By msmash from Slashdot's somebody-had-to-say-it department
Mark Serrels, writing for CNET: A man [on a train], a human man as he lives and breathes, has put his bag, his stupid goddamn bag on the seat. He thinks his bag is more important than your buttcheeks. Than your tired legs. He is undermining your right to rest those legs, to plank those weary buttcheeks on a seat. This train is busy. He is a bad person. He doesn't care. This is a metaphor. In this metaphor the terrible man-person is a tech company. The bag is their terrible plug. A plug that is not content with taking up one slot on your powerboard, but needs two. Not for power, oh no. It just wants the space to... christ, I don't know. Mess with your day? Piss you off? Make your life worse? Stop you from plugging an extra device into your powerboard for no goddamn reason. Jesus wept. I call this phenomenon "plugspreading" and it's an abomination. [...] This is bad behaviour. This is a problem. That second socket was innocent man, it was collateral damage. He did nothing to deserve this. You ruined its life, starved that socket of its purpose, its reason for existing. Plugspreading is everywhere. It's a disease.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's whatever-works department
From a report: Facebook has long had the same public response when questioned about its disruption of the news industry: it is a tech platform, not a publisher or a media company. But in a small courtroom in California's Redwood City on Monday, attorneys for the social media company presented a different message from the one executives have made to Congress, in interviews and in speeches: Facebook, they repeatedly argued, is a publisher, and a company that makes editorial decisions, which are protected by the first amendment. The contradictory claim is Facebook's latest tactic against a high-profile lawsuit, exposing a growing tension for the Silicon Valley corporation, which has long presented itself as neutral platform that does not have traditional journalistic responsibilities. The suit, filed by an app startup, alleges that Mark Zuckerberg developed a "malicious and fraudulent scheme" to exploit users' personal data and force rival companies out of business. Facebook, meanwhile, is arguing that its decisions about "what not to publish" should be protected because it is a "publisher." In court, Sonal Mehta, a lawyer for Facebook, even drew comparison with traditional media: "The publisher discretion is a free speech right irrespective of what technological means is used. A newspaper has a publisher function whether they are doing it on their website, in a printed copy or through the news alerts." [...] Facebook spokespeople declined to answer questions about its insistence outside of court that it is not a publisher or media entity.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Last year, Lavell Burton, 36, wanted to learn to code, but was surprised to find that many of coding bootcamps cost several thousand dollars upfront. Then he found a 30-week remote program, Lambda School, that was free to attend. The program would provide comprehensive web-engineering training, and would help with job placement. Once employed, graduates would be required to pay back a set portion of their salary under an arrangement called an income-share agreement, or ISA. The Atlantic dives into such income share agreements. From a report: The concept of ISAs has been around since at least the 1950s, when the economist Milton Friedman outlined them as a hypothetical model of repayment. Yet ISAs were rarely implemented until the past few years, as student-loan default spiked and schools sought to offer other ways to pay. In 2016, Purdue University launched an ISA tuition option aimed at families who might otherwise take out high-interest private loans or Direct PLUS loans for parents to fill the gap between federal student loans and the cost of tuition. Purdue hired Vemo Education, a for-profit startup, to help design and administer the program, which is largely backed by the university's funds. The private schools Clarkson University and Messiah College have since announced plans to follow suit, as has the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, which has partnered with Vemo to create ISA options for its roughly 80 member schools. Among for-profit programs, in 2012, App Academy, a coding bootcamp with locations in San Francisco and New York, began offering a twelve-week program built around an ISA. Others, like the New York Code + Design Academy, which provides a range of web engineering and design courses, and Holberton School, a two-year program in San Francisco, have similar payment options. [...] The ISA-based programs have generated hype, as well as some early success stories. Yet questions remain about whether they are a good deal for students and if they make for profitable businesses in the long run. For one thing, there's little consensus around how much is fair to reap from program graduates, and for how long. Lambda School, for example, requires graduates earning at least $50,000 to pay back 17 percent of their salary for two years, with total payments capped at $30,000. The terms can vary widely among programs. Also, while it's clear how programs like Lambda School might help some people improve their prospects, many of them are so new -- Lambda School is one year old this month -- that there isn't much data about how people do once they get through the programs. That makes it difficult for prospective students to evaluate them.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
An anonymous reader shares a report: MoviePass, the subscription-based movie ticket service, is struggling to stay afloat. But the payment model it has popularized appears to be here to stay. AMC Theaters, the largest multiplex chain in the United States, rolled out its own MoviePass-style service on Tuesday. For $20 a month, subscribers to AMC Stubs A-List can see up to three movies a week. Also last week, the Alamo Drafthouse chain said it would begin testing a service called Season Pass that would offer unlimited movies for one monthly price. [...] AMC also said that its service was "sustainable" -- a not-so-subtle shot at MoviePass, which has three million members, most of whom pay $10 a month for the ability to see a movie a day. Many people in Hollywood and on Wall Street think that MoviePass will fail because it loses money on heavy users; Helios and Matheson Analytics, which owns MoviePass, has seen its publicly traded shares fall from $38.86 last year to 31 cents on Friday. Cinemark, a chain that has 4,566 movie screens in 41 states, began offering this subscription in December. It's very basic: for $9 a month members can see one movie a month (no 3-D) and receive a 20 percent discount on concessions, among other perks. Unused tickets roll over and never expire for paying members. There is no debit card involved, and members can reserve seats online. Sinemia: Started in 2015 in Turkey, this under-the-radar service bears the most similarity to MoviePass. Sinemia operates independently of theaters and involves a two-step process, with members selecting movies with an app and paying for them with a special debit card.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's he-says-she-says department
