By EditorDavid from Slashdot's side-hustles department
An anonymous reader quotes NPR:
In recent months, a slew of studies has debunked predictions that we're witnessing the dawn of a new "gig economy." The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that there was actually a decline in the categories of jobs associated with the gig economy between 2005 and 2017. Larry Katz and the late Alan Krueger then revised their influential study that had originally found gig work was exploding. Instead, they found it had only grown modestly. Other economists ended up finding the same -- and now writers are declaring the gig economy is "a big nothingburger."
Arun Sundararajan, a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and the author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism, remains a true believer in the gig revolution.... When asked about the onslaught of data contradicting his thesis, Sundararajan said the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues "to underestimate the size of the gig economy and in particular of the platform-based gig economy." The best BLS estimate of the number of gig workers employed through digital platforms -- whether full-time, part-time or occasionally -- is one percent of the total U.S. workforce, or about 1.6 million workers, as of mid-2017. Sundararajan argues that the survey questions the BLS used to gather this data were clunky and don't quite capture what's going on.... He believes work done through gig platforms can be more efficient than work done in a traditional company -- and that will spell the company's doom...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's eve-of-destruction department
"On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts," Google has been warning since January.
Long-time Slashdot reader shanen writes "it's been grating on me for a while," asking "But is there any real harm here? Do you feel damaged?"
On the one hand, my trust in the Google has certainly been damaged by profit-driven directional changes. On such grounds you could argue that the people who most trusted the Google may feel most victimized....
What is the value of IP? Do you feel you expressed or even created any interesting ideas through your use of Google+ as a discussion channel? If so, maybe you feel damaged because it's going away? (Yes, the Archive team wants to preserve it, but IP has to grow to be alive, and the archives aren't easy to search, to boot...)
I'm pretty sure that I started using Google+ a long time ago, back when my own sentiments towards the Google were much more positive. My negative framing of the question could be projection, so maybe your response may explain why it's really a good thing when the Google kills certain ideas?
The original submission also includes the bitter observation that "Innovation is supposed to be important to the Google. Isn't the Google giving us mixed signals here?" But how do Slashdot's readers feel? Leave your own thoughts in the comments. How do you feel about the end of Google+ ?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's March-madness department
Yesterday Billboard magazine reported that Elon Musk had dropped a rap song on SoundCloud -- an auto-tuned song called "RIP Harambe."
Posted under the handle Emo G Records, the two-minute track pays tribute to the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla who was killed in 2016 after a 3-year-old climbed into its living area. It's unclear if Musk stumbled upon the track, which has his name on it, or if he released the track himself...
"RIP Harambe" had more than 200,000 plays as of Sunday afternoon.
Some Twitter users left bemused replies, like "Dude, sober up by Thursday's contempt hearing." But the song appears to be part of a longer series of tweets. An anonymous reader writes:
On Friday Musk had shared a blank tweet containing nothing but an emoji of a duck with his 25.5 million followers. It drew over 24,000 re-tweets, and 4,300 comments -- far more than the Harambe song (which drew only 14,000 retweets and 1,600 comments.) "Duck emoji FTW," Musk tweeted triumphantly on Sunday, following up on his earlier observation that "Duck emoji defeats Emo G Records. Crushing victory."
In its comments there was also a joke about X.com (the original online banking site Musk launched in 1999, which was eventually merged into PayPal). In 2017 Musk repurchased the domain because "it has great sentimental value" -- but replaced it with an entirely blank page with one lowercase x. In response to the duck emoji, someone tweeted that next Musk needed to update X.com.
Musk promptly replied by tweeting the URL x.com/x -- which (due to the site's error-handling) pulls up a web page with a single lowercase y.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's face-time department
A Brooklyn landlord plans to install facial recognition technology at the entrance of a 700-unit building, according to Gothamist, "raising alarm among tenants and housing rights attorneys about what they say is a far-reaching and egregious form of digital surveillance."
