By BeauHD from Slashdot's we-knew-this-day-would-come department
Facebook is trying to get Instagram users to visit its site more often by further entwining the two services. According to Instagram user Spencer Chen, the Instagram app prompted him to check out a friend's new photo on Facebook. "Chen grabbed a screenshot and posted the notification on the internet, calling it a cry for attention by the older social network," reports Bloomberg. From the report: Instagram says what Chen experienced was a product test with a small contingent of users. Still, Instagram feeds Facebook in other ways. Last year, Facebook launched its own version of an Instagram tool called Stories, which lets people post videos that disappear within 24 hours. (The feature was initially copied from Snap Inc., a competitor.) Greenfield noticed the Facebook version became more popular once it became possible for Instagram users to post their stories in both places with the click of a button. Instagram Stories' 400 million users present a significant opportunity for Facebook's advertising business, according to Ken Sena, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. Instagram is on track to provide Facebook with $20 billion in revenue by 2020, about a quarter of Facebook's total, he wrote to investors. And cross-posting could help Facebook's video ambitions.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's clock-is-ticking department
Tesla has confirmed to Jalopnik that its 200,000th vehicle has been delivered this month, meaning the full $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars will slowly be phased out. Tesla is the first automaker to reach this mark. "GM is close, too, while Nissan, Ford, and others still have a ways to go," notes The Verge. From the report: Tesla customers who take delivery of their cars -- regardless of whether it's a Model S, X, or 3 -- between now and December 31st, 2018, will still be eligible for the full $7,500 credit from the IRS. Customers who take delivery of their cars between January 1st and June 30th, 2019, will only be eligible for a $3,750 credit. And customers who take delivery of their cars between July 1st and December 31st, 2019, will be offered just $1,875. After that, the incentive is dead.
Put in place early on in the Obama administration, the tax credit was seen as a tool that could be used to encourage customers to buy plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. This would simultaneously help advance the president's climate and clean energy goals while offering consumers a bit of a break while the cost of battery technology slowly came down. It was also meant to encourage manufacturers to push for greater advancements in that technology. The dollar amount was technically flexible; it was essentially a $2,500 credit with room to increase up to $7,500 depending on the battery capacity of the car being sold. The better the battery in a company's car, the better the rebate their buyers would get.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fun-for-the-whole-family department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Robert Louis Stevenson's 1881 classic Treasure Island tells of Jim Hawkins's adventures on board the Hispaniola, as he and his crew -- along with double-crossing pirate Long John Silver -- set out to find Captain Flint's missing treasure on Skeleton Island. Now, more than a century later, children can try and find it themselves, with the bays and mountains of Stevenson's fictional island given a blocky remodeling in Minecraft, as part of a new project aimed at bringing reluctant readers to literary classics. From Spyglass Hill to Ben Gunn's cave, children can explore every nook and cranny of Skeleton Island as part of Litcraft, a new partnership between Lancaster University and Microsoft, which bought the game for $2.5 billion in 2015 and which is now played by 74 million people each month. The Litcraft platform uses Minecraft to create accurate scale models of fictional islands: Treasure Island is the first, with Michael Morpurgo's Kensuke's Kingdom just completed and many others planned. [...] The project, which is featured on Microsoft's Minecraft.edu website, is currently being presented to school teachers and librarians across the UK. There has been "an enthusiastic response" to the trials under way in local schools, with plans to roll Litcraft out to libraries in Lancashire and Leeds from October 2018.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
Last week, Apple refreshed the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, bringing newer Intel processors and quieter keyboards. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro also just so happens to feature the fastest SSD ever in a laptop, according to benchmarks from Laptop Mag. Mac Rumors summarizes the findings: The site's tests were performed on the $2,499 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar equipped with a 2.7GHz quad-core 8th-generation Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, Intel Iris Plus 655, and a 512GB SSD. A file copy test of the SSD in the new MacBook Pro, which Apple says supports sequential read speeds of up to 3.2GB/s and sequential write speeds up to 2.2GB/s, led Laptop Mag to declare the SSD in the MacBook Pro "the fastest ever" in a laptop. Higher capacity SSDs may see even faster speeds on disk speeds tests. A BlackMagic Disk Speed test was also conducted, resulting in an average write speed of 2,682 MB/s.
