By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Tobacco shops are a staple of daily life across France, selling cigarettes, newspapers, magazines, and lottery tickets. Come January, these most traditional of merchants will take a plunge into the future by adding cryptocurrencies to their wares. From a report: The French Federation of Tobacco Vendors (French Confederation Nationale des Buralistes), which represents the 27,000 tobacco shops in France, announced that it has approved plans for its members to sell Bitcoin and Ethereum to customers. The program is expected to start in 3,000 locations in January, eventually rolling out to all tobacco shops across the country. Of course, the timing is somewhat less than ideal, as prices of cryptocurrencies have been in free fall most of this year. Just this week, Bitcoin hit a new low for 2018. While the effort is seen as a new potential revenue source for these merchants, it remains far from clear how interested the general public is in owning cryptocurrencies.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's murky-world-of-influencing department
"Influencers" are being paid big sums to pitch products on Instagram and YouTube. If you're trying to grow a product on social media, you either fork over cash or pay in another way. This is the murky world of influencing, reports Wired. Brands will pay influencers to position products on their desks, behind them, or anywhere else they can subtly appear on screen. Payouts increase if an influencer tags a brand in a post or includes a link, but silent endorsements are often preferred. An excerpt from the report: The suggestions started early. Months before Lashify had officially launched, one of her investors, who had ties to the cosmetics industry, pulled her aside. He told her to prepare to pay influencers to speak positively about her lashes on YouTube and Instagram. She thought he was being dramatic. He wasn't. Lotti recalls the investor saying that if she wanted Lashify to succeed, quality didn't matter, nor did customer satisfaction -- only influencers. And they didn't come cheap. She was told to expect to shell out $50,000 to $70,000 per influencer just to make her company's name known, an insane amount for a new startup. There was no way around it; that's just how things worked.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's moment-of-reckoning department
Climate change means the low-lying Marshall Islands must consider drastic measures, including building new artificial islands. National Geographic: The navigational prowess of Marshall Islanders is legendary. For thousands of years, Marshallese have embraced their watery environment, building a culture on more than 1,200 islands scattered across 750,000 square miles of ocean. But powerful tropical cyclones, damaged reefs and fisheries, worsening droughts, and sea-level rise threaten the coral reef atolls of this large ocean state, forcing the Marshallese to navigate a new reality.
In a moment of reckoning, Marshall Islanders face a stark choice: relocate or elevate. One idea being considered is the construction of a new island or raising an existing one. With 600 billion tons of melting ice flowing into oceans that are absorbing heat twice as fast as 18 years ago, the Marshallese will need to move fast. A report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October highlighted different projected outcomes from a temperature rise of 1.5C versus 2C.
In the report, small-island developing states are identified as being at disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences of global warming. Among them, four atoll nations: Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives, and the Marshall Islands, are at greatest risk. [...] In July, speaking at a climate change conference on Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, University of Hawaii climate scientist Chip Fletcher discussed possible adaptation measures. When Fletcher presented a map depicting Majuro flooded under three feet of water, there was an audible gasp in the room. For climate activists in the Pacific, "1.5 to stay alive," has been the mantra of survival. "We're going to miss 1.5C," Fletcher told his audience, but added, "there's something we can do about it."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-lows department
Nellie Bowles and Zach Wichter, reporting for The New York Times: Joining a long tradition of companies and campaigns that drop bad news on holidays, Facebook on Thanksgiving eve took responsibility for hiring a Washington-based lobbying company, Definers Public Affairs, that pushed negative stories about Facebook's critics, including the philanthropist George Soros. Facebook's communications and policy chief, Elliot Schrage, said in a memo posted Wednesday that he was responsible for hiring the group, and had done so to help protect the company's image and conduct research about high-profile individuals who spoke critically about the social media platform. Mr. Schrage will be leaving the company, a move planned before the memo was released.
Facebook fired Definers last week, after a New York Times investigation published on Nov. 14. "Did we ask them to do work on George Soros?" Mr. Schrage wrote in the memo, a draft of which had circulated online earlier in the week. "Yes." He added: "I'm sorry I let you all down. I regret my own failure here." This is a change from just a few days ago, when Facebook wrote on Nov. 15 that the Times report was full of "inaccuracies." The same day, Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, posted on her Facebook page that she had no idea the company had hired Definers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Google and Mozilla are heading a group that is devising a way for users to save changes they make using web apps. From a report: The idea is to allow users to save changes they've made using web apps, without the hassle of having to download new files after each edit, as is necessary today. "Today, if a user wants to edit a local file in a web app, the web app needs to ask the user to open the file," said Google developer advocate Pete LePage. "Then, after editing the file, the only way to save changes is by downloading the file to the Downloads folder, or having to replace the original file by navigating the directory structure to find the original folder and file. This user experience leaves a lot to be desired, and makes it hard to build web apps that access user files."
