By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-get-what-you-pay-for department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: As the cost of prescription medication soars, consumers are increasingly taking generic drugs: low-cost alternatives to brand-name medicines. Often health insurance plans require patients to switch to generics as a way of controlling costs. But journalist Katherine Eban warns that some of these medications might not be as safe, or effective, as we think. Eban has covered the pharmaceutical industry for more than 10 years. She notes that most of the generic medicines being sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, mostly in India and China. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that it holds foreign plants to the same standards as U.S. drugmakers, but Eban's new book, Bottle of Lies, challenges that notion. She writes that the FDA often announces its overseas inspections weeks in advance, which allows plants where generic drugs are made the chance to fabricate data and results.
"These plants know that [the FDA inspectors are] coming," Eban says. "I discovered [some overseas drug companies] would actually ... alter documents, shred them, invent them, in some cases even steaming them overnight to make them look old." As a result, Eban says, generic drugs sometimes go to market in the U.S. without proper vetting. She describes the FDA as "overwhelmed and underresourced" in its efforts to ensure the safety of overseas drug production. Eban advises consumers to research who manufactures their generics and look up any problems that regulators have found out about them. But some consumers may find they are not allowed by their health plan to switch to alternatives, because of cost. In a statement to NPR, the FDA said that Americans "can be confident in the quality of the products the FDA approves" and notes it has "conducted a number of unannounced inspections" at foreign plants over the past several years.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's underground-operations department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: A new network of 3D-printed gun advocates is growing in America -- and this time things are different. Unlike previous attempts to popularize 3D-printed guns, this operation is entirely decentralized. There's no headquarters, no trademarks, and no real leader. The people behind it reckon that this means they can't be stopped by governments. Known only by his online moniker, Ivan the Troll is the de facto spokesman of an underground wave of 3D-printing gunsmiths. Ivan says he knows of at least 100 people who are actively developing 3D-printed gun technology, and he claims there are thousands taking part in the network. This loose-knit community spans across the whole world.
They communicate across several digital platforms, including Signal, Twitter, IRC, and Discord. They critique each other's work, exchange 3D gun CAD files, offer advice, talk theory, and collaborate on future blueprints. These 3D-printed gun enthusiasts -- who share similar ideas and political viewpoints on gun control -- mostly found each other online via gun control subreddits and forums. Ivan is just one small part of this network. He says he is from Illinois, and is of "college age," but otherwise he remains mostly anonymous, to lie low. At the same time though, he's launched bombastic PR videos demonstrating the new 3D-printed gun parts he's created in his garage, including a Glock 17 handgun frame. Ivan's group says the legal challenges around Defence Distributed and the company's founder Cody Wilson are irrelevant. According to the report, the group is uploading their files individually on services such as Spee.ch, a media-hosting site underpinned by the LBRY blockchain, "and they aren't waiting for anyone to give them permission." It adds: "They've made their own 3D-printed gun designs, modified old ones, and are keeping all the Defence Distributed ones available for free too."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-taxes department
Four years after announcing a 9% tax on streaming entertainment services, the city has collected $2 million in sales tax from Sony and two online ticketing services, making it the first major city to collect such a tax successfully. CBS News reports: The city collected $1.2 million from Sony in January, on services including PlayStation Video live events and purchases of music and video, according to Bloomberg. It also collected nearly $800,000 from Eventbrite and $70,000 from Fandango, the outlet said. The levy has been dubbed the "Netflix tax" because it targets streaming video services in addition to gaming and other digital entertainment.
While Chicago seems to be the first city to successfully tax streaming services, it probably won't be the last. Rhode Island's governor proposed a budget this year that includes new sales taxes on digital videos, books and music. Pennsylvania enacted a similar tax in 2016 and is set to start enforcing it this summer. Chicago's expanded digital entertainment and services tax could raise up to $12 million per year, according to estimates issued at the time it passed in 2015. A lawsuit filed by a libertarian group on behalf of Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime customers is currently in the appeal stage.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
"If you look at the entire application developer lifecycle, from code review to testing to continuous integration, and so on, there are opportunities at every single stage for machine learning to help," Silver told VentureBeat. "IntelliCode is, very broadly, the notion that we want to take artificial intelligence -- and really machine learning techniques -- and allow that to make developers and development teams more productive. "IntelliCode is really only at the early stages -- authoring and helping to focus code reviews. But over time, we really think that we can apply it to the entire application developer lifecycle."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Uneasiness and pessimism abound among the majority of the world's population. From a report: Deloitte has released its Global Millennial Survey of 13,416 Millennials (born between 1983 and 1994) spread across 42 countries and 3,009 Gen Z respondents (born between 1995 and 2002) from 10 countries. The firm has conducted the survey for the past eight years. The percentage of respondents who think that businesses are making a positive impact dropped six points from 61% in 2018 to 55%. "I would say that for businesses, the most important takeaway is the continuously diminishing trust of Millennials and Gen Zs," says Deloitte Global Chief Talent Officer Michele Parmelee.
