By BeauHD from Slashdot's green-lit department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The FTC can punish U.S. companies for unfair or deceptive practices. But in regard to net neutrality, this simply means that ISPs must disclose any behavior that would have violated the old net neutrality rules. "Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, we may prosecute unfair or deceptive acts or practices... Simply stated, we have a strong interest in ensuring that companies stand by their promises to consumers," FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said. The FTC would review whether ISPs keep their promises just as it reviews whether other companies keep their promises. "We would review ISPs' activities in the same way," Simons said. "For example, we could take action against ISPs if they block applications without adequately disclosing those practices or mislead consumers about what applications they block or how."
How would the FTC handle throttling of websites or online services? Simons explained: "To determine whether particular instances of throttling are deceptive, we would first evaluate what claims an ISP made to consumers about their services and how those claims are supported. We would look closely at any relevant research and evaluate the study's design, scope, and results and consider how a study relates to a particular claim. To evaluate whether a practice was unfair, we would consider whether the alleged throttling had countervailing benefits and whether there were reasonable steps consumers could have taken to avoid it. We would also consider consumer injury, the number of consumers affected, and the need to prevent future misconduct."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where-things-are-going department
An anonymous reader shared a report: It took quite some time for Windows 10 to overtake Windows 7, but it finally did it in December 2018, at least according to NetMarketShare's figures. In February however, Windows 10 actually lost share, while Windows 7 gained some, narrowing the gap between the two operating systems once more. In March though, roles were reversed, as Windows 10 made some big gains, and Windows 7 lost a sizable chunk of its share. In the month just gone, NetMarketShare shows Windows 10 going from 40.30 percent to 43.62 percent, a big gain of 3.32 percentage points. There is currently a gap of 7.11 percentage points between Windows 10 and Windows 7.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's combating-false-information department
A new bill sent to Singapore's parliament on Monday will require social media to carry warnings on posts it deems false and remove comments against "public interest." "The move came two days after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said governments should play a more active role in regulating the online platform," reports Reuters. From the report: Singapore, which has been run by the same political party since independence from Britain more than 50 years ago, says it is vulnerable to fake news because of its position as a global financial hub, its mixed ethnic and religious population and widespread internet access. The new bill proposes that the government get online platforms to publish warnings or "corrections
alongside posts carrying false information, without removing them.
This would be the "primary response" to counter falsehoods online, the Law Ministry said. "That way, in a sense, people can read whatever they want and make up their minds. That is our preference," Law Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters on Monday. "This legislation deals with false statements of facts. It doesn't deal with opinions, it doesn't deal with viewpoints. You can have whatever viewpoints however reasonable or unreasonable." Under the proposals, which must be approved by parliament, criminal sanctions will only be imposed if the falsehoods are spread by "malicious actors" who "undermine society," the ministry said, without elaborating. It added that it would cut off an online site's "ability to profit," without shutting it down, if the site had published three falsehoods that were "against the public interest" over the previous six months. It did not say how it would block a site's profit streams.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-joke department
In addition to shutting down Google+, Google URL Shortener, and Inbox by Gmail this week, the company has stopped selling its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones through its online store, which means whatever remaining stock at other retailers will likely be extremely limited. It also means that the $799 Pixel 3 is now the cheapest phone Google sells. PCWorld summarizes the other three products coming to an end this week: Inbox by Gmail: When the Inbox by Gmail app launched in 2015, it was a revelation. A completely new way to view and organize your messages, Inbox boiled your emails down to a smart task manager, with bundles, pins, scheduling, and shortcuts that made managing your inbox a breeze. But over the years, Google's interest in Inbox faded, and it never really got the attention it deserved. Most of its unique features are now part of the Gmail app (though we're still waiting for bundles), and several third-party apps have adopted Inbox's style. Apparently that's good enough for Google, because as of this week you won't be able to use it anymore.
Google URL Shortener (goo.gl): Back in 2009, link shortening was still a novel idea, and Google was one of the first to bring the concept to the masses with the Google URL Shortener. It was a simple way to turn a lengthy web address into a short one that consisted of goo.gl and a short string of letter and numbers. With the rise of bit.ly and similar services, Google's own URL shortener became less important to people's work flow and now, nearly 10 years later, it's gone for good.
Google+: Google+ was once supposed to be the one-stop shop for social and support among Google users, but it never really caught on. And then it was revealed that some 50 million users may have had their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to third-party developers, which accelerated its demise. Now it's going away for good, but we can't imagine that anyone will actually notice.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slice-and-dice department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Amazon is planning to cut prices on hundreds of items at Whole Foods stores this week (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), as the e-commerce giant seeks to change the chain's high-cost image amid intense competition among grocers. The price cuts affect more than 500 products and include a focus on produce and meat, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The move comes after Whole Foods raised prices on select items in February, mostly consumer products, as suppliers increased their prices because of higher transport and ingredient costs.
