By msmash from Slashdot's another-entry department
T-Mobile today unveiled a new name for its Layer3 TV internet television service -- TVision Home -- with enhanced features, and announced a deal with Amazon to add Prime Video to the service later in 2019. From a report: TVision Home will be available starting April 14 in eight markets (the same areas Layer3 TV has already been available): Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Longmont, Colo. It's not a skinny bundle: TVision Home starts at $90 per month, which includes more than 150 channels, local broadcast stations and regional sports networks, as well as 15,000 VOD titles. Premium TV packages like HBO and Showtime are extra. In addition, TVision Home users must pay a $10 monthly set-top fee per connected TV. (Actually, the regular price of TVision Home for non-T-Mobile wireless customers is $99.99 per month, but the carrier is including a $9.99-per-month discount to all new subs for a limited time.)Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's change-of-heart department
Bowing to growing pressure from opponents who say that cashless stores leave out low-income Americans, Amazon plans to take cash at its 10 cashierless "Go" stores. From a report: Amazon Go stores, located in San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, use AI and cameras to check out customers. Amazon reportedly is considering opening up to to 3,000 by 2021. "We are working to accept cash," a spokesperson for Amazon said Wednesday. "Paying cash at Amazon Go will work as you would expect: you'll check out, pay with cash, and then get your change." Amazon did not say when Go stores will begin accepting cash. Amazon also said its bookstores will start taking cash, but did not share any details.
Steve Kessel, Amazon's senior vice president of physical stores, told employees last month that Go stores would add "additional payment mechanisms," CNBC reported earlier on Wednesday. Kessel was responding to a question about how Amazon plans to address "discrimination and elitism" at cashierless stores, according to the report. Further reading: As More Retailers Ban Paper Money, It's Making Things Awkward For Customers Without Plastic.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
House lawmakers on Wednesday approved a Democrat-backed bill (alternative source) that would restore rules requiring AT&T, Verizon and other Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally, marking an early step toward reversing one of the most significant deregulatory moves of the Trump era. From a report: But the net neutrality measure is likely to stall from here, given strong Republican opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate and the White House, where aides to President Trump this week recommended that he veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk. The House's proposal, which passed by a vote of 232-190, would reinstate federal regulations that had banned AT&T, Verizon and other broadband providers from blocking or slowing down customers' access to websites. Adopted in 2015 during the Obama administration, these net neutrality protections had the backing of tech giants and startups as well as consumer advocacy groups, which together argued that strong federal open Internet protections were necessary to preserve competition and allow consumers unfettered access to movies, music and other content of their choice.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Developer and blogger Guilherme Rambo, writing for 9to5Mac: Fellow developer Steve Troughton-Smith recently expressed confidence about some evidence found indicating that Apple is working on new Music, Podcasts, and perhaps Books apps for macOS, to join the new TV app. I've been able to independently confirm that this is true. On top of that, I've been able to confirm with sources familiar with the development of the next major version of macOS -- likely 10.15 -- that the system will include standalone Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, but it will also include a major redesign of the Books app.
The new Books app will have a sidebar similar to the News app on the Mac, it will also feature a narrower title bar with different tabs for the Library, Book Store, and Audiobook Store. On the library tab, the sidebar will list the user's Books, Audiobooks, PDFs and other collections, including custom ones. The new Music, Podcasts, and TV apps will be made using Marzipan, Apple's new technology designed to facilitate the porting of iPad apps to the Mac without too many code changes. Further reading: Steven Troughton-Smith Thinks iTunes Breakup is Nigh (DaringFireball).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
It's a browser feature few users will have heard of, but forthcoming versions of Chrome, Safari and Opera are in the process of removing the ability to disable a long-ignored tracking feature called hyperlink auditing pings. From a report: This is a long-established HTML feature that's set as an attribute -- the ping variable -- which turns a link into a URL that can be tracked by website owners or advertisers to monitor what users are clicking on. When a user follows a link set up to work like this, an HTTP POST ping is sent to a second URL which records this interaction without revealing to the user that this has happened. It's only one of several ways users can be tracked, of course, but it's long bothered privacy experts, which is why third-party adblockers often include it on their block list by default.
