep the pictures off the core Facebook network as well as off its Instagram and Messenger services, it said.

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Uber Contract 'Gibberish', Says MP Investigating Gig Economy
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 04:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's calling-one-out department:
A committee of MPs has lambasted Uber's contracts with drivers as "gibberish" and "almost unintelligible" as the company attempts to ensure its drivers remain self-employed. From a report: Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions select committee that is carrying out an investigation into the so-called gig economy, said: "Quite frankly the Uber contract is gibberish. They are well aware that many, if not most, of their drivers speak English as a second language -- they recently lost a court case trying to escape Transport for London's new English testing rules for private hire drivers -- yet their contract is almost unintelligible." [...] Publishing full details of Uber's contract terms, along with those for the takeaway courier firm Deliveroo and Amazon, Field said all three used some kind of "egregious clause" which attempted to prevent people challenging their "self-employed" designation, although neither Uber's nor Amazon's contract went as far as Deliveroo's, in the committee's view.

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YouTube Now Requires Channels To Have More Than 10K Views To Make Money Off Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 03:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
YouTube is getting a little pickier about who can make money there. From a report on CNET: Google's massive video site said Thursday that channels must reach 10,000 total views before they qualify to run ads, the most direct way to make money there. The logic, essentially, is to remove one of the main incentives that spur bad actors to set up bogus accounts with somebody else's content -- the easy money. It also comes two weeks after YouTube suffered big advertiser pull-outs after a rash of news reports about brands' commercials running next to objectionable videos, like those with racist language.

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London Police Ink Shadowy Deal With Industry On Website Takedowns
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shady-business department:
AmiMoJo writes: The EFF is warning about unregulated activity against websites by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London Police. A program called RogueBlock accepts notifications from IP holders, which the PIPCU then acts on, giving private companies legal jurisdiction over the entire internet, with appeals in the case of malicious reports and mistakes being extremely difficult to make. For example, Spanish sports streaming site Rojadirecta had its domain name seized by the U.S. government for over a year, despite the site being lawful in its native Spain. The EFF terms this kind of activity "Shadow Regulation."

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New Destructive Malware Intentionally Bricks IoT Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's vigilante-justice department:
An anonymous reader writes: "A new malware strain called BrickerBot is intentionally bricking Internet of Things (IoT) devices around the world by corrupting their flash storage capability and reconfiguring kernel parameters. The malware spreads by launching brute-force attacks on IoT (BusyBox-based) devices with open Telnet ports. After BrickerBot attacks, device owners often have to reinstall the device's firmware, or in some cases, replace the device entirely. Attacks started on March 20, and two versions have been seen. One malware strain launches attacks from hijacked Ubiquiti devices, while the second, more advanced, is hidden behind Tor exit nodes. Several security researchers believe this is the work of an internet vigilante fed up with the amount of insecure IoT devices connected to the internet and used for DDoS attacks. "Wow. That's pretty nasty," said Cybereason security researcher Amit Serper after Bleeping Computer showed him Radware's security alert. "They're just bricking it for the sake of bricking it. [They're] deliberately destroying the device."

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Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams Is Selling 30 Percent of His Stock For 'Personal' Reasons
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department:
The co-founder and current board member of Twitter, Ev Williams, said today that he plans to sell a "minority of [his] TWTR" stock over the next year, and doesn't plan to sell "more than 30 percent" of his holdings. Williams is the company's largest individual shareholder, so his recent announcement may make some investors worried. However, Twitter stock was only down less than 1 percent Thursday following this news. Recode reports: Williams was careful to say the sale was for "personal" reasons, not company performance reasons. Twitter's stock is down more than 15 percent over the past three months. Williams explained the sale in a blog post, and wrote that he has spent a lot of money investing through his venture fund, Obvious Ventures, and also donated a lot to charity and political campaigns over the past year. "I'd like to continue," he added. Williams sold about $4 million in stock this week, according to an SEC filing, and has set up a 10b5-1 trading plan, which means he'll sell at pre-determined dates moving forward to avoid any concerns over insider trading.

