By BeauHD from Slashdot's cream-of-the-crop department
Two of 2018's best statistics from the Royal Statistical Society are about the environment. "The winning international statistic of the year was 90.5% -- the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled," reports the BBC. "And in the UK category, the top stat was 27.8% -- the highest percentage of all electricity which was generated by solar power." From the report: A panel of judges picked the two winners, along with several highly commended statistics, from more than 200 nominations. Entries for 2018 were submitted earlier this year. Judges on the panel included Dame Jil Matheson, former national statistician -- the top adviser to the government on official statistics, as well as RSS president Sir David Spiegelhalter, BBC home editor Mark Easton and the Guardian's U.S. data editor Mona Chalabi. The environment and plastic waste has repeatedly made headlines in 2018, and "single-use" -- referring to plastic waste -- was named the word of the year. Other highly commended statistics include:
$1.3 billion: the amount lost from the value of Snapchat within a day after Kylie Jenner tweeted: "Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?"
85.9%: the proportion of British trains that ran on time -- the lowest for more than a decade
40%: the percentage of Russian men who do not live to the age of 65
64,946: the number of measles cases in Europe from November 2017 to October 2018
82%: the percentage of all British retail shopping that is still in-store rather than online
16.7%: the percentage reduction of the number of Jaffa Cakes in the McVities' Christmas tube
6.4%: the percentage of female executive directors within FTSE 250 companiesRead Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's eventually-the-truth-comes-out department
The New York Times obtained hundreds of pages of Facebook documents which were generated in 2017 that show that the social network considered these companies business partners and effectively exempted them from its privacy rules. From a report: Facebook allowed Microsoft's search engine Bing to see the names of nearly all users' friends without their consent, let Spotify, Netflix, and the Royal Bank of Canada read, write, and delete users' private messages, and see participants on a thread, allowed Amazon to get users' names and contact information through their friends, and let Yahoo view streams of friends' posts "as recently as this summer" despite publicly claiming it had stopped sharing such information a year ago, the report said. Collectively, applications made by these technology companies sought the data of hundreds of millions of people a month.
The records also show that Russian search giant Yandex, which was accused last year by Ukraine's security service for giving user data to Kremlin, also had access to Facebook's unique user IDs in 2017. A Yandex spokeswoman told the Times that the company was unaware of the access to user data provided by Facebook. Yandex did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. In response to the report, Steve Satterfield, Facebook's Director of Privacy and Public Policy defended the actions of the social network.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quantum-communications-networks department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A team of researchers from Austria, Italy and Sweden has successfully demonstrated teleportation using on-demand photons from quantum dots. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group explains how they accomplished this feat and how it applies to future quantum communications networks. Scientists and many others are very interested in developing truly quantum communications networks -- it is believed that such networks will be safe from hacking or eavesdropping due to their very nature. But, as the researchers with this new effort point out, there are still some problems standing in the way. One of these is the difficulty in amplifying quantum signals. One way to get around this problem, they note, is to generate photons on-demand as part of a quantum repeater -- this helps to effectively handle the high clock rates. In this new effort, they have done just that, using semiconductor quantum dots.
Prior work surrounding the possibility of using semiconductor quantum dots has shown that it is a feasible way to demonstrate teleportation, but only under certain conditions, none of which allowed for on-demand applications. Because of that, they have not been considered a push-button technology. In this new effort, the researchers overcame this problem by creating quantum dots that were highly symmetrical using an etching method to create the hole pairs in which the quantum dots develop. The process they used was called a XX (biexciton)--X (exciton) cascade. They then employed a dual-pulsed excitation scheme to populate the desired XX state (after two pairs shed photons, they retained their entanglement). Doing so allowed for the production of on-demand single photons suitable for use in teleportation. The dual pulsed excitation scheme was critical to the process, the team notes, because it minimized re-excitation.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unmatched-ambitions department
According to the Wall Street Journal, SpaceX is raising a $500 million round of fundraising to help build its massive satellite internet project, called Starlink. "The new funding puts SpaceX's valuation at $30.5 billion," reports CNBC. "The report says the capital comes from existing shareholders as well as new investor Baillie Gifford, a Scottish investment firm." From the report: Starlink -- a name SpaceX filed to trademark last year -- is an ambition unmatched by any current satellite network. The company is attempting to build its own constellation of 4,425 broadband satellites, with another 7,518 satellites to come after. SpaceX will begin launching the constellation in 2019. The system will be operational once at least 800 satellites are deployed. Starlink would offer broadband speeds comparable to fiber optic networks.The satellites would provide direct-to-consumer wireless connections, rather the present system's redistribution of signals, transforming a traditionally high-cost, low reliability service.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rumor-roundup department
According to Windows Central, there are two upcoming next-generation Xbox consoles in the works -- a cheaper "S"-style console to succeed the Xbox One S, and a more beastly "X"-style console to succeed the Xbox One X. "The codename for the 'S 2' seems to be 'Lockhart,' and the codename for the 'X 2' seems to be 'Anaconda,' which may also be serving as a dev kit," reports Windows Central. From the report: The next-gen Lockhart console will be the affordable SKU, providing the next-gen Xbox experience in a package potentially around as powerful as the current Xbox One X hardware wise, with refinements under the hood. The Anaconda console will be more powerful and more expensive, providing a cutting-edge console gaming experience. We've also heard Microsoft is exploring technology to dramatically reduce loading times, potentially including SSD storage in the package.
