By manishs from Slashdot's food-for-thought department
In a think piece for Vice's Motherboard Ernie Smith argues that the invention of air conditioning in 1902 has had a big impact on the innovation we've made since. Smith, citing several studies and articles on the matter, states that it is because of air conditioners that we have things like skyscrapers, clean rooms for building advanced computer chips, shopping malls, and multiplexes. But on the other hand, air conditioners have somewhat limited our creativity in home and office designing. From the article:See, prior to the air conditioner reaching homes around the country, architects had to think more creatively about keeping people cool when options were more limited. This meant taking advantage of breezes, room design, and dimensional layout in a way that maximized the heat when it was necessary kept things cool when it wasn't. And it meant taking advantage of foliage around the home to build in some natural shade, as well as to build porches, which were often much cooler than the insides of homes during warm days.The article, among other things, also mentions that we are currently looking for ways to curtail the energy wastage that incurs because of ACs. But Smith points out that it took us a while -- generations, actually -- before we started to see a problem and began working on it. From the article:"One of the many ways in which we have become cognitively lazy is to accept our initial impression of the problem that [we encounter]. Once we settle on an initial perspective we don't seek alternative ways of looking at the problem," author Michael Michalko wrote. "Like our first impressions of people, our initial perspective on problems and situations are apt to be narrow and superficial. We see no more than we expect to see based on our past experiences in life, education and work." [...] It's hard to even get mad at architects who chose simple efficiency over complexity, or (to highlight a contemporary example) early carmakers that went with gasoline instead of something better for the environment. Because of human nature, it just makes sense that despite all the other advantages that came with air conditioning, the more challenging things that came with the invention -- the fact that conservation and efficiency still have their place -- didn't initially get their due.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's speeds-and-feeds department
An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard report: Advertising agencies go to great lengths to spread their clients' messages. Now, researchers have uncovered a new approach: malware. This month, cybersecurity company Check Point reports that a Chinese group called Yingmob has distributed mobile device malware on a massive scale, apparently alongside a legitimate advertising analytics business. Listed as based in Beijing's Chaoyang District, Yingmob, a subsidiary of MIG Unmobi Technology Inc., markets itself like any other advertising firm. Its professional-looking website claims its easy-to-deploy ads support text, pictures, and video, and don't affect the user experience. It offers pop-up, sidebar, and in-app adverts. But Check Point's report claims that part of the company -- the "Development Team for Overseas Platform," which employs a staff of 25 people -- is responsible for malware it has dubbed HummingBad. This malware allows the injection of adverts into victims' devices. Whenever someone clicks on one of these adverts, Yingmob gets paid, just like a typical advertising campaign. The first infection method Check Point came across was a "drive-by-download," whereby Yingmob's malware targets a victim when they visit a malicious website, then proceeds to download malicious apps onto their device. In its analysis, Check Point writes that nearly 10 million people are using malicious Android apps made by Yingmob.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's finding-life-elsewhere department
Work has finished on the world's largest radio telescope, which will hunt for extraterrestrial life and explore space, reports Chinese news agency Xinhua. The world's most populated nation fitted the final of 4,450 panels into the centre of the 500m-wide Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, over the weekend. The telescope, which cost $180 million -- and took five years to build -- will be switched on from September. Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy Sciences said:The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.Gizmodo adds:FAST is almost twice as large as the next biggest radio telescope, which is in Puerto Rico. It will be used for early-stage research by Chinese scientists for a couple years, and then be used more widely. FAST is capable of detecting gravitational waves, pulsars and, eventually, amino acids on other planets.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Independence-Day department
An anonymous reader writes:
As America headed into its "Independence Day weekend," the U.S. Congress passed -- and President Obama signed -- the "FOIA Improvements Act of 2016". It now establishes a "presumption of disclosure" by law, and will even allow the disclosure of "deliberative process" records after 25 years, meaning those records from the Reagan (and prior) administrations should now become open, according to the Washington Post. In addition, the law also creates a comprehensive new "online request portal" for requesting records from all agencies, and even requires those agencies to make digital copies available for any records requested three or more times.
