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Foxconn Cuts 60,000 Jobs, Replaces With Robots
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '16 at 08:23 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's robots-are-here-for-your-job department:
An anonymous reader writes: In a bid to accelerate growth and reduce labor costs, Apple supplier Foxconn cut 60,000 jobs at a single factory, work that is now being completed by robots. As many as 600 companies in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Kunshan may have similar plans to automate their workforce, according to a government survey. Foxconn spokesperson Xu Yulian said, "The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labor costs." He added, "More companies are likely to follow suit." These changes are spurred in part by a desire to reduce labor costs, but have also been made in response to an explosion at a Kunshan factory in 2014 that killed 146 people. The explosion was attributed to unsafe working conditions in the Taiwanese-owned metal polishing factory, which were recognized and documented. After the explosion, the local government pledged 2 billion yuan per year in subsidies to support companies that install industrial robots on their production lines.

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Facebook Could Be Eavesdropping On Your Phone Calls
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '16 at 08:23 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's 'to-better-serve-you' department:
An anonymous reader writes: Facebook is not just looking at user's personal information, interests, and online habits but also to your private conversations, revealed a new report. According to NBC report, this may be the case as Kelli Burns, a professor at University of South Florida states, "I don't think that people realize how much Facebook is tracking every move we're making online. Anything that you're doing on your phone, Facebook is watching." the professor said. Now how do you prove that? Professor Kelli tested out her theory by enabling the microphone feature, and talked about her desire to go on a safari, informing about the mode of transport she would take. "I'm really interested in going on an African safari. I think it'd be wonderful to ride in one of those jeeps," she said aloud, phone in hand. The results were shocking, as less than 60 seconds later, the first post on her Facebook feed was about a safari story out of nowhere, which was then revealed that the story had been posted three hours earlier. And, after mentioning a jeep, a car ad also appeared on her page. On a support page, Facebook explains how this feature works: "No, we don't record your conversations. If you choose to turn on this feature, we'll only use your microphone to identify the things you're listening to or watching based on the music and TV matches we're able to identify. If this feature is turned on, it's only active when you're writing a status update." I wonder how many people are actually aware of this.

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Microsoft Is Laying Off 1,850 to Streamline Its Smartphone Business
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '16 at 07:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's Microsoft,-Mobile,-Lay-Offs department:
Microsoft is making more changes to its smartphone business. The company, which sold its feature phone business last week, on Wednesday announced that it is scaling back hardware -- laying off 1,850 staff and take a charge of $950 million including $200 million in severance payments in a memo to all employees. The company insists that "great new devices" are in the works. From Myerson's memo: Last week we announced the sale of our feature phone business. Today I want to share that we are taking the additional step of streamlining our smartphone hardware business, and we anticipate this will impact up to 1,850 jobs worldwide, up to 1,350 of which are in Finland. These changes are incredibly difficult because of the impact on good people who have contributed greatly to Microsoft. Speaking on behalf of Satya and the entire Senior Leadership Team, we are committed to help each individual impacted with our support, resources, and respect. For context, Windows 10 recently crossed 300 million monthly active devices, our Surface and Xbox customer satisfaction is at record levels, and HoloLens enthusiasts are developing incredible new experiences. Yet our phone success has been limited to companies valuing our commitment to security, manageability, and Continuum, and with consumers who value the same. Thus, we need to be more focused in our phone hardware efforts.

