By msmash from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department
Malware authors, ad farmers, and scammers are abusing a Firefox bug to trap users on malicious sites. From a report: This wouldn't be a big deal, as the web is fraught with this kind of malicious sites, but these websites aren't abusing some new never-before-seen trick, but a Firefox bug that Mozilla engineers appear to have failed to fix in the 11 years ever since it was first reported back in April 2007. The bug narrows down to a malicious website embedding an iframe inside their source code. The iframe makes an HTTP authentication request on another domain. [...] For the past few years, malware authors, ad farmers, and scammers have been abusing this bug to lure users on sites where they show all sorts of nasties, such as tech support scams, ad farms that reload the page with new ads in a loop, pages that push users to buy fake gift cards, or sites that offer malware-laced software updates. Whenever users try to leave, the owners of these shady sites trigger the authentification modal in a loop.Read Replies (0)
Start-Ups Aren't Cool Anymore
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '18 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's times-they-are-a-changin department
A lack of personal savings, competition from abroad, and the threat of another economic downturn make it harder for Millennials to thrive as entrepreneurs. From a story: Research suggests entrepreneurial activity has declined among Millennials. The share of people under 30 who own a business has fallen to almost a quarter-century low, according to a 2015 Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Reserve data. A survey of 1,200 Millennials conducted in 2016 by the Economic Innovation Group found that more Millennials believed they could have a successful career by staying at one company and attempting to climb the ladder than by founding a new one. Two years ago, EIG's president and co-founder, John Lettieri, testified before the U.S. Senate, "Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history."
Some of the reasons have been well-documented. The romantic view of entrepreneurship involves angel investors and venture capital funds, but in fact, the ordinary entrepreneur is more likely to fund a start-up using personal savings -- something underemployed Millennials simply could not build as they entered the workforce during or in the immediate wake of the Great Recession. Funding from friends and family is the next most common source, but this personal network could not help much during the most recent economic downturn, when so much home equity was underwater. Student debt worsened the underlying economic problems. According to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, between 2004 and 2014, the number of student borrowers rose by 89 percent.
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By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. From a report: Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days. According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Qualcomm says it has won a ruling in China against Apple that bans the sale of some iPhone models in that country. From a report: The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court ruled that Apple is infringing two Qualcomm patents and issued injunctions against the sale of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, the San Diego, California-based chipmaker said in a statement Monday. The most recent models introduced in September, the iPhone XS, XR and XS Max, are not covered by the ban.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's strange-beginnings department
Long time reader theodp writes: At Monday's kickoff event with Melinda Gates for Computer Science Education Week 2018, Microsoft President Brad Smith revealed how a 2013 driveway encounter led to Microsoft's decision to commit $25 million to Code.org, whose CEO Hadi Partovi happens to live next door to Smith. "At the top of the hill, we share a common driveway," Smith said. "I can't even drive into the garage at night if he is standing in the way. Well, actually I can, but running him over is not the right path." Five years ago, Smith recalled, Partovi was in his driveway (King of the Hill-inspired artist's impression), "and he said, 'I have an idea [for then-nascent Code.org]. There is an important problem that we can help solve, because for too many people they look at these opportunities in computer science, and they don't appreciate that in truth anybody can aspire to be the next Melinda Gates or the next Bill Gates or the next Jeff Bezos or the next Sheryl Sandberg or Mark Zuckerberg. What they need, what they deserve, is the opportunity to learn this fundamental field.'"
Earlier this year, Code.org celebrated its 5th anniversary and thanked Microsoft and other tech donors for making it possible for the nonprofit to change U.S. K-12 public education. Smith also announced Monday that Microsoft would invest an additional $10 million in Code.org to help expand the tech-bankrolled nonprofit's work. "The renewed partnership," Microsoft explained, "will focus on ensuring that by 2020 every state will have passed policies to expand access to computer science and every school in the U.S. will have access to Code.org professional development."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings loves to identify sleep as the biggest competition of its service. "Sometimes employees at Netflix think, 'Oh my god, we're competing with FX, HBO, or Amazon, but think about it. If you didn't watch Netflix last night: What did you do? There's such a broad range of things that you did to relax and unwind, hang out, and connect -- and we compete with all of that," he once said. "You get a show or a movie you're really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep," he added. Turns out, Hastings does not need to look that far for competition.
From a report: Despite Netflix and Amazon investing billions of dollars in producing original content, they are struggling to make inroads in emerging markets. YouTube, on the other hand, is growing rapidly, becoming a daily habit for even new internet users. In India, for instance, YouTube reaches 245 million unique users each month, or 85 percent of all internet users in the country, the company told VentureBeat. About 60 percent of all YouTube traffic in India comes from outside of its six major cities. [Globally, YouTube has 1.9 billion monthly active users.]
As consumption on YouTube grows, creators are also finding loyal audiences. In India alone, YouTube now has more than 600 channels with more than 1 million subscribers, up from 20 channels in 2016. Record label T-Series, which is fighting with PewDiePie for the title of most-subscribed YouTube channel, took 10 years to get to its first 10 million subscribers. In the last two years, it has grown to 60 million subscribers. Globally, YouTube says the number of channels with more than 1 million subscribers has grown by 75 percent this year.
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Global carbon emissions will jump to a record high in 2018, according to a report, dashing hopes a plateau of recent years would be maintained. It means emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts urgently needed, say scientists, to fight climate change. From a report: The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. However, the report's authors said the emissions trend can still be turned around by 2020, if cuts are made in transport, industry and farming emissions. The research by the Global Carbon Project was launched at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where almost 200 nations are working to turn the vision of tackling climate change agreed in Paris in 2015
into action. The report estimates CO2 emissions will rise by 2.7% in 2018, sharply up on the plateau from 2014-16 and 1.6% rise in 2017.
