By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
In interviews with Bloomberg, current and former Apple employees say brand building became more important than serving shoppers. From the report: In interviews, current and former Apple employees blame a combination of factors. They say the stores have become mostly an exercise in branding and no longer do a good job serving mission shoppers like Smith. Meanwhile, they say, the quality of staff has slipped during an 18-year expansion that has seen Apple open more than 500 locations and hire 70,000 people. The Genius Bar, once renowned for its tech support, has been largely replaced with staff who roam the stores and are harder to track down. That's a significant drawback because people are hanging onto their phones longer these days and need them repaired. [...] Meanwhile, retail chief Angela Ahrendts (who was hired in May 2014) began moving sales and service onto the web -- encouraging staff to tell customers to "get in line, online." Customers were to make an appointment on Apple's website and then pick up the product at a store. Apple was "trying to streamline things," says one employee, "but in the process made things more difficult for some customers."
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By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
The "exascale" computing race is getting a new entrant called Frontier, a $600 million machine with Cray and AMD technology that could become the world's fastest when it arrives at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2021. From a report: Frontier should be able to perform 1.5 quintillion calculations per second, a level called 1.5 exaflops and enough to claim the performance crown, the Energy Department announced Tuesday. Its speed will be about 10 times faster than that of the current record holder on the Top500 supercomputer ranking, the IBM-built Summit machine, also at Oak Ridge, and should surpass a $500 million, 1-exaflops Cray-Intel supercomputer called Aurora to be built in 2021 at Argonne National Laboratory. There's no guarantee the US will win the race to exascale machines -- those that cross the 1-exaflop threshold -- because China, Japan and France each could have exascale machines in 2020. At stake is more than national bragging rights: It's also about the ability to perform cutting-edge research in areas like genomics, nuclear physics, cosmology, drug discovery, artificial intelligence and climate simulation.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's art-of-the-deal department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Now, emails obtained through a public records request provide insight into how facial recognition companies attempt to strike deals with local law enforcement as well as gain access to sensitive data on local residents. The emails show how a firm backed by Shark Tank judge, Dallas Mavericks owner, and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban pushed a local police department to try and gain access to state driver's license photos to train its product. The emails also show the company asked the police department to vouch for it on a government grant application in exchange for receiving the technology for free.
"Chief, you seemed pretty keen on the use of facial recognition in stadiums. If you know of any place to start, please let me know," a 2016 email from Jacob Sniff, a co-founder of facial recognition startup Suspect Technologies, addressed to Michael Botieri, chief of the Plymouth Police Department in Massachusetts, reads. In the emails, Sniff repeatedly asked Botieri to deploy the technology in his district to help improve the product. Sniff mentioned plans for the technology to search through results for people of a particular gender or ethnicity, and deploy "emotion recognition."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's decades-old-classic department
Microsoft Solitaire, bundled with the Windows operating system since 1990, has been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame for its popularity and influence on other video games and society in general. It joins classic titles like Doom, Tetris, World of Warcraft, and Halo: Combat Evolved. The Verge reports: The World Video Game Hall of Fame is a relatively new institution, created in 2015 and overseen by educational institute The Strong. Its official home is in The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, and each year it selects a handful of new inductees. Solitaire may be a video game for the ages, but its inclusion in Windows had a higher purpose. The developers of the operating system felt that the familiar game was the perfect way to introduce users to relatively new computing concepts, like using a mouse and drag-and-drop. By playing Solitaire, users honed more than their card skills: a win-win for all.
Solitaire was first bundled with Windows 3.0 and appeared in every subsequent version of the software up until Windows 8.1. It was removed from the base level operating system, but was returned in Windows 10 after Microsoft admitted that Solitaire, along with Minesweeper and Hearts, still have "devoted followings." Because of its inclusion in the world's most popular PC operating system, lowly Solitaire has likely been installed on more than one billion devices, says the Strong Museum, making it one of the most popular video games of all time. "Microsoft Solitaire demonstrated that there existed a vast market for games that appeal to people of all types, paving the way for the growth of the casual game market," said the institute in a press statement. "We are humbly honored to have the opportunity to work on a game that has such broad appeal, is localized into 65 languages, and played in over 200 markets around the world, including Antarctica," said Microsoft's Paul Jensen, studio manager for Microsoft Casual Games.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's follow-the-evidence department
An anonymous reader shares an opinion piece from The Guardian, written by analyst, writer and head of social policy for the New Economics Foundation, Anna Coote: A study published this week sheds doubt on ambitious claims made for universal basic income (UBI), the scheme that would give everyone regular, unconditional cash payments that are enough to live on. Its advocates claim it would help to reduce poverty, narrow inequalities and tackle the effects of automation on jobs and income. Research conducted for Public Services International, a global trade union federation, reviewed for the first time 16 practical projects that have tested different ways of distributing regular cash payments to individuals across a range of poor, middle-income and rich countries, as well as copious literature on the topic.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's captured-in-action department
hooligun shares a report from Phys.Org: To kill bacteria in the blood, our immune system relies on nanomachines that can open deadly holes in their targets. UCL scientists have now filmed these nanomachines in action, discovering a key bottleneck in the process which helps to protect our own cells. [...] For this study, the researchers mimicked how these deadly holes are formed by the membrane attack complex (MAC) using a model bacterial surface. By tracking each step of the process, they found that shortly after each hole started to form, the process stalled, offering a reprieve for the body's own cells. The team say the process pauses as 18 copies of the same protein are needed to complete a hole. Initially, there's only one copy which inserts into the bacterial surface, after which the other copies of the protein slot into place much more rapidly.
