By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Several readers have shared this Bloomberg report: Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud computing business, is its fastest-growing and most profitable division, but it comes with a lot of upfront infrastructure costs and ongoing expenses, the biggest of which is electricity. Over the past two years, Amazon has almost doubled the size of its physical footprint worldwide, to 254 million square feet, including dozens of new data centers with vast fields of servers running 24/7. In at least two states, it's also negotiated with utilities and politicians to stick other people with the bills, piling untold millions of dollars on top of the estimated $1.2 billion in state and municipal tax incentives the company has received over the past decade. Other companies, including Google and Tesla, have taken advantage of the power industry's hunger for growth and the relative secrecy that followed its 1990s deregulation in dozens of states. But Amazon stands out for its success in offloading its power costs and also because it dominates America's cloud business, which has gone from nonexistent to using 2 percent of U.S. electricity in about a decade. "Amazon had a huge advantage, because there weren't a lot of other sectors growing in the electricity market," says Neal Elliott, senior director of research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a green lobbying group. The company has also ratcheted up the secrecy around who's paying for electricity, says environmental advocate Greenpeace, which calls Amazon the single biggest obstacle to industry transparency.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-firm-stand department
A top New York City lawmaker announced a bill Monday to mandate dramatic energy use cuts in big buildings, by far the biggest source of carbon dioxide, in a historic move that could set a new standard for cities around the world. From a report: The legislation plans to require the city's largest buildings to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2030, as well as to set a framework for increasing the cuts by 40 percent to 60 percent by 2050. Combined with projected increases for renewable energy capacity on the power grid, the city could reduce its climate-warming emissions by 80 percent. Electricity and heating in buildings make up nearly 70 percent of the city's climate pollution, with luxury towers producing the lion's share. "The low-hanging fruit is gone," City Councilman Costa Constantinides, a Queens legislator who leads the council's Committee on Environmental Protection, said Monday morning on the steps of City Hall. "If we are going to make a real impact on climate change, it's going to be on buildings." The legislation, which is not yet complete, would make the nation's largest and most economically influential metropolis among the first major cities in the world to mandate strict retrofits on existing buildings to reduce planet-warming emissions.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
News outlet CNET has two big stories on Microsoft today. The publication interviewed CEO Satya Nadella on the changes he has made since taking the top job. The stories, among other things, talks about Microsoft Hackathon, the diversity pushes Nadella has made at the company, and how Microsoft lost the touch with what made it successful, and how Nadella is trying to fix that. From story one: Nadella dreamed up the Microsoft Hackathon, which the company calls the "largest private hackathon in the world," when he became CEO in February 2014. Just a few of the thousands of projects pitched over the past five years have inspired mainstream products. Most of these let's-change-the-world ideas aren't the kind of business tech that Microsoft makes the bulk of its money on -- at least not today. That's just fine with Nadella, because the meetup serves another purpose: rebranding Microsoft as a modern, relevant company. When he became the third CEO of the world's largest software company, after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Nadella made changing Microsoft's rigid, hierarchical and arrogant culture his top priority. He sort of had to. Though arguably one of the most successful technology companies in history, Microsoft's had a string of high-profile misses in mobile, search and social networking. Additionally, the company's toxic culture, characterized by corporate politics, infighting and backstabbing, fed an image of Microsoft as a fading legend. Rivals Apple, Google and Facebook were seen as innovators creating shiny new opportunities with their disruptive tech. A generation grew up without ever having used a Microsoft product. "One of the things that happens when you're super successful is you sort of sometimes lose touch with what made you successful in the first place," Nadella tells us when we ask what he was trying to solve with the hackathon."I wanted to go back to the very genesis of this company: What is that sense of purpose and drive that made us successful? What was the culture that may have been there in the very beginning or in the times when we were able to achieve that success? How do we really capture it?" says Nadella, who joined Microsoft in 1992. It's about "the renaissance as much as about just sort of fixing something that's broken." From story two: CNET: What is the vibe or image of Microsoft you want the world to know? Nadella: It's in our mission. It's empowering. Any association with this company should be, they put some tools, they put some platforms, they gave me the opportunity to really do something. Whether it's a student writing a term paper, whether it's a startup trying to create a company, a small business that's trying to be more productive or even a public sector institution that's trying to be more efficient and serve its citizens -- [they] should feel that association with Microsoft is empowering to them. That's what I want us to stand for.