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iOS and iPadOS 13 Beta 4 Signals Death of 3D Touch, Rise of Context Menu
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Back in 2015, Apple introduced pressure-sensitive iPhone screens alongside 3D Touch as a potentially major hardware-software innovation, but barely supported the feature, leading to informed speculation that all of 2019's iPhones would lose their pressure-sensing hardware. This week's release of the fourth iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 developer betas appears to put the final nail in 3D Touch's coffin, tightening up the responsiveness of its replacement: Context Menus. From a report: If you aren't already familiar with 3D Touch, the concept was simple: slight, medium, and heavy pressure on an iPhone's screen could be recognized differently, such that a light press would open an app while a firm press in the same spot would instead conjure up a contextual menu. Apple sometimes nested additional "peek and pop" features within iPhone apps using the same pressure sensitivity, giving users extra options if they pressed down more on the screen.

Over the last few beta releases of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple has been rolling out a replacement called Context Menus -- a change it set the stage for last year by releasing the iPhone XR without 3D Touch hardware. Back then, Apple said it was giving the XR an alternative called "Haptic Touch" that pulled up the same sort of contextual menus as earlier iPhones, but did so using two tricks: Instead of pressure, it sensed button press time, counting an extra split-second as a stronger button press, confirming the different intent with a "thump" from the phone's vibration feature. Now iPad users will get a version of Haptic Touch minus the haptics.

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Slack Resets Passwords For 1% of Its Users Because of 2015 Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's PSA department:
ZDNet: Slack published more details about a password reset operation that ZDNet reported earlier today. According to a statement the company published on its website, the password reset operation is related to the company's 2015 security breach. In March 2015, Slack said hackers gained access to some Slack infrastructure, including databases storing user credentials. Hackers stole hashed passwords, but they also planted code on the company's site to capture plaintext passwords that users entered when logging in. At the time, Slack reset passwords for users who it believed were impacted, and also added support for two-factor authentication for all accounts. But as ZDNet reported earlier today, the company recently received a batch of Slack users credentials, which prompted the company to start an investigation into its source and prepare a password reset procedure. "We immediately confirmed that a portion of the email addresses and password combinations were valid, reset those passwords, and explained our actions to the affected users," Slack said. In a message on its website, Slack said this batch of credentials came via its bug bounty program. The company said it initially believed the data came from users who had their PCs infected with malware, or users who reused passwords across different services.

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Have We Hit Peak Podcast?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
There are now upward of 700,000 podcasts, according to the podcast production and hosting service Blubrry, with between 2,000 and 3,000 new shows launching each month. From a report: The frequency with which podcasts start (and then end, or "podfade," as it's coming to be known in the trade) has produced a degree of cultural exhaustion. We're not necessarily sick of listening to interesting programs; but we're definitely tired of hearing from every friend, relative and co-worker who thinks they're just an iPhone recording away from creating the next "Serial." "Anyone can start one and so anyone who thinks they can start one will do it," said Nicholas Quah, who runs an industry newsletter called Hot Pod. "It's like the business of me." "Being a podcast host plays into people's self-importance," said Karen North, a clinical professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. And it projects that importance to others. Public speaking and consulting gigs now often go to "the person who's the expert and has the podcast," she said.

People use all kinds of metrics to tout the popularity of their shows, whether it's the number of iTunes reviews they get or the total downloads they receive per month. These metrics mean different things and don't necessarily connote success. And as recent social media scandals have shown, popularity can be purchased. But Dr. North said that having a big audience doesn't necessarily matter. "When people interview experts, even if nobody ever listens to the podcast, hosts get the benefit of learning from and networking with the guest," she said. "It's a great stunt." Call him cynical, but Jordan Harbinger, host of "The Jordan Harbinger Show" podcast, thinks there is a "podcast industrial complex." Hosts aren't starting shows "because it's a fun, niche hobby," he said. "They do it to make money or because it will make them an influencer."

