By BeauHD from Slashdot's drop-in-the-bucket department
AT&T has been fined $5.25 million for an outage last year that resulted in 12,000 callers not being able to reach 911. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau made the announcement on Thursday, stating that "such preventable outages are unacceptable." Gizmodo reports: Aside from the fine -- which is really a drop in the bucket for the billion-dollar behemoth -- AT&T must also make changes and enhancements to its systems to mitigate and soften the blow of future outages, as well as "regularly file compliance reports with the FCC." According to FCC rules, AT&T was required to "transmit all wireless 911 calls" as well as let emergency call centers know about outages if they last longer than 30 minutes. The two AT&T 911 outages investigated by the FCC, which occurred on March 8 and May 1 of 2017, lasted about five hours and 47 minutes, respectively. Around 12,600 users were unable to complete 911 calls during the March outage, with 2,600 failed 911 calls during the May outage.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-pressure department
Some adult content creators on crowdfunding site Patreon are being suspended due to the suggestive material they produce. The platform said that they are increasing efforts to review content, due to payment processor pressure. Motherboard reports: In late 2017, Patreon expanded its adult content guidelines, to include stricter guidelines for "bestiality, incest, sexual depiction of minors, and suggestive sexual violence." At the time, it resulted in suspensions and bans of many adult content creators whose work Patreon previously permitted, but no longer fell in line with new guidelines. Now, many more adult content creators are reporting that they're experiencing a renewed wave of suspensions on the platform. Patreon's guidelines for adult content state that "all public content on your page be appropriate for all audiences," and "content with mature themes must be marked as a patron-only post." For several of these reports, Patreon warned that "implied nudity" was the reason for the suspension, where it appeared in public areas or publicly-visible patron tiers and banners. "You can't use Patreon to raise funds in order to produce pornographic material such as maintaining a website, funding the production of movies, or providing a private webcam session," the guidelines state.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's trendy-methods-of-transportation department
If you've ever visited San Jose, you may have noticed something rather unusual: there are electric scooters littering the streets. The scooters are placed randomly throughout the city and can be rented by users via an app. They're reportedly bothering pedestrians enough for the city to take notice and consider a number of possible restrictions, "including issuing revocable permits to a limited number of scooter companies such as Lime and Bird, requiring the companies to pay a deposit to cover potential scooter-involved damage to city property, and charging annual fees to operate in the city," reports The Mercury News. From the report: In recent weeks, the city has fielded complaints about people zooming down crowded sidewalks instead of riding in the street and parking scooters in front of driveways or leaving them tipped over outside stores. But the city currently doesn't have any rules governing the relatively new scooter-sharing industry, enabling both the companies and users to operate freely. In addition to paying operating fees, [...] the city wants the companies to provide multilingual customer service at all times, and to commit to addressing problems quickly. And like Ford GoBike -- which currently has an exclusive contract with San Jose to operate a docked bike sharing program in the city -- the city says scooter companies should be required to offer discounts to low-income residents and operate in what it calls "communities of concern."
To understand how and where people are riding scooters, the city says it also wants the companies to share their data, something they so far have been reluctant to part with, at least publicly. Most residents at the meeting seemed supportive of having scooters in San Jose, calling them an easy and environmentally friendly way to commute or run errands quickly.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's proof-of-concept department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A team led by Martin Fussenegger of ETH Zurich in Basel has shown that caffeine can be used as a trigger for synthetic genetic circuitry, which can then in turn do useful things for us -- even correct or treat medical conditions. For a buzz-worthy proof of concept, the team engineered a system to treat type 2 diabetes in mice with sips of coffee, specifically Nespresso Volluto coffee. Essentially, when the animals drink the coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage), a synthetic genetic system in cells implanted in their abdomens switches on. This leads to the production of a hormone that increases insulin production and lowers blood sugar levels -- thus successfully treating their diabetes after a simple morning brew.
