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Amazon Will Soon Stop Selling Google's 'Nest' Smart Home Products
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 09:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's leaving-the-nest department:
An anonymous reader quotes The Verge:
Nest products won't be sold by Amazon.com any longer once current stock runs out, according to a report from Business Insider. Amazon last year declined to offer some of Nest's newer products like the Nest Cam IQ and latest-generation smart thermostat. After weeks of simply ignoring the products and being unresponsive to Nest, Amazon informed the company of its decision by phone late in the year and said the directive "came from the top," something Nest took to mean it had been handed down by CEO Jeff Bezos. There has been no direct confirmation of this, however. As a result, Nest has decided to halt further restocks at Amazon once remaining product inventory is exhausted. It's unclear whether third-party sellers will continue selling Nest gadgets, but Amazon itself will not. In removing itself from Amazon, Nest's reasoning is that the powerful retailer should be selling its entire product family or nothing at all. The Verge calls it a "dumb, anti-consumer feud."

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'Java EE' Has Been Renamed 'Jakarta EE'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 07:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's naming-conventions department:
An anonymous reader quotes i-Programmer:
The results are in for the vote on the new name for Java Enterprise Edition, and unsurprisingly the voters have chosen Jakarta EE. The renaming has to happen because Oracle refused to let the name Java be used. The vote was to choose between two options - 'Jakarta EE' and 'Enterprise Profile'. According to Mike Milinkovich, executive director at the Eclipse Foundation, almost 7,000 people voted, and over 64% voted in favour of Jakarta EE. The other finalist, "Enterprise Profile," came in at just 35.6% of the votes when voted ended last Friday.

"Other Java projects have also been renamed in Eclipse," notes SD Times. "Glassfish is now Eclipse Glassfish. The Java Community Process is now the Eclipse EE.next Working Group, and Oracle development management is now Eclipse Enterprise for Java Project Management Committee."

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Playboy Drops Its Copyright Case Against Boing Boing
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 07:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-so-wonderful-things department:
An anonymous reader quotes the EFF:
Playboy Entertainment has given up on its lawsuit against Happy Mutants, LLC, the company behind Boing Boing. Earlier this month, a federal court dismissed Playboy's claims but gave Playboy permission to try again with a new complaint, if it could dig up some new facts. The deadline for filing that new complaint passed this week, and today Playboy released a statement suggesting that it is standing down...

It's hard to understand why Playboy brought this case in the first place, turning its legal firepower on a small news and commentary website that hadn't uploaded or hosted any infringing content. We're also a little perplexed as to why Playboy seems so unhappy that the Boing Boing post is still up when the links they complain about have been dead for almost two years.

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EU Warns Tech Giants To Remove Terror Content in 1 Hour -- or Else
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 07:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's holding-companies-accountable department:
The European Union issued internet giants an ultimatum to remove illegal online terrorist content within an hour, or risk facing new EU-wide laws. From a report: The European Commission on Thursday issued a set of recommendations for companies and EU nations that apply to all forms of illegal internet material, "from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement. Considering that terrorist content is most harmful in the first hours of its appearance online, all companies should remove such content within one hour from its referral as a general rule.â The commission last year called upon social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google owner Alphabet, to develop a common set of tools to detect, block and remove terrorist propaganda and hate speech. Thursday's recommendations aim to "further step up" the work already done by governments and push firms to "redouble their efforts to take illegal content off the web more quickly and efficiently."

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Twitter Asks For Help Fixing Its Toxicity Problem
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 07:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-giving-up department:
Engadget: Twitter has come under a lot of fire in recent years for issues ranging from not doing enough to stop harassment on its platform to allowing foreign actors to sow political discord. In the past, the company has tweaked its tools, giving individuals more options when it comes to controlling what they're exposed to online, as well as updated its guidelines a handful of times. But today, Twitter announced it's trying out another route -- asking people outside of the company to propose ways that it can promote healthy, open and civil conversations online. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted today that the company isn't proud of how some have taken advantage of its service, specifically calling out troll armies, misinformation campaigns and bots. And he added that Twitter has been accused of apathy, censorship and political bias as it has attempted to fix its problems.

