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GE Considers Scrapping The Annual Raise
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 03:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bedrock-tradition department:
A user shares a report that details General Electric's rethinking of the annual raise. Bloomberg reports: "GE executives are reviewing whether annual updates to compensation are the best response to the achievements and needs of employees. The company may also scrap the longstanding and much-imitated system of rating staff on a five-point scale. Decisions on both issues may come within the next several months, spokesperson Valerie Van den Keybus said by phone." "We uncovered an opportunity to improve the way we reward people for their contributions," GE's head of executive development, Janice Semper, said in an e-mailed response to questions. It will involve "being flexible and re-thinking how we define rewards, acknowledging that employees and managers are already thinking beyond annual compensation in this space." In response to this news, ErichTheRed writes: First it was "stack ranking," the process where GE fires the bottom-rated 20% of the workforce every year. Now, a new HR trend may be brewing at GE that is destined to be copied by MBAs everywhere if it takes hold. Personally, in terms of cargo-cult HR trends, I'd take Google's open office nightmare over this one. What do you think this would do to employment stability if widely enacted? I can definitely see banks rethinking 30 year mortgages, for example...

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Pandora CEO: No Plans To Sell Company: On Path To Do Something Big
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 03:52 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's don't-write-it-off-just-yet department:
Chris O'Brien, reporting for VentureBeat: Making one of his biggest public appearances since returning to Pandora as CEO, Tim Westergren struck a defiant tone -- insisting that the company is not for sale and is, in fact, on the cusp of a reinventing itself. "We are on a path to do something big and something for the long-term," Westergren said when asked on stage about sale rumors. "Tha's why I got back in the saddle, so no plans for that." Pandora, with its Internet radio format, has been a music streaming pioneer. Founded in 2000, it survived the dot-com bust and enjoyed explosive growth following the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the ensuing smartphone era. Pandora's rise was capped by a big IPO in 2011. But as a public company, Pandora has struggled to show consistent profits and growth. It is often buffeted on one side by artists who claim they are not being paid fairly and on the other by new entrants such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon who offer on-demand streaming services.

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Future Phones May Use Vacuum Tube Chips As Silicon Hits Moore's Law Extremes
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 02:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cut-down-to-size department:
An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers want to replace transistors with vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes are nothing new, however the ones in development at Caltech's Nanofabrication Group are a million times smaller than the ones in use 100 years ago. "Computer technologies seem to work in cycles," Alan Huang, a former electrical engineer for Bell Laboratories, told the New York Times. "Some of the same algorithms that were developed for the last generation can sometimes be used for the next generation." Dr. Axel Scherer, head of the Nanofabrication Group, said to the New York Times on Sunday, "Ten years ago, silicon transistors could meet all our demands. In the next decade, that will no longer be true." He argues silicon transistors can only take us so far. Vacuum tubes, for comparison, use tiny metal tubes that can control the flow of electricity. They're especially intriguing to researchers as they can provide a better solution to silicon transistors as they can consume less power and take-up a much smaller footprint. The report mentions they have the potential to bring an end to Moore's Law, even if silicon transistors show no signs of disappearing. For example, Lockheed Martin published new cooling methods in March that could help cool chips with tiny drops of water. With that said, Boeing has invested in researching vacuum tube chips. They may appear in the aviation industry before 2020, but it's unlikely we'll see Caltech's research appear in smartphones anytime soon.

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BuzzFeed Ends $1.3M Advertising Deal With RNC Over Donald Trump
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 02:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's persuasive-speaking department:
An anonymous reader writes: In response to Donald Trump's rhetoric, the "social news and entertainment company" BuzzFeed has decided to terminate an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee. The deal was for $1.3 million, a source close to BuzzFeed told POLITICO. The source said the reason was because of the website's employees. "[BuzzFeed could not countenance] having employees make ads, or working at the company and having our site promoting things, that limit our freedom and make it harder for them to live their lives," they said. The source said in response to whether or not BuzzFeed would rule out any Trump advertising: "In general, we have taken the position that we won't take ads for his presidential campaign." In a CNN article, RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer says, "Space was reserved on many platforms, but we never intended to use BuzzFeed." He added, "It is ironic that they have not ruled out taking money from a candidate currently under investigation by the FBI." The agreement between the RNC and BuzzFeed called for the GOP to "spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the fall election cycle," BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in an internal memo.

