By msmash from Slashdot's stuck-between-rock-and-a-hard-place department
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith describes a three-year-old meeting that Uber held -- which saw several influencers including actor Ed Norton among attendees -- as the beginning of the ride-hailing company's long slow meltdown. Later today, the company is expected to announce that its CEO Travis Kalanick would be temporarily stepping away, and his closest lieutenant is all set to hand his resignation. On Sunday, the company held a board meeting, which according to several journalists, lasted for nearly seven hours. The meeting capped a difficult stretch for the ride-hailing company, which is trying to weather an investigation into its workplace culture, a lawsuit by Google parent Alphabet over the alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets, a federal probe into its business practices, and the recent departures of top executives. Back to Ben: At the dinner (which took place three years ago), Emil Michael, the right hand of CEO Travis Kalanick, heatedly complained to me about the press. The company, he told me, could hire a team of opposition researchers to fight fire with fire and attack the media -- specifically to smear a female journalist who has criticized the company. I suggested to him that this plan wouldn't really work because the story would immediately become a story about Uber behaving like maniacs. "Nobody would know it was us," Michael responded. "But you just told me!," I replied. [...] Instead of making any meaningful changes, Uber simply pressed on for years. It found both continued growth and accumulating scandals. Many of its crises, like those remarks to me, were tinged with misogyny, whether sexual harassment of its engineers or pulling a rape victim's medical files. After one of those engineers, Susan Fowler, stepped forward with a blog post detailing systemic sexual harassment and discrimination -- a post that was followed up by a series of devastating stories by The New York Times, Recode, and others -- the company invited former Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an internal investigation. Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Michael is set to resign, and Reuters reported Kalanick will take a leave of absence ahead of what's expected to be a deeply damning Holder report. (Kalanick is also coping with a family tragedy.) They will leave having built the most valuable private company in the world. But it is a company whose cultural darkness is inseparable from its place as the icon of the tech boom. Uber -- and the boom -- have been defined both by massive new conveniences and by a corporate culture that is aggressive, paranoid, and dismissive of, in particular, complaints from women; a culture of enemies lists and cavalier approaches to the law.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's internationa-innovation department
hackingbear quotes Dow Jones Newswire: Chinese technology companies have long had a reputation of being copycats of Western peers, but U.S. companies have recently begun to return the favor, said a partner at prominent venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz... China's internet titans such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. are influencing U.S. startups and majors alike, and many Chinese models are being replicated in the U.S., said Connie Chan, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture firm. LimeBike, a startup at San Mateo, Calif., adapted China's dockless bike-sharing model, first rolled out by Beijing-based Ofo Inc. and Beijing Mobike Technology Co., for U.S. consumers... Also, Apple Inc. recently added payment services to its iMessage chat service, taking a page from Tencent's playbook. "I love this reversal of what 'China copycat' can mean," she said. "It no longer just means a Chinese company copying the States, it can mean a U.S. company copying China."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Python-vs-PHP department
An anonymous reader shares their thoughts on language popuarity:
In the PYPL index, which is based on Google searches and is supposed to be forward looking, the trend is unmistakable. Python is rising fast and Java and others are declining. Combine this with the fact that Python is now the most widely taught language in the universities. In fields such as data science and machine learning, Python is already dominating. "Python where you can, C++ where you must" enterprises are following suit too, especially in data science but for everything else from web development to general purpose computing...
People who complain that you can't build large scale systems without a compiler likely over-rely on the latter and are slaves to IDEs. If you write good unit tests and enforce Test Driven Development, the compiler becomes un-necessary and gets in the way. You are forced to provide too much information to it (also known as boilerplate) and can't quickly refactor code, which is necessary for quick iterations.
The original submission ends with a question: "Is Python going to dominate in the future?" Slashdot readers should have some interesting opinions on this. So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Will Python become the dominant programming language?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bigger-than-Batman department
managerialslime shared an article about how Lego executed "the greatest turnaround in corporate history." The Guardian reports:
By 2003 Lego was in big trouble. Sales were down 30% year-on-year and it was $800m in debt. An internal report revealed it hadn't added anything of value to its portfolio for a decade... In 2015, the still privately owned, family controlled Lego Group overtook Ferrari to become the world's most powerful brand. It announced profits of £660m, making it the number one toy company in Europe and Asia, and number three in North America, where sales topped $1bn for the first time. From 2008 to 2010 its profits quadrupled, outstripping Apple's. Indeed, it has been called the Apple of toys: a profit-generating, design-driven miracle built around premium, intuitive, covetable hardware that fans can't get enough of. Last year Lego sold 75bn bricks. Lego people -- "Minifigures" -- the 4cm-tall yellow characters with dotty eyes, permanent grins, hooks for hands and pegs for legs -- outnumber humans. The British Toy Retailers Association voted Lego the toy of the century.
