By EditorDavid from Slashdot's lowering-the-boom-on-boomers department
HCSC recently announced layoffs for more than 500 IT workers, and expects them to train their replacements from an India-based contractor. But a few days earlier, CEO Paula Steiner said, "As full-time retiring baby boomers move on to their next chapter, the makeup of our organization will consist more of young and non-traditional workers, such as part-time workers or contractors." dcblogs quotes ComputerWorld:
What Steiner didn't say in the employee broadcast is that some of the baby boomers moving "on to the next chapter" are being pushed out the door. "Obviously not all of us are 'retiring' -- a bunch of us are being thrown under the bus," said one older employee.
The insurance provider argues that its members want easier technology solutions that "help keep rising costs in check. Our IT teams are being transformed...focusing on those and other member needs." But Slashdot reader ErichTheRed writes:
Having a CEO actually say in public that their company wants to engage in age discrimination and eliminate full-time employment, rather than just carry out the work in secret, is new to me... for those mid- to late-career technical folks, how have you managed to adjust to new realities like this?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's eternal-vigilance department
Secret service agents rushed Donald Trump off a stage in Nevada Saturday night, CNN reports. "A scuffle could be seen breaking out in the audience, but it was not immediately clear what happened... Secret Service and police tactical units rushed in to detain a man [who] was then rushed by a throng of police officers, Secret Service agents and SWAT officers armed with assault rifles to a side room... A law enforcement official told CNN no weapon was discovered. The GOP nominee was apparently unharmed and returned to the stage minutes later to finish his speech." Meanwhile, an anonymous reader writes:
"All but two U.S. states have accepted help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to probe and scan voter registration and election systems for vulnerabilities, a department official told Reuters." Ohio is relying on the National Guard's cyber protection unit, while Arizona says they've held discussions with the FBI, DHS and state-level agents on cyber security. But in addition, "U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia's electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin's command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News." American officials believe Russian hacking efforts will continue through 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. "By hacking and dumping emails, Russia is trying 'to denigrate the American electoral system, to make it look chaotic, make it look manipulable, make it look subject to intrusion, cheating and vulnerable so you can't trust it...to make us look no better than the Russian electoral system,'" said one senior White House official. Russia is also expected to extend their efforts toward elections in Europe.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's boards-vs-booths department
"Nintendo's accurate NES emulator apparently needs no less than a quad-core CPU," joked Ars Technica. "The next step, of course, is unscrewing of the nostalgic little box to see how it ticks -- and whether its limited functionality might ever be expanded, either officially or by hackers." Slashdot reader romiz summarizes what's inside Nintendo's new miniature emulator for classic games:
With a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7, 256 MB of RAM, and 512 MB of NAND Flash, it is typical of the hardware found in Linux single board computers, like the Raspberry Pi 2. Surprisingly for Nintendo, there does not seem to be any custom components in it, and it looks like it even does run Linux. [YouTube video] The GPL license for the kernel and many other open source components is visible in the legal information screen. The source, however, is not yet available on Nintendo's open source page.
But it is the re-edition a 1980s video console: there is no network access, no hardware expansion port, and the 30 games cannot be changed. Changing the system running on it will probably be difficult.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's search-engineering department
A Napster co-founder launched a new software this week which lets you search for anything you've ever looked at on your computer. schwit1 shared this report from CNNMoney:
Atlas Informatics Founder and CEO Jordan Ritter calls the software "a photographic memory for your digital life"... This includes web pages, emails, Slack chats, Netflix films, Spotify songs, or anything else that's appeared in front of your eyes on your screen... You can search by keyword, content type or time, and it displays all related information based on relevancy. For instance, if two documents were open at the same time and you toggled between them, they will both appear whether or not they contain a keyword. Once installed on your hard drive and browser, Atlas Recall runs in the background and begins collecting your activity. The company captures all the content you've looked at and stores it on its servers.
It's encrypted before transmission to the Atlas Cloud servers, though you can block it from capturing data from certain applications, files, and web sites. "The platform wars are over, nobody won, and no one will ever win them again..." Ritter told CNNMoney. "What we want is something that works the way we use our devices and data."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's smells-like-teen-spirit department
"In Macedonia the economy is very weak and teenagers are not allowed to work, so we need to find creative ways to make some money," one 17-year-old told BuzzFeed News, which reports on a "strange hub" of over 140 political sites, all being run in the same small town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the U.S...