The system, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, is just the start, Fussenegger and his colleagues suggest enthusiastically. "We think caffeine is a promising candidate in the quest for the most suitable inducer of gene expression," they write. They note that synthetic biologists like themselves have long been in pursuit of such inducers that can jolt artificial genetics. But earlier options had problems. These included antibiotics that can spur drug-resistance in bacteria and food additives that can have side effects. Caffeine, on the other hand, is non-toxic, cheap to produce, and only present in specific beverages, such as coffee and tea, they write. It's also wildly popular, with more than two billion cups of coffee poured each day worldwide.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's seeing-right-through-you department
"Suddenly, calls and texts went unreturned," writes LinkedIn's editor at large, describing a recruiter who suddenly discovered the candidate she'd wanted to hire failed to respond to 12 messages, including emails like "Please let me know that you have not been kidnapped by aliens. I'm worried about you," and even a snail-mailed greeting card. Recruiters complain that prospective employees are now borrowing a practice from dating -- and "ghosting" recruiters and employers to let them know that they're not interested.
"Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never saying more. Some accept jobs, only to not appear for the first day of work, no reason given, of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some employees leave and never return. Bosses realize they've quit only after a series of unsuccessful attempts to reach them.... Meredith Jones, an Indianapolis-based director of human resources for a national restaurant operator, now overbooks interviews, knowing up to 50 percent of candidates for entry-level roles likely won't show up."
Long-time Slashdot reader NormalVisual writes, "It'd be interesting to hear Slashdotters' experience with this."
Have you ever ghosted a potential employer, or perhaps more relevant, have you ever been ghosted by a potential employer during the hiring process? Do you feel it's unprofessional, or simple justice for the behavior of some companies when the balance of power was more on their side?
Inc. magazine blames the low unemployment rate and "the effects technology have had on the communication style of younger generations." But leave your own thoughts in the comments.
Does ghosting show a lack of professionalism, or is it simple payback for the way corporations treated job-seekers in the past? And have you ever "ghosted" an employer?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department
An anonymous reader quotes the Independent:
Millions of people face the prospect of being scanned by police facial recognition technology that has sparked human rights concerns. The controversial software, which officers use to identify suspects, has been found to be "staggeringly inaccurate", while campaigners have branded its use a violation of privacy. But Britain's largest police force is set to expand a trial across six locations in London over the coming months.
Police leaders claimed officers make the decision to act on potential matches with police records and images that do not spark an alert are immediately deleted. But last month The Independent revealed the Metropolitan Police's software was returning "false positives" -- images of people who were not on a police database -- in 98 percent of alerts... Detective Superintendent Bernie Galopin, the lead on facial recognition for London's Metropolitan Police, said the operation was targeting wanted suspects to help reduce violent crime and make the area safer. "It allows us to deal with persons that are wanted by police where traditional methods may have failed," he told The Independent, after statistics showed police were failing to solve 63 per cent of knife crimes committed against under-25s....
Det Supt Galopin said the Met was assessing how effective facial recognition was at tackling different challenges in British policing, which is currently being stretched by budget cuts, falling officer numbers, rising demand and the terror threat.
A policy officer from the National Council for Civil Liberties called the technology "lawless," adding "the use of this technology in a public place is not compatible with privacy, and has a chilling effect on society."
< article continued at Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-so-cold-cases department
schwit1 tipped us off to new arrests made with genealogical evidence -- and growing interest in open source genealogy databases. Fast Company reports:
In the last week, police have arrested two suspects in unrelated cold cases thanks to data gleaned from open-source ancestry site GEDMatch, reports the New York Times. That's the same open-source ancestry site that was used to track down the alleged Golden State Killer earlier this year. One of the arrests this week was of a 66-year-old nurse who is suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl in 1986. The other arrest is of a 49-year-old DJ who strangled a schoolteacher in 1992. Thanks to data from GEDMatch, Texas law enforcement also thinks that a man who was executed in 1999 for killing a 9-year-old girl was now also behind the murder of a 40-year-old realtor in 1981.
It all reminds me of that scene in "The Circle" where they demo technology that finds "a randomly-selected fugitive from justice -- a proven menace to our global community" -- within 20 minutes.
Last month DNA-based investigations also led to the arrest of the suspected murderer of two vacationers in 1987, and helped identify a suicide cold case from 2001.