To film the immune system in action at nanometer resolution and at a few seconds per frame, the scientists used atomic force microscopy. This type of microscopy uses an ultrafine needle to feel rather than see molecules on a surface, similar to a blind person reading Braille. The needle repeatedly scans the surface to produce an image that refreshes fast enough to track how immune proteins get together and cut into the bacterial surface. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what's-old-is-new-again department
New submitter Schnapple writes: Back in 2009, id Software put Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM on the App Store, but once iOS 11 started phasing out 32-bit apps, they stopped working. Since their source code was published under the GPL, I went in and fixed them up so they would run on modern devices, and also added game controller support and ported them to tvOS so they could run on Apple TV. Then over the last year I did the same for DOOM II and Final DOOM, Quake, Quake II, Quake III: Arena, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and finally DOOM 3. I've chronicled the adventures on my blog. I can't publish them to the App Store for obvious reasons and you'll need to provide your own copy of the game data, but if anyone's interested in trying them out on Apple devices I've posted the sources to GitHub.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-metabolisms department
Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that some microbes in the Pacific Ocean actively breath arsenic. "The discovery has implications for how life may adapt to a changing climate, as well as where we might find it on other planets," reports New Atlas. From the report: The discovery was made in water samples gathered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico. After conducting genetic analyses on DNA from those samples, the team found two genetic pathways that are known to help organisms gain energy by converting one form of arsenic molecule into another, and back again. Arsenic-breathing microbes have previously been found in hot springs or lakes with high arsenic levels, but finding them in the ocean, where there isn't all that much arsenic to begin with, is quite strange.
"We've known for a long time that there are very low levels of arsenic in the ocean," says Gabrielle Rocap, co-author of the study. "But the idea that organisms could be using arsenic to make a living -- it's a whole new metabolism for the open ocean." That said, it does seem to be a very small population -- less than one percent of the microbes in these waters. They appear to be distantly related to the other arsenic-respiring species on land and in lakes, which may suggest that this survival strategy is a holdover from an ancient time, when the levels of arsenic were naturally much higher. The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
Facebook uses thousands of third-party staffers around the world to look at Facebook and Instagram posts to help train its AI and to inform new products. "But because the contractors see users' public and private posts, some view it as a violation of privacy," reports Engadget. From the report: According to Reuters, as many as 260 contract workers in Hyderabad, India have spent more than a year labeling millions of Facebook posts dating back to 2014. They look for the subject of the post, the occasion and the author's intent, and Facebook told Reuters, the company uses that information to develop new features and to potentially increase usage and ad revenue. Around the globe, Facebook has as many as 200 similar content labeling projects, many of which are used to train the company's AI.
The contractors working in Hyderabad told Reuters they see everything from text-based status updates to videos, photos and Stories across Facebook and Instagram -- including those that are shared privately. And even as Facebook embarks on its "the future is private" platform, one Facebook employee told Reuters he can't imagine the practice going away. It's a core part of training AI and developing the company's products.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-crackdown department
The RIAA has obtained a subpoena from a Columbia federal court ordering Cloudflare to hand over the IP and email addresses and all other identifying information related to several allegedly infringing users. The RIAA notes it will use the information it receives to protect the rights of its member companies. From a report: The RIAA has a long history of going after, what it sees as, pirate sites. The problem, however, is that many owners of such sites operate anonymously. The group, therefore, often has to turn to third-party intermediaries to find out more. While some services may be willing to voluntarily share information with the music industry group, many don't. Cloudflare falls into the latter category. While the CDN service does voluntarily reveal the true hosting locations of some of its users, it doesn't share any personal info. At least, not without a subpoena. Luckily for rightsholders, getting a subpoena isn't very hard in the US. Under the DMCA, copyright holders only have to ask a court clerk for a signature to be able to demand the personal information of alleged copyright infringers. That's exactly what the RIAA did last week. In a letter sent by Mark McDevitt, the RIAA's vice president of online anti-piracy, the music group informs Cloudflare that it requests personal details including names, addresses and payment information relating to the operators of six domains, which are all Cloudflare users.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Alongside sharing updates on many of its platforms, Microsoft said at its Build developer conference today that is also getting ready to release several new tools to shore up security for political parties and candidates and at the ballot box. From a report: Microsoft announced an ambitious effort it says will make voting secure, verifiable and subject to reliable audits. Two of the three top U.S elections vendors have expressed interest in potentially incorporating the open-source software into their proprietary voting systems. The software kit is being developed with Galois, an Oregon-based company separately creating a secure voting system prototype under contract with the Pentagon's advanced research agency, DARPA. Dubbed "ElectionGuard," the Microsoft kit will be available this summer, the company says, with early prototypes ready to pilot for next year's general elections. CEO Satya Nadella announced the initiative Monday at a developer's conference in Seattle. Nadella said the project's software, provided free of charge as part of Microsoft's Defending Democracy Program, would help "modernize all of the election infrastructure everywhere in the world." Microsoft also announced a cut-rate Office 365 application suite for political parties and campaigns for what it charges nonprofits. Both Microsoft and Google provide anti-phishing email support for campaigns. Three little-known U.S. companies control about 90 percent of the market for election equipment, but have long faced criticism for poor security, antiquated technology and insufficient transparency around their proprietary, black-box voting systems.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where-things-are-going department
