By msmash from Slashdot's up,-up,-and-away department
Blue Origin successfully performed another test launch of its New Shepard system today. Both the New Shepard rocket and capsule touched down safely back at the company's West Texas facility around 10 minutes after liftoff. The capsule reached about 346,000 feet, or more than 65 miles, eclipsing the recognized boundary of space. Some context: Before today, New Shepard has landed nine out of the 10 times it's flown, and the vehicle has proven that it can keep people safe even in emergency scenarios. However, there still isn't a solid timeline for when the first test passengers will fly on the vehicle, and the company has not started selling tickets to customers yet. The rocket flying this week is the third iteration of the New Shepard vehicle, and the company has built a fourth version that will take the first crews to space. That rocket is supposed to fly sometime this year, according to Blue Origin, but exactly when is still unclear.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's holding-to-account department
On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel demanded answers from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon on their sale of customers' phone location information to data aggregators. From a report: As Motherboard has shown in multiple investigations, this data, which sometimes included highly precise assisted-GPS data, ended up in the hands of bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, or private investigators. The demands are the latest move to pressure telecom companies, who said they would stop the sale of location data to third parties after Motherboard's coverage. AT&T and T-Mobile previously told Motherboard that sale has ended, and Sprint said it would stop at the end of May. But there are still serious concerns about how that data may have been stored and accessed. The letters from Commissioner Rosenworcel to the heads of each telco asked that the companies clarify whether data aggregators or others were allowed to save phone location data they received, and what steps the telcos are going to take to ensure the deletion of any shared data.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Why is it still so easy for consumers to buy poorly made, dangerous batteries that explode, and why is it so difficult to tamp down on counterfeits or hold the sellers -- or the platforms the sellers use, such as Amazon -- accountable? From a report: In the massive global network of manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and resellers, it can be nearly impossible to tell who's actually responsible for getting any given product into your living room. Even when it sets your couch on fire. [...] More than half of the items sold on Amazon are listed by third-party sellers -- not by Amazon itself -- which makes ensuring that products are safe and authentic difficult, according to Juozas Kaziukenas, the founder of Marketplace Pulse, a firm that researches Amazon. In the case of batteries, batches of lithium-ion cells made in China that don't pass inspection sometimes end up listed by sellers on Amazon, said Michael Rohwer, a director of Business for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit that works with companies on their supply-chain practices.
[...] Insurance companies have even started to sue both Amazon and battery makers because they say they've had to pay out many claims over lithium-ion-battery explosions. Allstate New Jersey Insurance sued Amazon in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, alleging that a battery bought on Amazon caused "extensive" damage to a home, which required the insurance company to make "significant payments" to the insured. That case was eventually dismissed, but both State Farm and General Insurance Company of America are currently suing Amazon because of fires they say were caused by lithium-ion batteries purchased on the platform.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department
The intelligence community's annual transparency report revealed a spike in the number of warrantless searches of Americans' data in 2018. From a report: The data, published Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), revealed a 28 percent rise in the number of targeted search terms used to query massive databases of collected Americans' communications. Some 9,637 warrantless search queries of the contents of Americans' calls, text messages, emails and other communications were conducted by the NSA during 2018, up from 7,512 searches on the year prior, the report said. The figures also don't take into account queries made by the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration, which also has access to the database, nor do they say exactly how many Americans had their information collected.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Is streaming video responsible for America's falling fertility rate? 'One of us usually ends up falling asleep.' From a report: Once upon a time, Netflix dates were synonymous with romance, best captured by the viral hashtag #NetflixandChill, a euphemistic suggestion disguised as an invitation to watch TV. These days, the literal chill of the on-demand streaming video service is so great that some young couples call it the new birth control [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. [...] Demographers have lots of theories about why the U.S. fertility rate recently hit an all-time low, ranging from the aftereffects of the recession that followed the financial crisis to the broader use of long-term birth control. It is hard to ignore, anecdotally at least, the impact of streaming entertainment, popularized by Netflix and available from the likes of Amazon.com Inc., Hulu and HBO.
A 2017 paper in "Archives of Sexual Behavior," which revealed that Americans were having less sex, on average, than they did three decades ago, offered streaming video as one possible culprit. Dr. Jean Twenge, the lead author and a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, says in the old days a favorite TV show was done at 10 p.m. sharp and commercial breaks gave people an excuse to talk to their partners. "Now, if you're watching something streaming, the next episode is immediately available, and there are no commercials where you could look over and say, 'Honey, you look cute tonight,'" she said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department
Canonical's real money comes from the cloud and Internet of Things, but AI and machine learning developers are demanding -- and getting -- Ubuntu Linux desktop with enterprise support. From a report: In a wide-ranging conversation at Open Infrastructure Summit, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux and its corporate parent Canonical, said: "We have seen companies signing up for Linux desktop support, because they want to have fleets of Ubuntu desktop for their artificial intelligence engineers." This development caught Shuttleworth by surprise. "We're starting actually now to commercially support the desktop in a way that we've never been asked to before," he said. Of course, Ubuntu has long been used by developers, but Shuttleworth explained, "Previously, those were kind of off the books, under the table. You know, 'Don't ask don't tell deployments.' "But now suddenly, it's the AI team and they've got to be supported."Read Replies (0)