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Stars Billions Of Years Old Drop Big Clue To Early Universe
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 07:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's unravelling-mysteries department:
Astronomers have picked up a radio signal from the moment the lights went on in the universe billions of years ago, and they've discovered some surprises embedded in it. No, not aliens, but potential evidence of something just as mysterious and elusive. From a report: Using a sensitive antenna only about the size of a table in the Australian desert, scientists managed to isolate the very faint signal of primordial hydrogen, part of the cosmic afterglow from the Big Bang. But the ancient signal from this basic building block of the universe also carries the imprint of some of the first light from the very first stars ever. "This is the first real signal that stars are starting to form, and starting to affect the medium around them," Alan Rogers, a scientist at MIT's Haystack Observatory, said in a statement. "What's happening in this period is that some of the radiation from the very first stars is starting to allow hydrogen to be seen. It's causing hydrogen to start absorbing the background radiation, so you start seeing it in silhouette, at particular radio frequencies." Rogers is a co-author of a paper on the work published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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Snap Said To Skip Bonuses, Combat Morale Slump After Rough Year
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '18 at 07:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-Facebook department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: On Wednesday, Snap (parent company of messaging service Snapchat) sent employees a survey asking a broad set of questions to understand what they're happy about, what they want to improve, and what they want to say, anonymously, one year after the company's initial public offering. Grievances will be aired. Just last month, the company reported revenue that beat Wall Street's projections for the first time, causing the stock to surge 47 percent. Internally, the picture isn't as celebratory. The year involved a complete rethinking of the advertising business, an exodus of top executives, a broadly critiqued redesign of the Snapchat photo-sharing application and stiff competition from Facebook's Instagram, leaving the shares close to their IPO price. While Snap topped Wall Street's estimates last quarter, employees were told they didn't beat internal goals -- and wouldn't be getting cash bonuses, according to people familiar with the matter. Snap's internal targets weren't defined for employees, but that wasn't a surprise at a company where Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel tightly controls aspects of the business he cares about -- especially the spread of information, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. There is a sense among employees that since going public, Snap has only become more beholden to the one shareholder who matters: Spiegel.

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SEC Reportedly Subpoenas Companies and Advisers Over ICOs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 11:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tightening-things department:
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued subpoenas and information requests to "scores" of companies and advisors involved with initial coin offerings (ICOs) and digital token sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Equifax Identifies Additional 2.4 Million Customers Hit By Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 10:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's gift-that-keeps-giving department:
Credit score giant Equifax said on Thursday it had identified another 2.4 million U.S. consumers whose names and driver's license information were stolen in a data breach last year that affected half the U.S. population. From a report: The company said it was able confirm the identities of U.S. consumers whose driver's license information was taken by referencing other information in proprietary company records that the attackers did not steal. "Equifax will notify these newly identified U.S. consumers directly, and will offer identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services at no cost to them," the company said.

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Your Love of Your Old Smartphone Is a Problem for Apple and Samsung
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 10:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The smartphone industry has a culprit to blame for slumping sales: Its old devices remain too popular. From a report: Flashy phones of yesteryear, particularly Apple's iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy S handsets, are getting refurbished, and U.S. consumers are snapping them up. Many shoppers are balking at price tags for new phones pushing $1,000, and improvements on latest launches in many cases haven't impressed [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. As more people hold on to devices longer, new smartphone shipments plunged to historic lows at the end of 2017. "Smartphones now resemble the car industry very closely," said Sean Cleland, director of mobile at B-Stock Solutions, the world's largest platform for trade-in and overstock phones, based in Redwood City, Calif. "I still want to drive a Mercedes, but I'll wait a couple of years to buy the older model. Same mentality." Another trend borrowed from the car industry that has helped consumers get around sticker shock: leasing. Instead of buying new phones, Sprint and T-Mobile allow subscribers to effectively lease them, allowing them to trade up for the latest device. That option, though, hasn't yet gone mainstream. [...] Second-hand phones long found their way to Africa, India and other developing markets. But now, U.S. buyers represent 93% of the purchases made at second-hand phone online auctions run by B-Stock, compared with an about-even split between the U.S. and the rest of the world in 2013. Samsung and Apple together sell more than one out of every three phones globally and capture about 95% of the industry's profits. U.S. consumers, spurred by two-year carrier contracts and phone subsidies, were upgrading every 23 months as recently as 2014, according to BayStreet Research, which tracks device sales. Now, people are holding onto their phones for an extra eight months. By next year, the time gap is estimated to widen to 33 months, BayStreet says.

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Desktop PC Shipments Dip Below 100m/Year
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 10:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department:
Desktop PC shipments dipped below 100 million in 2017 and there's worse to come across the personal computing device market according to analyst firm IDC. From a report: The company on Wednesday published a summary of its Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker for 2017's final quarter in which it totted up shipments for the year across all forms of PC and slate-style tablets. The headline figure was a 2.7 per cent year-over-year decline. The firm said "commercial PC renewal momentum remained as the main catalyst in a market that was also tempered by lackluster demand for legacy form factor devices and component shortages." There was a little good news in 2017 with growth in notebook sales, as they grew more strongly than in any year since 2012, but the overall picture was poor.

