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)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Michael Zhang, reporting for PetaPixel: A Virginia federal court has made a decision that photographers won't be happy to hear: the court ruled that finding a photo on the Internet and then using it without permission on a commercial website can be considered fair use. The copyright battle started when photographer Russell Brammer found one of his long-exposure photos of a Washington, D.C. neighborhood cropped and used by the website for the Northern Virginia Film Festival on a page of "things to do" in the D.C. area. Brammer then sent a cease and desist letter to Violent Hues Productions, the company behind the festival, and it responded by immediately taking the photo down. Brammer then sued the company for copyright infringement, and it responded by claiming fair use. In his ruling, the judge said, "Violent Hues' use of the photograph was transformative in function and purpose. While Brammer's purpose in capturing and publishing the photograph was promotional and expressive, Violent Hues' purpose in using the photograph was informational: to provide festival attendees with information regarding the local area. Furthermore, this use was noncommercial, because the photo was not used to advertise a product or generate revenue."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's best-of-AIM department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Over the last year, gadget and software makers have developed ways for users to better manage their relationship with technology. They make it easier to ignore notifications or quiet all but the most important stuff. But even the latest mobile OS updates don't address the entire problem. In this always-on era, we are assumed to be near our phones all the time, and there is no good way to signal to the world when we are not. There is no way to proclaim, "I'm not available, I won't see your notification, and I won't care until next Sunday." The solution isn't complicated. In fact, it has been around since the '90s. It is called an "away" message, and we need it now more than ever. Most people's first experience with an away message came on AOL Instant Messenger. Those were the days before mobile, when you could only be online while sitting at the computer -- probably a wheezing beige colossus running Windows 95. Rather than log off every time you had to run to the store, AIM allowed you to change a small icon next to your name from green, which signified you were online and available, to red, which meant you were temporarily indisposed. [...] Away messages helped users understand why their buddies weren't responding. More important, away messages offered permission to actually go away. If someone needed you urgently, they would try another route, but mostly they would leave you alone. You weren't ignoring them on purpose; you were just gone.Read Replies (0)