Until now, an even simpler way to block these pings has been through the browser itself, which in the case of Chrome, Safari and Opera is done by setting a flag (in Chrome you type chrome://flags and set hyperlink auditing to 'disabled'). Notice, however, that these browsers still allow hyperlink auditing by default, which means users would need to know about this setting to change that. It seems that very few do.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's doing-business-but-at-what-cost department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Chinese journalists and netizens recently found that Apple Music's Chinese streaming service censored a song by Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung that references the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, an extremely politically sensitive topic for the Chinese Communist Party. The incident's 30th anniversary is coming up in June. Sophie Richardson, the China Director at Human Rights Watch, called the reported move "spectacularly craven." The Tiananmen protests are emblematic of a larger pro-democracy movement in China that was snuffed out by the Beijing government. Thousands of protesters were killed, but the exact numbers have themselves been censored by Chinese government officials.
Apple Music has also reportedly censored Anthony Wong and Denise Ho, two pro-democracy singers. After being noticed by Chinese netizens, the removals were reported by the Hong Kong Free Press and The Stand, two Hong Kong-based news outlets. Taiwan News also reported the censorship of Cheung's "Ren Jian Dao." The music remains available on Apple Music's North American products. "By removing a song referring the Tiananmen Massacre, @apple is actively participating in the Chinese Communist Party's agenda of scrubbing the colossal violations it has committed against the Chinese people from collective memory and rewriting history," tweeted Yaqiu Wang, a Chinese researcher with Human Rights Watch.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shaking-things-up department
Udacity, the $1 billion online education startup, has laid off about 20 percent of its workforce and is restructuring its operations as the company's co-founder Sebastian Thrun seeks to bring costs in line with revenue without curbing growth, TechCrunch has learned. From the report: The objective is to do more than simply keep the company afloat, Thrun told TechCrunch in a phone interview. Instead, Thrun says these measures will allow Udacity from a money-losing operation to a "break-even or profitable company by next quarter and then moving forward." The 75 employees, including a handful of people in leadership positions, were laid off earlier today as part of a broader plan to restructure operations at Udacity. The startup now employs 300 full-time equivalent employees. It also employs about 60 contractors.
Udacity, which specializes in "nanodegrees" on a range of technical subjects that include AI, deep learning, digital marketing, VR and computer vision, has been struggling for months now, due in part to runaway costs and other inefficiencies. The company grew in 2017, with revenue increasing 100 percent year-over-year thanks to some popular programs like its self-driving car and deep learning nanodegrees, and the culmination of a previous turnaround plan architected by former CMO Shernaz Daver. New programming was added in 2018, but the volume slowed. Those degrees that were added lacked the popularity of some of its other degrees. Meanwhile, costs expanded and their employee ranks swelled.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's working-memory department
A new study has found that electrical brain stimulation can temporarily reverse a decline in memory as a result of aging. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares the findings via a report from The Guardian: The study focused on a part of cognition called working memory, the brain system that holds information for short periods while we are making decisions or performing calculations. Working memory is crucial for a wide variety of tasks, such as recognizing faces, doing arithmetic and navigating a new environment. Working memory is known to steadily decline with age, even in the absence of any form of dementia. One factor in this decline is thought to be a disconnection between two brain networks, known as the prefrontal and temporal regions. In young people, the electrical brain activity in these two regions tends to be rhythmically synchronized, which scientists think allows information to be exchanged between the two brain areas. However, in older people the activity tends to be less tightly synchronized. This may be as result of deterioration of the long-range nerve connections that link up the different parts of the brain.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, 42 people aged 20 -- 29 and 42 people aged 60 -- 76 were assessed in a working memory task. The older group were slower and less accurate on the tests. The scientists then subjected them all to 25 minutes of non-invasive brain stimulation. This aimed to synchronize the two target brain regions by passing gentle pulses of electricity through the scalp and into the brain. After the intervention, working memory in the older adults improved to match the younger group and the effect appeared to last for 50 minutes after the stimulation. Those who had scored worst to start with showed the largest improvements.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's step-in-the-right-direction department
The law would also apply to "behavioral or psychological experiments or studies," such as the ones used by Cambridge Analytica in order to sort users by personality type. Per the bill, any such studies have to get informed consent first, and experimenters would need to make routine disclosures to participants and to the public every 90 days. If enacted, the DETOUR Act would require tech companies to make their own Independent Review Boards, which would be responsible for making sure they comply with the law. The act would also give the FTC one year to make infrastructure to would review tech companies and enforce violations of the law.Read Replies (0)