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Fitbit For 'Highly Inaccurate' Heart Rate Trackers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '16 at 05:42 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's add-fuel-to-the-fire department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A class action lawsuit against Fitbit may have grown teeth following the release of a new study that claims the company's popular heart rate trackers are "highly inaccurate." Researchers at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona tested the heart rates of 43 healthy adults with Fitbit's PurePulse heart rate monitors, using the company's Surge watches and Charge HR bands on each wrist. Subjects were then hooked up to a BioHarness device that produced an electrocardiogram (ECG), to record the heart's rhythm against the data being produced by Fitbit's devices. Comparative results from rest and exercise -- including jump rope, treadmills, outdoor jogging and stair climbing -- showed that the Fitbit devices miscalculated heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute on average during more intensive workouts. The study was commissioned by the Lieff Cabraser, the law firm behind the class action suit that is taking aim at three Fitbit models that use the PurePulse heart monitor, including the Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge. "What the plaintiffs' attorneys call a 'study' is biased, baseless, and nothing more than an attempt to extract a payout from Fitbit. It lacks scientific rigor and is the product of flawed methodology," Fitbit said in a statement posted by Gizmodo.

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Billionaire Technologist Accuses NASA Asteroid Mission of Bad Statistics
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '16 at 03:02 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-your-work department:
Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Science Magazine: Nathan Myhrvold, ex-CTO of Microsoft, is accusing NASA of providing bad statistics on asteroid size. Mr. Myhrvold alleged that scientists using a prominent NASA space telescope have made fundamental mistakes in their assessment of the size of more than 157,000 asteroids they have observed. In a paper posted to the arXiv.org e-print repository on 22 May, Myhrvold takes aim at the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a space telescope launched in 2009, and a follow-on mission, NEOWISE, which together are responsible for the discovery of more asteroids than any other observatory. Yet Myhrvold says that the WISE and NEOWISE teams' papers are riddled with statistical missteps. "None of their results can be replicated," he tells ScienceInsider. "I found one irregularity after another" Myhrvold says the NASA teams have made mistakes, such as ignoring the margin of error introduced when extrapolating from a small sample size to an entire population. They also neglected to include Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation in their thermal models of the asteroids. Based on his own models, Myhrvold says that errors in the asteroid diameters based on WISE data should be 30%. In some cases, the size errors rise to as large as 300%. "Asteroids are more variable than we thought they were," he says. He has submitted the paper to the journal Icarus for review. However, the WISE and NEOWISE teams are standing by their results, and say that Myhrvold's criticism should be dismissed. "For every mistake I found in his paper, if I got a bounty, I would be rich," says Ned Wright, the principal investigator for WISE at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wright says that WISE's data match very well with two other infrared telescopes, AKARI and IRAS. To find out how accurately those infrared data determine the size of an asteroid, scientists have to calibrate them with radar observations, other observations made when asteroids pass in front of distant stars, and observations made by spacecraft up close. When they do that, Wright says, WISE's size errors end up at roughly 15%. Wright says his team doesn't have Myhrvold's computer codes, "so we don't know why he's screwing up." But Wright archly noted that Myhrvold once worked at Microsoft, so "is responsible in part for a lot of bad software."

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HPE To Spin Out Its Huge Services Business, Merge It With CSC
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '16 at 12:13 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shifting-landscape department:
itwbennett writes from a report via CIO: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise announced Tuesday that it will spin off its enterprise services business and merge it with IT services company Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) to create a company with $26 billion in annual revenue. The services business "accounts for roughly 100,000 employees, or two-thirds of the Silicon Valley giant's workforce," according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement, HPE CEO Meg Whitman said customers would benefit from a "stronger, more versatile services business, better able to innovate and adapt to an ever-changing technology landscape." Layoffs were not a topic of discussion in Tuesday's announcement, but HPE did say last year they would cut 33,000 jobs by 2018, in addition to the 55,000 job cuts it had already announced. The company also split into two last year, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales.