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Netflix Will Roll Out a Lower-Priced Subscription Plan in India
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's double-face department:
Netflix said on Wednesday that it will roll out a cheaper subscription plan in India, one of the last great growth markets for global companies, as the streaming giant scrambles to find ways to accelerate its slowing growth worldwide. From a report: The company added 2.7 million new subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, it said today, far fewer than the 5 million figure it had forecasted earlier this year. The company said lowering its subscription plan, which starts at $9 in the U.S., would help it reach more users in India and expand its overall subscriber base. The new plan will be available in India in Q3. According to third-party research firms, Netflix has fewer than 2 million subscribers in India. Netflix started to test a lower-priced subscription plan in India and some other markets in Asia late last year. The plan restricts the usage of the service to one mobile device and offers only the standard definition viewing (~480p). During the period of testing, which was active as of two months ago, the company charged users as low as $4. [...] For Netflix, the decision to lower its pricing in India comes at a time when it has hiked the subscription cost in many parts of the world in recent quarters. In the U.S., for instance, Netflix said earlier this year that it would raise its subscription price by up to 18%.

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Uber Glitch Charges Passengers 100 Times the Advertised Price, Resulting in Crosstown Fares in the Thousands of Dollars
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 06:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-to-become-profitable department:
Uber passengers in multiple cities were startled Wednesday when they were charged 100 times the advertised fare for short trips, a glitch that sparked jokes about surge pricing gone wild. From a report: Riders in cities including Washington and San Diego took to social media to post about the sky-high rates, a problem that Uber confirmed, although it declined to say how widespread the issue was. Some who ordered food for quick delivery said they were also overcharged. One social media user reported that Uber maxed out her husband's card with a charge of $1,905, when it was supposed to be $19.05. "Not cool, especially on his birthday," she added. Another woman posted to social media that she was charged $1,308 for a $13.08 trip. The charge was so high it triggered a fraud alert, according to a screen shot the rider posted on Twitter.

Uber said the glitch has been fixed. The company said the fare would be corrected so riders are charged only the amount for their actual trip, though they may temporarily see an inaccurate trip fare on their credit or debit cards. Passengers won't need to dispute the charges with their banks.

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Amazon Accidentally Sold $13,000+ Camera Gear For $100 On Prime Day
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 05:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's best-deals-of-their-lives department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PetaPixel: Amazon discounted a wide range of camera gear for Prime Day this week, but some photographers scored what may be the best deals of their lives. Thanks to a pricing error, many people were able to purchase high-end camera gear bundles, some worth over $5,000, for just around $100. It all started when someone noticed that the $550 Sony a6000 and 16-50mm lens bundle was being listed at just $94.50 on Amazon, and the person shared the "deal" on Slickdeals, where it hit the front page.

Many users were able to see the same price and place orders, while other users reported still seeing the normal price of $550. And it wasn't 3rd-party sellers that the $94.50 price applied to -- the gear was being sold and shipped by Amazon. But then people noticed that other cameras and bundles were also being sold for $94.50, and that's when the real frenzy started. "Literally everything is $94.48," one member writes. "I have bought like 10k worth of stuff that was like 900 dollars total." "I got a $13,000 lens for $94," another member writes regarding their Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS order. "LOL waiting for the cancellation but thats like 99.3% off." Other members spoke to Amazon customer service about their order and were told that the order would indeed ship. Others also reported that they successfully price matched gear at retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart.

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DoNotPay's New Service Auto-Cancels Free Trials
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 03:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's clever-services department:
DoNotPay, a free chatbot that offers AI-powered legal counsel, has a new service called Free Trial Card that will help you cancel free trials before you get charged. Wired reports: The Free Trial Card is a virtual credit card you can use to sign up for free trials of any service anonymously, instead of using your real credit card. When the free trial period ends, the card automatically declines to be charged, thus ending your free trial. You don't have to remember to cancel anything. If you want, the app will also send an actual legal notice of cancelation to the service. The DoNotPay app will send you an email when you sign up for a service and another when your trial ends -- a way of nudging you with the reminder that if you want to convert your trial into a paid subscription, you'll need to update your payment info and hand over your actual credit card number.