A laid-off IBM cloud sales ace is suing the IT giant for age discrimination, alleging he was forced out for being too old. From a report: Jonathan Langley joined Big Blue in 1993, and worked his way up the ranks over the next 24 years. Then, in 2017, as worldwide program director and sales lead of the Bluemix software-as-a-service, he was let go. According to his lawsuit paperwork, Langley, 60, "was a successful employee and his performance met or exceeded IBM's expectations." Had he "been younger, and especially if he had been a millennial, IBM would not have fired him," his filing claimed. Langley, of Texas, USA, was seemingly doing very well for himself within Big Blue. For instance, he netted a $20,000 performance bonus in January 2017, the largest such windfall within his team in Austin, we're told. His annual performance scores put him at the top or near the top of his group. Curiously, the month before, though, he was warned privately by his boss's boss -- Andrew Brown, veep of worldwide sales of IBM's hybrid cloud software -- that he needed to look for a new job, it is claimed. At the end of March 2017, Langley was formally told he would be laid off at the end of June. Langley was unable to get a role elsewhere within IBM, and its HR system marked him as having "resigned," it is claimed. In early July, days after he left the business, Langley got a letter congratulating him on his "retirement." IBM management told the US government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Langley was laid off after his supervisor Kim Overbay ranked him, in January 2017, as the worst performing person on his team, despite him bagging the biggest bonus that quarter, and earlier meeting or exceeding performance expectations, according to the lawsuit.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's search-and-destroy department
After someone leaked an incomplete scene featuring Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor, the BBC headed to court to track down the perpetrator. Gizmodo reports: In fact, the corporation has filed an application in a California court this week in an effort to expose the person who put the leaked footage online -- hoping California's Federal Court would put pressure on Tapatalk, whose messaging service was used to upload and disseminate a non-final, 53-second clip of Whittaker's Doctor in action. The BBC isn't accusing Tapatalk of any wrongdoing; rather, it just wants details on the user that uploaded the clip, so it can attempt to isolate just where in Doctor Who's long line of production the clip got leaked.
In a statement provided to, well, itself sort of, the BBC said that it was taking court action so that fans could "enjoy the final and fully completed version of the episode when it premieres," but it's about more than the integrity of the fan experience here, given that the clip was allegedly pretty clearly unfinished. And while the BBC would prefer that no sneaky footage of one of the most highly anticipated seasons of Doctor Who in a while is out there before it says so, it especially doesn't want it out there if it's footage that's not been edited into the version fans will eventually see on TV.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's arts-and-crafts department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Outline: As if they weren't already doing the absolute most, the die-hard fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse have become accidental heroes for people concerned about facial recognition tech: According to Twitter user @tahkion, a computer science blogger for WonderHowTo, Juggalo makeup outmatches the machine learning algorithms that govern facial recognition technology.
In a series of follow-up tweets, @tahkion explained that facial recognition works by pinpointing the areas of contrast on a human face -- for instance, where a nose is located, or where the chin becomes the neck. As it happens, juggalo makeup often involves applying black paint below the mouth, but above the chin. That makes facial recognition vulnerable to misidentifying the placement of the jaw. Face-painting styles like "corpse" makeup also obscure the face. However, they don't create enough contrast to effectively confuse most facial recognition systems. Dramatic styles of feminine makeup, like heavy eyeliner, also are generally not enough to confuse facial recognition systems, @tahkion claims. However, facial recognition tech such as Apple's Face ID, which does not rely on visible light and uses depth perception, would not be tricked by juggalo makeup.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's alternative-strategies department
Greg LeRoy and Maryann Feldman from The Guardian discuss some alternative strategies for cities that want large tech companies like Amazon and Apple to invest locally but don't want to offer huge subsidies. They advise against using "old economy" incentives for "new economy" firms, which are more susceptible to disruption, because it can be costly and counterproductive. Unfortunately, many politicians continue to mismatch incentives "especially because some tech companies have become very aggressive about demanding big tax breaks," reports The Guardian. From the report: Here are two proven alternative strategies. The first could be called "back to basics." A regional government inventories existing small- and medium-sized firms, the backbone of many local communities. Typically family-owned and located in micropolitan and rural areas, these firms are often neglected by policymakers and shortchanged by incentive programs. A regional government asks: which industry sectors are we already comparatively good at? Which of those sectors have the best futures? How can our public systems help those promising firms grow? Do they need export assistance? Customized training? Technology diffusion? More engineering-school graduates? There are some simple fixes that could go a long way.
The second alternative takes this same approach and applies it to very young companies and to emerging technologies with more speculative prospects. This was North Carolina's successful strategy from the 1950s until the mid-1990s. Making no big bets on any one company, the state invested in all levels of education, created its community college system and upgraded the state universities. It also focused on highway upgrades and other infrastructure investments. [...] Austin, Texas, currently the hottest tech-led economy in the U.S., provides a model: there, local entrepreneurs became local champions, creating early incubators, reinvesting their gains and working with local government.Read Replies (0)