By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cubicle-criminals department
An anonymous reader writes:
Newsweek's National Politics Correspondent reports on "a horny nest of prostitution 'hobbyists' at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and other firms in Seattle," citing "hundreds" of emails "fired off by employees at major tech companies hoping to hook up with trafficked Asian women" between 2014 and 2016, "67 sent from Microsoft, 63 sent from Amazon email accounts and dozens more sent from some of Seattle's premier tech companies and others based elsewhere but with offices in Seattle, including T-Mobile and Oracle, as well as many local, smaller tech firms." Many of the emails came from a sting operation against online prostitution review boards, and were obtained through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor's Office.
"They were on their work accounts because Seattle pimps routinely asked first-time sex-buyers to prove they were not cops by sending an employee email or badge," reports Newsweek, criticizing "the widespread and often nonchalant attitude toward buying sex from trafficked women, a process made shockingly more efficient by internet technology... A study commissioned by the Department of Justice found that Seattle has the fastest-growing sex industry in the United States, more than doubling in size between 2005 and 2012. That boom correlates neatly with the boom of the tech sector there... Some of these men spent $30,000 to $50,000 a year, according to authorities." A lawyer for some of the men argues that Seattle's tech giants aren't conducting any training to increase employees' compassion for trafficked women in brothels. The director of research for a national anti-trafficking group cites the time Uber analyzed ride-sharing data and reported a correlation between high-crime neighborhoods and frequent Uber trips -- including people paying for prostitutes. "They made a map using their ride-share data, like it was a funny thing they could do with their data. It was done so flippantly."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's auld-language-syne department
InfoWorld writes that 2017 "presented a mixed bag of improvements to both long-established and newer programming languages." An anonymous reader quotes their report:
2017 also saw the release of the long-awaited C++ 17.
Another 2017 memory: Eric Raymond admitting that he hates C++, and predicting that Go (but not Rust) will eventually replace C -- if not a new language like Cx.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's counting-the-ways department
Slashdot reader dryriver writes:
Imagine this. You are an AI running on the latest machine learning hardware, like Nvidia's new Tensor cores for example, or perhaps a data center full of Xeons and EPYCs. You have lots of processing power, lots of RAM, run under Linux and -- to make things more interesting -- you have access to the complete 21st Century internet over a huge data pipe, including blogs, porn sites, and gaming forums where 12- to 14-year-olds scream at game developers who didn't balance a weapon in a game properly.
You have access to 24 hour if-it-bleeds-it-leads news. You have access to the incredibly important tweets and selfies people post, and the equally important Youtube comments under the latest Taylor Swift or rap video. You read Slashdot as well. Every day.
What kind of poem do you, great AI poetry engine, write based on these inputs?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's collateral-damage department
"In September, Slashdot reported on an in-flight collision between an Army UA60 helicopter and a hobby drone over Staten Island," writes Slashdot reader ElizabethGreene. "The NTSB has released its final report on the incident, blaming the drone pilot." Ars Technica reports:
After waiting 30 minutes, [drone-owner] Tantashov assumed there had been a mechanical malfunction and that his drone had fallen into the water. He returned home. A week later, Tantashov received a call at work. It was an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board... Would Tantashov be surprised to learn, the investigator asked, that his drone had not crashed into the water?
And that it had instead slammed into the main rotor of a US Army-operated Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter that was patrolling for the UN General Assembly in Manhattan? And that it had put a 1.5-inch dent in said rotor and led to the helicopter diverting back to its New Jersey base...? As the recently completed NTSB report on the incident puts it, "several [drone] components were lodged in the helicopter."
The drone's serial number was still legible on its motor, and investigators were able to track down its owner by contacting the manufacturer, who'd maintained a record of the sale. The drone's owner said he'd been unaware of "temporary flight restrictions" in effect that night, and "said that he relied on 'the app' to tell him if it was OK to fly." But for two months DJI had disabled the feature that checks for temporary flight restrictions (to perform troubleshooting), and the NTSB notes that that feature "is intended for advisory use only," and it's the responsibility of drone pilots to comply with FAA airspace regulations.
The NTSB also faults the drone's owner for letting it fly out of his line of sight.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-debugging department
The CEO of Wireline -- a cloud application marketplace and serverless architecture platform -- is pushing for an open source development fund to help sustain projects, funded by an initial coin offering. "Developers like me know that there are a lot of weak spots in the modern internet," he writes on MarketWatch, suggesting more Equifax-sized data breaches may wait in our future.
In fact, many companies are not fully aware of all of the software components they are using from the open-source community. And vulnerabilities can be left open for years, giving hackers opportunities to do their worst. Take, for instance, the Heartbleed bug of 2014... Among the known hacks: 4.5 million health-care records were compromised, 900 Canadians' social insurance numbers were stolen. It was deemed "catastrophic." And yet many servers today -- two years later! -- still carry the vulnerability, leaving whole caches of personal data exposed...