Almost all countries are contributing to the rise, with emissions in China up 4.7%, in the US by 2.5% and in India by 6.3% in 2018. The EU's emissions are near flat, but this follows a decade of strong falls. "The global rise in carbon emissions is worrying, because to deal with climate change they have to turn around and go to zero eventually," said Prof Corinne Le Quere, at the University of East Anglia,who led the research published in the journal Nature. "We are not seeing action in the way we really need to. This needs to change quickly."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
In a developer blog post published this week, Alexa AI director of applied science Ruhi Sarikaya detailed the advances in machine learning technologies that have allowed Alexa to better understand users through contextual clues. From a report: According to Sarikaya, these improvements have played a role in reducing user friction and making Alexa more conversational. Since this fall, Amazon has been working on self-learning techniques that teach Alexa to automatically recover from its own errors. The system has been in beta until now, and it launched in the US this week. It doesn't require any human annotation, and, according to Sarikaya, it uses customers' "implicit or explicit contextual signals to detect unsatisfactory interactions or failures of understanding."
The contextual signals range from customers' historical activity, preferences, and what Alexa skills they use to where the Alexa device is located in the home and what kind of Alexa device it is. For example, during the beta phase, Alexa learned to understand a customer's mistaken command of "Play 'Good for What'" and correct them by playing Drake's song "Nice for What."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's behind-the-curtains department
An anonymous reader shares a report: An all-electric mini-airliner that can go 621 miles on one charge and replace many of the turboprops and light jets in use now -- flying almost as far and almost as fast but for a fraction of the running costs -- could be in service within three years. But this isn't another claim by another overoptimistic purveyor of electric dreams. It's using current technology, and the first planes are being built right now. In fact, the process of gaining certification from aviation regulators for what would be the world's first electric commuter plane has already started.
The pressurised Alice from Israeli company Eviation is a graceful-looking composite aircraft with one propeller at the rear and another at the end of each wing, placed to cut drag from wingtip vortices. Each is driven by a 260 kW electric motor, and they receive power from a 900 kWh lithium ion battery pack.
Alongside its 650 mile range, the pressurised $3 million-plus Alice can carry nine passengers and two crew, and cruise at 276 mph -- up there with the speed of the turboprops that are widely used in the commuter role, if not anywhere near that of jets. But crucially, says Eviation chief executive Omer Bar-Yohay, "operating costs will be just 7 to 9 cents per seat per mile," or about $200 an hour for the whole aircraft, against about $1,000 for turboprop rivals.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's psa department
From a story: Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A's. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers. I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong.
The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance.
Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem -- it's more about finding the right problem to solve.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Like Google's Duplex, Chinese internet giant Alibaba has its own humanlike voice assistant capable of making restaurant reservations and salon appointments. But unlike Google, which has rolled out the feature to select audience, Alibaba's offering already has a wider reach. And it's smart, too. From a report: On December 2 at the 2018 Neural Information Processing Systems conference, one of the largest annual gatherings for AI research, Alibaba demoed the AI customer service agent for its logistics company Cainiao. Jin Rong, the dean of Alibaba's Machine Intelligence and Technology Lab, said the agent is already servicing millions of customer requests a day. The pre-recorded demo call involved the agent asking a customer where he wanted his package delivered. In the back-and-forth exchange, the agent successfully navigated several conversational elements that demonstrated the breadth of its natural-language capabilities.
Take this exchange at the beginning of the call, translated from Mandarin: Agent: Hello, I am Cainiao's voice assistant. I am -- Customer: Hello.
A: Yes, hi, you have package scheduled for morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Is it convenient for you to receive? C: Who are you? A: I am Cainiao's voice assistant. I'd like to confirm your morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Does that work for you? C: I'm not home in the morning. A: Then do you have another address that you'd like to use?
Within 30 seconds, the agent has smoothly handled three common, and tricky, conversational ingredients: interruption, nonlinear conversation, and implicit intent. Interruption is self-explanatory: the agent can respond to the customer's interruption and continue relaying relevant information without starting over or skipping a beat.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Tech executives worry China will turn to tit-for-tat arrests of Americans in response to the detention of Meng Wanzhou. And the worries don't stop there. Kara Swisher, writing at The New York Times: Imagine, if you will (and you should), a big American tech executive being detained over unspecified charges while on a trip to Beijing. That is exactly what a number of Silicon Valley executives told me they are concerned about after the arrest this week of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom company Huawei, in Canada at the behest of United States officials. "It's worrisome, because it's an escalation we did not need," one executive said, referring to the already tense trade talks between the two countries. "What China will do, given all the existing tensions, is anyone's guess."
No one I spoke to would talk on the record, out of fear of antagonizing either side and also because no one knows exactly what is happening. But many expressed worry about the possibility of tit-for-tat arrests. While everyone focuses on the drama of the arrest -- Ms. Meng was grabbed while changing planes at the airport -- and its effect on the trade talks and stock prices, to my mind there is a much more important fight brewing, and it is about tech hegemony. Specifically, who will control the next internet age, and by whose rules will it be run?
Until recently, that answer was clearly the United States, from which the Internet sprang, wiring the world together and, in the process, resulting in the greatest creation of power and wealth in history. While China has always had a strong technology sector, in recent years it has significantly escalated its investment, expertise and innovation, with major support from the government. That hand-in-glove relationship creates obvious issues, and the Trump administration is right to stop pretending that China does not present a threat both from security and innovation perspectives.
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