By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department
PepsiCo is kicking off a four-year restructuring plan that is expected to cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in severance pay. "This week, PepsiCo employees in offices including Plano, Texas, and the company's headquarters in Purchase, New York, were alerted that they are being laid off," reports Business Insider, citing two people directly impacted by the layoffs.
The latest job cuts come after CFO Hugh Johnston told CNBC that the company plans to lay off workers in positions that can be automated. CEO Ramon Laguarta said on Friday that PepsiCo is "relentlessly automating and merging the best of our optimized business models with the best new thinking and technologies." From a report: This week, PepsiCo employees in offices including Plano, Texas, and the company's headquarters in Purchase, New York, were alerted that they are being laid off, according to two people who were directly impacted by the layoffs. These two workers were granted anonymity in order to speak frankly without risking professional ramifications. At least some of the workers who were alerted about layoffs will continue to work at PepsiCo until late April as they train their replacements in the coming weeks, the two workers told Business Insider.
By PepsiCo's own estimates, the company's layoffs are expected to be a multimillion-dollar project in 2019. Last Friday, PepsiCo announced in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it is expected to incur $2.5 billion in pretax restructuring costs through 2023, with 70% of charges linked to severance and other employee costs. The company is also planning to close factories, with an additional 15% tied to plant closures and "related actions." Roughly $800 million of the $2.5 billion is expected to impact 2019 results, in addition to the $138 million that was included in 2018 results, the company said in the SEC filing.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lock-and-load-with-bloatware department
Verizon is asking the FCC to let it keep new smartphones locked to its network for 60 days, as part of an initiative to prevent identify theft and fraud. "After the 60-day period, the phones would unlock automatically, the telecom says in a note published to its website and authored by Ronan Dunne, Verizon's executive vice president," reports The Verge. "Verizon says it should have the authority to do this under the so-called 'C-block rules' put in place following the FCC's 2008 wireless spectrum auction." From the report: "We believe this temporary lock on new phones will protect our customers by limiting the incentive for identity theft. At the same time, a temporary lock will have virtually no impact on our legitimate customers' ability to use their devices," Dunne writes. "Almost none of our customers switch to another carrier within the first 60 days. Even with this limited fraud safety check, Verizon will still have the most consumer-friendly unlocking policy in the industry. All of our main competitors lock their customers' new devices for a period of time and require that they are fully paid off before unlocking."
Verizon is just putting itself in line with the rest of the industry here. AT&T already requires your phone be activated for 60 days for you to unlock it, and the company even requires you to wait two weeks to unlock your old phone if you're upgrading to a new one. T-Mobile requires you wait 40 days, and also limits users to two unlocks per year per line. Sprint has a 50-day limit, and only unlocks devices from the onset if the phones are prepaid.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department
Earlier this week, the FCC proclaimed that broadband connectivity saw unprecedented growth last year thanks to the agency's policies like killing net neutrality. But, as Motherboard points out, that's not entirely true. The lion's share of improvements highlighted by the agency "are courtesy of DOCSIS 3.1 cable upgrades, most of which began before Pai even took office and have nothing to do with FCC policy," the report says. "Others are likely courtesy of build-out conditions affixed to AT&T's merger with DirecTV, again the result of policies enacted before Pai was appointed head of the current FCC." Also, last year's FCC report, which showcased data up to late 2016, "showed equal and in some instances faster growth in rural broadband deployment -- despite Pai having not been appointed yet." From the report: The broadband industry's biggest issue remains a lack of competition. That lack of competition results in Americans paying some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world, something the agency routinely fails to mention and does so again here. [...] Still, Pai was quick to take a victory lap in the agency release. "For the past two years, closing the digital divide has been the FCC's top priority," Pai said in a press release. "We've been tackling this problem by removing barriers to infrastructure investment, promoting competition, and providing efficient, effective support for rural broadband expansion through our Connect America Fund. This report shows that our approach is working." One of those supposed "barriers to broadband investment" were the former FCC's net neutrality rules designed to keep natural monopolies like Comcast from behaving anti-competitively.
< article continued at Slashdot's he-said-she-said department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-jump-chip department
Developers and Intel officials have told Axios that Apple is expected to move its Mac line to custom ARM-based chips as soon as next year. "Bloomberg offered a bit more specificity on things in a report on Wednesday, saying that the first ARM-based Macs could come in 2020, with plans to offer developers a way to write a single app that can run across iPhones, iPads and Macs by 2021," reports Axios. "The first hints of the effort came last year when Apple offered a sneak peek at its plan to make it easier for developers to bring iPad apps to the Mac." From the report: If anything, the Bloomberg timeline suggests that Intel might actually have more Mac business in 2020 than some had been expecting. The key question is not the timeline but just how smoothly Apple is able to make the shift. For developers, it will likely mean an awkward period of time supporting new and classic Macs as well as new and old-style Mac apps. The move could give developers a way to reach a bigger market with a single app, although the transition could be bumpy. For Intel, of course, it would mean the loss of a significant customer, albeit probably not a huge hit to its bottom line.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's less-than-a-week-away department
NASA and SpaceX have agreed to move forward with the first unmanned test flight of SpaceX's new passenger capsule, the Crew Dragon. It is set to launch on March 2nd out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. "If the capsule successfully makes it to orbit, SpaceX will be one crucial step closer to putting the first humans on board its spacecraft," reports The Verge. From the report: This flight, called Demonstration Mission-1, or DM-1, is a major milestone for NASA's Commercial Crew program, an initiative to send NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard private vehicles. Since the Shuttle program ended, NASA has relied on Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from low Earth orbit -- an expensive arrangement that limited the types of missions NASA could run. But soon, US astronauts could be launching on US-made vehicles once again, as NASA did during the Space Shuttle era.