To this end, the W3C Web Incubator Community Group (WICG), which is chaired by representatives from Chrome developer Google and Firefox developer Mozilla, is working on developing the new Writable Files API, which would allow web apps running in the browser to open a file, edit it, and save the changes back to the same file. However, the group says the biggest challenge will be guarding against malicious sites seeking to abuse persistent access to files on a user's system. "By far the hardest part for this API is of course going to be the security model to use," warns the WICG's explainer page for the API. "The API provides a lot of scary power to websites that could be abused in many terrible ways."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
A new US government report delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts on the health and economy of the country. From a report: The federally mandated study was released by the Trump administration on Friday, at a time when many Americans are on a long holiday weekend, distracted by family and shopping. Coming from the US Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was put together with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 leading scientists. It's the second of two volumes. The first, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases."
The report's findings run counter to President Donald Trump's consistent message that climate change is a hoax. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, "Whatever happened to Global Warming?" as some Americans faced the coldest Thanksgiving in over a century. But the science explained in these and other federal government reports is clear: Climate change is not disproved by the extreme weather of one day or a week; it's demonstrated by long-term trends. Humans are living with the warmest temperatures in modern history. Even if the best-case scenario were to happen and greenhouse gas emissions were to drop to nothing, the world is on track to warm 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit. As of now, not a single G20 country is meeting climate targets, research shows.
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By msmash from Slashdot's what-in-the-world department
Bengaluru-based Zapr Media Labs, which counts Rupert Murdoch-led media group Star and several major local companies including Flipkart (which is now owned by Walmart), music streaming service Saavn, handset maker Micromax as its investors, has developed a tech that listens to ambient sounds around users to build targeted advertising profiles of them, reports news outlet FactorDaily. Zapr does this by using the microphone on the smartphone. Several major services in the country including Chota Bheem games to Dainik Bhaskar (a news outlet) to, likely, even Hotstar (a hugely popular streaming service which launched its service in the US and Canada last year, and which as you may recall, set a global record for most simultaneous views earlier this year) have embedded Zapr's technology into their apps. FactorDaily reports that most of these services are not forthcoming to their customers about what kind of monitoring they are doing. An excerpt from the report: One of the apps that inspired Zapr's founding team was the popular music detection and identification app Shazam. But, its three co-founders saw opportunity in going further. "Instead of detecting music, can we detect all kinds of medium? Can we detect television? Can we detect movies in a theatre? Can we detect video on demand? Can we really build a profile for a user about their media consumption habits... and that really became the idea, the vision we wanted to solve for," Sandipan Mondal, CEO of Zapr Media Labs, said in an interview last week on Thursday.
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By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
Italy's famously Leaning Tower of Pisa is a little less off-kilter. Nearly two decades after engineers completed consolidation work to keep the tower from toppling over, officials monitoring the monument said recently that its famed tilt had been further reduced by 4 centimeters, or 1.5 inches. From a report: The tower, which has leaned to one side ever since it began to take shape in 1173, has lost 4cm of its tilt over the past two decades, according to a report from the surveillance group that meets every three months to give updates on the monument's condition. "Since restorative work began, the tower is leaning about half a degree less," said Nunziante Squeglia, a geotechnics professor at the University of Pisa who works with the group. "But what counts is the stability of the tower, which is better than initially predicted." The structure, which was badly damaged during the second world war, was closed to the public in 1990 over safety fears and did not reopen for 11 years.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Some of Amazon's workers in Europe are protesting against what they call unfair work conditions, in a move meant to disrupt operations on Black Friday. From a report: They've timed the latest protest for Black Friday, one of the busiest annual shopping days online as retailers slash prices and heavily promote deals to try to spark a seasonal buying rush. In the UK, the GMB Union says it's expecting "hundreds" to attend protests timed for early morning and afternoon at Amazon warehouses in Rugeley, Milton Keynes, Warrington, Peterborough and Swansea. At the time of writing the union had not provided details of turnout so far.
