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McDonald's Is Now Accepting Snapchats As Job Applications
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-today-gone-tomorrow department:
McDonald's Australian subsidiary is now accepting job applications via Snapchat. Specifically, McDonald's wants potential candidates to send the company a 10-second video using a filter that shows them wearing a McDonald's uniform. Matthew Hughes reports via The Next Web: The job applications, which McDonalds calls "Snaplications" (I vomited a little), will be the first step in the recruitment process. The company will then review the submissions, pick out the favorites, and send digital applications to those selected. Speaking to Australian news website news.com.au, McDonald's Australia COO Shaun Ruming said the company is looking for applicants with a "bubbly personality." He also added that he'd "learned a lot about Snapchat recently from my 14-year-old daughter."

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DMCA 'Safe Harbor' Up In the Air For Online Sites That Use Moderators
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hits-close-to-home department:
"The Digital Millennium Copyright Act's so-called 'safe harbor' defense to infringement is under fire from a paparazzi photo agency," reports Ars Technica. "A new court ruling says the defense may not always be available to websites that host content submitted by third parties." The safe harbor provision "allow[s] websites to be free from legal liability for infringing content posted by their users -- so long as the website timely removes that content at the request of the rights holder," explains Ars. From the report: [A] San Francisco-based federal appeals court is ruling that, if a website uses moderators to review content posted by third parties, the safe harbor privilege may not apply. That's according to a Friday decision in a dispute brought by Mavrix Photographs against LiveJournal, which hosts the popular celebrity fan forum "Oh No they Didn't." The site hosted Mavrix-owned photos of Beyonce Knowles, Katy Perry, and other stars without authorization. LiveJournal claimed it was immune from copyright liability because it removed the photos. Mavrix claimed that the site's use of voluntary moderators removed the safe-harbor provision. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mavrix to a degree, but the court wants to know how much influence the moderators had on what was and was not published. With that, the court sent the case back to a lower court in Los Angeles to figure that out, perhaps in a trial. The highly nuanced decision overturned a lower court ruling that said LiveJournal was protected by safe harbor. The lower court said LiveJournal does not solicit any specific infringing material from its users or edit the content of its users' posts.

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Americans Support Letting Cities Build Their Own Broadband Networks, Pew Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-options-the-better department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Most Americans want to let local governments build out internet service if the internet providers in their area aren't any good, according to the Pew Research Center. In a phone survey of over 4,000 people last month, Pew found that 70 percent of respondents agreed that local governments should have the power to start their own high-speed networks if current offerings are "too expensive or not good enough." The results show an overwhelming support for municipal broadband -- networks that are at least somewhat run by local governments -- at a time when encouraging broadband buildout is a top federal priority. But despite the support, in much of the US, building out municipal networks just isn't possible. More than 20 states have passed laws banning local governments from starting their own broadband service, largely at the behest of internet providers that want to avoid competition at all cost. Though Pew's survey found some positive results for municipal broadband, it found less support for broadband subsidies for low-income homes. Under half of all Americans, 44 percent, said they supported subsidies, while nearly everyone else surveyed said they felt internet service "is affordable enough" that most households should be able to pay for it. (At the same time, nearly half of all people surveyed said they didn't know what speed of internet they received.)

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Microsoft Acquires Container Platform Deis From Engine Yard
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's jump-ship department:
According to an announcement made earlier today, Microsoft has acquired Deis, "the company behind some of the most popular tools for building and managing applications on top of the Google-incubated Kubernetes container orchestration service," writes Frederic Lardinois via TechCrunch. From the report: "At Microsoft, we've seen explosive growth in both interest and deployment of containerized workloads on Azure, and we're committed to ensuring Azure is the best place to run them," Microsoft's executive VP for its cloud and enterprise group Scott Guthrie writes today. "To support this vision, we're pleased to announce that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Deis -- a company that has been at the center of the container transformation." Deis provides three core open-source tools for managing Kubernetes deployments: Workflow, a platform for developers and operations teams to easily deploy and manage containerized apps; the Kubernetes package manager Helm; and Steward, a Kubernetes-native service broker (which basically allows applications to talk to each other). Like similar companies, its business model relies on providing paid support and training for these applications. The team will continue to work on these open-source tools, which are currently in use by the likes of Mozilla, CloudMine and SocialRadar.