[T]hose of us who are on the back end, stitching away, often feel a sense of dread. For instance, did you know that much of the software that underpins the entire cloud ecosystem is written by developers who are essentially volunteers? And that the open-source software that underpins 70% of corporate America is vastly underfunded? The Heartbleed bug, for instance, was created by an error in some code submitted in 2011 to a core developer on the team that maintained OpenSSL at the time. The team was made up of only one full-time developer and three other part-timers. Many of us are less surprised that a bug had gotten through than that it doesn't happen more often.
The article argues that "the most successful open-source initiatives have corporate sponsors or an umbrella foundation (such as the Apache and Linux foundations). Yet we still have a lot of very deeply underfunded open-source projects creating a lot of the underpinnings of the enterprise cloud."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cloud-y-forecast department
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune's new report on blockchain:
Demand for the technology, best known for supporting bitcoin, is growing so much that it will be one of the largest users of capacity next year at about 60 data centers that IBM rents out to other companies around the globe. IBM was one of the first big companies to see blockchain's promise, contributing code to an open-source effort and encouraging startups to try the technology on its cloud for free. That a 106-year-old company like IBM is going all in on blockchain shows just how far the digital ledger has come since its early days underpinning bitcoin drug deals on the dark web. The market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $7.7 billion in 2022, up from $242 million last year, according to researcher Markets & Markets.
That's creating new opportunities for some of the old warships of the technology world, companies like IBM and Microsoft Corp. that are making the transition to cloud services. And products that had gone out of vogue, such as databases sold by Oracle Corp., are becoming sexy again... In October, Oracle announced the formation of Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, which helps customers extend existing applications like enterprise-resource management systems. A month earlier, rival SAP SE said clients in industries like manufacturing and supply chain were testing its cloud service. And on Nov. 20, Microsoft expanded its partnership with consortium R3 to make it easier for financial institutions to deploy blockchains in its Azure cloud. Big Blue, meanwhile, has been one of key companies behind the Hyperledger consortium, a nonprofit open-source project that aims to create efficient standards for commercial use of blockchain technology.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's watching-the-Watchmen department
An anonymous reader quotes the Hollywood Reporter:
Looking at the most-ordered comic books in the North American comic market, DC Entertainment had a particularly strong year, with seven of the top 10 issues of the year being published by the home of Superman, Batman and the Justice League... just three years ago, not one DC title made it to the list, with nine titles coming from Marvel alone. (By comparison, Marvel takes just three places this year, with one of those due to its inclusion in a subscription mystery box service)... Perhaps surprisingly, the big winner of 2017 looking at the top 10 list is DC's crossover between its DC Universe and Watchmen properties. The first issue of the Doomsday Clock series charted third â" and could end up higher on the final list for the year, depending on re-order numbers in December â" but all four issues of the prologue storyline "The Button," from summer issues of Batman and The Flash, also made it into the top 10.
it's worth noting that, across the board, order numbers for comics in the North American market fell 10 percent compared with last year. The market is shrinking, unless something turns it around soon... One last thing to note about the year's top 10, and also the comic market as it currently exists in general: It's probably time to stop pretending that mass media projects significantly impact comic book orders. In a year with Justice League, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan, Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming in theaters, there isn't a Justice League, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine, Thor or Spider-Man title in the top 10. Indeed, Marvel has just canceled the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'm-feeling-lucky department
Apple's financing a study to see whether irregular heart rhythms can be detected with an Apple Watch. But that's just the beginning, according to a New York Times article shared by Templer421:
As consumers, medical centers and insurers increasingly embrace health-tracking apps, tech companies want a bigger share of the more than $3 trillion spent annually on health care in the United States, too... The companies are accelerating their efforts to remake health care by developing or collaborating on new tools for consumers, patients, doctors, insurers and medical researchers. And they are increasingly investing in health startups. In the first 11 months of this year, 10 of the largest tech companies in the United States were involved in health care equity deals worth $2.7 billion, up from just $277 million for all of 2012, according to data from CB Insights, a research firm that tracks venture capital and startups.
Each tech company is taking its own approach, betting that its core business strengths could ultimately improve people's health -- or at least make health care more efficient. Apple, for example, has focused on its consumer products, Microsoft on online storage and analytics services and Alphabet, Google's parent company, on data... Physicians and researchers caution that it is too soon to tell whether novel continuous-monitoring tools, like apps for watches and smartphones, will help reduce disease and prolong lives -- or just send more people to doctors for unnecessary tests. There's no shortage of hype," said Dr. Eric Topol, a digital medicine expert who directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego. "We're in the early stages of learning these tools: Who do they help? Who do they not help? Who do they provide just angst, anxiety, false positives?"