The latest cuts -- which are set to drop at Whole Foods stores on Wednesday -- are some of the broadest since Amazon bought the grocer for nearly $14 billion in 2017. Prices will be reduced by an average of 20 percent on the selected items. The e-commerce giant has tried to extend its own reputation for low prices and convenience to Whole Foods, to counter a sense among some consumers that shopping there required a "Whole Paycheck." The discounts include more produce and meat products than the earlier cuts. The price of organic-rainbow carrots, for instance, will drop by $1, to $1.99, and the price of Black Forest ham will drop $3 a pound to $9.99. The companies also said Monday that Amazon Prime members would be able to save more than before at Whole Foods, with double the number of weekly Prime Member deals and deeper discounts. The report adds that the price cuts are expected to last at least through the end of the year.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department
A UAE cyber espionage contractor staffed with several former U.S. intelligence agents hacked journalists or news executives at Al Jazeera, the BBC, Al Arabi and others throughout June 2017, Reuters reported Monday. From the report: The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. A Reuters investigation in January revealed Project Raven's existence and inner workings, including the fact that it surveilled a British activist and several unnamed U.S. journalists. The Raven operatives -- who included at least nine former employees of the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.S. military -- found themselves thrust into the thick of a high-stakes dispute among America's Gulf allies. The Americans' role in the UAE-Qatar imbroglio highlights how former U.S. intelligence officials have become key players in the cyber wars of other nations, with little oversight from Washington.
The crisis erupted in the spring of 2017, when the UAE and allies -- including Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- accused Qatar of sowing unrest in the Middle East through its support of media outlets and political groups. The UAE camp demanded Qatar take a series of actions, including shuttering the Qatar-funded Al Jazeera satellite television network, withdrawing funding from other media outlets Doha supports, and cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic movement some Arab governments regard as a threat.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Over 13,000 iSCSI storage clusters are currently accessible via the internet after their respective owners forgot to enable authentication. From a report: This misconfiguration has the risk of causing serious harm to devices' owners, as cyber-criminal groups could access these internet-accessible hard drives (storage disk arrays and NAS devices) to replace legitimate files with malware, insert backdoors inside backups, or steal company information stored on the unprotected devices. [...] Over the weekend, penetration tester A Shadow tipped ZDNet about this hugely dangerous misconfiguration issue. The researcher found over 13,500 iSCSI clusters on Shodan, a search engine that indexes internet-connected devices. In an online conversation with ZDNet, the researcher described this iSCSI exposure as a "dangerous backdoor" that can allow cyber-criminals to plant ransomware-infected files on companies' networks, steal company data, or place backdoors inside backup archives that may get activated when a company restores one of these booby-trapped files.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-services department
Cloudflare has announced that it's adding a VPN service to its 18.104.22.168 DNS resolver app. The 22.214.171.124 service, which first came to mobile back in November, currently attempts to speed up mobile data speeds by using Cloudflare's network to resolve DNS queries faster than your existing mobile network. From a report: "We wanted to build a VPN service that my dad would install on his phone," says Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince. "If you tell him that it will make his connection more private and secure, he'd never do it. But if you tell him it will make his connection faster, make his phone's battery last longer, and make his connections more private, then it would be something he'd install."
Mobile phone users can begin signing up for the service, dubbed Warp, through Cloudflare's mobile app 126.96.36.199 on Monday; Cloudflare says it hopes the service is working Monday, but it might take a few days. Regardless, Warp is a sign of things to come for the rest of the internet. The technology that Cloudflare is betting will make Warp fast is a protocol invented by Google called QUIC, and it could one day make the rest of the internet faster and more reliable. QUIC is essentially a substitute for TCP, the venerable protocol now used for most internet connections. TCP, introduced in 1981, made reliable internet connections possible, says Jana Iyengar, who worked on QUIC for Google; Iyengar is now a distinguished engineer at the cloud computing company Fastly working to help finalize QUIC with the Internet Engineering Task Force standards body.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department
The service that began by checking prose for glaring mistakes increasingly wants to help its nearly 20 million daily users do more than simply avoid errors. From a report: Plenty of technology companies give away stickers of the sort their fans can slap on the back of a laptop. But the ones available for the taking in the reception area at Grammarly's San Francisco office are distinctly its own -- willfully low-key and thoughtful rather than brash and boastful. Being low-key and thoughtful is a logical tone for a company that is in the business of helping people fine-tune their written words, whether they're meant for a business document, school paper, or social media post. That is what Grammarly has been doing for a decade, since its founding on April 1, 2009, under its soon-abandoned original name of Sentenceworks. But it's also how it wants to run its business, which -- rather than moving fast and breaking things -- waited six years before offering a free version and another two before taking on outside funding.