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Jeff Bezos: I Spend My Billions On Space Because We're Destroying Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '19 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-of-humanity department:
In an interview with Norah O'Donnell of "CBS Evening News," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained why he's investing much of his Amazon fortune in the development of space technologies through his aerospace company Blue Origin. Why? "Because I think it's important," Bezos said. "I think it is important for this planet. I think it's important for the dynamism of future generations. It is something I care deeply about. And it is something I have been thinking about all my life." From the report: Bezos -- who says "you don't choose your passions, your passions choose you" -- became fascinated with space when he was a child watching astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong land on the moon, he tells O'Donnell. Further, developing space technologies is critical for human beings to have a long future, Bezos says. "We humans have to go to space if we are going to continue to have a thriving civilization," Bezos says. "We have become big as a population, as a species, and this planet is relatively small. We see it in things like climate change and pollution and heavy industry. We are in the process of destroying this planet. And we have sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system -- this is the good one. So, we have to preserve this planet."

To do that will require being able to live and work in space, says Bezos. "We send things up into space, but they are all made on Earth. Eventually it will be much cheaper and simpler to make really complicated things, like microprocessors and everything, in space and then send those highly complex manufactured objects back down to earth, so that we don't have the big factories and pollution generating industries that make those things now on Earth," Bezos says. "And Earth can be zoned residential." It will be "multiple generations" and "hundreds of years" before this is a reality, Bezos said on CBS, but with Blue Origin he is working to develop the technology that will make it possible.

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To Foil Hackers, 'Morpheus' Chip Can Change Its Code In the Blink of An Eye
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-blink department:
Todd Austin, a professor at the University of Michigan, is working on an approach known as Morpheus that aims to frustrate hackers trying to gain control of microchips by presenting them with a rapidly changing target. At a conference in Detroit this week organized by the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Austin described how the prototype Morpheus chip works. MIT Technology Review reports: The aim is to make it incredibly difficult for hackers to exploit key software that helps govern the chip's operation. Morpheus does this by repeatedly randomizing elements of the code that attackers need access to in order to compromise the hardware. This can be achieved without disrupting the software applications that are powered by the processor. Austin has been able to get the chip's code "churning" to happen once every 50 milliseconds -- way faster than needed to frustrate the most powerful automated hacking tools. So even if hackers find a vulnerability, the information needed to exploit it disappears in the blink of an eye.

There's a cost to all this: the technology causes a slight drop in performance and requires somewhat bigger chips. The military may accept this trade-off in return for greater security on the battlefield, but it could limit Morpheus's appeal to businesses and consumers. Austin said a prototype has already resisted every known variant of a widely-used hacking technique known as a control-flow attack, which does things like tampering with the way a processor handles memory in order to allow hackers to sneak in malware. More tests lie ahead. A team of U.S. national security experts will soon begin probing the prototype chip to see if they can compromise its defenses, and Austin also plans to post some of Morpheus's code online so that other researchers can try to find flaws in it, too.

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'The Raspberry Pi 4 Needs a Fan'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's too-hot-to-handle department:
Author and programmer Jeff Geerling explains in a blog post why the new Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan. Unlike previous Pis that didn't require a fan or heatsink to avoid CPU throttling, the Pi 4 is a different beast and "pretty much demands a fan," writes Geerling. "Not only does the CPU get appreciably hot even under normal load, there are a number of other parts of the board that heat up to the point they are uncomfortable to touch." After 5 minutes at idle, he recorded the CPU/System-on-a-Chip (SoC) was around 60C, and it climbed to the 60-70C range when using the USB ports.