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Supreme Court Rejects Google Appeal In Class Action Dispute From Advertisers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 01:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's full-disclosure department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via NBC News: The Supreme Court on Monday has rejected Google's appeal in a class action lawsuit involving claims that the company deceived California advertisers about the placement of internet ads via its Adwords service. NBC News reports: "The court's decision not to hear the case leaves in place a September 2015 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the litigation could move forward as a class action representing advertisers who use the service between 2004 and 2008. The 2008 lawsuit accused Google of violating California fair advertising laws because it misled advertisers about where the ads would be placed. The Adwords service was primarily aimed at placing ads next to relevant Google internet search results. But the plaintiffs said Google should have disclosed that ads would also appear in undesirable places such as error pages and undeveloped websites known as parked domains." Google has made an effort to clean up some of its ads. In February, the company announced it would be ditching sidebar ads. Most recently, Google announced in early May that it would ban payday loans and some related products from its ads systems.

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T-Mobile Is Giving Customers Stock In the Company
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 01:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's that's-one department:
T-Mobile is going to great lengths to lure customers. On Monday, the United States' third-largest wireless carrier announced that it will give one share of T-Mobile stock to millions of customers. These customers, the company added, will get a chance to earn more stocks if they are able to refer friends and make them switch over. CNN reports: The company isn't issuing new stock, so the program won't dilute existing shareholder value. T-Mobile will buy shares from the open market and give them to customers. T-Mobile estimated about 1 million shares in its SEC filing, but Legere says he wants "millions and millions" of customers to participate. "I'm gonna thank you like you've never been thanked before," Legere said during an event in New York. The new "Stock Up" promotion is part of T-Mobile's Un-carrier marketing strategy, which strives to give customers more flexibility on data usage. In the past, the company has offered promotions for video and music streaming, roll-over data plans and international roaming.

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Xbox One Update Adds Cortana
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 12:05 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's improved-gaming-experience department:
Microsoft announced on Monday that its Xbox One console is due for a big software update this summer. Cortana, the digital voice assistant will be made available to Xbox One users, the company said. If you're part of the Xbox Preview program, you will be able to test the feature starting this week. The Guardian reports: To communicate, players simply have to say "hey Cortana" -- a sentence that Microsoft claims is easier for the system to pick up than the old "Xbox" prompt. Players won't need Kinect, as any Xbox One headset with a microphone will suffice. Players will also be able to ask Cortana what their friends are doing on Xbox, and it's possible to invite friends into a Party chat via Cortana voice controls.

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Researchers Hack the Mitsubishi Outlander SUV, Shut Off Alarm Remotely
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 12:05 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's growing department:
Reader Orome1 writes: Mitsubishi Outlander, a popular hybrid SUV sold around the world, can be easily broken into by attackers exploiting security weaknesses in the setup that allows the car to be remotely controlled via an app. After discovering the SSID and the pre-shared key, they connected to a static IP address within a network's subnet, and this allowed them to sniff the Wi-Fi connection and send messages to the car. Through these messages they were able to turn the car's lights, air conditioning and heating on and off, change the charging programme and, most importantly, to disable the car's anti-theft alarm.

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Man Sued For $30K Over $40 Printer He Sold On Craigslist
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 10:34 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's in-the-meanwhile department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on USA Today: Selling a used, black-and-white printer through Craigslist seemed simple and straightforward to Doug Costello. It wasn't. What the 66-year-old Massachusetts man didn't know then is that he would spend the next 6 and a half years embroiled in a complicated and confusing legal dispute in Indiana over that printer, which, according to its buyer, was broken. He would find himself liable for about $30,000 in damages. He would pay a lawyer at least $12,000 in his battle to escape the legal mess. And it all started with a piece of hardware he sold online for about $40 in 2009. With shipping and other costs, the total was less than $75, according to court records.Gersh Zavodnik, the printer's buyer, has been described as "prolific, abusive litigant" who has brought dozens of lawsuits against individuals and businesses. He often asks for "astronomical" damages.

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Nest's Time At Alphabet: A 'Virtually Unlimited Budget' With No Results
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 10:34 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's not-the-best-moment department:
Ron Amadeo, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): Nest CEO Tony Fadell wasn't officially "fired" from Nest, but it certainly feels like it. In just the last few months, Nest has had to deal with reports of an "employee exodus," a string of public insults from Dropcam co-founder and departing Nest employee Greg Duffy, news that even Google supposedly didn't want to work with Nest on a joint project, and fallout from the company's decision to remotely disable Nest's deprecated Revolv devices. [...] It's hard to argue with the decision to "transition" Fadell away from Nest. When Google bought Nest in January 2014, the expectation was that a big infusion of Google's resources and money would supercharge Nest. Nest grew from 280 employees around the time of the Google acquisition to 1200 employees today. In Nest's first year as "a Google company," it used Google's resources to acquire webcam maker Dropcam for $555 million, and it paid an unknown amount for the smart home hub company Revolv. Duffy said Nest was given a "virtually unlimited budget" inside Alphabet. In return for all this investment, Nest delivered very little. Two-and-a-half years under Google/Alphabet, a quadrupling of the employee headcount, and half-a-billion dollars in acquisitions yielded minor yearly updates and a rebranded device. That's all.

