By msmash from Slashdot's subject-to-shopper's-opinion department
Instacart says it is adjusting planned changes to its pay structure for full-service shoppers. The change of heart comes after independent contractors threatened to boycott the grocery delivery startup's plans to replace tips with an optional 10 percent fee collected by the company. From a TechCrunch report: CEO Apoorva Mehta stressed that the decision came from customers looking to continue tipping, rather than complaints from shoppers, which he called a small group that was "very vocal" about the change. However, following removing tips, Instacart received some backlash from shoppers who said they were losing significant portions of their earnings. The backlash went so far as to inspire a boycott among some shoppers, though again Mehta said that this was not the primary cause for returning tipping. [...] Originally, the company sought to raise the overall earnings payout per delivery while removing tips, which was an attempt to make earnings more reliable instead of burst-y as a result of tips. Top shoppers, however, accustomed to getting larger tips because of their performance were concerned that they would lose a significant portion of their earnings. The vocal minority, it seems, was loud enough -- and perhaps so was the customer base -- that Instacart had to reverse course. Update: 10/15 21:25 GMT by M :Title updated to fix a typo. I regret the error.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I,-Cyborg department
IEEE Spectrum reports:
Last Saturday, in a sold-out stadium in Zurich, Switzerland, the world's first cyborg Olympics showed the world a new science-fiction version of sports. At the Cybathlon, people with disabilities used robotic technology to turn themselves into cyborg athletes. They competed for gold and glory in six different events... [B]y skillfully controlling advanced technologies, amputees navigated race courses using powered prosthetic legs and arms. Paraplegics raced in robotic exoskeletons, bikes, and motorized wheelchairs, and even used their brain waves to race in the virtual world...
While the competitors struggled with mundane tasks like climbing stairs, those exertions underlined the point: "Like the XPrize Foundation, the Cybathlon's organizers wanted to harness the motivating power of competition to spur technology development...they hoped to encourage inventors to make devices that can eventually provide winning moves beyond the arena."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's get-well,-John! department
An anoymous Slashdot reader reports:
"I was dead for about 8 mins. on Wed. eve," EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow posted last year on Facebook. "total cardiac arrest...sad to report, no Ascending Light." The cyber-rights activist told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had gone "down the tunnel of eternity and it turned out to be a cheap carnival ride." He paused for a moment. "Probably not cheap, though."
Yesterday Barlow posted a Twitter update announcing a big benefit concert in Mill Valley, California to help pay his mounting medical bills on Monday, October 24th. Performers will include Bob Weir (also of The Grateful Dead), Jerry Harrison (of The Talking Heads), Lukas Nelson, Members of The String Cheese Incident, Sean Lennon and Les Claypool, plus 85-year-old folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott, as well as "special guests."
Barlow's family describes the last 18 months as a "medical incarceration" with "a dizzying array of medical events and complications" that has depleted his savings and insurance benefits. They've also set up a site for donations from "his fellow innovators, artists, cowboys, and partners-in-crime, to help us provide the quality of care necessary for Barlow's recovery."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pier-to-pier department
Harvard Law professor Susan Crawford describes how the city of Santa Monica installed its own high-speed IoT backbone on its street lights and traffic signals -- and why it's important.
Neutral "micro" cell sites can make very high-capacity wireless transmissions available, competitively, to everyone (and every sensor) nearby. This can and should cause an explosion of options and new opportunities for economic growth, innovation, and human flourishing in general... Very few American cities have carried out this transmogrification, but every single one will need to. Santa Monica...is a city that will be able to control its future digital destiny, because it is taking a comprehensive, competition-forcing approach to the transmission of data...
Cities that get control of their streetlights and connect them to municipally overseen, reasonably priced dark fiber can chart their own Internet of Things futures, rather than leave their destinies in the hands of vendors whose priorities are driven (rationally) by the desire to control whole markets and keep share prices and dividends high rather than provide public benefits.