Now an Ohio newspaper reports:
Emboldened by that breakthrough, a number of private investigators are spearheading a call for amateur genealogists to help solve other cold cases by contributing their own genetic information to the same public database. They say a larger array of genetic information would widen the pool to find criminals who have eluded capture. The idea is to get people to transfer profiles compiled by commercial genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe onto the smaller, public open-source database created in 2010, called GEDmatch. The commercial sites require authorities to obtain search warrants for the information; the public site does not.
But the push is running up against privacy concerns.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-the-web-Googley department
Long-time software guru Dave Winer is criticizing Google's plans to deprecate HTTP (by, for example, penalizing sites that use HTTP instead of HTTPS in search results and flagging them as "insecure" in Chrome). Winer writes:
A lot of the web consists of archives. Files put in places that no one maintains. They just work. There's no one there to do the work that Google wants all sites to do. And some people have large numbers of domains and sub-domains hosted on all kinds of software Google never thought about. Places where the work required to convert wouldn't be justified by the possible benefit. The reason there's so much diversity is that the web is an open thing, it was never owned....
If Google succeeds, it will make a lot of the web's history inaccessible. People put stuff on the web precisely so it would be preserved over time. That's why it's important that no one has the power to change what the web is. It's like a massive book burning, at a much bigger scale than ever done before.
"Many of these sites don't collect user data or provide user interaction," adds Slashdot reader saccade.com, "so the 'risks' of not using HTTPS are irrelevant." And Winer summarizes his position in three points.
The web is an open platform, not a corporate platform.
It is defined by its stability. 25-plus years and it's still going strong.
Google is a guest on the web, as we all are. Guests don't make the rules.
"The web is a social agreement not to break things," Winer writes. "It's served us for 25 years. I don't want to give it up because a bunch of nerds at Google think they know best."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's code-in-the-middle-attacks department
An anonymous reader quotes ITWire:
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's taken-for-a-ride department
CNET reports on what happened when a new Uber driver received a call from Uber telling him to cancel the trip and verify his account:
The caller asked for his email. He gave it. The caller asked for his Uber account password. He gave him that, too, after a brief hesitation. Then the caller said to tell him the confirmation code he'd be receiving shortly via text. The driver told him the code once he got the text. This was the two-factor authentication needed to get into the driver's Uber account. "Nothing happened for the rest of the week," the driver says. "I didn't think anything of this again until Saturday." But in those following three days, the scammer had changed the driver's account settings and waited for the perfect time to withdraw money.... By Saturday night, his $653.88 in earnings from that week had been nabbed from his account...
Apparently the scam has hit thousands of ride-hail drivers, and millions of dollars have been diverted from their accounts, according to a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York's federal court last November... [A] couple of key elements about Uber make it possible. When passengers hail a ride with Uber, they see the name of the driver and the car's make, model and license number, and they get an anonymized phone number to call the driver. All of this ensures passengers safely connect with the right driver. But it also makes it possible for the wrong people to see lots of information about drivers.
When one of the scam victims complained to Uber, he "was told he had to wait until Monday when he could talk to a representative in person at one of its driver hubs," although eventually Uber "agreed to credit the $653.88 back to his account as a 'one-time repayment courtesy.'"
< article continued at Slashdot's taken-for-a-ride department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's screen's-early-light department
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times:
We've hit what I call Peak Screen. For much of the last decade, a technology industry ruled by smartphones has pursued a singular goal of completely conquering our eyes. It has given us phones with ever-bigger screens and phones with unbelievable cameras, not to mention virtual reality goggles and several attempts at camera-glasses. Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity. Americans spend three to four hours a day looking at their phones and about 11 hours a day looking at screens of any kind.
So tech giants are building the beginning of something new: a less insistently visual tech world, a digital landscape that relies on voice assistants, headphones, watches and other wearables to take some pressure off our eyes. This could be a nightmare; we may simply add these new devices to our screen-addled lives. But depending on how these technologies develop, a digital ecosystem that demands less of our eyes could be better for everyone -- less immersive, less addictive, more conducive to multitasking, less socially awkward, and perhaps even a salve for our politics and social relations. Who will bring us this future? Amazon and Google are clearly big players, but don't discount the company that got us to Peak Screen in the first place. With advances to the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones, Apple is slowly and almost quietly creating an alternative to its phones... If it works, it could change everything again.