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Oracle Whistleblower Suit Raises Questions Over Cloud Accounting
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's fake-it-if-you-can't-make-it department:
Svetlana Blackburn, a former senior finance manager for Oracle claims that the company has fired her for not "inflating" revenues in its cloud services division. She alleges that her bosses had instructed her to add "millions of dollars of accruals" for expected business "with no concrete or foreseeable billing to support the numbers." Oracle eventually inflated the numbers without her assistance, anyway, she adds. From NBC News report: The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by former Oracle senior finance manager Svetlana Blackburn, also revives longstanding questions about proper accounting when software and computer services are bought on a subscription basis rather than as a single package, analysts said. Those questions are becoming more urgent as companies including Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP race to transform their businesses for an era in which customers no longer own and operate their own information technology systems and instead lease computing services and software from cloud vendors using vast data centers.A spokesperson for Oracle says that Blackburn's claims are wrong, adding, "We are confident that all our cloud accounting is proper and correct."

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Uber Denies Access To Harvard Startup That Compared Ride-Hailing Prices
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's double-face department:
In April, a group of Harvard Business School students created an app called Urbanhail that allowed users to see side-by-side real-time pricing -- including surge rates -- for different ride-sharing apps including Uber. The app received a tremendous response from users. Shortly after that, the group received emails from several Uber representatives, asking them to remove Uber's data from the app citing terms and policies. "Uber's developer terms explicitly forbid using its data in any manner that is competitive to Uber," said Chris Messina, Lead at Uber Developer Experience. This has resulted in Urbanhail removing Uber's data from price-comparison-list. Urbanhail's Amber James didn't find Uber's stance on the matter. He said: They are absolutely a champion of competition when it's them against taxi companies or them against regulators. However, in its own ride-hailing niche of the transportation market, Uber's stance is ironically absolutely anti-competitive.

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Why UK's Government Digital Service Decided To Ditch Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 07:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's think-different department:
In a world where there's an app for nearly every product and service, the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) still rely on its website to serve its customers. "But why?" You ask. Ben Terrett, former head of design at GDS outlined some of the reasons in a recent interview. He said the problem with mobiles apps is that they require a lot of commitment and resources. Apps are "very expensive to produce, and they're very very expensive to maintain because you have to keep updating them when there are software changes." He concludes that government services are much better off with responsive websites (websites whose layout and design adapt in accordance with the device it's being accessed on). "If you believe in the open internet that will always win," Terrett said, adding that responsive websites are also much cheaper to build and maintain. Another benefit of responsive websites is, he adds, that when you want to push an update, only one platform needs to get updated. From the report: Key to the GDS' approach is designing for user needs, not organizational requirements, Terrett says. "That is how good digital services designed and built these days. That is how everyone does it, whether that's Google or Facebook or British Airways or whoever." The problem is that public sector agencies tend not to design with citizens in mind. "Things are just designed to suit the very silos that the project sits in, and the user gets lost in there," Terrett adds.According to estimates, the move to go the responsive website way has saved them $8.2B in four years.

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Over 100M Accounts of Russia's Largest Social Network VK On Sale
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 07:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's another-day-another-hack department:
Accounts of over 100 million users of VK.com, Russia's largest social network is being traded on the digital underground. A hacker who goes by the alias "Peace," listed the date for sale on a dark web marketplace. Vice's Motherboard publication reports that it received a dataset of over 100,544,934 records from Peace. From the report: According to Peace, the passwords were already in plain text when the site was hacked, and were not cracked at a later date. Peace is selling the data for 1 bitcoin, or around $570 at today's exchange rates. Out of 100 randomly selected email addresses from the larger dataset, 92 corresponded to active accounts on the site, Motherboard found. A Russian friend contacted by Motherboard confirmed that the password was correct.The report adds that the actual hack occurred between 2011 and 2013, and that Peace has data of another 70 million users that it isn't selling right now.