"[I]magine if you're truly using the Pi 4 as a desktop replacement, with at least one external USB 3.0 hard drive attached, WiFi connected and transferring large amounts of data, a USB keyboard and mouse, a few browser windows open (the average website these days might as well be an AAA video game with how resource-intense it is), a text editor, and a music player," writes Geerling. "This amount of load is enough to cause the CPU to throttle in less than 10 minutes." So, Geerling did what any programmer and DIYer would do and decided to add a fan himself to the official case -- and in addition to the blog post describing the process, he made a 22-minute-long video showing you what he did. From the post: Without any ventilation, it's kind of a little plastic oven inside the Pi 4 case. A heat sink might help in some tiny way, but that heat has nowhere to go! So I decided to follow the lead of Redditor u/CarbyCarberson and put a fan in the top cover. [...] After installing the fan, I booted the Pi and ran "stress --cpu 4" and let it go for an hour. The entire time, the CPU's temperature stayed at or under 60C (140F), a full 20C lower than the throttling point.

< article continued at Slashdot's too-hot-to-handle department >

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California Awards $70 Million To State Schools To Replace 200 Polluting Diesel School Buses With All-Electric Buses
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 06:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new department:
The California Energy Commission has awarded nearly $70 million to state schools to replace more than 200 diesel school buses with new, all-electric school buses. Electrek reports: The commission approved the funding this week. A total of $89.8 million has now been earmarked for new electric buses at schools in 26 California counties, as the commission's School Bus Replacement Program works toward this goal. A study published in Economics of Education Review last month showed diesel retrofits had positive results on both respiratory health and test scores. Eliminating emissions from these buses completely will do even more to protect children from dangerous emissions while cutting air pollution. The new buses will eliminate nearly 57,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and nearly 550 pounds of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions annually.

The exact number of buses going to California school districts is unclear -- the energy commission only says "more than 200." If the entirety of the $70 million went to just 200 buses, that'd be $350,000 per bus. But while the exact cost of each bus is unknown, the commission does estimate that "schools will save nearly $120,000 in fuel and maintenance costs per bus over 20 years." Some estimates have noted that electric school buses tend to cost about $120,000 more than diesel buses -- if that's the case here, the price will be equal in the end, with added health benefits. Funding for the electric buses is supplied by the voter-approved California Clean Energy Jobs Act, and the commission's Clean Transportation Program will provide the charging infrastructure to support the buses.

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Oakland Becomes Third US City To Ban Facial Recognition
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 06:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-in-line department:
Oakland, California has followed San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts in banning the use of facial recognition in public spaces. Motherboard reports: A city ordinance passed Tuesday night which prohibits the city of Oakland from "acquiring, obtaining, retaining, requesting, or accessing" facial recognition technology, which it defines as "an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual's face." The ordinance amends a 2018 law which requires any city staff member to get approval from the chair of Oakland's Privacy Advisory Commission before "seeking or soliciting funds" for surveillance technology. State and federal funding for surveillance technology must also be approved by the chair, per the ordinance. According to a public memo by Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Council President, the ban was instituted on the basis that facial recognition is often inaccurate, lacks established ethical standards, is invasive in nature, and has a high potential for government abuse.

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TurboTax Started Charging the Disabled, Unemployed and Students To Make Up For Trump Tax Law
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's preserving-hefty-profit-margins department:
The 2017 tax overhaul directly threatened the lucrative business of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, so it pushed students, the disabled, and unemployed to a paid tier to make up for the lost profits. ProPublica reports: Although the company draws in customers with the promise of a "free" product, its fortunes depend on getting as many customers as possible to pay. It had been regularly charging $100 or more for returns that included itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations. Under the new law, many wealthier taxpayers would no longer be filing that form, qualifying them to use the company's free software. Intuit executives came up with a way to preserve the company's hefty profit margins: It began charging more low-income people. Which ones? Individuals with disabilities, the unemployed and people who owe money on student loans, all of whom use tax forms that TurboTax previously included for free. The shift was described to ProPublica by two people familiar with the process.