[Last] Sunday, several tenants told Gothamist that, unbeknownst to them, their landlord, Nelson Management, had sought state approval in July 2018 to install a facial recognition system known as StoneLock. Under state rules, landlords of rent-regulated apartments built before 1974 must seek permission from the state's Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) for any "modification in service." Tenants at the two buildings, located at 249 Thomas S. Boyland Street and 216 Rockaway Avenue, said they began receiving notices about the system in the fall. According to its website, Kansas-based company StoneLock offers a "frictionless" entry system that collects biometric data based on facial features. "We don't want to be tracked," said Icemae Downes, a longtime tenant. "We are not animals. This is like tagging us through our faces because they can't implant us with a chip."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's old-school-TCP/IP department
"DEVUAN.ORG HAS BEEN PWNED" reads a new message at the home page for Devuan (a fork of Debian without systemd) -- which re-redirects to a new page named pwned.html, reports Slashdot reader DevNull127:
"Kiss port 80 goodbye. Join the revolution on port 70."
The attackers identify themselves as "Green Hat Hackers," a term generally understood to mean ambitious newbie hackers who want to improve their skills. "Stop the madness," continues their message, which appeared just hours before the first day of April.
"Get yourself a gopher client."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hindsight department
Fox Business News reports:
- "Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Boeing provided incomplete or misleading information about its best-selling 737 Max aircraft to U.S. air safety regulators and customers, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal."
- That investigation began five months ago -- after the first crash that killed 189 people, but before the second one.
Nine days after that November 7 crash, America's Federal Aviation Administration had issued an international emergency order "warning that Boeing had discovered an 'unsafe condition' that is 'likely to exist or develop' in other planes," reports the Washington Post:
The FAA directive said if erroneous data is received by the 737 Max jet's flight control system, the plane's nose could be pushed down repeatedly. Failing to address that "could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane," push the nose down and lead to "significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain," according to the notice. The notice told pilots that, if bad data causes problems to appear, they should "disengage autopilot" and use other controls and adjust other switches to fly the plane....
Investigators scouring black box data believe an automatic anti-stalling feature was engaged before a Boeing 737 Max jet crashed and killed 157 people in EthiÂoÂpia, an administration official said Friday. The feature, known as MCAS, also was a factor in the October crash in Indonesia, according to investigators. The investigators said inaccurate information from an outside sensor led MCAS to force the nose of the plane down over and over again.
That explanation is also supported by the positioning of equipment on the aircraft's tail "in a way that would push the plane's nose downward, consistent with the black box finding," reports the Washington Post.
Fox Business also reports that Boeing currently has over 4,600 "unfilled" orders for its 737 Max jets.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's tall-tales department
"The Tinder dating app will soon be asking men to submit photos in order to verify their height," writes long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike, sharing a post made Friday (March 29th) on the official Tinder blog.
Let's be real, when it comes to online dating -- honesty is the best policy. Yes, your height matters as long as every other shallow aspect of physical attraction does. Please try not to take it to heart...
Height-lying ends here. To require everyone under 6' to own up to their real height, we're bringing truthfulness back into the world of online dating. Introducing Tinder's Height Verification Badge (HVB), because yes -- sometimes it matters. It's the tool we've had in our back-pockets for years, but we were hoping your honesty would allow us to keep it there... Simply input your true, accurate height with a screenshot of you standing next to any commercial building. We'll do some state-of-the-art verifying and you'll receive your badge directly on your profile.
Oh, and by the way? Only 14.5% of the U.S. male population is actually 6' and beyond. So, we're expecting to see a huge decline in the 80% of males on Tinder who are claiming that they are well over 6 feet.
The post concludes that "Tinder's HVB is coming soon to a phone near you," and Tinder's official Twitter account described the feature as "the thing you never asked for, but definitely always wanted," with a short video showing their app displaying errors for incorrect heights. (The second error message reads "Seriously... Please enter your correct height.") The video has been viewed 2.78 million times. Its tagline? "Let's bring honesty back to dating."