The young Macedonians who run these sites say they don't care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives... The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of U.S. display advertising -- a declining market for American publishers -- goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook -- and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters... Most of the posts on these sites are aggregated, or completely plagiarized, from fringe and right-wing sites in the U.S...
Earlier this year they experimented with fake sites supporting Bernie Sanders, "but nothing performed as well on Facebook as Trump content," according to the 16-year-old who operates BVANews.com. The largest Macedonian sites now have hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, and sources close to one site say it earns $5,000 per month, and has even earned $3,000 in a single day.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fine-dining department
walterbyrd quotes a report from New Scientist: Experiments with "virtual food" use electronics to emulate the taste and feel of the real thing, even when there's nothing in your mouth. This tech could add new sensory inputs to virtual reality or augment real-world dining experiences, especially for people with restricted diets or health issues that affect their ability to eat. Several projects have succeeded in tricking us into tasting things that aren't there. Nimesha Ranasinghe at the National University of Singapore has already experimented with a "digital lollipop" to emulate different tastes, and a spoon embedded with electrodes that amplify the salty, sour, or bitter flavor of the real food eaten off it. However, his experiments with electrical stimulation had less success simulating sweetness compared to the other tastes. But digitizing this taste could be particularly useful in, for example, helping people cut back on sugary food or drinks. So Ranasinghe and his colleague Ellen Yi-Luen Do started experimenting with thermal stimulation instead. Their new project, presented at the 2016 ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST) in Tokyo, uses changes in temperature to mimic the sensation of sweetness on the tongue. The user places the tip of their tongue on a square of thermoelectric elements that are rapidly heated or cooled, hijacking thermally sensitive neurons that normally contribute to the sensory code for taste. In an initial trial, it worked for about half of participants. Some also reported a sensation of spiciness when the device was warmer (around 35 degrees Celsius) and a minty taste when it was cooler (18 degrees Celsius). Ranasinghe and Do envisage such a system embedded in a glass or mug to make low-sugar drinks taste sweeter.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-challenger-step-right-up department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google and Blizzard are opening up StarCraft II to anyone who wants to teach artificial intelligence systems how to conduct warfare. Researchers can now use Google's DeepMind A.I. to test various theories for ways that machines can learn to make sense of complicated systems, in this case Blizzard's beloved real-time strategy game. In StarCraft II, players fight against one another by gathering resources to pay for defensive and offensive units. It has a healthy competitive community that is known for having a ludicrously high skill level. But considering that DeepMind A.I. has previously conquered complicated turn-based games like chess and go, a real-time strategy game makes sense as the next frontier. The companies announced the collaboration today at the BlizzCon fan event in Anaheim, California, and Google's DeepMind A.I. division posted a blog about the partnership and why StarCraft II is so ideal for machine-learning research. If you're wondering how much humans will have to teach A.I. about how to play and win at StarCraft, the answer is very little. DeepMind learned to beat the best go players in the world by teaching itself through trial and error. All the researchers had to do was explain how to determine success, and the A.I. can then begin playing games against itself on a loop while always reinforcing any strategies that lead to more success. For StarCraft, that will likely mean asking the A.I. to prioritize how long it survives and/or how much damage it does to the enemy's primary base. Or, maybe, researchers will find that defining success in a more abstract way will lead to better results, discovering the answers to all of this is the entire point of Google and Blizzard teaming up.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's public-nudity department
New submitter PongoX11 writes: Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly x-rays, at the center of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it's screaming through space at 2,000 kilometers per second -- and it may never stop. BC 1715+425's troubles began when its galaxy bumped up against another. This isn't all that unusual: in fact, astronomers believe that the largest galaxies in our universe formed during ancient mergers. Normally, when two galaxies collide, the supermassive black holes at their centers start to orbit one another, moving closer and closer together in an inescapable gravitational attraction. Eventually, those black holes can fuse, releasing a burst of energy as gravitational waves and completing the cosmic joining. Most of the time, this process seems to work out for all parties involved, judging from the fact that nearly all supermassive black holes reside at the center of galaxies, and nearly all galactic centers contain a supermassive black hole. But every now and then, something goes wrong and cosmic wreckage ensues. B3 1715+425, speeding away from the core of a bloated galactic merger 2 billion light years from Earth, is living proof of this. The working theory is that millions of years ago, B3 1715+425's galaxy passed through a much larger galaxy (one that had formed during many previous mergers) and got shredded to bits, a bit like a paper airplane flying into a hurricane. The leftovers include a faint galactic remnant, just 3,000 light years across, and the supermassive black hole itself, nearly naked and hemorrhaging ionized gas as it tears through the void. "We were looking for orbiting pairs of supermassive black holes, with one offset from the center of a galaxy, as telltale evidence of a previous galaxy merger," said James Condon, the astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory who led the study. "Instead, we found this black hole fleeing from the larger galaxy and leaving a trail of debris behind it."