< article continued at Slashdot's preserving-hefty-profit-margins department >

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Making the Case For a Microsoft Surface Phone That Runs Android
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pros-and-cons department:
Zac Bowden from Windows Central makes the case for why Microsoft may want to make a Surface phone that runs Android. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: While a Surface Phone running Android would never sell to the quantity that Samsung smartphones do (or at least not a first- or second-generation phone), Microsoft could utilize the Surface brand to showcase the best of Microsoft's Android efforts all in one place, just like it has done for Windows PCs. I'm picturing a Surface-branded, Microsoft-built smartphone that comes with Microsoft Launcher, Edge, Office, Your Phone phone-mirroring integration, and more, out of the box. In fact, that's one of four unique selling points that a Surface Phone running Android could have:
-- Showcase the best of Microsoft's efforts on Android. -- Seamless integration with Windows PCs using Your Phone. -- Provide the best security and update support on Android. -- Brand recognition that can rival Apple and Samsung.

That last point is more for Microsoft fans, but the first three are important. A Surface Phone running Android would be the only smartphone out there that's always guaranteed to work with all of Your Phone's features. I have a wide array of Android smartphones, yet 90 percent of them don't support all of Your Phone's features on Windows 10. Screen mirroring is only available on select devices, and while that may improve, there's no guarantee your smartphone will ever get it, or if it'll work well. Microsoft could also provide enhanced features, such as the ability to take cellular phone calls on your PC directly from your Surface Phone. It could also build out dedicated Phone and SMS apps that sync up with the Messages app on your PC, instead of having to relay it through the Your Phone app. There's so much more potential when you build your own Android phone.

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Google's Project Dragonfly 'Terminated' In China
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
An executive at Google said the company's plan to launch a censored search engine in China has been "terminated." The project was reportedly put on hold last year but rumors that it remained active persisted. From a report: "We have terminated Project Dragonfly," Google executive Karan Bhatia told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Buzzfeed, which reported the new comments, said it was the first public confirmation that Dragonfly had ended. A spokesman for Google later confirmed to the site that Google currently had no plans to launch search in China and that no work was being done to that end.

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Netflix Stock Tumbles After US Subscribers Drop For the First Time Ever
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's increasingly-crowded-market department:
Netflix saw its first-ever decline in paid U.S. subscribers in the second quarter, losing 126,000 U.S. users when Wall Street was expecting 352,000 domestic adds. Barron's reports: The slight drop in Netflix's U.S. subscriber base, combined with fewer-than expected international adds in the second quarter, sent the company's stock tumbling over 10% in after-hours trading Wednesday. The streaming company still reported better-than-expected earnings, but investors tend to focus on its subscriber trends and not much else. The company said it sees a return to subscriber growth in the third quarter.

For the second quarter, Netflix reported 60 cents in earnings per share, versus the 56 cents analysts had been expecting. Revenue came in at $4.9 billion, about equal to the consensus estimate. That compares with 85 cents in earnings per share on $3.9 billion in sales in the same period last year. Second-quarter net income was $270.7 million. But Netflix's subscriber numbers tend to be the most important metric for investors, and Netflix fell short where it mattered. It added 2.8 million net new international subscribers but lost 126,000 U.S. users in the second quarter. Wall Street had been expecting 352,000 domestic and 4.8 million international adds, and Netflix had guided to a total of 5.0 million new subscribers. For the third quarter, Netflix "calls for $1.04 in EPS, $5.3 billion in revenue, and for user numbers to return to growth to the tune of 800,000 new domestic subscribers and 6.2 million international subscribers," the report says. "That compares with 89 cents in EPS on $4 billion in sales in the same period last year, when Netflix also added 1.1 million new domestic subscribers and 5.9 million international subscribers."

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Amazon Faces Antitrust Probe In Europe Over Use of Merchant Data
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 02:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's put-under-the-microscope department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Amazon faces a formal European Union antitrust investigation (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source) into its dealings with merchants that sell goods on its site, marking an expansion of a multi-pronged regulatory push that has ensnared other U.S. tech giants like Facebook and Google. The European Commission, the EU's top antitrust enforcer, said Wednesday that its investigation will examine whether Amazon is abusing its dual role as a marketplace where independent sellers can offer products and as a retailer of products in its own right. In particular, the probe will study whether Amazon is using nonpublic data from independent merchants to compete unfairly against them. Investigators will also examine what data Amazon uses to pick a seller as the default option for a given product when a user clicks the "buy" button -- and whether Amazon has an unfair advantage to be designated the default for products it sells. The probe could eventually lead to formal charges, fines and orders for the company to change business practices, but it could also be dropped.