On a Geekbench 4 CPU benchmark, the 13-inch MacBook Pro earned a score of 18,055 on the multi-core test, outperforming 13-inch machines from companies like Dell, HP, Asus, and Microsoft. That score beats out all 2017 MacBook Pro models and is faster than some iMac configurations. 15-inch MacBook Pro models with 6-core 8th-generation Intel chips will show even more impressive speeds. With that said, the 13-inch MacBook Pro didn't quite measure up to other machines when it came to GPU performance. "The 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro uses Intel's Iris Plus Graphics 655 with 128MB of embedded DRAM and was unable to compete in a Dirt 3 graphics test, getting only 38.8 frames per second," reports Mac Rumors. "All Windows-based machines tested offered much better performance."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's heads-up department
Coinbase, the largest U.S.-based digital currency exchange, announced that it is "exploring the addition" of five new cryptocurrencies to its platform. The five cryptocurrencies being considered are Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX). Bitcoinist reports: Coinbase's announcement claims to arrive for both employees and the public at the same time. Notes Coinbase: "We are making this announcement internally at Coinbase and to the public at the same time to remain transparent with our customers about support for future assets." Despite the apparent attempt at remaining transparent, the statement of intent has led many to question why the exchange giant is even making an announcement of its "exploration" at all -- especially following a cut-and-dry announcement of future support for Ethereum Classic. The company pre-emptively responded to such questions by explaining: "Unlike the ongoing process of adding Ethereum Classic, which is technically very similar to Ethereum, these assets will require additional exploratory work and we cannot guarantee they will be listed for trading. Furthermore, our listing process may result in some of these assets being listed solely for customers to buy and sell, without the ability to send or receive using a local wallet. We may also only enable certain ways to interact with these assets through our site, such as supporting only deposits and withdrawals from transparent Zcash addresses. Finally, some of these assets may be offered in other jurisdictions prior to being listed in the U.S." Coinbase also said to expect future announcements of exploration: "Going forward, you should expect that we will make similar announcements about exploring the addition of multiple assets. Some of these assets may become available everywhere, while others may only be supported in specific jurisdictions."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's poor-execution department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: The latest country to consider a website blocking proposal is Japan, and EFF has responded to the call for comment by sharing all the reasons that cutting off websites is a terrible solution for copyright violations. In response to infringement of copyrighted material, specifically citing a concern for manga, the government of Japan began work on a proposal that would make certain websites inaccessible in Japan. In response to Japan's proposal, EFF explained that website blocking is not effective at the stated goal of protecting artists and their work. First, it can be easily circumvented. Second, it ends up capturing a lot of lawful expression. Blocking an entire website does not distinguish between legal and illegal content, punishing both equally. According to numerous studies, the best answer to the problem of online infringement is providing easy, lawful alternatives. Doing this also has the benefit of not penalizing legitimate expression the way blocking does. According to The Japan Times, the "emergency measure" would "encourage [ISPs] to restrict access to such 'malicious' websites 'on a voluntary basis' in order to protect the nation's famed manga and anime industries from free-riders."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's manfeels department
ArenaNet narrative designer Jessica Price was fired last week after she accused a Twitter user of "mansplaining", and adding later "Don't expect me to pretend to like you here." (Her employer characterized this as "attacks on the community.")
So what happened in the week that followed? An anonymous reader writes:
A Reddit user indicated he'd been speaking satirically when he posted that "We can probably fire anyone on the GW2 dev team as long we make a big enough stink," and expressed surprise later that no one had disagreed with him. But another female developer told Kotaku she saw a real call to action on 4chan, and that it was followed by angry letters to the game studio she freelances for calling for her firing too, complaining their games had declined since she was hired (along with another woman). The letters also complained her Twitter account set "a bad example for the letter-writer's children, who supposedly play this game." The company's CEO received "a three-digit number's" worth of angry letters -- though "Fifty or so of them glitched out with a lot of variables exposed, including %FEMALENAME."
