By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Tech executives worry China will turn to tit-for-tat arrests of Americans in response to the detention of Meng Wanzhou. And the worries don't stop there. Kara Swisher, writing at The New York Times: Imagine, if you will (and you should), a big American tech executive being detained over unspecified charges while on a trip to Beijing. That is exactly what a number of Silicon Valley executives told me they are concerned about after the arrest this week of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom company Huawei, in Canada at the behest of United States officials. "It's worrisome, because it's an escalation we did not need," one executive said, referring to the already tense trade talks between the two countries. "What China will do, given all the existing tensions, is anyone's guess."
No one I spoke to would talk on the record, out of fear of antagonizing either side and also because no one knows exactly what is happening. But many expressed worry about the possibility of tit-for-tat arrests. While everyone focuses on the drama of the arrest -- Ms. Meng was grabbed while changing planes at the airport -- and its effect on the trade talks and stock prices, to my mind there is a much more important fight brewing, and it is about tech hegemony. Specifically, who will control the next internet age, and by whose rules will it be run?
Until recently, that answer was clearly the United States, from which the Internet sprang, wiring the world together and, in the process, resulting in the greatest creation of power and wealth in history. While China has always had a strong technology sector, in recent years it has significantly escalated its investment, expertise and innovation, with major support from the government. That hand-in-glove relationship creates obvious issues, and the Trump administration is right to stop pretending that China does not present a threat both from security and innovation perspectives.
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By msmash from Slashdot's everlasting-quest department
It's been a rough week or so to be invested in a Google messaging service, hell it's been a rough decade to be invested in a Google messaging service. Phandroid: The latest victims are Allo, which will be going away in March of 2019, and "Hangouts Classic" which has a more nebulous end of life forecast. These products join the host of other Google messaging casualties over the years, Google Wave, Google+ Huddles, Google+ Hangouts, Google Spaces, to name a few. Now if this left us with an entirely clear picture of Google's messaging strategy going forward that would be something, but the reality is that the company still has 5 such apps with at least some overlapping functionality.
The 5 survivors are Duo (Video), Messages (Text), Hangouts Chat (Enterprise Text), Hangouts Meet (Enterprise Video), and Google Voice (Voice and Text). Why am I including two enterprise-focused products in a discussion about consumer messaging? Because the head of those products, Scott Johnston, indicated that "Hangouts (Classic) users will be migrated to Chat and Meet." This was corroborated by an official blog post from Google's VP of Consumer Communications Products, Matt Klainer, who similarly put no definite timeline on this migration.
This is a problem that Google themselves seemed ready to settle once and for all almost exactly 2 and a half years ago when they announced Allo and Duo at Google I/O 2016, this was going to be the two-pronged answer to messaging on Android. But it became clear reasonably quickly that Allo wasn't going to hold up its end of the bargain, it saw limited adoption and within two years of launch, Google has now admitted that it shifted resources away from Allo and instead was focused on bringing the relevant features into Messages.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department
Salts that de-ice roads, parking lots and sidewalks keep people safe in winter. But new research shows they are contributing to a sharp and widely rising problem across the U.S. From a report: At least a third of the rivers and streams in the country have gotten saltier in the past 25 years. And by 2100, more than half of them may contain at least 50 percent more salt than they used to. Increasing salinity will not just affect freshwater plants and animals but human lives as well -- notably, by affecting drinking water. Sujay Kaushal, a biogeochemist at the University of Maryland, College Park, recounts an experience he had when visiting relatives in New Jersey. When getting a drink from the tap, "I saw a white film on the glass." After trying to scrub it off, he found, "it turned out to be a thin layer of salt crusting the glass."
When Kaushal, who studies how salt invades freshwater sources, sampled the local water supply he found not just an elevated level of the sodium chloride, widely used in winter to de-ice outdoor surfaces, but plenty of other salts such as sodium bicarbonate and magnesium chloride. He also found similar concentrations of these chemicals in most rivers along the east coast, including the Potomac, which provides drinking water for Washington, D.C. Where did all of it come from? De-icing salts, Kaushal determined, are part of the problem, slowly corroding our infrastructure.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
With providers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, and more creative risks, network leaders are placing bets on how audience experience will evolve [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. From a report: "What might we see coming down the road?" says Beau Willimon, creator of The First, Hulu's sci-fi drama starring Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone. "Perhaps like [the characters] in my new show, we're all wearing augmented reality glasses, and we're experiencing television shows in a more intimate way -- a way that feels much more experiential than simply watching it on a rectangle."
