By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-is-money department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The ride-hailing company has started testing a feature that gives riders the option to trade a shorter wait for a cheaper fare. "Prices are lower at 17:00," Uber recently advised an Uber employee who requested a ride in Berkeley, California, and tweeted a screenshot of the feature. The image showed the Uber employee that he could request a ride "now" (4:56pm local time) for $10.18, or wait until 5pm and pay $8.15, about 25% less. "If you're OK leaving later, we'll request your ride at 17:00 for a lower price," Uber's app stated.
The option to wait longer in exchange for a cheaper ride is being tested among all Uber employees in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a company spokeswoman told Quartz in an email. "Affordability is a top reason riders choose shared rides, and we're internally experimenting with a way to save money in exchange for a later pickup," she said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's synthetic-biology department
A major U.S. government report warns that advances in synthetic biology now allow scientists to have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body. The Guardian reports: In the report, the scientists describe how synthetic biology, which gives researchers precision tools to manipulate living organisms, "enhances and expands" opportunities to create bioweapons. "As the power of the technology increases, that brings a general need to scrutinize where harms could come from," said Peter Carr, a senior scientist at MIT's Synthetic Biology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The report calls on the U.S. government to rethink how it conducts disease surveillance, so it can better detect novel bioweapons, and to look at ways to bolster defenses, for example by finding ways to make and deploy vaccines far more rapidly. For every bioweapon the scientists consider, the report sets out key hurdles that, once cleared, will make the weapons more feasible. The Guardian references a case 20 years ago where geneticist Eckard Wimmer recreated the poliovirus in a test tube. Earlier this year, a team at the University of Alberta built an infectious horse pox virus. "The virus is a close relative of smallpox, which may have claimed half a billion lives in the 20th century," reports The Guardian. "Today, the genetic code of almost any mammalian virus can be found online and synthesized."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's piece-of-work department
An anonymous reader writes: "A hacker once considered 'the Internet's most inept criminal' received on Monday a prison sentence of 20 months in prison for launching DDoS attacks against the city of Madison, Wisconsin -- attacks which caused delays and outages to various municipality services, including its 911 emergency call center," reports Bleeping Computer. He was sentenced for this attack in particular, part of a plea deal, but his attacks span over two years. The hacker, Randall Charles Tucker, 23, known as Bitcoin Baron, never bothered hiding his attacks, advertised them on Twitter, and used public chats and Skype to brag about his deeds. According to a timeline of events, Tucker carried out all of these hacks -- most of which were downright silly -- as a way to boost his reputation before going to jail for stabbing his father with a prison knife. The plan backfired when authorities linked him to the hacks and received another 20 months in prison on top of the original 18 months.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cheaper-by-the-dozen department
A few days ago, Elon Musk announced a "new general assembly line" made with "minimal resources." As Ars Technica reports, this new tented facility "is seemingly the first phase of an entirely new building, dubbed 'Factory 2.0.'" From the report: The tent is easily visible from the nearby Warm Springs BART station platform. When Ars visited on Monday afternoon, there appeared to be cranes and forklifts moving around the site. We could not easily see inside the long white temporary structure, but there did not appear to be any newly completed vehicles rolling off the lines in the adjacent parking lot. Still, one automotive expert that Ars spoke with said that a new temporary manufacturing facility on the same site as conventional automotive factories was unprecedented in the industry. Dave Sullivan, an analyst with Auto Pacific, told Ars that he wondered what was wrong with Tesla's existing facilities, if Musk decided the company needed more capacity. "It's almost a sign of desperation," he said. "It's a sprint to be profitable in the third quarter." Ars notes that "each tent is 53-feet-high by 150-feet-long -- there seem to be several connected in a long line, mounted with aluminum framing." In a tweet, Musk said: "It's actually way better than the factory building. More comfortable & a great view of the mountains."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's planning-for-the-future department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Portland, Oregon officials claim its city has some of the best bike data in the United States -- data revealing how many people ride bicycles, where they're going and what streets they're using. Their collection of that data, however, has been as low-tech as it gets: city staffers and volunteers stand out on street corners for two hours at a time and count. Now, the city is aiming for more comprehensive, accurate data collection with the installation of 200 sensors installed on street lights on three of Portland's deadliest streets: Southeast Division St., SE Hawthorne Blvd. and 122nd St.