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Best Buy To Close All 250 of Its Smaller, Mobile Phone Stores
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 10:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's makes-sense department:
Best Buy is planning to close all of its roughly 250 smaller-format mobile phone stores, CEO Hubert Joly said to employees Wednesday in an internal memo, which was reviewed by CNBC. From a report: The stores, which are about 1,400 square feet in size compared with Best Buy's bigger boxes of 40,000 square feet, are scheduled to close by the end of May, he said. The mobile stores are almost exclusively located within malls, with a few scattered throughout open-air strip centers. "We feel good about the opportunity to retain customers and transition them to another one of our sales channels," Joly wrote to workers. "85 percent of existing standalone Mobile stores are within three miles of a Big Box store."

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AI Cheats at Old Atari Games By Finding Unknown Bugs in the Code
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 04:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's damn-you-bots department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: AI research and video games are a match made in heaven. Researchers get a ready-made virtual environment with predefined goals they can control completely, and the AI agent gets to romp around without doing any damage. Sometimes, though, they do break things. Case in point is a paper published this week by a trio of machine learning researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany. They were exploring a particular method of teaching AI agents to navigate video games (in this case, desktop ports of old Atari titles from the 1980s) when they discovered something odd. The software they were testing discovered a bug in the port of the retro video game Q*bert that allowed it to rack up near infinite points. As the trio describe in the paper, published on pre-print server arXiv, the agent was learning how to play Q*bert when it discovered an "interesting solution." Normally, in Q*bert, players jump from cube to cube, with this action changing the platforms' colors. Change all the colors (and dispatch some enemies), and you're rewarded with points and sent to the next level. The AI found a better way, though: "First, it completes the first level and then starts to jump from platform to platform in what seems to be a random manner. For a reason unknown to us, the game does not advance to the second round but the platforms start to blink and the agent quickly gains a huge amount of points (close to 1 million for our episode time limit)."

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Even With Double the Subscribers, Spotify Says Apple Will Always Have an Edge Owning the App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '18 at 02:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-road-ahead department:
On Wednesday, Spotify filed for a direct listing in the U.S., sidestepping the traditional IPO process, and now we're starting to see some of the true financial guts of the company -- and some of the significant risks it faces from challenging services from Apple and Google. From a report: Apple, for example, charges apps a percentage of revenue for subscriptions processed through the App Store. Apple Music, meanwhile, will always deliver Apple 100 percent of the subscription revenue that it receives from subscribers (sans record fees and all that kind of stuff, of course). Apple, too, has a direct integration with its iOS devices and also a huge amount of brand recognition, even though Spotify is a massive service. Spotify says it has 159 million monthly active users and 71 million premium subscribers, while Apple has 36 million paying subscribers as of February 2018. Spotify said, "In addition, Apple and Google also own application store platforms and are charging in-application purchase fees, which are not being levied on their own applications, thus creating a competitive advantage for themselves against us. As the market for on-demand music on the internet and mobile and connected devices increases, new competitors, business models, and solutions are likely to emerge."

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YouTube's New Moderators Mistakenly Pull Right-Wing Channels
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '18 at 08:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's whoopsie-daisy department:
In December, said it would assign more than 10,000 people to moderate content in an attempt to curb its child exploitation problem. Today, Bloomberg reports that those new moderators mistakenly removed several videos and some channels from right-wing, pro-gun video producers and outlets in the midst of a nationwide debate on gun control. From the report: Some YouTube channels recently complained about their accounts being pulled entirely. On Wednesday, the Outline highlighted accounts, including Titus Frost, that were banned from the video site. Frost tweeted on Wednesday that a survivor of the shooting, David Hogg, is an actor. Jerome Corsi of right-wing conspiracy website Infowars said on Tuesday that YouTube had taken down one of his videos and disabled his live stream. Shutting entire channels would have marked a sweeping policy change for YouTube, which typically only removes channels in extreme circumstances and focuses most disciplinary action on specific videos. But YouTube said some content was taken down by mistake. The site didnâ(TM)t address specific cases and itâ(TM)s unclear if it meant to take action on the accounts of Frost and Corsi. "As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals," a YouTube spokeswoman wrote in an email. "Weâ(TM)re continuing to enforce our existing policies regarding harmful and dangerous content, they have not changed. Weâ(TM)ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error."