"A deeper look at the names and emails associated with the letters went to Facebook bot profiles and people whose profiles indicated associations with Gamergate or 4chan," reports Kotaku -- and Brianna Wu made a similar charge on Twitter last week, citing research by a team of volunteers. "The overwhelming majority of people harassing Jessica Price today on Twitter are bots and sock puppets. These are throwaway accounts that are used as toys. Almost no one claiming to be upset is an established, normal Twitter user." The Verge reports that Wu monitored Jessica Price's account, and found harassment "as bad as she's ever seen," blocking at least 600 different accounts.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bad-robots department
Thursday Elon Musk gave a surprisingly candid interview about Tesla's massive push to increase production of Model 3 sedans to 5,000 a week. An anonymous reader quotes Musk's remarks to Bloomberg:
I spent almost the entire time in the factory the final week, and yeah, it was essentially three months with a tiny break of like one day that I wasn't there. I was wearing the same clothes for five days. Yeah, it was really intense. And everybody else was really intense, too... I think we had to prove that we could make 5,000 cars in a week -- 5,000 Model 3s and at the same time make 2,000 S and X's, so essentially show that we could make 7,000 cars. We had to prove ourselves. The number of people who thought we would actually make it is very tiny, like vanishingly small. There was suddenly the credibility of the company, my credibility, you know, the credibility of the whole team. It was like, "Can you actually do this or not?"
There were a lot of issues that we had to address in order to do it. You know, we had to create the new general assembly line in basically less than a month -- to create it and get to an excess of a 1,000-cars-a-week rate in like four weeks... A lot of the hoped-for automation was counterproductive. It's not like we knew it would be bad, because why would we buy a ticket to hell...? A whole bunch of the robots are turned off, and it was reverted to a manual station because the robots kept faulting out. When the robot faults out -- like the vision system can't figure out how to put the object in -- then you've got to reset the system. You've got to manually seat the components. It stops the whole production line while you sort out why the robot faults out.
When the interviewer asks why that happens, Musk replies, "Because we were huge idiots and didn't know what we were doing. That's why."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's enabled-by-default department
An anonymous reader quotes PCWorld:
The critical Meltdown and Spectre bugs baked deep into modern computer processors will have ramifications on the entire industry for years to come, and Chrome just became collateral damage. Google 67 enabled "Site Isolation" Spectre protection for most users, and the browser now uses 10 to 13 percent more RAM due to how the fix behaves.
"Site Isolation does cause Chrome to create more renderer processes, which comes with performance tradeoffs," Googleâ(TM)s Charlie Reis says. "On the plus side, each renderer process is smaller, shorter-lived, and has less contention internally, but there is about a 10-13% total memory overhead in real workloads due to the larger number of processes. Our team continues to work hard to optimize this behavior to keep Chrome both fast and secure." It's a significant performance hit, especially for a browser battling a reputation for being a memory hog, but a worthwhile one nonetheless.
Chrome's Spectre-blocking site isolation "is now enabled by default for 99 percent of Chrome users on all platforms."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's money-marketplace department
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
Wells Fargo said operating losses surged 77% last quarter because of various problems in its auto lending, wealth management, mortgage and currency businesses. Overall expenses rose by 3%. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo said profit declined by 12% during the second quarter, missing Wall Street's expectations. The bank's stock, which has lagged behind the rest of the market, dropped 3% on Friday... Wells Fargo was also hurt by a $481 million income tax bill linked to a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows states to force online retailers to collect sales taxes...