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'Drawable' Electronic Circuit Technology Creates Radical Possibilities For Flexible Gadgets
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pen-and-paper department:
drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: Who said pen and paper was dead? German scientists have developed a new type of ink that allows fully-functioning electronic circuits to be "written" directly onto a surface from a pen. The technology could provide an inexpensive means of manufacturing printed circuits suitable for flexible smartphones, tablets and other radical gadget designs. The circuits are ready to be used as soon as the ink dries and requires no additional processing, claim researchers from the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM). Printed electronics are usually created through a process called "sintering," whereby powdered metals are heated to form conductive electric circuits. Sintering is used to remove organic materials and fuse metal components in electronic inks, but because of the heat involved it can damage materials that are sensitive to high temperatures -- for example paper and certain types of plastic. The new hybrid inks remove the need for sintering altogether, allowing the electronics to quite literally be drawn on to the material. The report notes that the hybrid inks are "made of gold and silver particles coated with conductive polymers," which, among other things, allows the circuits to be bent without losing electrical conductivity. The researchers will demonstrate their findings at this year's Hannover Messe industrial fair on April 24-26.

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Thousands of Fake Google Maps Listings Redirect Users To Fraudulent Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hook-line-and-sinker department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Tens of thousands of fake listings are added to Google Maps each month, redirecting users to fraudulent websites selling phony or overpriced services, or are part of some referral scam. Researchers say that 74% of these abusive listings were for local businesses in the U.S. and India, mainly in pockets around certain local hotspots, especially in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Houston, or Los Angeles. In most cases, the scheme was simple. A customer in need of a locksmith or electrician would search Google Maps for a local company. If he navigated to the website of a fake business or called its number, a call center operator posing as the business' representative would send over an unaccredited contractor that would charge much more than regular professionals. If a customer's situation were urgent, the contractor would often charge more than the initial agreed upon price. Researchers said that 40.3% of all the listings for fake companies they found focused on on-call services, such as locksmiths, plumbers, and electricians, and were for customers who were desperate to resolve issues. Further, overall, operators of fake listings managed to hijack 0.5% of Google Maps' outbound traffic for the studied period.

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Microsoft's Minecraft Set To Launch Its Own Currency
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's virtual-currency department:
Minecraft's popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Microsoft, which acquired the game's maker, Mojang, in 2014, has recently launched the game in China and continues to market it well in the U.S. The next big step for the game is the introduction of a new marketplace and brand new currency -- within the game itself. What this does is it "[opens] up the opportunity for businesses to sell their original content and creations to tens of millions of the game's players for the first time," writes Nate Lanxon via Bloomberg. From the report: Set to go live in the spring, nine businesses will be selling feature packs within Minecraft -- such as new storylines, in-game activities or landscapes to explore -- with prices ranging between about $1 and $10 per creation. Other companies can apply to be allowed into the marketplace over subsequent months. Users wishing to purchase content will need to buy a form of new currency -- Minecraft Coins. A store within the game does already exist but is limited to only items created by the Minecraft development team. The change to allow third-party developers to sell their wares within the same ecosystem opens up an entirely new business model for independent creatives.

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FCC Kills Plan To Allow Mobile Phone Conversations On Flights
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-and-forth department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: On Monday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission killed a plan to allow mobile phone calls during commercial airline flights. Since 2013, the FCC and the Federal Aviation Administration have considered allowing airline passengers to talk on the phones during flights, although the FAA also proposed rules requiring airlines to give passengers notice if they planned to allow phone calls. The plan to allow mobile phone calls on flights drew sharp objections from some passengers and flight attendants who had visions of dozens of passengers trying to talk over each other for entire flights. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday killed his agency's 2013 proceeding that sought to relax rules governing the use of mobile phones on airplanes. Under the FCC proposal, airlines would have decided if they allowed mobile phone conversations during flights.

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NASA Puts the Earth Up For Adoption
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's in-some-other-news department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Wondering how to show that special planet some affection this Earth Day? Adopt it. NASA has sectioned off 64,000 individual pieces of Earth to be "adopted" by supporters on their website. The pieces are about 55 miles wide and assigned randomly. Similar to adopting a highway or naming a star, participants do not get legal or property rights to their section. So whether you get the 55-mile section that contains the Taj Mahal or the one that is square in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you benefit the same.

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Google's AlphaGo Will Face Its Biggest Challenge Yet Next Month -- But Why Is It Still Playing?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:

< article continued at Slashdot's interesting-moves department >

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Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hit By Hackers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Hackers are targeting the growing population of third-party sellers on Amazon.com using stolen credentials to post fake deals and steal cash. From a report: In recent weeks, attackers have changed the bank-deposit information on Amazon accounts of active sellers to steal tens of thousands of dollars from each (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), according to several sellers and advisers. Attackers also have hacked into the Amazon accounts of sellers who haven't used them recently to post nonexistent merchandise for sale at steep discounts in an attempt to pocket the cash, those people say. The fraud stems largely from email and password credentials stolen from previously hacked accounts and then sold on what's dubbed the "dark web," a network of anonymous internet servers where hackers communicate and trade illicit information. Such hacks previously have favored sites such as PayPal and eBay, but Amazon recently has become a target of choice, according to cybersecurity experts.