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TSA Replaces Security Chief As Tension Grows At Airports
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 08:04 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's take-a-number department:
HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports at the NYT that facing a backlash over long security lines and management problems, TSA administrator Peter V. Neffenger has shaken up his leadership team, replacing the agency's top security official Kelly Hoggan (Warning: source may be paywalled) and adding a new group of administrators at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Beginning late that year, Hoggan received $90,000 in bonuses over a 13-month period, even though a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security showed that auditors were able to get fake weapons and explosives past security screeners 95 percent of the time in 70 covert tests. Hoggan's bonus was paid out in $10,000 increments, an arrangement that members of Congress have said was intended to disguise the payments. During a hearing of the House Oversight Committee two weeks ago, lawmakers grilled Mr. Neffenger about the bonus, which was issued before he joined the agency in July. Last week and over the weekend, hundreds of passengers, including 450 on American Airlines alone, missed flights because of waits of two or three hours in security lines, according to local news reports. Many of the passengers had to spend the night in the terminal sleeping on cots. The TSA has sent 58 additional security officers and four more bomb-sniffing dog teams to O'Hare. Several current and former TSA employees said the moves to replace Hoggan and add the new officials in Chicago, where passengers have endured hours long waits at security checkpoints, were insufficient. "The timing of this decision is too late to make a real difference for the summer," says Andrew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who testified his supervisor accused him of "going native" after attending a meeting at a local mosque and that TSA's alleged practice of "directed reassignments," or unwanted job transfers were intended to punish employees who speak their minds. "Neffenger is only doing this because the media and Congress are making him look bad."

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Toyota Forms 'Strategic Partnership' With Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 06:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ulterior-motives department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Toyota and Uber are forming a "strategic partnership" which will include an investment by the Japanese automaker in the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company. Under the agreement, Uber drivers can lease their vehicles from Toyota and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers. Toyota says it will invest an undisclosed sum in Uber, which is already the most valuable technology startup in the world. A partnership between Toyota and Uber could help the ride-sharing company solve a lingering question surrounding its self-driving ambitions, namely where its going to get a fleet of cars to equip with its autonomous technology. Toyota, which is the world's largest car manufacturer, is taking self-driving technology very seriously. It recently established the Toyota Research Institute to develop AI technologies in two main areas: autonomous cars and robot helpers for around the home. Last month, Google, Ford, Volvo, Lyft and Uber joined a coalition to help spur the development of self-driving cars, ultimately to make them arrive to the market faster. Meanwhile, Apple made an investment in Uber's Chinese rival Didi.

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Apple To Open Up Siri To Developers, Release An Amazon Echo Competitor
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 05:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-listening department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: According to a new report from The Information, Apple is finally ready to let Siri grow up. Specifically, the publication relays that Apple will finally offer official Siri APIs to developers, thus paving the way for third-party integrations, the kind that Amazon Echo users can't seem to get enough of. Things like ordering an Uber or pizza are currently impossible, because Siri is locked down by Apple. What's more, Apple is also reportedly working on a standalone device meant to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google's recently unveiled Google Home. If that's true, it's huge news -- Apple has been lacking any kind of smart home hub until now, but a Siri-powered device would be a serious play to get Apple into our homes. Google is the latest tech giant to announce a virtual home assistant. It unveiled Google Home, a small round gadget with microphones and speakers that listen and respond to your questions and commands.

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E Ink Creates Full-Color Electronic Paper Display
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 05:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's black-and-white department:
SkinnyGuy writes: The reflective display company finally figured out how to make those ultra tiny balls produce 32,000 colors in one super-low-powered display. It's a breakthrough for E Ink, display advertising and, maybe someday, e-readers and digital photo frames. The new prototype display, which can be manufactured in an array of sizes, features a 20-inch, 2500 x 1600 resolution and is equally as power-efficient as the monochromatic display. E Ink Holding's Head of Global marketing Giovanni Mancini said it can be powered with solar cells used in bus stop signage, for example. Some of the limitations center around the resolution and refresh rate. As of right now, the resolution is only 150 pixels per inch (ppi), which is about half the resolution of a typical 6-inch, monochromatic E ink display. It also takes about two seconds to fully resolve images, which is pretty slow when compared to today's e-readers. The company is currently only focused on using the new color display for commercial signage.