< article continued at Slashdot's I'm-feeling-lucky department
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's poorly-spelt department
Germany has barred Amazon from drawing in online shoppers who misspell iconic German sandal maker Birkenstock in their Google searchers. "Amazon reportedly won business for common Birkenstock misspellings by booking variants like 'Birkenstock,' 'Bierkenstock,' and 'Birkenstok' in Google AdWords, so that they produced search results for shoes sold in Amazon.com," reports Quartz. From the report: According to Reuters, Birkenstock turned to the court because it feared shoppers might unwittingly buy shoddy counterfeits, which could damage its brand reputation. "For us, Amazon is complicit," Birkenstock chief Oliver Reichert told German magazine Der Spiegel, according to Reuters. Birkenstock first walked away from Amazon.com in July 2016. Besieged by counterfeits and rogue merchants, the company said it would no longer supply products to Amazon for U.S. customers starting Jan. 1, 2017. "The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an 'open market,' creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand," David Kahan, Birkenstock's CEO for the Americas, wrote in a memo at the time. A year later, Kahan denounced Amazon in a lengthy memo for attempting to get Birkenstock retailers to sell it their inventory, even though the company had explicitly removed its sandals from Amazon.com in the U.S. "I share in no uncertain terms that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Kahan wrote. "[A]ny Authorized retailer who may do this for even a single pair will be closed FOREVER."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's empire-building department
Combined, Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Force Awakens have surpassed $4.06 billion in ticket sales at the worldwide box office. That's more than what Disney paid to buy George Lucas' Star Wars franchise. From the Hollywood Reporter: While an interesting benchmark, it doesn't, of course, account for the hundreds of millions spent to produce and market the trio of films, or the fact that Disney splits box-office grosses with theater owners. Conversely, Disney has minted additional money from lucrative ancillary revenue streams, merchandising sales and theme park attractions. Opening in North America on Dec. 15, The Last Jedi zoomed past the $900 million mark on Thursday, finishing the day with $934.2 million globally, including $464.6 million domestically and $469.6 internationally (it doesn't land in China until Jan. 5). The sequel to The Force Awakens was directed by Rian Johnson, and has dominated the Christmas corridor. The Last Jedi will jump the $1 billion mark over New Year's weekend on its way to becoming the top-grossing 2017 release, eclipsing the $1.264 billion earned by fellow Disney title Beauty and the Beast. In December 2015, filmmaker J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens shattered numerous records on its way to grossing $2.068 billion globally, including an all-time best $936.7 million in North America, not accounting for inflation.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's up-and-at-em department
ProPublica has found inconsistent rulings on hate speech after analyzing more than 900 Facebook posts submitted to them as part of a crowd-sourced investigation into how the world's largest social network implements its hate-speech rules. "Based on this small fraction of Facebook posts, its content reviewers often make different calls on items with similar content, and don't always abide by the company's complex guidelines," reports ProPublica. "Even when they do follow the rules, racist or sexist language may survive scrutiny because it is not sufficiently derogatory or violent to meet Facebook's definition of hate speech." From the report: We asked Facebook to explain its decisions on a sample of 49 items, sent in by people who maintained that content reviewers had erred, mostly by leaving hate speech up, or in a few instances by deleting legitimate expression. In 22 cases, Facebook said its reviewers had made a mistake. In 19, it defended the rulings. In six cases, Facebook said the content did violate its rules but its reviewers had not actually judged it one way or the other because users had not flagged it correctly, or the author had deleted it. In the other two cases, it said it didn't have enough information to respond. "We're sorry for the mistakes we have made -- they do not reflect the community we want to help build," Facebook Vice President Justin Osofsky said in a statement. "We must do better." He said Facebook will double the size of its safety and security team, which includes content reviewers and other employees, to 20,000 people in 2018, in an effort to enforce its rules better. He added that Facebook deletes about 66,000 posts reported as hate speech each week, but that not everything offensive qualifies as hate speech. "Our policies allow content that may be controversial and at times even distasteful, but it does not cross the line into hate speech," he said. "This may include criticism of public figures, religions, professions, and political ideologies."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department
Dangerous_Minds shares a report from ThreatPost: Ancestry.com said it closed portions of its community-driven genealogy site RootsWeb as it investigated a leaky server that exposed 300,000 passwords, email addresses and usernames to the public internet. In a statement issued over the weekend, Chief Information Security Officer of Ancestry.com Tony Blackham said a file containing the user data was publicly exposed on a RootsWeb server. On Wednesday, Ancestry.com told Threatpost it believed the data was exposed on November 2015. The data resided on RootsWeb's infrastructure, and is not linked to Ancestry.com's site and services. Ancestry.com said RootsWeb has "millions" of members who use the site to share family trees, post user-contributed databases and host thousands of messaging boards. The company said RootsWeb doesn't host sensitive information such as credit card data or social security numbers. It added, there are no indications data exposed to the public internet has been accessed by a malicious third party. The company declined to specify how and why the data was stored insecurely on the server. "Approximately 55,000 of these were used both on RootsWeb and one of the Ancestry sites, and the vast majority of those were from free trial or currently unused accounts. Additionally, we found that about 7,000 of those password and email address combinations matched credentials for active Ancestry customers," Blackham wrote.Read Replies (0)