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-brainer department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Among a slew on ballot propositions that Californians will be asked to consider on Election Day (Nov. 8) is Proposition 54, a proposed constitutional amendment that seems like a no-brainer. If passed, the law would require that the final text of all proposed legislation be published on the Internet for 72 hours before lawmakers can conduct a final vote. Typically, the text of bills in California is put online as it goes through the committee and voting process, but sometimes those bills can change at the last minute. Accessing those changes isn't always easy. The initiative, which seems all-but-certain to pass, has massive support from Charles T. Munger, Jr., the son of billionaire Charles Munger. The younger Munger, an experimental physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and a longtime Republican activist, has donated over $10.6 million to the "Yes on Prop. 54" campaign. The effort supporting the opposing view has taken in just over $27,000. Proposition 54 would also force the Assembly and State Senate to allow the public to record meetings as well, which could potentially be used in political advertising. So why would anyone oppose the bill? According to Steven Maviglio, the director of Californians for an Effective Legislature, a campaign committee formed to oppose Proposition 54. It all comes down to who is behind the initiative, and why. "The first thing you need to do is follow the money," he told Ars, pointing us to Munger, Jr. "He's been the top contributor to the California Republican Party. His goal is to disrupt the power of a legislature that's getting things done."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hypochondriac department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Fit and healthy people who worry about developing an illness may be increasing their risk of heart disease by unnecessarily fretting over their health, research suggests. A study of more than 7,000 people over 12 years found that those with health anxiety at the start of the study were about 70% more likely to develop heart disease than those without that state of mind. Additionally, the researchers found that the higher the reported anxiety, the higher the risk of heart disease. The findings, published in BMJ Open on Thursday, suggest that far from health anxiety protecting people from heart disease through increased monitoring and frequency of checkups, it may have the opposite effect. The study analyzed 7,052 participants in the long-term collaborative research project Norwegian Hordaland health study, all of whom were born between 1953 and 1957. They filled in questionnaires about their health, lifestyle and educational attainment and had a physical checkup between 1997 and 1999. Levels of health anxiety were assessed using a validated scale and the top 10% of the sample -- 710 people -- were considered to have health anxiety. The heart health of all the participants was tracked up to the end of 2009. Anyone who received treatment for, or whose death was linked to, coronary artery disease occurring within a year of entering the study, was excluded on the grounds that they might already have been ill. In all, 234 (3.3%) of the entire sample had an ischemic event -- a heart attack or bout of acute angina -- during the monitoring period. But the proportion of those succumbing to heart disease was twice as high (just over 6%) among those who displayed health anxiety compared with those who did not (3%). After taking account of other potentially influential factors, those with health anxiety at the start of the study were found to be 73% more likely to develop heart disease than those who did not have anxiety at the outset.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's electric-vehicles department
Elon Musk has had roofs on his mind lately. Last week, Musk unveiled the residential "solar roof," consisting of glass roof tiles with integrated solar panels. Today, he announced that customers will be able to add a glass roof to the Model S sedan for an extra $1,500. Tesla said that the glass roof can give passengers the feeling of "an open expansive cabin" that makes the Model S interior "feel amazing." Fortune reports: The move is another example of how Tesla continues to add new features and technology to its four-year-old vehicle, the second to debut in its growing lineup. In particular, Tesla has routinely updated the Model S with technology that has also been available in more recent car models. For example, the company's upcoming fourth car, the Model 3, will come with a glass roof. The new glass roof option also shows off Tesl'a new investment in automotive glass technology. Earlier this week Musk revealed that the company had created an automotive glass division. In the tweet on Friday, Musk said that the Model S glass roof was "very hard to develop."Read Replies (0)