Even though the economy is strong, several crucial metrics at Wells Fargo are shrinking. For instance, average deposits dropped by 2% to $1.3 trillion, led by a drop-off in business from financial institutions. Wells Fargo blamed the decline on actions it had to take due to penalties imposed by the Federal Reserve that prohibit the bank from growing its balance sheet. Lending, the primary way that banks make money, also dipped by 1% from the first quarter at Wells Fargo. It cited declines for commercial real estate and consumer loans, including auto lending. Mortgage banking profits also declined sharply.
If average deposits dropped by 2% to $1.3 trillion -- that looks like a drop of over $26 billion.
CNN reports that an analyst at CFRA Research has downgraded his rating on Wells Fargo -- to "sell."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's final-frontiers department
Chris Reeve writes: The MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in South Africa this past Friday, revealing the clearest view yet of the center of the Milky Way. What is especially surprising about the produced image are the numerous prominent filaments which seem to appear in the foreground.
Herschel made a similar announcement just three years prior that "Observations with ESA's Herschel space observatory have revealed that our Galaxy is threaded with filamentary structures on every length scale." Intriguingly, close inspection of yesterday's SKA image show these filaments twisting around one another, yet without combining — a phenomenon observable in most novelty plasma globes when the filaments are conducting electricity...
The SKA telescopes is one of the first telescopes to witness these filaments because it is 50 times more powerful than any former telescope, but also because it is apparently one of the few telescopes which can observe dark mode plasmas. For these reasons, the SKA telescope will inevitably revive the debate over the underlying physical reasons for filaments which exhibit coherent thin magnetic structure over light-year distances.
The original submission included a comment with more information about the theory of a plasma universe.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'm-feeling-unlucky department
Government Technology reports:
On July 16, Google Maps is going to make it more difficult and expensive to use its API, which could make custom maps that rely on the service less sustainable or even unfeasible for the people who made them... First, Google Maps is requiring all projects to have an official API key in order to work. If a user doesn't have a key, the quality of the map will likely be reduced, or it could simply stop working. Second, API keys will only work if they are attached to somebody's credit card. Google will charge that card if users exceed a certain number of API requests, which is different for different services. Google will provide users a free $200 credit toward those costs each month...
There are a couple places where the changes might have more of an impact. One is in the civic hacking space, where people often work with government data to create niche projects that aim for low costs, or are free so that as many people as possible can use them... "I think that's what scares people a little bit, it certainly scares me, this thought of having this API out there and not knowing how many people are going to use it," said Derek Eder, founder of the civic tech company DataMade. "I don't want to suddenly get a bill for $1,000."
There's at least three Open Source alternatives, and Geoawesomeness.com lists nine more.
Slashdot reader Jiri_Komarek also points out that Google's move was good news for its competitor, MapTiler. "Since Google announced the pricing change the number of our users increased by 200%," said Petr Pridal, head of the MapTiler team. "We expect more people to come as they get their first bill from Google."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you-deserve-a-break-today department
"Non-compete clauses are common among professionals, justified by a variety of innocuous-sounding and apparently reasonable business reasons," writes Slashdot reader Beeftopia. "This story shows that, surprisingly, it is a very effective wage suppression mechanism as well, used in industries where it would seem unnecessary."
For many years, fast-food franchises agreed not to recruit or hire one another's workers within the same chain. These "no-poach agreements," as they are known, meant a worker couldn't get better pay or move up the ladder by going to another franchise. Bob Ferguson, Washington's attorney general, said such agreements are clearly illegal. "These no-poach clauses, I think, are an example of a rigged system," he said. "I think you're a worker, you have no idea this clause exists, you haven't signed it. And yet when you try to go to another business to improve your wages, you can't do it, because of this condition in a contract that you never signed..."
Princeton economist Alan Krueger says such restrictions make the labor market work inefficiently, keeping wages artificially low. "I think it's very hard to come up with a sound business justification for this practice, other than reducing competition for workers," he says.
Arby's, Carl's Jr., and five other fast food chains agreed "under pressure" to stop enforcing their non-compete agreements, while eight more chains are currently being investigated by a coalition of 11 state attorney generals. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey reports that 80% of fast food workers are currently locked into non-compete agreements, according to Food & Wine magazine.