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Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter and Pinterest Accounts Hacked
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 06:28 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader writes: Saudi Arabian hacking group OurMine yesterday claimed responsibility for the defacement of Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter and Pinterest accounts, claiming additionally that the Facebook CEO re-used the very low-security password 'dadada' across the accounts. The hack was facilitated by the 2012 data breach of unsalted LinkedIn passwords, offered for sale by hacker 'peace' last month at an equivalent price in Bitcoin of approximately $2,200.The aforementioned group said to have hacked Zuckerberg's Instagram account as well, a claim that has since been refuted by a Facebook spokesperson. Zuckerberg's Google+ account remains intact if you're wondering.

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Google Is Developing an AI Kill Switch
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 05:05 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's too-smart-for-your-own-good department:
MojoKid shares a HotHardware article about Google's research effort "to maintain control of super-intelligent AI agents":
[A] team of researchers at Google-owned DeepMind, along with University of Oxford scientists, are developing a proverbial kill switch for AI... The team has released a white paper on the topic called "Safely Interruptible Agents." The paper details the following in abstract: "Learning agents interacting with a complex environment like the real world are unlikely to behave optimally all the time... now and then it may be necessary for a human operator to press the big red button to prevent the agent from continuing a harmful sequence of actions..."

MojoKid adds that the paper "goes on to explain that these AI agents might also learn to disable the kill switch and further explores ways in which to develop AI's that would not seek such an activity."

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EndGame CEO: Root Out Hackers Before They Strike
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '16 at 12:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's phreaking-out department:
The CEO of Endgame, Inc. is calling for an "offensive mindset" to defend enterprises from hackers. An anonymous reader quotes Nate Fick's article on Quartz:
Rather than relying on imperfect prevention techniques, or waiting for a breach to happen and then reacting to it, defenders need to 'turn the map around' and hunt proactively for the attackers in order to root out adversaries before they have a chance to do real damage. This is the next frontier of cybersecurity... the vast majority of cybersecurity spending is still going to prevention and perimeter security. Prevention is necessary, but it's not sufficient and it certainly doesn't justify 90 cents of every security dollar...

The government has already figured this out. Across the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and other forward-leaning agencies, this proactive hunting is already happening, and it's becoming more widespread. Enterprises need to embrace the same mindset.
Fick points out that despite $75 billion on enterprise-level security spending, more than three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies have been breached within the last year.

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Siemens Now Commands An Army Of Spider Robots
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '16 at 08:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's browsing-the-web department:
An anonymous reader quotes this article about Siemens' army of autonomous spider robots -- each one the size of a microwave, communicating with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to create "a collaborative mind":
It's expensive to build an automated factory, and even more pricey to repurpose one. German manufacturing giant Siemens wants that to change, and they've developed an army of robot spiders to make it happen. Utilizing what Siemens calls "mobile manufacturing", researchers in Princeton, New Jersey have built prototype spider-bots that work together to 3D print structures and parts in real time.
Siemens hopes to build even larger spider robots than can weld cars.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Create A Highly-Secure Password?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '16 at 06:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 12345 department:
An anonymous reader writes: A security lab at Carnegie Mellon performed a study on password security recently, and issued a warning about common user misconceptions. For example, 'ieatkale88' would require 4 billion more guesses than 'iloveyou', because 'iloveyou' is one of the most common strings in passwords. And the word 'pAsswOrd' would take 4,000 times more guesses than 'p@ssw0rd', simply because "In modern day password-cracking tools, replacing letters with numbers or symbols is predictable." But then what passwords are secure in the face of these modern password-cracking tools? As professionals in the IT industry, what advice would you give?
Leave your answers in the comments. How do you create a highly-secure password?

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Facebook Says It's Not Secretly Recording You
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '16 at 04:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's notifications department:
An anonymous reader writes: In 2014 Facebook introduced a feature which can use your phone's microphone to identify songs you're listening to -- but "we don't record your conversations," they're reminding users. A mass communication professor at the University of South Florida tried discussing specific topics near her phone, then discovered Facebook appeared to be showing ads related to what she'd said. Though she wasn't convinced there was a link, the Independent newspaper reported that "The claim chimes with anecdotal reports online that the site appears to show ads for things that people have mentioned in passing."

An official statement Thursday reiterated that "Facebook does not use your phone's microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed." But another news site sees these concerns as a reminder of all the permissions users routinely grant to their apps. "Go into your phone's application settings and you'll see a whole list of what an app like Facebook has access to: your camera, your location, your contacts, and, yes, your microphone too. How about this for a warning? By downloading Facebook you give the app 'permission to record audio at any time without your confirmation.' Tom's Guide security editor Paul Wagenseil says Facebook can...listen to your conversations...but it would be illegal to do so."

Meanwhile, the FBI "can neither confirm nor deny" that it's ever tapped an Amazon Echo device.

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