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Pastejacking Attack Appends Malicious Terminal Commands To Your Clipboard
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 03:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's look-behind-you department:
An anonymous reader writes: "It has been possible for a long time for developers to use CSS to append malicious content to the clipboard without a user noticing and thus fool them into executing unwanted terminal commands," writes Softpedia. "This type of attack is known as clipboard hijacking, and in most scenarios, is useless, except when the user copies something inside their terminal." Security researcher Dylan Ayrey published a new version of this attack last week, which uses only JavaScript as the attack medium, giving the attack more versatility and making it now easier to carry out. The attack is called Pastejacking and it uses Javascript to theoretically allow attackers to add their malicious code to the entire page to run commands behind a user's back when they paste anything inside the console. "The attack can be deadly if combined with tech support or phishing emails," writes Softpedia. "Users might think they're copying innocent text into their console, but in fact, they're running the crook's exploit for them."

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Elderly Use More Secure Passwords Than Millennials, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 03:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's respect-your-elders department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Quartz: A report released May 24 by Gigya surveyed 4,000 adults in the U.S. and U.K. and found that 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to use bad passwords and report their online accounts being compromised. The majority of respondents ages 51 to 69 say they completely steer away from easily cracked passwords like "password," "1234," or birthdays, while two-thirds of those in the 18-to-34 age bracket were caught using those kind of terms. Quartz writes, "The diligence of the older group could help explain why 82% of respondents in this age range did not report having had any of their online accounts compromised in the past year. In contrast, 35% of respondents between 18 and 34 said at least one of their accounts was hacked within the last 12 months, twice the rate of those aged 51 to 69."

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Microsoft Awards Grants To Deliver Affordable Internet Access
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 02:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's connected-world department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Microsoft said Tuesday it had awarded grants to 12 businesses as part of the company's Affordable Access Initiative, part of the software giant's effort to encourage low-cost Internet around the world. Grant recipients include businesses from Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the UK and the US. In addition to financial support, each company will have access to Microsoft resources, software and services to help them develop their technology. "With more than half of the world's population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, said in a press release. "By using technology that's available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come." Google and Facebook are also working on bringing affordable Internet access around the world. Google has plans to broadcast Internet from hot air balloons via Project Loon, while Facebook plans to beam Internet down to earth from drones.

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Google France Being Raided For Unpaid Taxes
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 02:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's certain-things-in-life department:
jones_supa writes: Investigators in France have raided Google's Paris headquarters amid a probe over the company's tax payments, Reuters reports. The French Finance Ministry is investigating $1.8 billion in back taxes. According to a report in French daily Le Parisien, at least 100 investigators are part of the raid at Google's offices. A source close to the finance ministry said that the raid at Google's offices has been ongoing on Tuesday since 03:00 GMT. In February, a source at the French Finance Ministry told Reuters that the government was seeking the $1.8 billion from Google. At the time, official spokespeople for Google France and the Finance Ministry refused to comment on the situation. Google could face up to a $11.14 million fine if it is found guilty, or a fine of half of the value of the laundered amount involved. In April, the EU revealed plans to force multinationals such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to disclose exactly where and how much tax they pay across the continent. A new clause was added since the Panama Papers leak requiring the companies to report how much money they make in so-called "tax havens."

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Google Now Handles At Least 2 Trillion Searches Per Year
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's growing-usage,-curious-minds department:
Danny Sullivan, reporting for Search Engine Land: How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of "trillions" per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn't say. Consider two trillion the starting point. Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles "trillions" of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. Is it more than two trillion? Google could be doing five trillion searches per year. Or 10 trillion. Or 100 trillion. Or presumably up to 999 trillion, because if it were 1,000 trillion, you'd expect Google would announce that it does a quadrillion searches per year.