"Though a statement from the International Franchise Association argues that these agreements are necessary to keep employees from jumping ship before the expense to train them has been recouped, opponents of these clauses suggest the industrywide benefit of suppressing wages may be the real driving factor."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's buzz-off department
schwit1 quotes CNN: In an experiment with global implications, Australian scientists have successfully wiped out more than 80% of disease-carrying mosquitoes in trial locations across north Queensland.
The experiment, conducted by scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and James Cook University (JCU), targeted Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread deadly diseases such as dengue fever and Zika. In JCU laboratories, researchers bred almost 20 million mosquitoes, infecting males with bacteria that made them sterile. Then, last summer, they released over three million of them in three towns on the Cassowary Coast.
The sterile male mosquitoes didn't bite or spread disease, but when they mated with wild females, the resulting eggs didn't hatch, and the population crashed.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's can't-lose-for-winning department
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: It's been more than 20 months since our last browser benchmark battle, and we really wanted to avoid letting two years elapse before getting a fresh set of a results. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have all improved significantly over the past year and a half, and as I've argued before, the browser wars are back. You can click on the individual test to see the results:
SunSpider: Edge wins! Octane: Chrome wins! Kraken: Firefox wins! JetStream: Edge wins! MotionMark: Edge wins! Speedometer: Chrome wins! BaseMark: Chrome wins! WebXPRT: Firefox wins! HTML5Test: Chrome wins!
Chrome looks to be ahead of the pack according to these tests. That said, browser performance was solid across all three contestants, and it shouldn't be your only consideration when picking your preferred app for consuming internet content.
Chrome wins in four tests, beating Edge's three wins, and Firefox's two wins.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's passing-the-virtual-hat department
All Kickstarter campaigns are getting a show of support, according to a new web site. "Every day, The Creative Fund backs all newly launched projects based on our current patronage." It's the newest offering from BackerKit, which also makes a data management platform for crowdfunding campaigns, and so far they've pledged $1 to 10,594 different Kickstarter projects.
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat:
One dollar doesn't seem like a lot, but it's just a start. BackerKit cofounder Rosanna Yau says that this is more of a proof of concept, to see if their community is willing to rally around the idea. She and cofounder Maxwell Salzberg have set up a Patreon, a monthly subscription service that enables people to support creators directly. All the donations they receive from that platform will be distributed among Kickstarter projects, and the goal is to make sure all projects have at least one pledge....
Yau says that the company is open to contributing more than a $1 in the future. Its Patreon guidelines say that for each $2,000 milestone reached, the fund will pledge $1 more to all Kickstarter projects. If something doesn't get funded, the fund's pledges will get recycled and re-donated to new projects.
A Medium post says the new fund "supports the entrepreneurial spirit of all independent creators, one dollar at a time....
"Everyone deserves some inspiration and a virtual high-five."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's scrapping-metal department
schwit1 shared this article from Energy Central News:
Estimates put the tear-down cost of a single modern wind turbine, which can rise from 250 to 500 feet above the ground, at $200,000... Which means landowners and counties in Texas could be on the hook for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars if officials determine non-functional wind turbines need to be removed. Or if that proves to be too costly, as seems likely, some areas of the state could become post-apocalyptic wastelands steepled with teetering and fallen wind turbines, locked in a rigor mortis of obsolescence.
Companies will of course have the option of upgrading those aging wind turbines with new models, a resurrection of sorts. Yet the financial wherewithal to do so may depend on the continuation of federal wind subsidies, which is by no means assured. Wind farm owners say the recycling value of turbines is significant and recovering valuable material like copper and steel will cover most of the cost of decommissioning... Yet extracting valuable materials from the turbines is not as easy as it sounds... "The blades are composite, those are not recyclable, those can't be sold," said Lisa Linowes, executive director of WindAction Group, a nonprofit which studies landowner rights and the impact of the wind energy industry. "The landfills are going to be filled with blades in a matter of no time...."
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