Santa Monica's CIO warns that now telecoms "are looking for exclusive rights to poles and saying they can't co-locate [with their competitors]. They're all hiring firms to lock up their permits and rights to as many poles as possible, as quickly as possible, before governments can organize."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-secret department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Google revealed Wednesday it had been released from an FBI gag order that came with a secret demand for its customers' personal information. The FBI secret subpoena, known as a national security letter, does not require a court approval. Investigators simply need to clear a low internal bar demonstrating that the information is "relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities." The national security letter issued to Google was mentioned without fanfare in Google's latest bi-annual transparency report, which includes information on government requests for data the company received from around the world in the first half of 2016. Google received the secret subpoena in first half of 2015, according to the report. An accompanying blog post titled "Building on Surveillance Reform," also identified new countries that made requests -- Algeria, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia among them -- and reveals that Google saw an increase in requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But Google in its short blog post did not publish the contents of the actual letter the way other companies, including Yahoo, have done in recent months. Asked about plans to release the national security letter, a Google spokesperson told The Intercept it will release it, though it wouldn't say when or in what form it will do so. Google hasn't previously published any national security letters, though it's possible gag orders for prior demands are still in place. It's also unclear why Google wouldn't immediately publish the document -- unless the gag is only partially lifted, or the company is involved in ongoing litigation to challenge the order, neither of which were cited as reasons for holding it backRead Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's space-taxi department
schwit1 writes: Both Boeing and SpaceX better get their manned capsules working by 2019, because NASA at this point has no plans to buy more seats on Russian Soyuz capsules after the present contract runs out. Spaceflight Now reports: "Even as the commercial crew schedules move later into 2018, NASA officials say they are not considering extending the contract with Roscosmos -- the Russian space agency -- for more launches in 2019. The last Soyuz launch seats reserved for U.S. astronauts are at the end of 2018. It takes more than two years to procure components and assemble new Soyuz capsules, so Russia needed to receive new Soyuz orders from NASA by some time this fall to ensure the spacecraft would be ready for liftoff in early 2019." The second paragraph above notes that even if NASA decided it needed more Soyuz launches, it is probably too late to buy them and have them available by 2019. "A Soyuz is a complicated vehicle, and a complicated vehicle doesn't come into existence in a matter of days," said Kirk Shireman, NASA's space station program manager. "It takes over two years to build a Soyuz, so yes, at some point in time, building a new Soyuz vehicle is not an option. We're working with our Russian counterparts on exactly when that is. We have not crossed that date yet, but I believe the date is in sight. It will be this calendar year when we will cross the point where we won't be able to build a Soyuz in time for when our last seats that we've already procured expire," Shireman said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-reasons-to-hate-ISPs department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: When non-cable Internet providers -- outlets like ATT or Verizon -- choose which communities to offer the fastest connections, they don't juice up their networks so everyone in their service area has the option of buying quicker speeds. Instead, they tend to favor the wealthy over the poor, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity. The Center's data analysis found that the largest non-cable Internet providers collectively offer faster speeds to about 40 percent of the population they serve nationwide in wealthy areas compared with just 22 percent of the population in poor areas. That leaves tens of millions of Americans with the choice of either purchasing an expensive connection from the only provider in their area -- typically a cable company -- or just doing the best they can with slower speeds. Middle-income areas don't fare much better, with a bit more than 27 percent of the population having access to a DSL provider's fastest speeds. The Center reached its conclusions by merging the latest Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data with income information from the U.S. Census Bureau. The non-cable Internet providers -- the four largest are ATT Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, CenturyLink Inc, and Frontier Communications Corp -- hook up customers over telephone wires that are Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), or they use hybrid networks that include some fiber connections near (and sometimes directly to) homes. The Center included all types of connection in its analysis. These companies account for nearly 40 percent of the 92 million Internet connections nationwide. Cable companies, such as Comcast Corp and Charter Communications Inc, operate under a different set of conditions. These providers offer the same fast speeds to almost every community they serve, in part because of franchise agreements with local governments. But a previous Center investigation and other reports have shown that cable firms sometimes avoid lower-income or hard-to-reach areas based on how franchise agreements are written. Poor areas not served by the cable companies are not included in the Centerâ(TM)s analysis, which results in what seems like an equitable distribution of speeds across income levels. "Society said it did not matter if you could pay for electricity; we wanted everyone to have it. Society said we would not limit dial tone to those who could pay the most, we gave it to all," said telecommunications lawyer Gerard Lederer of Best Best and Krieger LCC in Washington, D.C., in an e-mail. "Broadband is quickly becoming that utility, and if applications only work at high speeds, then the universal availability of that speed must be the goal, otherwise you are providing everyone with water, just some of the water is not drinkable."