"It's unknown at this point if this is a real feature that the company is adding to its dating app," reported one local news site, "or an early April Fool's joke."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's insecure-facilities department
"A former National Security Agency contractor on Thursday pleaded guilty to stealing secret defense information over two decades in what legal experts have described as the biggest breach of classified information in U.S. history."
Long-time Slashdot reader mencik quotes USA Today:
In his plea deal in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Harold Thomas Martin III admitted to removing highly classified digital and hard copy documents, then storing them in his home and car from the late 1990s through 2016. Prosecutors say there is no indication Martin ever shared the stolen secrets. His defense attorneys say he simply hoarded the information... One of his lawyers previously described Martin as a "compulsive hoarder" who took home work documents...
Martin, who held multiple security clearances while working at government agencies as a private contractor, said he knew stealing the documents risked the country's security. He pleaded guilty on Thursday to one felony count of willful retention of national defense information. He could be sentenced to nine years in prison.
Martin also told a federal judge that he'd been diagnosed with ADHD. "His actions were the product of mental illness," his federal defenders' statement said. "Not treason."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's land-of-the-lost department
"It's like a time capsule of the end of the world," reports USA Today:
66 million years ago, in what's now North Dakota, a group of animals died together, only a few minutes after a huge asteroid smashed into the Earth near present-day Mexico. Scientists Friday announced the discovery of the jumbled, fossilized remains of the animals, all killed when a tsunami-like wave and a torrent of rocks, sand and glass buried them alive.
This graveyard of fish, mammals, insects and a dinosaur is a unique, first-of-its-kind discovery from the exact day that life on Earth changed forever, according to the study lead author Robert DePalma, a curator at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History... DePalma added that the find provides spectacular new detail to what is perhaps the most important event to ever affect life on Earth... The asteroid impact and resulting mass extinction, which scientists call the K-T boundary, marked the end of the Cretaceous Era. The aftereffects of that infamous asteroid collision killed 75 percent of all species on Earth, including the dinosaurs. It's the planet's most recent mass extinction.
Scientists believe the asteroid was 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) wide, the BBC reports, and that it "hurled billions of tonnes of molten and vaporised rock into the sky in all directions - and across thousands of kilometres." DePalma argues that moment "is tied directly to all of us -- to every mammal on Earth, in fact. Because this is essentially where we inherited the planet.
"Nothing was the same after that impact. It became a planet of mammals rather than a planet of dinosaurs."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's borrowing-browsers department
Remember when Microsoft announced they'd be switching to Google's open source Chromium browser for developing their own Edge browser? At the time Google announced "We look forward to working with Microsoft and the web standards community to advance the open web, support user choice, and deliver great browsing experiences."
Now MSPoweruser reports Microsoft has indeed started collaborating on Chromium -- making suggestions like caret browsing and a native high-contrast mode -- and at least one of Microsoft's suggestions is already coming to Chrome.
it looks like there is one feature that Chromium approved which will be making its way to Chrome soon. According to a new bug (via Techdows) filing on Chromium, Google is working on bringing text suggestions for hardware keyboard to Chrome soon. The feature will allow users to get suggestions as they type which is currently available on Windows 10 and on Microsoft Edge.
Google has just started working on the feature and has set the priority to 2 which suggests that the feature should be available sooner than later.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's audio-identifiers department
georgecarlyle76 brought our attention to Amazon's claim of an algorithm that "solves the 'second-screen problem' in real-time."
"Ever hear (no pun intended) of audio watermarking?" asks VentureBeat.