Warning that screens are insatiable vampires for your attention, the piece argues we should be using our phones more mindfully -- and exploring "less immersive ways to interact with the digital world" like Google and Amazon voice assisants.
"The sooner we find something else, the better."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's San-Francisco-treats department
The new tallest building on the San Francisco skyline -- and the tallest building in America west of the Mississippi -- includes a nine-story electronic sculpture that's been called the tallest piece of public art on Earth. It uses 11,000 LED bulbs reflected off the tower-topping aluminum panels -- each pixel created by a set of red, green, blue and white lights controlled by 8-bit PIC microcontrollers. "On a clear night, the show is visible for 30 miles," reports IEEE Spectrum.
Slashdot reader Tekla Perry shares their article about "the technology involved in the light show at the top of Salesforce Tower. Electrical engineer and artist Jim Campbell explains it all -- and how the window-washer problem stumped him for nearly a year."
"[O]n the 62nd floor, a central PC-based computer runs Ubuntu Linux, sending instructions to a communications control system that splits the data and sends it at 11 Mbit to the 32 enclosures using a custom communications protocol... We will capture images throughout the day, sending them to Amazon's cloud, and run some algorithms designed to identify visual interesting-ness. For example, at its simplest, when we look at the sky, if it's all blue, it's boring, if it's all white, it's boring, if it has white and blue it is likely to be interesting. We'll chose the best half hour of the day at each camera, based on movement and color, to display...."
And finally, when the main display shuts down late at night, another system designed by Campbell will kick in. In this static display, a set of 36 white LEDs will create a three-dimensional constellation of lights that will look like stars. "It's quieter, it has a random aspect to it," he says.
< article continued at Slashdot's San-Francisco-treats department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's patching-things-up department
"Despite Microsoft's assurances, Windows 10 1803 isn't ready for prime time," writes ComputerWorld's Woody Leonhard, adding "Microsoft's patches in June took on some unexpected twists..."
Win10 1803 was declared fully fit for business, a pronouncement that was followed weeks later by fixes for a few glaring, acknowledged bugs -- and stony silence for other known problems. We're continuing the two-big-cumulative-updates-a-month pace for all supported versions of Windows 10. The second cumulative update frequently fixes bugs introduced by the first cumulative update. Microsoft may think that Win10 (1803) is ready for widespread deployment, but there are a few folks who would take issue with that stance...
Tuesday, Microsoft finally released a fix for two big bugs that have dogged Win10 1803 since its inception... In practice, life isn't so simple. WSUS (the Windows Update Server software) isn't "seeing" KB 4284848, as of late Wednesday afternoon -- which may be a good thing. Along with the second cumulative update this month, there are additional releases to fix the Servicing Stack, and a new "Compatibility update" that, per the documentation, is designed to make it easier to upgrade Win10 1803 Enterprise to Win10 1803 Enterprise (not a typo)...
One problem that has been acknowledged -- but only by a Microsoft Agent on an Answers Forum post -- says that installing 1803 can clobber your peer-to-peer network. That certainly matches my experience.
Woody concludes, "If you think Win10 1803 is ready for prime time, you're welcome to give it a try."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 20-second-rule department
97% of us don't wash our hands properly, a new government study concludes. An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
The study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows most consumers failed to wash their hands and rub with soap for 20 seconds. That's the amount of time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that washing for shorter periods means fewer germs are removed. "Numerous" study participants also didn't dry their hands with a clean towel.
The study involved 383 people in six test kitchen facilities in the metro Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and in rural Smithfield, North Carolina, the USDA said... About half the time, participants spread bacteria to spice containers while preparing burgers, and 11% of the time, they spread bacteria to refrigerator handles... The results from the USDA's study indicate our hand-washing habits may be getting worse. A study done in 2013 by Michigan State University found only 5% of people washed their hands correctly....
A separate study released this month found 49 of 100 towels tested showed growth of bacteria normally found in or on the human body.
CNN helpfully provides the proper method for handwashing. (Wet hands, lather them with soap -- between fingers and under fingernails -- and then scrub for at least 20 seconds.) They recommend singing the alphabet song once or "Happy Birthday" twice.