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's family-values department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be distracting from child-rearing, upending family routines and fueling stress in the home, a small, new study finds. Incoming communication from work, friends and the world at large is "contaminating" family mealtime, bedtime and playtime, said study lead author Dr. Jenny Radesky. She's an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. Her comments stem from her team's study involving interviews with 35 parents and caregivers of young children in the Boston area. "This tension, this stress, of trying to balance newly emerging technologies with the established patterns and rituals of our lives is extremely common, and was expressed by almost all of our participants," Radesky said. "We have to toggle between what might be stress-inducing or highly cognitively demanding mobile content and responding to our kids' behavior," she said. The result, said Radesky, is often a rise in parent-child tension and overall stress. Modern parents and caregivers interact with tablets, smartphones and other communication devices for about three hours a day, the study authors said in background notes. Radesky's team previously found that when parents used mobile devices during meals they interacted less with their children, and became stressed when children tried to grab their attention away from the device. The new study included 22 mothers, nine fathers and four grandmothers. Participants were between 23 and 55 years old (average age 36) and cared for toddlers or young children up to age 8. Roughly one-third were single parents, and nearly six in 10 were white. On the plus side, many parents said that mobile devices facilitated their ability to work from home. But that could fuel anxiety, too. Some said smartphones provided access to the outside world, and alleviated some of the boredom and stress of child-rearing. On the down side, caregivers described being caught in a tug-of-war between their devices and their children. The study findings were published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-a-coincidence department
As the Trump campaign refuses to point blame at Russia for the DNC hacks, top democrats on four House committees are questioning possible connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia. They have formally asked the FBI to investigate the matter, citing new comments from a Trump confidant. Politico reports: "Troubling new evidence appears to show that the Trump campaign not only was aware of cyber attacks against Secretary [Hillary] Clinton's campaign chairman, but was openly bragging about it as far back as August," said Reps. Elijah Cummings from Government Affairs, John Conyers from Judiciary, Eliot Engel from Foreign Affairs and Bennie Thompson from Homeland Security. "For months, we have been asking the FBI to examine links between the Trump campaign and illegal Russian efforts to affect our election, including interviewing Trump advisor Roger Stone," they said. "In light of this new evidence -- and these exceptional circumstances -- we call on the FBI to fully investigate and explain to the American people what steps it is taking to disrupt this ongoing criminal activity." Earlier this week Stone said that "I do have a back-channel communication with Assange," referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose organization has been dropping documents online from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and has been unloading documents from other Democrats as well. U.S. intelligence agencies last week declared that a connection exists between Russia and allegedly hacked documents leaked by WikiLeaks and others.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's in-the-aftermath department
An anonymous reader shares a USA Today report: The images are startling: Homeless men, women and children huddled on the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area -- often in the shadows of start-ups and high-tech behemoths generating billions of dollars in wealth. It's a stark contrast that has gripped the region, and prompted four county measures on the Nov. 8 ballot to generate $3 billion over the next 25 years for affordable housing and services. Under the most-ambitious measure, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has proposed a 0.75% increase in the sales tax, to 9.5%, to raise $50 million a year. Propositions J and K would generate $1.2 billion for the next quarter-century via a simple majority. "There is clearly not enough affordable housing, or housing at any level," says Kevin Zwick, CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley.TechCrunch adds: The debate over what to do about San Francisco's homeless population has been building for awhile among the many startups and residents here. But now tech billionaires Ron Conway, Michael Moritz and well-to-do hedge fund manager William Oberndorf have each thrown about $50,000 behind a measure to rid San Francisco of its homeless tent cities. Other notable investors, including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's husband and venture capitalist Zach Bogue, have also donated. Bogue reportedly gave about $2,500 to support it.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's waste-of-time department
zarmanto writes: Ars Technica reports that one particular game studio might finally get it, when it comes to DRM'ed game content. They're publishing their latest game, Shadow Warrior 2, with no DRM protection at all. From the article: "We don't support piracy, but currently there isn't a good way to stop it without hurting our customers," Flying Wild Hog developer Krzysztof "KriS" Narkowicz wrote on the game's Steam forum (in response to a question about trying to force potential pirates to purchase the game instead). "Denuvo means we would have to spend money for making a worse version for our legit customers. It's like the FBI warning screen on legit movies." Expanding on those thoughts in a recent intervew with Kotaku, Narkowicz explained why he felt the DRM value proposition wasn't worth it. "Any DRM we would have needs to be implemented and tested," he told Kotaku. "We prefer to spend resources on making our game the best possible in terms of quality, rather than spending time and money on putting some protection that will not work anyway." "The trade-off is clear," Flying Wild Hog colleagues Artur Maksara and Tadeusz Zielinksi added. "We might sell a little less, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles! We hope that our fans, who were always very supportive, will support us this time as well," Zielinski told Kotaku. "...In our imperfect world, the best anti-pirate protection is when the games are good, highly polished, easily accessible and inexpensive," Maksara added.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's say-cheese department
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Untrained and gullible Android users are now the target of an Android banking trojan that asks them to send a selfie holding their ID card. The trojan, considered the most sophisticated Android trojan known today, is named Acecard, and this most recent version has been detected only in Hong Kong and Singapore for now. The purpose of requiring a selfie of the victim holding his/her ID card is for the crook to prove himself when making fraudulent bank transactions, calling tech support posing as the victim, or for taking over social media accounts for Facebook or Twitter, which often require ID scans in the case of account takeover disputes. The report adds: "A previous version of the Acecard trojan hid inside a Black Jack game delivered via the official Google Play Store. In the most recent version of this threat, security experts from McAfee have found a new version of the Acecard trojan hidden inside all sorts of apps that pose as Adobe Flash Player, pornographic apps, or video codecs. All of these apps are distributed outside of the Play Store and constantly pester users with permission requirement screens until they get what they want, which is administrator rights. Once this step is achieved, the trojan lays in hiding until the user opens a specific app. McAfee experts found that when the user opens the Google Play app, the trojan springs a new social engineering trap."Read Replies (0)