[...] Grammarly is celebrating its 10th birthday by announcing that it's on the cusp of reaching 20 million daily active users, including both users of the free version and those who pay $30 a month (or $140 a year) for Grammarly Premium or $15 per user per month for Grammarly Business. That's up from 15 million last October and just 1 million at the end of 2015, the year it introduced its free version. The company is an uncommonly effective direct marketer; even if you've never tried its service yourself, there's a pretty good chance you've been exposed to it on YouTube. And even if you hit the "Skip Ad" button as fast as you could, enough viewers have paid attention that YouTube rated Grammarly's spot as the most effective "TrueView for Action" ad of 2018, based on reach, clicks, and engagement.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department
Today, to celebrate its fifteenth birthday, the Gmail team announced a couple of a new and useful Gmail features, including improvements to Smart Compose and the ability to schedule emails to be sent in the future. From a report: Smart Compose, which tries to autocomplete your emails as you type them, will now be able to adapt to the way you write the greetings in your emails. If you prefer 'Hey' over 'Hi,' then Smart Compose will learn that. If you often fret over which subject to use for your emails, then there's some relief here for you, too, because Smart Compose can now suggest a subject line based on the content of your email. With this update, Smart Compose is now also available on all Android devices.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's planned-parenthood department
"A second male birth control pill succeeded in preliminary testing, suggesting that a new form of contraception may eventually exist," reports Time:
The new pill, which works similarly to female contraception, passed initial safety tests and produced hormone responses consistent with effective birth control in 30 men, according to research presented by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting. (The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.) It's early days for the drug -- which has not yet been submitted for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- but co-principal investigator Dr. Christina Wang, lead researcher at LA BioMed, says it's an important step toward effective, reversible male hormonal contraception....
Unlike a 2016 male birth control trial that famously stopped enrolling volunteers early because so many men complained of side effects, none of the men experienced serious problems, and no one stopped taking the drug because of side effects.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's investing-in-your-future department
"Some innovative colleges, in partnership with private investors and a small number of philanthropies, are experimenting with a new financing model called 'income share agreements' or 'ISAs,'" reports Yahoo Finance:
With an ISA, instead of assuming a fixed debt obligation, students simply agree to pay an affordable percentage of their future income over a set time period, subject to an overall cap. High earners will have larger payments than low earners, but all will have an affordable payment, based on what they will actually be making. Importantly, when the college is providing some or all of the funding for the ISA, its return will be aligned with its students' post-college earnings, giving it economic incentives to make sure its students both graduate and find jobs. The college is, literally, invested in its students' success...
With ISAs, there is no principal or interest. Thus, they are much better suited for low income students as their financial obligations never exceed their ability to pay... In a recent paper commissioned by the Manhattan Institute, we looked at the small but growing number of colleges and universities offering ISA programs. Indiana's Purdue University launched the first such program in 2016. About a dozen other institutions have now followed suit, including Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania, Clarkson University in New York, and the University of Utah. Most of these pioneers offer ISAs to students as an alternative to non-subsidized federal loans, though a few are offering them as a complete substitute for borrowing... A common feature of all these ISA programs is that they require payments only when the graduate meets a certain income threshold. All impose time limits and caps on the total amount that needs to be repaid, though they differ widely in where they set those caps and limits.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's side-hustles department
An anonymous reader quotes NPR:
In recent months, a slew of studies has debunked predictions that we're witnessing the dawn of a new "gig economy." The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that there was actually a decline in the categories of jobs associated with the gig economy between 2005 and 2017. Larry Katz and the late Alan Krueger then revised their influential study that had originally found gig work was exploding. Instead, they found it had only grown modestly. Other economists ended up finding the same -- and now writers are declaring the gig economy is "a big nothingburger."
Arun Sundararajan, a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and the author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism, remains a true believer in the gig revolution.... When asked about the onslaught of data contradicting his thesis, Sundararajan said the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues "to underestimate the size of the gig economy and in particular of the platform-based gig economy." The best BLS estimate of the number of gig workers employed through digital platforms -- whether full-time, part-time or occasionally -- is one percent of the total U.S. workforce, or about 1.6 million workers, as of mid-2017. Sundararajan argues that the survey questions the BLS used to gather this data were clunky and don't quite capture what's going on.... He believes work done through gig platforms can be more efficient than work done in a traditional company -- and that will spell the company's doom...
< article continued at Slashdot's side-hustles department
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