"By updating FOIA for the digital age, our law puts more government information than ever before online in a format familiar and accessible to the American people," said Senator Leahy, who sponsored the legislation. On the 50th anniversary of America's original Freedom of Information Act, Leahy added that "a government of, by, and for the people cannot be one that is hidden from them... "
It's the law's 50th anniversary, and Leahy imagined a world 50 years in the future, when the next generation "will look back at this moment and gauge our commitment to the founding principles of our democracy. Let them see that we continued striving for a 'more perfect union' by strengthening the pillar of transparency that holds our government accountable to "We the People.' "Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's American-evolution department
CRBE has released their annual list of the top tech cities in the U.S., analyzing 13 metrics (including salaries and housing costs) to "gauge the competitive advantage of markets and their ability to attract, grow and retain tech-talent pools." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Geekwire:
Seattle is the third best tech market in North America, trailing only the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington D.C.... Seattle passed New York for third this year on the back of a growing, well-paid and well-educated class of tech employees and a strong roster of big companies...with New York and Austin rounding out the top five.
The report shows a big divide in Seattle between a prosperous tech community and everyone else. Tech workers in Seattle make $110,999 on average, and their wages have increased close to 20 percent since 2010... The 177,380 people who work in other professional fields like finance, sales and marketing make an average of $57,603 per year and their wages have only increased 6.3 percent since 2010. During that same time period, apartment rents increased 39 percent to an average of $1,619 a month.
San Francisco had the highest annual salary for tech workers -- $123,921 -- followed by Seattle, which also had the highest percentage of workers with at least a bachelor's degree -- 59%. And there's also an interesting second list of the top small tech markets, which is led by Columbus, Ohio followed by Charlotte, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sound-advice department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from Fortune:
Rdio goes bankrupt, Pandora hangs out a 'For Sale' sign and then gets rid of its CEO, artists and labels ramp up their criticism of YouTube. Now we have Tidal in acquisition talks with Apple, while Spotify complains about Apple treating it unfairly... the digital music business is becoming an industry in which only a truly massive company with huge scale and deep pockets can hope to compete... Rdio went bankrupt last year in large part because it couldn't afford to make the licensing payments the record industry requires of streaming services. Deezer, a European service, postponed a planned initial public offering partly because its business is financially shaky for the same reason... [Rhapsody] is still racking up massive losses... Spotify has found it almost impossible to make money, primarily because of onerous licensing payments...
[A]ll the available evidence seems to show that the digital-music business, at least the way it is currently structured, simply isn't economic. The only way for anyone to even come close to making it work is to make it part of a much larger company, like Apple or Amazon or Google. That way they can absorb the losses, they have the heft to negotiate with the record industry, and they can find synergies with their other businesses. In other words, music as a standalone business appears to be dead, or at least on life support.
The article links to an essay by a former eMusic CEO arguing high royalty rates make it impossible to have a profitable business, and the music industry "buried more than 150 startups -- now they are left to dance with the giants."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's IT-ESP department
"Okay, as of last night, who were the people who were most disgruntled...? Show me the top 10." An anonymous Slashdot reader shares their report on a fascinating Fortune magazine article:
"One company says it can spot 'insider threats' before they happen -- by reading all your workers' email." Working with a former CIA consultant, Stroz Friedberg developed a software that "combs through an organization's emails and text messages -- millions a day, the company says -- looking for high usage of words and phrases that language psychologists associate with certain mental states and personality profiles...
"Many companies already have the ability to run keyword searches of employees' emails, looking for worrisome words and phrases like 'embezzle' and 'I loathe this job'. But the Stroz Friedberg software, called Scout, aspires to go a giant step further, detecting indirectly, through unconscious syntactic and grammatical clues, workers' anger, financial or personal stress, and other tip-offs that an employee might be about to lose it... It uses an algorithm based on linguistic tells found to connote feelings of victimization, anger, and blame."
The article reports that 27% of cyber-attacks "come from within," according to a study of 562 organizations that was partly conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, with 43% of the surveyed companies reporting an "insider attack" within the last year.Read Replies (0)