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The gaming site IGN is working to remove all of the posts written by former editor Filip Miucin, who was fired two weeks ago for plagiarism, after internet sleuths found that dozens of his articles and videos copied or rephrased from other websites without attribution. "We've seen enough now, both from the thread and our own searches, that we're taking down pretty much everything he did," IGN reviews editor Dan Stapleton wrote on Twitter last night, referring to a thread on the gaming forum ResetEra cataloging the allegations. For days, people had pointed out more similarities between Miucin's work and various other articles and message board posts. The plan, IGN editors said, is to scrutinize all of the work Miucin has published since the site hired him last October, then figure out what can be restored. IGN's editors also said they hope to re-review the games he reviewed, including ports of Doom and Skyrim on Switch, both which have been replaced by the same message: "This article has been removed due to concerns over similarities to work by other authors. The author of this article is no longer employed by IGN." In the recent days, Miucin has been accused of copying a Bayonetta 2 review from Polygon, copying from a video that took word-for-word from a NeoGAF post, and a number of videos in which Miucin read excerpts from Wikipedia about topics like Super Mario Odyssey and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero as if he had written them. The list even includes an Octopath Traveler article that copied from one of his own IGN colleague's reviews, much to that writer's dismay. Even his Linkedin resume is copied from a job template website, Kotaku reported.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's scaled-to-size department
Saint Louis University announced this week a plan to outfit living spaces with 2,300 Echo Dots. The smart speakers will be ready by the time classes start later this month. TechCrunch reports: SLU is quick to note that it's "the first college or university in the country to bring Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, managed by Alexa for Business, into every student residence hall room and student apartment on campus." It's certainly not the first to adopt Amazon's smart speakers, but it's among the largest scale for this sort of deployment. While the product has become a mainstay in plenty of American homes, it does seem like an odd choice dorms and student campus. SLU has worked with Alexa for Business to create 100 custom questions, including, "What time does the library close tonight?" and "Where is the registrar's office?"
The company addressed [the privacy concerns] on a privacy page, writing: "Because of our use of the Amazon Alexa for Business (A4B) platform, your Echo Dot is managed by a central system dedicated to SLU. This system is not tied to individual accounts and does not maintain any personal information for any of our users, so all use currently is anonymous. Additionally, neither Alexa nor the Alexa for Business management system maintains recordings of any questions that are asked."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-neighborhood department
Google is planning to open a 14,000 square-foot retail store in Chicago's Fulton Market district, according to local media reports from Crain's Chicago Business and Chicago Tribune. While Google has opened pop-up stores in the past, this would be its first permanent location. Ad Age reports: In 2015, Google abandoned plans to open a store in New York City, after spending $6 million renovating the 131 Greene St. location, Crain's New York Business reported at the time. The Chicago store would give Google a bricks-and-mortar location to show off its expanding line of products, including Pixel phones, Daydream VR headsets, Nest products and more. The location Google is eyeing in Chicago is just a few blocks from Google's Midwest headquarters. The Fulton Market neighborhood, part of Chicago's West Loop, is formerly a meatpacking district. It has been transformed in recent years and is now home to some of Chicago's hottest restaurants. The report notes that there's still a future in brick-and-mortar locations, citing Amazon's interest in Whole Foods and the fact that retail stores have been a key part of Apple's strategy. Microsoft operates stores in 35 states.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's parting-of-the-ways department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Bram Cohen, a co-founder of BitTorrent, the company which oversees the development of eponymous P2P protocol, has left its board, he told TorrentFreak. The revelation comes weeks after the file-sharing service provider said it had been acquired by blockchain startup Tron. It remains unclear exactly when Cohen, who also served as a lead engineer at the firm for years, made the decision to part ways with the company. He hinted to TechCrunch last year that, as of August, he was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. The departure of Cohen underscores BitTorrent's long battle to find a lucrative business model. The company, the services of which are used by more than 100 million customers, has long struggled to find new applications of its platform and avenues to bring home some cash. In 2016, the company announced a mobile music and video streaming service [called] BitTorrent Now, which it abruptly shut down months later while also firing its co-CEOs. Last year, the company shut down its much hyped live streaming service BitTorrent Live, which Variety described as a brainchild of Cohen.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-me-the-money department
The New York Times tells the story of Dr. Michael Holick, a Boston University endocrinologist "who perhaps more than anyone else is responsible for creating a billion-dollar vitamin D sales and testing juggernaut." From the report: Dr. Holick's role in drafting national vitamin D guidelines, and the embrace of his message by mainstream doctors and wellness gurus alike, have helped push supplement sales to $936 million in 2017. That's a ninefold increase over the previous decade. Lab tests for vitamin D deficiency have spiked, too: Doctors ordered more than 10 million for Medicare patients in 2016, up 547 percent since 2007, at a cost of $365 million. But few of the Americans swept up in the vitamin D craze are likely aware that the industry has sent a lot of money Dr. Holick's way. A Kaiser Health News investigation for The New York Times found that he has used his prominent position in the medical community to promote practices that financially benefit corporations that have given him hundreds of thousands of dollars -- including drug makers, the indoor tanning industry and one of the country's largest commercial labs.