[...] Television, as most people have known it for most of their lives, is no more. "At some point you'll get to a place where thinking about television from a linear standpoint will be like dial-up internet," says Hulu CEO Randy Freer. "It's a great time for content; not a great time for cable networks. I think what will happen is: Cable networks that have been able to create brands for themselves will have an opportunity to expand and figure out how they present to consumers."
Cable networks with a clear identity have a critical advantage in a subscription-based world, while networks with less-defined name recognition -- those that have been just another channel in the cable lineup -- will likely find it hard to entice the growing ranks of broadband-only consumers to buy an a la carte monthly subscription service. HBO is moving into the new era. "In the domestic market of the United States, where there is a surfeit of content more than ever, I personally think that brands matter more than ever," says HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
John Gruber of DaringFireball: I don't share the depth of their pessimism regarding native apps, but Electron is without question a scourge. I think the Mac will prove more resilient than Windows, because the Mac is the platform that attracts people who care. But I worry. In some ways, the worst thing that ever happened to the Mac is that it got so much more popular a decade ago. In theory, that should have been nothing but good news for the platform -- more users means more attention from developers. The more Mac users there are, the more Mac apps we should see.
The problem is, the users who really care about good native apps -- users who know HIG violations when they see them, who care about performance, who care about Mac apps being right -- were mostly already on the Mac. A lot of newer Mac users either don't know or don't care about what makes for a good Mac app.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's TGIF department
"Half of tech employees think their work culture is toxic," reports one Texas news site, citing a new survey by Blind:
Blind, an anonymous work talk app, asked more than 12,000 tech staffers to respond to the statement: "I consider my current workplace a healthy working environment." Slightly more than half, 52 percent, said the survey statement was "false," versus nearly 48 percent who responded with "true."
Intel was named the tech company with the least healthy work environment, by 48.5 percent of its employees, followed by Amazon at 46.5 percent, and eBay at 44.5 percent. Employees who consider their workplaces healthier work at LinkedIn, where 17.3 percent responded true, followed by Google, at 23.7 percent, and Uber, at 29.7 percent.
It depends on how you define "unhealthy," of course -- but it'd be interesting to hear how Slashdot's readers respond to the same question. So leave your own thoughts and reactions in the comments.
Is your work environment unhealthy?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's barring-geniuses department
Long-time Slashdot reader mspohr shares a Guardian article which argues that Apple Store employees "are underpaid, overhyped and characters in a well-managed fiction story" who "use emotional guile to sell products":
When customers run into trouble with their products, geniuses are encouraged to sympathize, but only by apologizing that customers feel bad, lest they implicate Apple's products as the source of the trouble. In this gas-lit performance of a "problem free" brand philosophy, many words are actually verboten for staff. Do not use words like crash, hang, bug, or problem, employees are told. Instead say does not respond, stops responding, condition, issue, or situation. Avoid saying incompatible; instead use does not work with. Staff have reported the absurdist dialogues that can result, like when they are not allowed to tell customers that they cannot help even in the most hopeless cases, leading customers into circular conversations with employees able neither to help nor to refuse to do so....
[I]n a move so ridiculous it's almost certain to be a hit, the Genius Bar has been rebranded the "Genius Grove". Windows are opened to blur the distinction between inside and outside, and the stores are promoted as quasi-public spaces. "We actually don't call them stores any more," the new head of retail at Apple, former Burberry executive Angela Ahrendts (2017 salary: $24,216,072), recently told the press. "We call them town squares."
The article argues that since there launch in 2001, Apple Stores "have raked in more money -- in total and per square foot -- than any other retailer on the planet, transforming Apple into the world's richest company in the process."