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Uber Said To Use 'Sophisticated' Software To Defraud Drivers, Passengers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 02:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's methodical-scheme department:
A class-action lawsuit against Uber alleges that Uber has "devised a 'clever and sophisticated' scheme in which it manipulates navigation data used to determine 'upfront' rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver," reports Ars Technica. "When a rider uses Uber's app to hail a ride, the fare the app immediately shows to the passenger is based on a slower and longer route compared to the one displayed to the driver. The software displays a quicker, shorter route for the driver. But the rider pays the higher fee, and the driver's commission is paid from the cheaper, faster route, according to the lawsuit." From the report: This latest lawsuit (PDF) claims that Uber implemented the so-called "upfront" pricing scheme in September and informed drivers that fares are calculated on a per-mile and per-minute charge for the estimated distance and time of a ride. "However, the software that calculates the upfront price that is displayed and charged to the Users calculates the expected distance and time utilizing a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver's application," according to the suit. In the end, the rider pays a higher fee because the software calculates a longer route and displays that to the passenger. Yet the driver is paid a lower rate based on a quicker route, according to the suit. Uber keeps "the difference charged to the User and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers," according to the suit.

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Twitter Sues US Government Over Attempt To Unmask Anti-Trump Account
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 02:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's anonymous-coward department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: According to Twitter's suit, filed today in Northern California District Court, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has attempted to use a "limited-purpose investigatory tool" to unmask the owner of the Twitter account "@ALT_USCIS." The account, one of several "alt" or "rogue" government accounts that appeared in the wake of Trump's ascent to the presidency, was used "to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration," according to Twitter's complaint. In the suit, Twitter writes that @ALT_USCIS has purported to be a dissenting member of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. On March 14, Twitter received a summons from Customs requesting records that could reveal the identity of the account's operator, including IP logs and any associated phone number or mailing address. In addition to the Department of Homeland Security and its subagency, the lawsuit names four individuals as defendants: DHS secretary John Kelly, acting CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan, and special agents Stephen P. Caruso and Adam Hoffman, who issued and served the order itself.

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Facebook Messenger Now Analyzes Your Chats To Give You Recommendations
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 12:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-creepiness-to-a-new-level department:
Facebook's messaging platform, which reports 1 billion monthly active users, announced on Thursday that it is rolling out its experimental virtual assistant "M" to all Messenger users in the United States this week through a new feature called M Suggestions. A report adds: M Suggestions does exactly what its name suggests, using artificial intelligence to understand what is being said in any given Messenger chat to make recommendations that pop up during the course of a conversation. Some folks who already feel like Facebook is watching them when they see ads in their News Feed for bridal gowns after getting engaged may be creeped out by the fact their messages are being analyzed. But Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook Messenger's Head of Product, contends their goal with M Suggestions is to offer a better user experience. To wit, M Suggestions does not currently generate any revenues for Messenger. "The history of the internet is all about removing friction," Chudnovsky told Yahoo Finance. "In this case, instead of you having to think about doing something, like sending a sticker, paying a friend for something or sharing your location, and having to press three taps, M does it for you."

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Apple Taken To Court For Refusing To Fix Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's calling-out department:
Australia's consumer watchdog has begun legal action against Apple over claims it refused to repair iPads and iPhones previously serviced by third parties. From a report on BBC: It alleges that Apple made "false, misleading, or deceptive representations" about consumers' rights under Australian law. The case follows complaints that users were "routinely refused" repairs after an error disabled their devices. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began an investigation after users complained about Apple's so-called "error 53", which disabled some users' devices after they downloaded an update to their operating system.

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Amazon Looks to Hire 30,000 Part-Time Employees in US
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 10:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's hiring-spree department:
Amazon's hiring spree is in full force. From a report: The online retailer on Thursday announced plans to hire 30,000 part-time workers in the U.S. over the next year, including 5,000 positions that will allow employees to work from home as customer service representatives. Amazon's incoming part-time employees will work 20 or more hours and receive benefits. About 25,000 of the positions Amazon has floated will work in the company's sorting and fulfillment centers, a nod to the company's plans to boost the number of logistics facilities across the U.S. in the coming years. According to Amazon, all of its part-time workers are eligible for a Career Choice program that pre-pays 95 percent of an employee's tuition if he or she is working in fields that Amazon says are "in demand."

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Employee Burnout Is a Problem with the Company, Not the Person
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '17 at 10:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's getting-to-the-bottom-of-things department:
Employee burnout is a common phenomenon, but it is one that companies tend to treat as a talent management or personal issue rather than a broader organizational challenge. That's a mistake, reads an article on HBR. From the article: The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. [...] When employees aren't as productive as they could be, it's usually the organization, not its employees, that is to blame. The same is true for employee burnout. When we looked inside companies with high burnout rates, we saw three common culprits: excessive collaboration, weak time management disciplines, and a tendency to overload the most capable with too much work. These forces not only rob employees of time to concentrate on completing complex tasks or for idea generation, they also crunch the downtime that is necessary for restoration.

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