In an interview, Dr. Holick acknowledged he has worked as a consultant to Quest Diagnostics, which performs vitamin D tests, since 1979. Dr. Holick, 72, said that industry funding "doesn't influence me in terms of talking about the health benefits of vitamin D." There is no question that the hormone is important. Without enough of it, bones can become thin, brittle and misshapen, causing a condition called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. The issue is how much vitamin D is healthy, and what level constitutes deficiency.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-can-play-that-game department
According to the Department of Defense, China is looking to narrow the gap with the U.S. in terms of cyberwarfare capabilities. "The Pentagon report said that in recent years the Chinese army has emphasized the importance of cyberspace for national security because of the country's increasing reliance on its digital economy," reports ZDNet. "It said Chinese military strategists see cyber operations as a low-cost deterrent that can demonstrate capabilities and challenge an adversary." From the report: The DoD's annual report to congress (PDF) points to a Chinese international cyberspace cooperation strategy in March 2017, which called for the expedited development of a military "cyber force" as an important aspect of the country's defense strategy. However, the U.S. report said that China also believes its cyber capabilities and personnel lag behind those of the U.S. and that China "is working to improve training and bolster domestic innovation to overcome these perceived deficiencies and advance cyberspace operations." The report lists "cyber activities" directed against the DoD by China and said: "Computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted by China-based intrusions through 2017." It said these intrusions focused on accessing networks and extracting information, and said China uses its cyber capabilities to support intelligence collection against U.S. diplomatic, economic, academic, and defense sectors.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's times-they-are-a-changin department
Bloomberg's Tyler Cowen writes about "the erosion of personal ownership and what that will mean for our loyalties to traditional American concepts of capitalism and private property." An anonymous Slashdot reader shares the report: The main culprits for the change are software and the internet. For instance, Amazon's Kindle and other methods of online reading have revolutionized how Americans consume text. Fifteen years ago, people typically owned the books and magazines they were reading. Much less so now. If you look at the fine print, it turns out that you do not own the books on your Kindle. Amazon.com Inc. does. I do not consider this much of a practical problem. Although Amazon could obliterate the books on my Kindle, this has happened only in a very small number of cases, typically involving account abuse. Still, this licensing of e-books, instead of stacking books on a shelf, has altered our psychological sense of how we connect to what we read -- it is no longer truly "ours."
The change in our relationship with physical objects does not stop there. We used to buy DVDs or video cassettes; now viewers stream movies or TV shows with Netflix. Even the company's disc-mailing service is falling out of favor. Music lovers used to buy compact discs; now Spotify and YouTube are more commonly used to hear our favorite tunes. Each of these changes is beneficial, yet I worry that Americans are, slowly but surely, losing their connection to the idea of private ownership. The nation was based on the notion that property ownership gives individuals a stake in the system. It set Americans apart from feudal peasants, taught us how property rights and incentives operate, and was a kind of training for future entrepreneurship. We're hardly at a point where American property has been abolished, but I am still nervous that we are finding ownership to be so inconvenient.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's electrically-powered department
Rolls-Royce, a British power system company (not to be confused with the luxury automobile maker), is launching a new battery system to electrify ships. "Rolls-Royce now offers SAVe Energy, a cost competitive, highly efficient and liquid cooled battery system with a modular design that enables the product to scale according to energy and power requirements," the company said in a statement. "SAVe Energy comply with international legislations for low and zero emission propulsion systems." Electrek reports: The company has been working on battery systems for years, but the recent improvements in li-ion batteries are now resulting in a boom of electrification of ships. Andreas Seth, Rolls-Royce, EVP Electrical, Automation and Control for Commercial Marine, said the company expects to deploy more batteries next year than they did over the last 8 years combined: "The electrification of ships is building momentum. From 2010 we have delivered battery systems representing about 15 MWh in total. However now the potential deployment of our patent pending SAVe Energy in 2019 alone is 10-18 MWh."
Seth said that they are delivering the first system to Prestfjord as part of Norway's effort to electrify its maritime transport: "Battery systems have become a key component of our power and propulsions systems, and SAVe Energy is being introduced on many of the projects we are currently working on. This includes the upgrade programme for Hurtigruten's cruise ferries, the advanced fishing vessel recently ordered by Prestfjord and the ongoing retrofits of offshore support vessels. As a system provider we can find the best solution considering both installation and operational cost."Read Replies (0)