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China's LeEco Calls Off Its $2 Billion Purchase of TV Maker Vizio
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-a-done-deal department:
Last year, China's conglomerate LeEco announced it would be acquiring TV maker Vizio for a sum of $2 billion. The move would have given LeEco, which is increasingly expanding its business beyond Chinese market, an instant foothold in the United States. But today, both companies announced they are cancelling the plan due to "regulatory headwinds." In a statement, the companies said: We continue to believe that there is great synergy between the two companies, and are pleased to announce that LeEco and Vizio have reached an agreement that is a win for both companies ... LeEco and Vizio will continue to explore opportunities to incorporate the Le app and content within the Vizio connected CE platform, and engage in a collaborative partnership to leverage LeEco's ecosystem user interface platform, along with the brand's exclusive content and distribution channels, to bring Vizio products to the China market. The announcement comes amid troubled times for both the companies. On one hand, LeEco is struggling financially. Bloomberg reported earlier this month that the company had delayed payroll for its US employees. Vizio was thrown under the bus in February after FTC fined the company $2.2 million to settle a case involving the TVs' data collection techniques.

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Russian Arrested in Spain 'Over US Election Hacking'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's mystery-intensifies department:
Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in "hacking" the US election, BBC reported Monday, citing local press reports From the report: Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody. A "legal source" also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US. The request is due to be examined by Spain's national criminal court, the agency added. El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov's arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected "hacking" that helped Donald Trump's campaign.

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Sleep Is the New Status Symbol
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sleep-is-the-new-black department:
The New York Times has a good story on how sleep is increasingly becoming a big business -- and the tech industry is rushing in to tweak our natural rhythms. From the article: At M.I.T.'s Media Lab, the digital futurist playground, David Rose is investigating swaddling, bedtime stories and hammocks, as well as lavender oil and cocoons. [...] Meanwhile, at the University of California, Berkeley, Matthew P. Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology and the director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory there, is working on direct current stimulation as a cure for sleeplessness in the aging brain. [...] In Paris, Hugo Mercier, a computer science engineer, has invested in sound waves. He has raised over $10 million to create a headband that uses them to induce sleep. [...] Ben Olsen, an Australian entrepreneur, hopes to introduce Thim, a gadget you wear on your finger that uses sound to startle you awake every three minutes for an hour, just before you go to sleep. [...] Sleep entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and beyond have poured into the sleep space, as branders like to say -- a $32 billion market in 2012 -- formerly inhabited by old-style mattress and pharmaceutical companies.

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If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-to-ponder department:
Numerous studies and real-life examples show humble, unassuming people as leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run. The humity, exuded by these leaders, can be contagious. Yet, instead of following the lead of these unsung heroes, an article on Harvard Business Review argues, we appear hardwired to search for people who exude charisma. The article looks into why such is the case: One study suggests that despite being perceived as arrogant, narcissistic individuals radiate "an image of a prototypically effective leader." Narcissistic leaders know how to draw attention toward themselves. They enjoy the visibility. It takes time for people to see that these early signals of competence are not later realized, and that a leader's narcissism reduces the exchange of information among team members and often negatively affects group performance. It's not that charismatic and narcissistic people can't ever make good leaders. In some circumstances, they can. For example, one study found that narcissistic CEOs "favor bold actions that attract attention, resulting in big wins or big losses." A narcissistic leader thus can represent a high-risk, high-reward proposition.

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Major Banks and Parts of Federal Gov't Still Rely On COBOL, Now Scrambling To Find IT 'Cowboys' To Keep Things Afloat
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 08:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sad-realities department:
From a report on Reuters: Bill Hinshaw is not a typical 75-year-old. He divides his time between his family -- he has 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- and helping U.S. companies avert crippling computer meltdowns. Hinshaw, who got into programming in the 1960s when computers took up entire rooms and programmers used punch cards, is a member of a dwindling community of IT veterans who specialize in a vintage programming language called COBOL. The Common Business-Oriented Language was developed nearly 60 years ago and has been gradually replaced by newer, more versatile languages such as Java, C and Python. Although few universities still offer COBOL courses, the language remains crucial to businesses and institutions around the world. In the United States, the financial sector, major corporations and parts of the federal government still largely rely on it because it underpins powerful systems that were built in the 70s or 80s and never fully replaced. And here lies the problem: if something goes wrong, few people know how to fix it. The stakes are especially high for the financial industry, where an estimated $3 trillion in daily commerce flows through COBOL systems. The language underpins deposit accounts, check-clearing services, card networks, ATMs, mortgage servicing, loan ledgers and other services. The industry's aggressive push into digital banking makes it even more important to solve the COBOL dilemma. Mobile apps and other new tools are written in modern languages that need to work seamlessly with old underlying systems. That is where Hinshaw and fellow COBOL specialists come in. A few years ago, the north Texas resident planned to shutter his IT firm and retire after decades of working with financial and public institutions, but calls from former clients just kept coming.