We've heard from multiple places that the next-gen Xbox consoles will be fully compatible with everything on your current Xbox One consoles, including your OG Xbox and Xbox 360 library via backward compatibility. We've also heard that Microsoft is working on a new platform for games dubbed "GameCore," as part of Windows Core OS, which the Scarlett family will support when it's ready. It extends the work Redmond has been doing on UWP. GameCore should make it easier for developers to build games that function not only on Xbox "Scarlett" consoles but also Windows 10 PCs, further reducing the amount of work studios need to do to get games running across both platforms. The report doesn't mention if the cheaper next-generation Xbox console will be streaming-only, or if it will still support traditional discs and downloads. With a disc-free version of the Xbox One reportedly coming next spring, this seems like a possibility.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's road-trip department
"Anthony Levandowski, the controversial engineer at the heart of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, claims to have built an automated car that drove from San Francisco to New York without any human intervention," reports the Guardian. Levandowski told the Guardian that he completed the 3,099-mile journey on October 30th using a modified Toyota Prius, which "used only video cameras, computers and basic digital maps." From the report: Levandowski told the Guardian that, although he was sitting in the driver's seat the entire time, he did not touch the steering wheels or pedals, aside from planned stops to rest and refuel. "If there was nobody in the car, it would have worked," he said. If true, this would be the longest recorded road journey of an autonomous vehicle without a human having to take control. Elon Musk has repeatedly promised, and repeatedly delayed, one of his Tesla cars making a similar journey. A time-lapse video of the drive, released to coincide with the launch of Levandowski's latest startup, Pronto.AI, did not immediately reveal anything to contradict his claim. But Levandowski has little store of trust on which to draw.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's meals-on-wheels department
Kroger is launching its unmanned grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company first announced the pilot with robotics company Nuro in June, and since August, "they have tested an autonomous fleet of 'a handful of' Priuses with safety drivers just in case someone needed to intervene," reports Adweek. "Together, they have completed nearly 1,000 deliveries in Scottsdale." From the report: Now, Kroger is adding two R1 unmanned vehicles to its fleet, which Nuro designed to transport goods on public roads without passengers and marks the first deployment of its technology for the general public. (The Priuses will continue to have safety drivers.) To start, deliveries are available from a single store in the "Kroger Family," the Fry's Food Store at 7770 East McDowell Road. A Kroger rep said customers who live within the store's zip code -- 85257 -- will have access to the service. Customers place orders online or via the Fry's app. An announcement said same- and next-day delivery is available. All orders have a $5.95 fee, but there is no minimum for order total.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's cloud-war department
Amazon may have turned off its Oracle data warehouse in favor of Amazon Web Services database technology, but no one else in their right mind would, Oracle's outspoken co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison says. From a report: "We have a huge technology leadership in database over Amazon," Ellison said on a conference call following the release of Oracle's second quarter financial results. "In terms of technology, there is no way that... any normal person would move from an Oracle database to an Amazon database." During last month's AWS re:Invent conference, AWS CTO Werner Vogels gave an in-the-weeds talk explaining why Amazon turned off its Oracle data warehouse. In a clear jab at Oracle, Vogels wrote off the "90's technology" behind most relational databases. Cloud native databases, he said, are the basis of innovation.
The remarks may have gotten under Ellison's skin. Moving from Oracle databases to AWS "is just incredibly expensive and complicated," he said Monday. "And you've got to be willing to give up tons of reliability, tons of security, tons of performance... Nobody, save maybe Jeff Bezos, gave the command, 'I want to get off the Oracle database." Ellison said that Oracle will not only hold onto its 50 percent relational database market share but will expand it, thanks to the combination of Oracle's new Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure and its autonomoius database technology. "You will see rapid migration of Oracle from on-premise to the Oracle public cloud," he said. "Nobody else is going to go through that forced march to go on to the Amazon database."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's so-it-begins department
AT&T said Tuesday its network is now live in parts of 12 cities across the United States, with the first mobile 5G device arriving on Friday, December 21. From a report: According to an AT&T spokesperson, the company's 5G network is already up and running in parts of the previously promised dozen cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. However, the first consumer device that will be able to access that network, Netgear's Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, will become available just ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The company also revealed that it will be using the name "5G+" for the part of its network that will use millimeter wave spectrum and technologies, and it said the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot will run on that 5G+ network. [...] AT&T's 5G pricing is also interesting. Like Verizon, AT&T is offering an initial promotion that makes the hardware and 5G service cheap up front, with new pricing set to follow later. Early adopters from the consumer, small business, and business markets will be able to "get the mobile 5G device and wireless data at no cost for at least 90 days," AT&T says, with new pricing beginning in spring 2019. At that point, the Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot will cost $499 outright, with 15GB of 5G service priced at $70 per month, which AT&T calls "comparable" to its current $50 monthly charge for 10GB of 4G data.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's enough-for-now department
Sphero's hinted that it's getting out of the licensed product game, but this week CEO Paul Berberian confirmed that the company is clearing out its remaining licensed inventory and won't be restocking the supply. From a report: That means the company won't be producing any more BB-8s, R2-D2s, Lightning McQueen cars, or talking Spider-Mans. The listings for all the toys list them as "legacy products" that are no longer in production. App support will continue for "at least two years, if not longer," Berberian says. The Disney partnership lasted three years, but ultimately, the licensed toy business required more resources than it was worth, Berberian tells The Verge. These toys sold well when released with a movie, but interest waned over time as the movie became more distant, he says. Still, the company sold "millions" of BB-8s, although company data shows that the toys weren't used much after initial play time and eventually sat on shelves.Read Replies (0)