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American Scientists Working On Creating Chimeras: Half-Human, Half-Animal Embryos
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's yay-or-nay? department:
Researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on creating half-human, half-animal hybrid embryos dubbed chimeras to better understand diseases and its progression. But not everybody is thrilled about it. IBTimes reports: One of the aims of the experiment using chimeras is to create farm animals with human organs. The body parts could then be harvested and transplanted into very sick people. However, a number of bioethicists and scientists frown on the creation of interspecies embryos which they believe crosses the line. New York Medical College Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy Stuart Newman calls the use of chimeras as entering unsettling ground which damages "our sense of humanity." They are not alone in voicing their opinion against the idea. Huffington Post adds: The project is so controversial that the National Institutes of Health has refused to fund it. The researchers are relying on private donors. Critics of these experiments say they are too risky because there is no way of knowing where the human stem cells will go. Will they just become a pancreas? Or could they become a brain? And if they become a brain, will the pigs who house them have human consciousness?

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No, Apple Won't Become a Wireless Carrier
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's not-my-cup-of-tea department:
Don Reisinger, reporting for Fortune: Apple won't be competing with its carrier partners anytime soon. Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam during an interview on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook squashed rumors that his company is planning to eventually get into the cellular market to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon. "Our expertise doesn't extend to the network," Cook said. "We've worked with AT&T in the U.S., O2 in the U.K., as well as T-Mobile and Orange, and we expanded as we learned more. But generally, the things Apple likes to do, are things we can do globally. We don't have the network skill. We'll do some things along the way with e-SIMs along the way, but in general, I like the things carriers do."

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Beware Of Keystroke Loggers Disguised As USB Phone Chargers, FBI Warns
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's innocent-looking-USB-phone-chargers department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on Ars Technica: FBI officials are warning private industry partners to be on the lookout for highly stealthy keystroke loggers that surreptitiously sniff passwords and other input typed into wireless keyboards. The FBI's Private Industry Notification (PDF) comes more than 15 months after whitehat hacker Samy Kamkar released a KeySweeper, a proof-of-concept attack platform that covertly logged and decrypted keystrokes from many Microsoft-branded wireless keyboards and transmitted the data over cellular networks. To lower the chances that the sniffing device might be discovered by a target, Kamkar designed it to look almost identical to USB phone chargers that are nearly ubiquitous in homes and offices."If placed strategically in an office or other location where individuals might use wireless devices, a malicious cyber actor could potentially harvest personally identifiable information, intellectual property, trade secrets, passwords, or other sensitive information," FBI officials wrote in last month's advisory. "Since the data is intercepted prior to reaching the CPU, security managers may not have insight into how sensitive information is being stolen."

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Too Fat For Facebook: Photo Banned For Depicting Body In 'Undesirable Manner'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 01:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's small-misunderstanding department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Facebook has apologized for banning a photo of a plus-sized model and telling the feminist group that posted the image that it depicts "body parts in an undesirable manner". Cherchez la Femme, an Australian group that hosts popular culture talkshows with "an unapologetically feminist angle", said Facebook rejected an advert featuring Tess Holliday, a plus-sized model wearing a bikini, telling the group it violated the company's "ad guidelines". After the group appealed against the rejection, Facebook's ad team initially defended the decision, writing that the photo failed to comply with the social networking site's "health and fitness policy". "Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable," Facebook wrote. "Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike." In a statement on Monday, Facebook apologized for its original stance and said it had determined that the photo does comply with its guidelines.Facebook said that its team scans millions of ad images every week, and sometimes understandably misses out on a few.

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China's Huawei Sues Samsung Claiming Mobile Patent Infringement
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '16 at 10:03 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's role-reversal department:
An anonymous reader writes: Huawei said on Wednesday it has filed lawsuits against Samsung claiming infringement of smartphone patents, in the first such case by the Chinese firm against the world's biggest mobile maker. Huawei has filed lawsuits in the United States and China seeking compensation for what it said was unlicensed use of fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface software in Samsung phones. The lawsuit marks a reversal of roles in China where firms have often been on the receiving end of patent infringement disputes. In smartphones, makers have grown rapidly in recent years but different intellectual property laws outside of China have slowed overseas expansion. "We hope Samsung will ... stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei, and work together with Huawei to jointly drive the industry forward," Ding Jianxing, president of Huawei's Intellectual Property Rights Department, said.

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