Protests are also reported to be taking place in Spain, France and Italy today. Although, when asked about strikes at its facilities in these countries, Amazon claimed: "Our European Fulfilment Network is fully operational and we continue to focus on delivering for our customers. Any reports to the contrary are simply wrong." The demonstrations look intended to not only apply pressure on Amazon to accept collective bargaining but encourage users of its website to think about the wider costs involved in packing and despatching the discounted products they're trying to grab. In a statement on Wednesday announcing the Black Friday protest, Tim Roache, the GMB's general secretary, said: "The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances. We're standing up and saying enough is enough, these are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay -- they're not robots."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's engineering-marvel department
On Monday, November 26th, NASA will attempt to land the InSight spacecraft on Elysium Planitia, a vast plain just north of the Martian equator. If NASA is successful, InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) will be the first mission to investigate Mars' deep interior with thermal probes and seismometry, an approach scientists think will address questions about the red planet's formation and composition. But first, the spacecraft must land. From a report: Getting to Mars is hard, but NASA engineers consider entry, descent, and landing -- the seven-minute period in which mission planners are helpless to intervene, due to the tremendous distance between Mars and Earth -- the riskiest sequence in the entire mission. Here's how NASA plans to pull it off.
For InSight, the action will begin Monday, November 26th at around 11:47 am PT (2:47 pm ET). That's when the lander is slated to hit the top of Mars' atmosphere, at an altitude roughly 43 miles above the planet's surface. On contact, the spacecraft will be blazing along at a not-so-cool 5500 meters per second. That's 12,300 miles per hour. At those speeds, the primary concern for NASA's engineers is friction. Mars' atmosphere, which is roughly 100 times thinner than Earth's, plays a vitally important role in InSight's arrival: Bleeding the spacecraft of its kinetic energy. Yet the atmosphere poses a significant threat, as well. The resistance it exerts on InSight's heat shield, a 419-pound enclosure composed primarily of crushed cork, will drive the temperature of the protective barrier to temperatures greater than 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit -- hot enough to melt steel.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's hallelujah department
If you're a tab-hoarder, and you use Chrome browser, Google may have some news for you soon. The company is working on a scrollable tabstrip to make it easier for users to navigate through tabs, a developer was quoted as saying. Peter Casting, who works on Chrome UI, said, "scrollable tabstrip is in the works. In the meantime, try shift-clicking and ctrl-clicking to select multiple tabs at once, then drag out to separate Windows to group tabs by Window." TechDows, which first reported the development: We're expecting this as the related bug, the 'UI: tab overflow' bug created 10 years back, reports opening too many tabs causes add tab button (+) to disappear and tabs do not scroll then, the expected result has been mentioned as 'scrollable tabs.'Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Ostracus writes: Using ratings, competitions and bonuses to incentivise workers isn't new -- but as I found when I became a Lyft driver, the gig economy is taking it to another level. [...] The language of choice, freedom, and autonomy saturate discussions of ride hailing. "On-demand companies are pointing the way to a more promising future, where people have more freedom to choose when and where they work," Travis Kalanick, the founder and former CEO of Uber, wrote in October 2015. "Put simply" he continued, "the future of work is about independence and flexibility." In a certain sense, Kalanick is right. Unlike employees in a spatially fixed worksite (the factory, the office, the distribution centre), rideshare drivers are technically free to choose when they work, where they work and for how long. They are liberated from the constraining rhythms of conventional employment or shift work. But that apparent freedom poses a unique challenge to the platforms' need to provide reliable, "on demand" service to their riders -- and so a driver's freedom has to be aggressively, if subtly, managed. One of the main ways these companies have sought to do this is through the use of gamification.
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By msmash from Slashdot's times,-they-are-changin' department
Brits are ditching DVD players and desktop PCs and are increasingly turning to newer technology such as smart TVs and smart watches, Ofcom research has found. From the research: Shoppers in the UK are predicted to spend billions of pounds again this year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and much of that is expected to be spent buying tech online. So, Ofcom has crunched the numbers on which tech devices people have been buying in recent years, and which ones they're getting rid of.
Ownership of digital devices such as smart TVs, smart watches and smartphones has grown significantly in recent years, as more people need a constant connection to the internet -- internet users say they spend an average of 24 hours a week online. By contrast, MP3 players, DVD players and desktop computers seem to be falling out of favour as smartphone use continues to grow, particularly for browsing and streaming. Meanwhile, the popularity of tablets and e-readers seems to have peaked. Ownership of both is significantly higher than it was seven years ago, but has levelled out in the last few years.Read Replies (0)