Just in America, foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million people each year, sending 128,000 to hospitals and resulting in 3,000 deaths.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's magic-disappearing-money department
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Bitcoin's value slid to its lowest level since November on Friday, as waning investor interest and recent negative headlines from global regulators weakened demand for the cryptocurrency and most of its rivals. Virtual currencies, including the best-known and biggest, bitcoin, have been stuck in a downward trend for most of 2018 after last year's frenzied interest fizzled. Recent hacks and the "cyber intrusion" of cryptocurrency exchanges in key Asian markets has also encouraged investors to exit.
Bitcoin fell to as low as $5,774 on the Bitstamp exchange, the lowest since November 12... So far in 2018, bitcoin has tumbled almost 60 percent after soaring more than 1,300 percent last year. It is now down 70 percent from its December peak... The total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies has fallen to around $230 billion from a peak of around $800 billion in January.
Will Hobbs, Head of Investment Strategy at Barclays Smart Investor, now tells Reuters that "None of the crypto currencies currently fulfill any of the criteria that we would look for in an investible asset, and we would continue to advise extreme caution. The rout in crypto currencies is still not finished."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's space-rocks department
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East reports:
India's space program wants to go where no nation has gone before -- to the south side of the moon. And once it gets there, it will study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars. The nation's equivalent of NASA will launch a rover in October to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyze crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. That isotope is limited on Earth yet so abundant on the moon that it theoretically could meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed....
[A]ccomplishing feats on the cheap has been a hallmark of the agency since the 1960s. The upcoming mission will cost about $125 million -- or less than a quarter of Snap Inc. co-founder Evan Spiegel's compensation last year, the highest for an executive of a publicly traded company, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index... The upcoming launch of Chandrayaan-2 includes an orbiter, lander and a rectangular rover. The six-wheeled vehicle, powered by solar energy, will collect information for at least 14 days and cover an area with a 400-meter radius. The rover will send images to the lander, and the lander will transmit those back to ISRO for analysis. A primary objective, though, is to search for deposits of helium-3. Solar winds have bombarded the moon with immense quantities of helium-3 because it's not protected by a magnetic field like Earth is.
The European Space Agency points out that helium-3 isotope isn't radioactive and "would not produce dangerous waste products." And one former member of the NASA Advisory Council estimates that the moon-derived fuel could generate enough power to meet the world's energy demands for between two at least two centuries.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Uber-for-coders department
"Where I can meet up with people who just need solutions implemented?" asks Slashdot reader datavirtue:
Somewhere people can go when they have a solution designed in-house with documented requirements and are in need of a competent engineer(s) to assist with implementation. Where timelines and price estimates and rates are well defined and enforced. If they like me, and agree to the terms, we can proceed with the project -- expecting solid deliveries at each milestone....
I have been on some gig projects where the relationship was well structured by a third party and it was a lot of fun. I know a lot of engineers who would use a system like this if it streamlines entering the freelance tech market for them. People who would rarely take gigs otherwise. I have looked around but the services feel dead. I have been approached by startups in the past wanting to sign me up their service...but they didn't really go anywhere.
The original submission complains that many projects end up going to consulting firms that just scrounge up candidates from job boards. But what's the alternative? "Am I missing some great online community or website that has already solved this?"
Leave your own thoughts in the comments. Is there a 'gig economy' site for tech skills?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pointing-and-clicking department
An anonymous reader quotes HotHardware:
Every so often, a company will tap into our penchant for nostalgia. That is the case right now with Microsoft bringing back its iconic IntelliMouse, which was first introduced back in 1996... Microsoft continued to update the IntelliMouse for several years, up through 2003 when it released the IntelliMouse 3.0. The new 'Classic IntellMouse' for 2018 is based on that 15-year-old design with the same classic ergonomic look and feel, but with improved performance and features built around modern technology.
So, what exactly is different? "We improved two really important factors, the tracking sensor and the tactility and feel of the buttons. What we know our fans will see and feel is that it's the exact same shape and size of the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 from 2003. However, underneath the hood it's all brand-new technology, brand new mechanical engineering and brand-new structures so it's a lot more rigid than the original. The build quality is really excellent," Microsft explains.
HardOCP notes that Microsoft has also released "a fantastic Rube Goldberg machine video unveiling the mouse."Read Replies (0)