But it also complains that Apple's wealth "flows from the privatization of publicly funded research, mixed with the ability to command the low-wage labor of our Chinese peers, sold by empathetic retailers forbidden from saying 'crash'."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's elections-have-consequences department
"Democrats are expected to use their upcoming control of the House to push for strong net neutrality rules," reports NBC News:
"The FCC's repeal sparked an unprecedented political backlash, and we've channeled that internet outrage into real political power," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights-focused non-profit organization. "As we head into 2019, net neutrality supporters in the House of Representatives will be in a much stronger position to engage in FCC oversight...." Gigi Sohn, a former lawyer at the FCC who is now a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, said she expects Democrats to use their new power to push for the restoration of strong net neutrality rules -- and for the topic to be on the lips of presidential hopefuls. "I have no doubt that bills to restore the 2015 rules will be introduced in both the Senate and the House relatively early on," Sohn said....
Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner who has been a vocal supporter of net neutrality, noted that it has become a national issue -- and one that has broad approval from Americans. She pointed to a University of Maryland study that found 83 percent of people surveyed were against the FCC's move to undo the rules around net neutrality... Ernesto Falcon, legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation...said he is "extraordinarily confident" that proponents of net neutrality will win. "It really just boils down to how one side of the polling is in this space," Falcon said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's meeting-the-new-boss department
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
Elon Musk wants electric vehicles to be successful -- even if Tesla goes under trying. In an interview for CBS' "60 Minutes," the Tesla CEO and Silicon Valley billionaire was asked about competition from General Motors (GM), which announced last month it's laying off thousands of workers as the century-old company shifts focus to self-driving and electric vehicles. Musk appeared unconcerned. "If somebody comes and makes a better electric car than Tesla, and it's so much better than ours that we can't sell our cars and we go bankrupt, I still think that's a good thing for the world," Musk told Leslie Stahl during the interview.... "The whole point of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles and sustainable transport," he said. "We're trying to help the environment, we think it's the most serious problem that humanity faces...."
In his 60 Minutes interview, Musk also floated the possibility that Tesla may expand its footprint in the United States. He said Tesla "would be interested" in taking over some of the factory space GM said it will abandon during its restructuring.
The article also cites estimates from Navigant Research that Teslas now account for 20% of all fully-electric vehicles on the road today.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's after-Anchorhead department
Long-time Slashdot reader Feneric writes: Cragne Manor , a 20th anniversary tribute to the classic work of horror interactive fiction Anchorhead by Michael Gentry, is now available for free public download. It was written by a collaboration of over 80 authors and programmers organized by Ryan Veeder and Jenni Polodna. Each author worked on a room in isolation, not knowing the details of other authors' assignments. The result is a sprawling, puzzle-dense game that will at turns delight, confound, amuse, and horrify.
More announcements are available here and here, and an early review is also online.
"Each location is a different author's take on a tribute to Anchorhead," reports the official site, "or an original work of Lovecraftian cosmic horror, or a deconstruction of cosmic horror, or a gonzo parody of cosmic horror, or a parody of some other thing, or a portrait of life in Vermont, or a pure experiment in writing with Inform 7, or something else entirely.
"There are tons of puzzles. The puzzles get very weird."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Stan-Lee-legacy department
Marvel's last Avengers movie ended with a cliff-hanger -- leading hundreds of millions of fans to watch the trailer for the franchise's next film, Variety reports:
The "Avengers: Endgame" trailer was viewed 289 million times in its first 24 hours, after it was released around 5 a.m. PT Friday, according to Marvel Studios. That blasted past the previous record of 230 million views, set a little over a year ago by the studio's "Avengers: Infinity War." Behind that was Disney's "The Lion King" teaser, which racked up 224.6 million views.... The trailer also set a record for Twitter conversation for a movie trailer in the first 24 hours -- with 549,000 mentions -- soaring past previous record holder "Avengers: Infinity War" (389,000) and "Black Panther" (349,000).
Mashable also reports on some clever tie-in marketing for another Marvel-related film:
Typing "AvengersEndgame.com" into your address bar will take you to the official Fox Movies web portal for Once Upon a Deadpool, the family-friendly Deadpool 2 re-cut that uses the same "reading stories to a sick kid in bed" framing device as The Princess Bride (right down to Fred Savage!).