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Airlines Make More Money Selling Miles Than Seats
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 08:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-work department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Does your wallet contain an airline-branded credit card? If so, your daily Starbucks visits, iTunes selections and dining habits serve a critical role in keeping the U.S. airline industry fat and happy. For carriers such as American Airlines, riding Citigroup Inc. plastic, or Delta, on American Express Co., these programs are a cash cow, a golden goose -- or any other fiscal livestock you care to conjure. Each mile fetches an airline anywhere from 1.5 cents to 2.5 cents, and the big banks amass those miles by the billions (alternative source), doling them out to cardholders each month. For the banks, people who pay annual fees for those cards in order to accumulate miles are the closest thing to a sure bet. These consumers typically have higher-than-average incomes and spend more on their cards, generating merchant fees for the banks. They also tend to maintain high credit scores, which means they pay their bills on time and banks experience fewer defaults. The airline-miles business, formally known as loyalty programs, has become a high-margin enterprise that's grown in size and value amid airline consolidation, with carriers keen to expand credit card rolls and see loyalty members spend more.

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Spyware Firms in Breach of Global Sanctions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's deep-dive-into-the-shady-world department:
From a report on Al Jazeera: Spy equipment producers are breaking laws and circumventing international sanctions by agreeing to sell stock to countries known for human rights abuses, and to clients who do not declare the end user -- meaning surveillance tools could easily fall into the hands of armed groups, corporations, governments cracking down on dissent, or opposition leaders, an exclusive investigation by Al Jazeera reveals. During "Spy Merchants", a four-month undercover operation, Al Jazeera secretly filmed representatives of two Italian companies and one Chinese business agreeing to sell spyware that is capable of tracking millions of people online and able to intercept phone calls and text messages without anyone finding out. The vendors boasted of being able to side-step the law by using sister and shell companies and explained how to possibly circumvent export regulations by lying about the details of shipments and using third countries exempted from certain rules as stopping places.

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Tesla Tops GM by Market Value as Investors See Musk as Future
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tables-turning department:
Tesla became the largest U.S. auto maker by market value on Monday, overtaking General Motors -- a feat that would have seemed highly improbable 13 years ago when the electric-car maker first began tinkering with the idea of making a sports car. From a report: Tesla climbed as much as 3.4 percent in early Monday trading, boosting its market capitalization to about $51 billion. The company was valued at about $1.7 billion more than GM as of 9:35 a.m. in New York. The turnabout shows the extent to which investors have bought into Musk's vision that electric vehicles will eventually rule the road. While GM has beat Tesla to market with a plug-in Chevrolet Bolt with a price and range similar to what Musk has promised for his Model 3 sedan coming later this year, the more than century-old company has failed to match the enthusiasm drummed up by its much smaller and rarely profitable U.S. peer. No matter, say investors who like the stock. Tesla is a technology player with the ability to dominate a market for electric cars and energy storage. To those same investors, GM and Ford are headed for a slowdown in car sales that will erode profits. "Is it fair? No, it isn't fair," Maryann Keller, an auto-industry consultant in Stamford, Connecticut, said of GM ceding the market-cap crown. "Even if Tesla turns a profit, they will eventually have to make enough to justify this valuation."

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American Farmers Are Still Fighting Tractor Software Locks
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '17 at 04:24 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Old-MacDonald-had-a-tractor-he-couldn't-repair department:
Manufacturers lock consumers into restrictive "user agreements," and inside "there's things like you won't open the case, you won't repair," complains a U.S. advocacy group called The Repair Association. But now the issue is getting some more attention in the American press. An anonymous reader quotes NPR:
Modern tractors, essentially, have two keys to make the engine work. One key starts the engine. But because today's tractors are high-tech machines that can steer themselves by GPS, you also need a software key -- to fix the programs that make a tractor run properly. And farmers don't get that key. "You're paying for the metal but the electronic parts technically you don't own it. They do," says Kyle Schwarting, who plants and harvests fields in southeast Nebraska... "Maybe a gasket or something you can fix, but everything else is computer controlled and so if it breaks down I'm really in a bad spot," Schwarting says.
He has to call the dealer. Only dealerships have the software to make those parts work, and it costs hundreds of dollars just to get a service call. Schwarting worries about being broken down in a field, waiting for a dealer to show up with a software key.

The article points out that equipment dealers are using those expensive repair calls to offset slumping tractor sales. But it also reports that eight U.S. states, including Nebraska, Illinois and New York, are still considering bills requiring manufacturers to sell repair software, adding that after Massachusetts passed a similar lar, "car makers started selling repair software."

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