The Traffic Sensor Safety Project, for a price tag of just over $1 million, represents the first major milestone for the Smart City PDX initiative. It relies on GE's Current CityIQ sensors, which are powered with Intel IoT technology and use AT&T as the data carrier. GE, Intel and AT&T have already worked together to deploy smart streetlight sensors in San Diego.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
A sophisticated hacking campaign launched from computers in China burrowed deeply into satellite operators, defense contractors and telecommunications companies in the United States and southeast Asia, security researchers at Symantec Corp said on Tuesday. Reuters: Symantec said the effort appeared to be driven by national espionage goals, such as the interception of military and civilian communications. Such interception capabilities are rare but not unheard of, and the researchers could not say what communications, if any, were taken. More disturbingly in this case, the hackers infected computers that controlled the satellites, so that they could have changed the positions of the orbiting devices and disrupted data traffic, Symantec said. "Disruption to satellites could leave civilian as well as military installations subject to huge [real world] disruptions," said Vikram Thakur, technical director at Symantec. "We are extremely dependent on their functionality." Satellites are critical to phone and some internet links as well as mapping and positioning data. Symantec, based in Mountain View, California, described its findings to Reuters exclusively ahead of a planned public release. It said the hackers had been removed from infected systems.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department
Amazon is finally bringing Alexa to the hotel room. The e-commerce giant announced Tuesday the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, a specialized version of the voice assistant that integrates into popular hotel software systems for guest services. From a report: Housed inside of an Echo device, Alexa for Hospitality is functionally identical to the Alexa used in homes, except tailored to a hotel's service options. Guests can tell Alexa to order room service, book a spa appointment, call for housekeeping, provide directions, or play music in their room, for example. On the privacy side, Amazon said hotels will not have access to voice recordings of Alexa interactions or responses, and recordings of Alexa commands are remotely wiped when the guest checks out of the hotel. However, hotels can use Alexa for Hospitality to "measure engagement through analytics and adapt services based on guest feedback," Amazon said. Alexa for Hospitality is available to hotels, vacation rentals, and other hospitality providers starting today, with Marriott International signed up to deploy the service across its hotel portfolio this summer.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's musical-chair department
BitTorrent, an early mover (and currently the largest player) in decentralised computing architecture to distribute and store data, is being sold for $140 million in cash to Justin Sun and his blockchain media startup Tron, TechCrunch has learned. From a report: Variety yesterday reported that a sale of the company to Sun closed last week, without naming a price, following rumors that circulated for at least a month that the two were in negotiations. Shareholders have now been sent the paperwork to sign off on the deal, and that has detailed the $140 million price. Some are, we understand, still disputing the terms, as more than one person claims to have made the introduction between Sun and BitTorrent. A source says it's unlikely that the disputes will actually kill the acquisition, given how long BitTorrent has been looking for a buyer. BitTorrent most recently said it has about 170 million users of its products.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-course department
Verizon is pledging to stop sales through intermediaries of data that pinpoints the location of mobile phones to outside companies, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. From the report: It is the first major U.S. wireless carrier to step back from a business practice that has drawn criticism for endangering privacy. The data has allowed outsiders to track wireless devices without their owners' knowledge or consent. Verizon, the nation's largest mobile carrier measured by subscribers, said that about 75 companies have obtained its customer data from two little-known California-based brokers that it supplies directly -- LocationSmart and Zumigo. The company made its disclosure in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been probing the phone location-tracking market. Last month, Wyden revealed abuses in the lucrative but loosely regulated field involving Securus Technologies and its affiliate 3C Interactive. Verizon says their contract was approved only for the location tracking of outside mobile phones called by prison inmates. After a thorough review of its program, Verizon notified LocationSmart and Zumigo, both privately held, that it intends to "terminate their ability to access and use our customers' location data as soon as possible," wrote Verizon's chief privacy officer, Karen Zacharia.Read Replies (0)