It's the process of adding distinctive sound patterns identifiable to PCs, and it's a major way web video hosts, set-top boxes, and media players spot copyrighted tracks. But watermarking schemes aren't particularly reliable in noisy environments, like when the audio in question is broadcasted over a loudspeaker. The resulting noise and interference -- referred to in academic literature as the "second-screen" problem -- severely distorts watermarks, and introduces delays that detectors often struggle to reconcile. Researchers at Amazon, though, believe they've pioneered a novel workaround, which they describe in a paper newly published on the preprint server Arxiv ("Audio Watermarking over the Air with Modulated Self-Correlation") and an accompanying blog post. The team claims their method -- which they'll detail at the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing in May -- can detect watermarks added to about two seconds of audio with "almost perfect accuracy," even when the distance between the speaker and detector is greater than 20 feet...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's udacious-ideas department
Technology writer Tom Chanter explores the life story of venture capitalist Marc Andreessen to ask whether software will not only eat the world, but also the jobs of what one historian predicts will be a "massive new unworking class: people devoid of any economic, political or even artistic value." Can Marc Andreessen prevent a so-called "useless class" who "will not merely be unemployed -- it will be unemployable"?
Andreessen grew up in New Lisbon, Wisconsin (population: 1,500), and taught himself the BASIC programming language at age 8. He co-developed the original Mosaic web browser before he'd graduated from college, went on to co-found Netscape, and by age 23 was worth $53 million. He then transformed into a "super angel" investor in companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Lyft, Facebook, Skype, and GitHub. "Having been an innovator in the tech start-up game, Andreessen is now an innovator in the tech venture capital game," writes Chanter. "He is a jedi that has become the master."
In 2011, Marc Andreessen published an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, Why Software Is Eating The World. He wrote, "Over the next 10 years, the battles between incumbents and software-powered insurgents will be epic...." 7 years later, it's clear Andreessen was correct. Lyft has destroyed taxi jobs. Airbnb has destroyed hotel jobs. Amazon destroyed independent bookstores. How does Andreessen feel about that? "Screw the independent bookstores," he said in his New Yorker profile. "There weren't any near where I grew up. There were only ones in college towns. The rest of us could go pound sand."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's star-wars department
India expects space debris from its anti-satellite weapons launch to burn out in less than 45 days, its top defense scientist said on Thursday, seeking to allay global concern about fragments hitting objects. The comments came a day after India said it used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km (186 miles), in a test aimed at boosting its defenses in space.
Critics say such technology, known to be possessed only by the United States, Russia and China, raises the prospect of an arms race in outer space, besides posing a hazard by creating a cloud of fragments that could persist for years. G. Satheesh Reddy, the chief of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation, said a low-altitude military satellite was picked for the test, to reduce the risk of debris left in space.
Space.com shared a reaction from a national security affairs professor at Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. They argued that India's test "likely represents a feeling by other countries, specifically India in this case, that the weaponization of space is forthcoming, and India doesn't want to be left out of the 'have' category if arms-control agreements are eventually reached."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's calling-long-distance department
"The security chief for Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said on Saturday that the Saudi government had access to Bezos' phone and gained private information from it," Reuters reports.
But in addition, the National Enquirer's lawyer "tried to get me to say there was no hacking," writes security specialist Gavin de Becker.
I've recently seen things that have surprised even me, such as National Enquirer's parent company, AMI, being in league with a foreign nation that's been actively trying to harm American citizens and companies, including the owner of the Washington Post. You know him as Jeff Bezos; I know him as my client of 22 years... Why did AMI's people work so hard to identify a source, and insist to the New York Times and others that he was their sole source for everything? My best answer is contained in what happened next: AMI threatened to publish embarrassing photos of Jeff Bezos unless certain conditions were met. (These were photos that, for some reason, they had held back and not published in their first story on the Bezos affair, or any subsequent story.) While a brief summary of those terms has been made public before, others that I'm sharing are new -- and they reveal a great deal about what was motivating AMI.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's what-choosy-developers-choose department
"Apparently we're all fighting about how to pronounce 'GIF' again on Twitter," writes technology columnist Mike Melanson:
I personally find the argument of web designer Aaron Bazinet, who managed to secure the domain howtoreallypronouncegif.com, rather convincing in its simplicity: "It's the most natural, logical way to pronounce it. That's why when everyone comes across the word for the first time, they use a hard G [as in "gift"]." Bazinet relates the origin of the debate as such:
"The creator of the GIF image format, Steve Wilhite of CompuServe, when deciding on the pronunciation, said he deliberately chose to echo the American peanut butter brand, Jif, and CompuServe employees would often say 'Choosy developers choose GIF(jif)', playing off of Jif's television commercials. If you hear anyone pronounce GIF with a soft G, it's because they know something of this history."