It's a good read. The article describes how CEO Vig Knudstorp curtailed the company's over-expansion -- at one point, Lego had "built its own video games company from scratch, the largest installation of Silicon Graphics supercomputers in northern Europe, despite having no experience in the field." And he also encouraged the company to interact with its fans on the internet -- for example, the crowdsourcing of Ninjago content -- while the company enjoyed new popularity with Mindstorms kits for building programmable Lego robots.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's former-feds department
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times:
James B. Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testified that the Russians had not only intervened in last year's election, but would try to do it again... Russian hackers did not just breach Democratic email accounts; according to Mr. Comey, they orchestrated a "massive effort" targeting hundreds of -- and possibly more than 1,000 -- American government and private organizations since 2015... As F.B.I. director, he supervised counterintelligence investigations into computer break-ins that harvested emails from the State Department and the White House, and that penetrated deep into the computer systems of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yet President Barack Obama's administration did not want to publicize those intrusions, choosing to handle them diplomatically -- perhaps because at the time they looked more like classic espionage than an effort to manipulate American politics...
Graham Allison, a longtime Russia scholar at Harvard, said, "Russia's cyberintrusion into the recent presidential election signals the beginning of what is almost sure to be an intensified cyberwar in which both they -- and we -- seek to participate in picking the leaders of an adversary." The difference, he added, is that American elections are generally fair, so "we are much more vulnerable to such manipulation than is Russia," where results are often preordained... Similar warnings have been issued by others in the intelligence community, led by James R. Clapper Jr., who has sounded the alarm since retiring in January as director of national intelligence. "I don't think people have their head around the scope of what the Russians are doing," he said recently.
Daniel Fried, a career diplomat who oversaw sanctions imposed on Russia before retiring this year, told the Times that Comey "was spot-on right that Russia is coming after us, but not just the U.S., but the free world in general. And we need to take this seriously."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cash-for-clunkers department
chicksdaddy shares this report from The Security Ledger:
The healthcare sector in the U.S. is in critical condition and in dire need of an overhaul to address widespread and systemic information security weakness that puts patient privacy and even safety at risk, a Congressional Task Force has concluded... On the controversial issue of medical device security, the report suggests that the Federal government and industry might use incentives akin to the "cash for clunkers" car buyback program to encourage healthcare organizations to jettison insecure, legacy medical equipment...
The report released to members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Friday concludes that the U.S. healthcare system is plagued by weaknesses, from the leadership and governance of information security within healthcare organizations, to the security of medical devices and medical laboratories to hiring and user awareness. Many of the risks directly affect patient safety, the group found. It comes amid growing threats to healthcare organizations, including a ransomware outbreak that affected scores of hospitals in the United Kingdom.
Joshua Corman, the Director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at The Atlantic Council, argues that currently "Healthcare is target rich and resource poor," adding a special warning about the heavy usage of internet-connected healthcare equipment. "If you can't afford to protect it, you can't afford to connect it."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's branching-out department
CNN is reporting on "CityTree", a unique 10-foot tall mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air." An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees. But the CityTree isn't, in fact, a tree at all -- it's a moss culture. "Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants," said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.
The huge surfaces of moss installed in each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. The installation is autonomous and requires very little maintenance: solar panels provide electricity, while rainwater is collected into a reservoir and then pumped into the soil... "We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is." Wu said. Its creators say that each CityTree is able to absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter a day and contributes to the capture of greenhouse gases by removing 240 metric tons of CO2 a year... Wu also argued that the CityTree is just one piece of a larger puzzle. "Our ultimate goal is to incorporate technology from the CityTree into existing buildings," he said.
So far they've installed 20 CityTrees -- each of which costs about $25,000.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's planning-your-next-move department
Cushman & Wakefield, one of the world's largest real estate firms, launched a new report identifying America's top tech cities. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Washington, DC has emerged as the promising tech city center after San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco... A dominating hub for life sciences and government, Washington, DC also serves as a significant outpost for tech companies seeking proximity to policymakers as well as for burgeoning cyber-security investment. The top 25 tech cities were determined by analyzing the concentration of factors such as talent, capital, and growth opportunity -- the key ingredients that comprise a tech stew. The heartiest of these tech epicenters are: 1. San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley); 2. San Francisco, CA; 3. Washington, DC; 4. Boston/Cambridge, MA; and 5. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC...