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Firefox To Warn When Saved Logins are Found in Data Breaches
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 02:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-features department:
Starting in Firefox 70, Mozilla aims to have the browser report when any of your saved logins were found in data breaches. This will be done through their partnership with the Have I Been Pwned data breach site. From a report: Mozilla is slowly integrating their independent Firefox Monitor service and the new Firefox Lockwise password manager directly into Firefox. Mozilla is also considering premium services based around these features in the future. As part of this integration, Firefox will scan the saved login names and passwords and see if they were exposed in a data breach listed on Have I been Pwned. If one is found, Firefox will alert the user and prompt them to change their password. This new feature will only work, though, for data breaches that exposed passwords and when the password was saved prior to an associated data breach.

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Delta, Alaska, and American Airlines Have All Been Sued Over Their Uniforms.
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 01:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's illness-inducing-uniforms department:
Rashes, blisters, and hair loss have all been reported. So has vomiting, migraines, and shortness of breath. All of these -- and more -- are symptoms reported by flight attendants after their airlines got new uniforms. But no one knows why. From a report: Delta is the latest airline to have flight attendants report health issues possibly related to their uniforms, and employees at the airline filed a lawsuit in May against the manufacturer, Lands' End. But flight attendants have been battling health issues that have appeared after an airline instituted new uniforms for years. And for years, airlines have said their uniforms are safe. Meanwhile, flight attendants and others are working to discover the cause of their symptoms and the identity and total number of chemicals present in their uniforms, all of which can be difficult to ascertain. Until the cause can be identified -- or until airlines start listening to employees and moving quickly after their complaints -- it's likely employees will continue to face symptoms. And it's likely that flight attendants will keep heading to court, where they've historically needed to go to get policy changed by their employers.

The problem was first reported after employees at Alaska Airlines got new uniforms toward the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011. Flight attendants began to report rashes and eye irritation, and documented hives, blisters, and scaly patches, according to a 2012 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report looking into the issue. In 2013, flight attendants at Alaska Airlines filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the uniforms, Twin Hill, and the airline recalled the uniforms in 2014. In October 2016, Twin Hill won the lawsuit, with the court claiming there was no reliable evidence the injuries were caused by the uniforms.

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The $20B Plan To Power Singapore With Australian Solar
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '19 at 01:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
The desert outside Tennant Creek, deep in the Northern Territory, is not the most obvious place to build and transmit Singapore's future electricity supply. Though few in the southern states are yet to take notice, a group of Australian developers are betting that will change. From a report: If they are right, it could have far-reaching consequences for Australia's energy industry and what the country sells to the world. Known as Sun Cable, it is promised to be the world's largest solar farm. If developed as planned, a 10-gigawatt-capacity array of panels will be spread across 15,000 hectares and be backed by battery storage to ensure it can supply power around the clock. Overhead transmission lines will send electricity to Darwin and plug into the NT grid. But the bulk would be exported via a high-voltage direct-current submarine cable snaking through the Indonesian archipelago to Singapore. The developers say it will be able to provide one-fifth of the island city-state's electricity needs, replacing its increasingly expensive gas-fired power.

After 18 months in development, the $20bn Sun Cable development had a quiet coming out party in the Top End three weeks ago at a series of events held to highlight the NT's solar potential. The idea has been embraced by the NT government and attracted the attention of the software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who is considering involvement through his Grok Ventures private investment firm. The NT plan follows a similarly ambitious proposal for the Pilbara, where another group of developers are working on an even bigger wind and solar hybrid plant to power local industry and develop a green hydrogen manufacturing hub. On Friday, project developer Andrew Dickson announced the scale of the proposed Asian Renewable Energy Hub had grown by more than a third, from 11GW to 15GW. "To our knowledge, it's the largest wind-solar hybrid in the world," he says.

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