While the two generations have strikingly similar views of the world, Parmelee said survey data shows that their points of view differ in a few significant areas, such as life priorities and their perception of society and work. Generally, only about half of both groups aspire to purchase a home, and even fewer desire to start a family. "Instead, travel and seeing the world was at the top of the list (57%) of aspirations," the report said. Only 52% of the Millennials surveyed responded that earning a high salary was a top priority while 56% of their Gen Z peers did so. And 39% of the Millennials saw starting a family as very important, while 45% of the younger cohort agreed.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's gift-that-keeps-giving department
A massive database containing contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts has been found online. From a report: The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records -- but was growing by the hour. From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they're verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner's email address and phone number.
Security researcher Anurag Sen discovered the database and alerted TechCrunch in an effort to find the owner and get the database secured. We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, which pays influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts. Each record in the database contained a record that calculated the worth of each account, based off the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares they had. This was used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-lows department
A confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that Facebook courts carriers, along with phone makers -- some 100 different companies in 50 countries -- by offering the use of even more surveillance data, pulled straight from your smartphone by Facebook itself. From the report: Offered to select Facebook partners, the data includes not just technical information about Facebook members' devices and use of Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but also their past locations, interests, and even their social groups. This data is sourced not just from the company's main iOS and Android apps, but from Instagram and Messenger as well. The data has been used by Facebook partners to assess their standing against competitors, including customers lost to and won from them, but also for more controversial uses like racially targeted ads.
Some experts are particularly alarmed that Facebook has marketed the use of the information -- and appears to have helped directly facilitate its use, along with other Facebook data -- for the purpose of screening customers on the basis of likely creditworthiness. Such use could potentially run afoul of federal law, which tightly governs credit assessments. Facebook said it does not provide creditworthiness services and that the data it provides to cellphone carriers and makers does not go beyond what it was already collecting for other uses.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's PSA department
For over a century, the kilogram was defined by a metal cylinder in a French vault. Now, this key unit of mass is defined using the Planck constant, a fundamental figure in physics. From a report: On Monday -- World Metrology Day -- Le Grand K lost its special status as the international prototype kilogram (IPK) and it will no longer represent this base unit of mass to the world. From now on, the kilogram -- along with the ampere, kelvin, mole, and candela -- will be defined by fundamental physical and atomic properties instead of tangible human-made objects. "The Metric System was envisioned to be 'for all people for all time,'" said Barry Inglis, president of the International Committee for Weights and Measures, in a statement. "From its outset it sought to ensure long-term stability by defining the units in terms of an internationally agreed 'constants of nature' instead of an arbitrary reference."
To that end, the "arbitrary" Le Grand K has been deposed by the Planck constant, a fundamental quantity related to the energy of photons, the elementary particles that make up light. Defined as 6.626 x 10-34 joule-seconds, the constant fixes the kilogram to the speed of light and a temporal unit of measurement -- the second. The kilogram is now equal to the weight of 1.4755214 x 1040 photons with frequencies matching a cesium atomic clock. It may sound like a less relatable system of measurement, but what the change loses in familiarity it makes up for in precision. Even though Le Grand K is one of the most carefully protected objects on the planet, it is not immune from physical interactions that can alter its weight.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Google just unveiled its newest version of Glass. It's not made to be a widespread consumer product, but there are business users who will care. And the latest Glass Enterprise Edition 2, with key upgraded specs, shows where most smartglasses are at. From a report: You might remember Glass as a strange 2013 footnote, but Glass has stuck around: it became an enterprise-targeted device in 2017, and has been used in a variety of other assistive ways. Plenty of other AR headsets have been moving into the enterprise space over the last couple of years too, from Microsoft HoloLens 2 to Vuzix' glasses. While the single-display design of Glass isn't going to allow 3D augmented reality like what you'd experience on HoloLens 2, there could be applications for other types of useful augmented reality via the improved built-in camera and upgraded onboard processor. Google's announcement touts the new onboard Qualcomm XR1 chip as enabling "support for computer vision and advanced machine learning capabilities."
Google representatives refused to comment on whether that means the new Glass could possibly adopt some Google Lens-like features, and Google's VP of VR and AR, Clay Bavor, said in a statement that "Using technologies like computer vision and AR, our team's focus has been on building helpful experiences that provide useful information in context. Glass Enterprise Edition 2 does just that, and we're excited to give businesses and their employees tools to help them work better, smarter and faster."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's job-cuts department
Ford is cutting 7,000 white-collar jobs, or about 10% of its salaried staff worldwide, as part of a cost-cutting effort it says will save the company about $600 million a year. From a report: Ford says workers will begin to be notified of cuts starting Tuesday, and the terminations will be completed by the end of August. About 2,400 of the jobs cuts are in North America, and 1,500 of the positions will be eliminated through a voluntary buyout offer. The move is an effort to cut bureaucracy within the company and flatten the management structure in addition to its desire to cut costs, according to a letter CEO Jim Hackett sent to employees Monday morning. Ford's layoffs are similar to white-collar job cuts rival General Motors announced in November, but GM's cuts were deeper. GM eliminated about 8,000 non-union jobs, or 15% of its salaried and contract workers. It also closed five North American factories as part of that announcement.Read Replies (0)