Report co-author and Regional Director, Northwest U.S. Research at Cushman & Wakefield, in San Francisco, Robert Sammons, said that while it was not surprising to see San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco continue to dominate, that mass-transit issues and escalating housing costs in those areas have fanned a tech spillover into secondary markets such as Austin (no. 7), Denver (no. 8), San Diego (no. 9), and Salt Lake City (no. 24)... Mr. Sammons cited cost-of-living in Seattle (no. 6) as a lingering issue, somewhat mitigated by a recent uptick in residential development that's outpacing San Francisco's, as well as mass transit challenges.
There's also several cities in the Midwest among the top tech cities, including Madison, Wisconsin (no. 10), Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota (no. 11), Indianapolis, Indiana (no. 23), and Nashville, Tennessee (no. 25).Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's opening-the-pod-bay-doors department
"I have the seriously growing suspicion that AI is coming for us programmers and IT experts faster than we might want to admit," writes long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino. So he's contemplating a career change -- and wondering what AI work is out there now, and how can he move into it?
Is anything popping up in the industry and AI hype? (And what are these positions called, what do they precisely do, and what are the skills needed to do them?) I suspect something like an "AI Architect", planning AI setups and clearly defining the boundaries of what the AI is supposed to do and explore.
Then I presume the requirements for something like an "AI Maintainer" and/or "AI Trainer" which would probably resemble something like an admin of a big data storage, looking at statistics and making educated decisions on which "AI Training Paths" the AI should continue to explore to gain the skill required and deciding when the "AI" is ready to be let go on to the task... And what about Tensor Flow? Should I toy around with it or are we past that stage already and will others do AI setup and installation better than me before I know how this thing really works...?
Is there a degree program, or other paths to skill and knowledge, for a programmer who's convinced that "AI is today what the web was in 1993"? And if AI of the future ends up tied to specific providers -- AI as a service -- then are there specific vendors he should be focusing on (besides Google?) Leave your best suggestions in the comments. How can programmers move into AI jobs?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 2020-envisioned department
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times:
Last week, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is November 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump's current term... Nov. 4, 2019 is the earliest date that the United States can submit a written notice to the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the Paris deal -- exactly three years after it came into force. As soon as that happens, the United States can leave the accord in exactly one year... If a new president enters the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, he or she could easily submit a written notice to the United Nations that the United States would like to rejoin the Paris accord. Within 30 days, the United States could re-enter the agreement and submit a new pledge for how the country plans to tackle climate change.
The article also acknowledges "a growing coalition of states, cities and companies that are pledging to do as much as they can to meet the United States' climate goals on their own."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's resignation-letter department
An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: Verelox, a provider of dedicated KVM and VPS servers based in The Hague, Netherlands, suffered a catastrophic outage after a former administrator deleted all customer data and wiped most of the company's servers. Details of what exactly happened aren't available, but according to posts on various web hosting forums [1, 2, 3], the incident appears to have taken place Thursday, when users couldn't access their servers or the company's website.
Verelox's homepage came back online earlier Friday, but the website was plastered with a grim message informing users of the ex-admin's actions. Following the incident, the hosting provider decided to take the rest of its network offline and focus on recovering customer data. Verelox staff don't believe they can recover all data. Saturday night the web site was advising customers that the network and hosting services "will be back this week with security updates," adding that "current customers who are still interested in our services will receive compensation."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's organizations-vs-organizing department
Salon recently talked to Jeffrey Buchanan, who two years ago co-founded a labor rights group "that highlights the plight of security officers, food-service workers, janitors and shuttle-bus drivers in the region." An anonymous reader quotes their report:
The situation among Silicon Valley's low-wage contract workers has become so perilous that in January, thousands of security guards working at immensely profitable companies like Facebook and Cisco followed the shuttle-bus drivers and voted to unionize in an effort to collectively bargain for higher wages and better benefits. The upcoming labor contract negotiations between the roughly 3,000 security guards (represented by SEIU United Service Workers West) and their employers is one of the biggest developments in Silicon Valley labor organizing to happen this year. Buchanan says there's also a broader push this year to get tech companies to be proactive in ensuring these workers can make ends meet, even if these companies have to pay more for the services they procure...
A paper published last year by University of California at Santa Cruz researchers Chris Brenner and Kyle Neering estimates between 19,000 and 39,000 contracted service workers are employed in the Valley at any given time... An additional 78,000 workers are at risk of becoming contract employees, according to the study, a number which includes administrative assistants, sales representatives and medium-wage computer programmers. This is part of a larger societal shift in which salaried workers are converted to contractors -- a transition that benefits business owners, in that they don't have to pay benefits and can hire and fire contractors at will.
Buchanan's group represents contractors typically earning "as little as $20,000 a year." But Salon's headline argues that "programmers may be next" in the drive to organize contractors.Read Replies (0)