There's still some question as to whether or not this is an intentional marketing ploy, however. It's definitely something you could see coming out of the Deadpool playbook.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-than-a-lemonade-stand department
In 2018 the most-downloaded iPhone app was YouTube, reports USA Today, while Amazon's best-selling item was their Fire TV Stick for streaming video. "Sense a trend? We love to stream video."
If you're thinking of quitting your day job this year and looking to strike it big in the world of online video, maybe this will inspire you. The No. 1 earner on YouTube this year is.....7-year-old Ryan from Ryan Toys Review. For all those unboxing videos and playing with toys -- and his own new line of toys at Walmart -- he and his family will pull in a cool $22 million, according to Forbes.
Ryan launched the channel in 2015 -- when he was four -- and now has 17.3 million followers.
One viral video of the 7-year-old even racked up 1.6 billion views, though apparently Ryan actually has fewer subscribers than several of the game streamers among YouTube's top-ten earners.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's measuring-wave-lengths department
"Strange waves rippled across earth and only one person spotted them," reported Forbes, noting that the seismologist then "quickly put out an alert to see if other systems detected the same unusual wave."
"Seismographs picked up the waves as they traveled as far as New Zealand, Chile, Hawaii and Canada. In total, the waves were detected as far as 11,000 miles from their origin, ringing for 20 minutes or more minutes as they passed... As these waves rippled across the globe there were surprisingly no reports of anyone feeling the rumbling."
The Weather Channel now reports that "There was no earthquake large enough to have started these low-frequency signals. Scientists believed a magma shift caused the rumblings," citing a recent interview with Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at the University of Southampton. The Guardian reports:
Hicks believes magma may suddenly have drained from a volcanic chamber about 10 miles under the seafloor near Mayotte, setting off the deep rumble that spread around the world. While strong enough to be picked up by sensitive seismometers, the vibrations would have been minuscule: far smaller than a millimetre. "It's something that you wouldn't perceive," he said. Pierre Briole, a geoscientist at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, has reached a similar conclusion. He believes that a third of a cubic mile of magma may have drained from a volcanic chamber under the seafloor, unleashing deep vibrations when its roof collapsed.
Much of the seismic sleuthing played out on social media with professional and amateur scientists working together. "Overall, [it has been] a fascinating demonstration of open science on Twitter and engagement between scientists and citizen seismologists," said Hicks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's magic-dead-internet-money department
Cryptocurrency prices "fell sharply on Friday, as another bout of selling took digital currencies to fresh lows," reports MarketWatch, adding that Friday the price of Bitcoin "crashed through support at $3,500, falling more than 10% to a 15-month low at $3,230 on the Kraken exchange."
"What a difference a year makes," CNN Business quipped Friday, in an article headlined "Bitcoin's Epic Plunge Continues":
In December 2017, bitcoin prices hit a record high of just under $20,000... Bitcoin is at a 15-month low. But prices have really gotten whacked this week, falling nearly 20% in just the past five days alone. Bitcoin isn't the only cryptocurrency getting hit either. Ripple/XRP, ethereum, stellar, litecoin and numerous other cryptocurrencies have plunged in the past week.
Little tangible news can explain or justify the current crypto carnage. One possible reason is that a pro-crypto member of the Securities and Exchange Commission warned at a conference this week that she's fighting an uphill battle trying to convince the rest of the SEC to approve more bitcoin exchange traded funds.... Nearly two-thirds of money managers surveyed by asset management firm Natixis still thought that cryptocurrencies were a bubble, the firm reported this week.
"In my opinion, bitcoin is dead," wrote the CEO of one wealth management firm with more than $32 billion in assets.
It won't go quietly, but the recent precipitous drop may be the beginning of its inevitable and inexorable death spiral. Or there could be a dead cat bounce. Either way, I see bitcoin as a dead man walking. Future generations may read about bitcoin in a finance textbook as a curiosity and wonder what all the fuss was about. There are still some die-hard adherents espousing the virtues of bitcoin, desperate to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Unfortunately for them, the end may not be pretty when it comes.
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