Wilhite attempted to settled the controversy in 2013 when accepting a lifetime achievement award at the 17th annual Webby awards. Using an actual animated .gif for his five-word acceptance speech, he authoritatively announced his preferred pronounciation. However, the chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary argues that "A coiner effectively loses control of a word once it's out there," adding that "the pronunciation with a hard g is now very widespread and readily understood."
One linguist addressed the topic on Twitter this week, noting studies that found past usage of "gi" in words has been almost evenly split between hard and soft g sounds. Their thread also answers a related question: how will I weaponize a trivial and harmless consonant difference to make other people feel bad and self-conscious about themselves?
Her response? "Maybe just....don't do this."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moderating-the-moderators department
"Mark Zuckerberg says regulators and governments should play a more active role in controlling internet content," according to the BBC, calling for new laws governing harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability.
An anonymous reader quotes their report:
In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Facebook's chief says the responsibility for monitoring harmful content is too great for firms alone... "Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree," Mr Zuckerberg writes... In brief, Mr Zuckerberg calls for the following things:
- Common rules that all social media sites need to adhere to, enforced by third-party bodies, to control the spread of harmful content
- All major tech companies to release a transparency report every three months, to put it on a par with financial reporting
- Stronger laws around the world to protect the integrity of elections, with common standards for all websites to identify political actors
- Laws that not only apply to candidates and elections, but also other "divisive political issues", and for laws to apply outside of official campaign periods
- New industry-wide standards to control how political campaigns use data to target voters online
- More countries to adopt privacy laws like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force last year
- A "common global framework" that means these laws are all standardised globally, rather than being substantially different from country to country
- Clear rules about who's responsible for protecting people's data when they move it from one service to another
Zuckerberg believes the same regulations should apply to all web sites to make it easier to stop the spread of "harmful content." He also says Facebook will be creating "an independent body so people can appeal our decisions" when content is taken.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's code-from-Carnegie-Mellon-University department
Wednesday CMU announced the open sourcing of its adaptive-learning software platform -- plus analytics and dozens of other related tools for improving college teaching -- as part of a national push "in an unusual move intended to shake up how college teaching is done around the world," writes EdSurge.
Long-time Slashdot reader jyosim shares their report:
Officials estimate that developing the software has cost more than $100 million in foundation grants and university dollars. The goal of the software giveaway is to jump-start "learning engineering," the practice of applying findings from learning science to college classrooms. If it takes off, the effort could result in a free, open-source alternative to a growing number of commercial adaptive-learning and learning analytics tools aimed at colleges. One of the biggest concerns by college leaders about buying such tools from commercial vendors is whether colleges will have access to the underlying algorithmic logic -- or whether the systems will be a "black box...."
"We need a scientific revolution in education akin to the one that we had in medicine 150 years ago," said Michael Feldstein, coordinator of the Empirical Educator Project, in a statement. "This isn't a silver bullet, and it isn't charity. It's an invitation to the educators of the world for us all to solve big problems together."
CMU's Nobel prize-winning economics professor Herbert Simon once argued of colleges that "we must step back and view them with Martian eyes, innocent of their history, to appreciate fully how outrageous their operation is... [W]e find no one with a professional knowledge of the laws of learning, or of the techniques of applying them."
Kenneth R. Koedinger, a professor of human computer interaction and psychology at Carnegie Mellon, now argues that "we need to change higher ed from a solo sport to a collaborative research activity."Read Replies (0)