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Germany Says Government Network Was Breached
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '18 at 06:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remote-control department:
An anonymous reader shares a report from The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): German authorities said on Wednesday they were investigating a security breach of the government's highly protected computer network. The country's intelligence agencies were examining attacks on more than one government ministry, the interior ministry said, adding that the affected departments had been informed and that the attack had been isolated and brought under control. Earlier on Wednesday, the German news agency DPA reported that German security services had discovered a breach of the government's IT network in December and traced it back to state-sponsored Russian hackers. German companies have been the target of sustained attacks by state-sponsored hackers, mainly believed to be Chinese. In 2015, the Bundestag, parliament's lower house, suffered a extensive breach, leading to the theft of several gigabytes of data by what German security officials believe were Russian cyberthieves. Hackers believed to be part of the Russia-linked APT28 group sought to infiltrate the computer systems of several German political parties in 2016, Germany's domestic intelligence agency said in 2016.

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AI Will Create New Jobs But Skills Must Shift, Say Tech Giants
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '18 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's future-estimates department:
AI will create more jobs than it destroys was the not-so-subtle rebuttal from tech giants to growing concern over the impact of automation technologies on employment. Execs from Google, IBM and Salesforce were questioned about the wider societal implications of their technologies during a panel session here at Mobile World Congress. From a report: Behshad Behzadi, who leads the engineering teams working on Google's eponymously named AI voice assistant, claimed many jobs will be "complemented" by AI, with AI technologies making it "easier" for humans to carry out tasks. "For sure there is some shift in the jobs. There's lots of jobs which will [be created which don't exist today]. Think about flight attendant jobs before there was planes and commercial flights. No one could really predict that this job will appear. So there are jobs which will be appearing of that type that are related to the AI," he said. "I think the topic is a super important topic. How jobs and AI is related -- I don't think it's one company or one country which can solve it alone. It's all together we could think about this topic," he added. "But it's really an opportunity, it's not a threat." "From IBM's perspective we firmly believe that every profession will be impacted by AI. There's no question. We also believe that there will be more jobs created," chimed in Bob Lord, IBM's chief digital officer. "We also believe that there'll be more jobs created.

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US Response 'Hasn't Changed The Calculus' Of Russian Interference, NSA Chief Says
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '18 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's state-of-things department:
An anonymous reader shares an NPR report: The admiral in charge of both the nation's top electronic spying agency and the Pentagon's cybersecurity operations would seem a logical point man for countering Russia's digital intrusions in U.S. election campaigns. But National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday there is only so much he can do. That is because, according to Rogers, President Trump has not ordered him to go after the Russian attacks at their origin. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the committee's ranking Democrat, asked Rogers, "Have you been directed to do so, given this strategic threat that faces the United States and the significant consequences you recognize already?" "No, I have not," Rogers replied. But the spy chief pushed back on suggestions that he should seek a presidential signoff. "I am not going to tell the president what he should or should not do," Rogers said when Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal pressed him on whether Trump should approve that authority. "I'm an operational commander, not a policymaker," he added. "That's the challenge for me as a military commander." Rogers agreed with Blumenthal's estimation that Russian cyber operatives continue to attack the U.S. with impunity and that Washington's response has fallen short. "It hasn't changed the calculus, is my sense," the spy chief told Blumenthal. "It certainly hasn't generated the change in behavior that I think we all know we need."

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End of Flash? Its Usage Among Chrome Users Has Declined From 80% in 2014 to Under 8% as of Early 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '18 at 10:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's good-riddance department:
An anonymous reader writes: The percentage of daily Chrome users who've loaded at least one page containing Flash content per day has gone down from around 80% in 2014 to under 8% in early 2018. These statistics on Flash's declining numbers were shared with the public by Parisa Tabriz, Director of Engineering at Google, one of the Google bigwigs in charge of Chrome's security. Google plans to ship Flash disabled-by-default with Chrome 76 (July 2019) and remove it completely in Chrome 87 (December 2020).

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MPAA Wants Filmmakers To Pay Licenses, Not Rip Blu-rays
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '18 at 10:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's keep-the-revenue-flowing department:
An anonymous reader writes: Late last year several filmmaker groups asked the US Copyright Office to lift some of the current DMCA circumvention restrictions, so they can rip and use clips from Blu-rays and other videos without repercussions. In the US, people risk bypassing DMCA's anti-circumvention when they rip a DVD or Blu-ray disc. (There are some exemptions, such as educational and other types of fair use, but the line between legal and illegal is not always clear, some argue.) Not everyone agrees with this assessment though. A group of "joint creators and copyright owners" which includes Hollywood's MPAA, the RIAA, and ESA don't think this is a good idea and point out that filmmakers have plenty of other options. The MPAA and the other groups point out that the exemption could be used by filmmakers to avoid paying licensing fees, which can be quite expensive.

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