A comprehensive United Nations report compiled by more than 450 researchers warns of a dire future for both humans and nature if business continues as usual. From a news report: Human activities have put as many as one million other species at risk of extinction, according to the first comprehensive United Nations report on global biodiversity. The report, a summary of which was released on Monday, emphasizes humanity's devastating impact on the natural world, which is accelerating extinctions at an unprecedented rate in human history. People have altered or destroyed three-quarters of land environments, two-thirds of marine habitats, and 85 percent of the most important wetland regions. This leaves few areas unaffected by human activities such as agriculture, commercial fishing, industrial pollution, and urbanization, according to the report. Meanwhile, the environmental effect of these activities -- human-driven climate change -- has disrupted the habitats of 47 percent of flightless land mammals and 23 percent of threatened birds. Ecosystems that are particularly sensitive to warmer temperatures, such as coral reefs, could be virtually wiped out worldwide over the coming decades.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department
Google is set to launch new tools to limit the use of tracking cookies, a move that could strengthen the search giant's advertising dominance and deal a blow to other digital-marketing companies, WSJ reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source.] From the report: After years of internal debate, Google could as soon as this week roll out a dashboard-like function in its Chrome browser that will give internet users more information about what cookies are tracking them and offer options to fend them off, the people said. This is a more incremental approach than less-popular browsers, such as Apple's Safari and Mozilla's Firefox, which introduced updates to restrict by default the majority of tracking cookies in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Google's move, which could be announced at its developer conference in Mountain View, Calif., starting Tuesday, is expected to be touted as part of the company's commitment to privacy -- a complicated sell, given the torrent of data it continues to store on users -- and press its sizable advantage over online-advertising rivals.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's future-of-work department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Facebook's F8 2019 developer conference dominated last week, with talk of AI and AR/VR and privacy. But the news and reactions were all largely expected, and frankly, I was disappointed there was no detail on end-to-end encryption messaging across Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. No, what really stood out for me this week was last night's Stripe announcement: Its fifth engineering hub will be remote. Stripe has decided that hiring 100 remote engineers makes more sense than hiring 100 engineers in one place. Housing and relocation certainly played a role in the decision, but not enough to just choose a location with a low cost of living. Stripe would rather hire the best 100 engineers, regardless of where they are in the world.
That's huge. It's also inevitable. Remote work is happening everywhere you look. Coffee shops and restaurants, temporary offices and co-working spaces, train stations and airports -- private and public spaces are full of people doing their job remotely. I've been thinking a lot about this, and not just because VentureBeat's editorial team is almost all remote workers. In my personal life, I've noticed a clear pattern. All my friends, and their friends, choose to "work from home" every chance they get. If their job allows once a month, they work from home once a month. If the maximum is once a week, they do exactly that. If their boss is on vacation or traveling for work, they work from home for as many days as the office environment permits. Whatever the maximum is, that's what they do.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Windows 10 is getting a new terminal for command-line users, Microsoft announced at its Build developer conference today. The new so-called "Windows Terminal" will launch in mid-June and promises to be a major update of the existing Windows Command Prompt and PowerShell experience. From a report: Indeed, it seems like the Terminal will essentially become the default environment for PowerShell, Command Prompt and Windows Subsystem for Linux users going forward. The new terminal will feature faster GPU-accelerated text rending and "emoji-rich" fonts, because everything these days needs to support emojis, and those will sure help lighten up the command-line user experience. More importantly, though, the Windows Terminal will also support shortcuts, tabs, tear-away windows and theming, as well as extensions. It also will natively support Unicode and East Asian fonts. Microsoft also unveiled a new update to WSL, a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables natively on Windows. From a report: WSL 2 is based on a Linux 4.19 kernel coming soon to Windows. This kernel uses technology built for Azure. In both cases, it helps to reduce Linux boot time and streamline memory use. In fact, Microsoft is promising developers âoetwice as much speed for file-system heavy operations, such as Node Package Manager install.â WSL 2 will also support running Linux Docker containers natively, so that VMs are no longer required. WSL 2, like Windows Terminal, is coming in mid-June.Read Replies (0)