< article continued at Slashdot's less-than-a-week-away department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's paying-a-visit department
"Oumuamua, the first object ever seen passing through our solar system from interstellar space, was thought to be emitting gas like a comet to explain its weird motion," reports Syfy Wire, "but a new idea is that the comet is just very, very porous."
Astronomer Phil Plait writes:
It was hard to tell what it was; it was too small, faint, and far away to get good observations, and worse, it was only seen on its way out, so it was farther from us literally every day. Then another very weird thing happened: More observations allowed a better determination of its trajectory, and it was found that it wasn't slowing down fast enough. As it moves away, the Sun's gravity pulls on it, slowing it down...but it wasn't slowing down enough. Some force was acting on it, accelerating it very slightly... A new paper has come out that might have a solution, and it's really clever. Maybe 'Oumuamua's not flat. Maybe it's fluffy... [And thus moved by the force of sunlight giving it a tiny push]
When stars are very young, they have a huge disk of material swirling around them; it's from this material that planets form. Out far from the star, where temperatures in the disk are cold, teeny tiny grains of dust and water ice can stick together in funny shapes, creating fractals... Materials made in a fractal pattern can be very porous, and in fact out in that protoplanetary disk around a young star, physical models show that objects can grow fractally until they're as big as 'Oumuamua, and have those extremely low densities needed to account for its weird behavior. So 'Oumuamua doesn't have to be a spaceship. It just has to be a snowflake! A three-dimensionally constructed phenomenally porous low-density snowflake... [T]he new paper suggests it came from a nearby star, and one that's relatively young (less than 100 million years). It formed out in the disk, and got ejected somehow, likely from a planet forming nearby giving it a boost from its gravity.
< article continued at Slashdot's paying-a-visit department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's calling-in-sick department
Slashdot reader krenaud tipped us off to this story from The Next Web:
The audio recordings of 2.7 millions calls made to 1177 Vardguiden -- Sweden's healthcare hotline -- were left exposed to anyone online, according to Swedish tech publication Computer Sweden. The 170,000 hours of incredibly sensitive calls were stored on an open web server without any encryption or authentication, leaving personal information completely exposed for anyone with a web browser....
The calls included sensitive information about patients' diseases and ailments, medication, and medical history. Some examples had people describing their children's symptoms and giving their social security numbers. Some of the files include the phone numbers the calls were made from. Around 57,000 numbers appear in the database and many of those are the callers' personal numbers, making it easy to match information with a particular person.
When reached for comment, the CEO of the subcontractor receiving the calls "denied it happened."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's car-costs-keep-ballooning department
German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG has spent 10 years working on external airbags for cars, according to Popular Mechanics, and "The tech is finally ready for carmakers -- that is, if ZF can convince them to buy it."
With ZF's system, each side sill (the outside bodywork underneath the car doors) packs one airbag that runs the full length of the doors. Sensors on the car will watch out for any objects that look likely to slam into the side of the car. When the computers decide a crash is imminent and unavoidable, they deploy from the side sill, revealing the airbag. In no more than 100 milliseconds, inflators pump up the airbag to the height of a typical front bumper.
One advantage of outside airbags is that they disperse the forces of impact. An oncoming car about the slam into the side of your vehicle would strike with the relatively small surface area of its front bumperâ"and an even smaller surface if it strikes at an angle. But when a car hits an inflated airbag, the impact force is spread through the airbag and along the length of the vehicle's side structure, which reduces energy loads. ZF says its tech reduces intrusions into the passenger cabin by 30 up to percent, and reduces injury levels by 20 to 30 percent.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's saving-electricity department
"A scientist working for the U.S. Navy has filed for a patent on a room-temperature superconductor, representing a potential paradigm shift in energy transmission and computer systems," reports Phys.org:
Salvatore Cezar Pais is listed as the inventor on the Navy's patent application made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday. The application claims that a room-temperature superconductor can be built using a wire with an insulator core and an aluminum PZT (lead zirconate titanate) coating deposited by vacuum evaporation with a thickness of the London penetration depth and polarized after deposition.
An electromagnetic coil is circumferentially positioned around the coating such that when the coil is activated with a pulsed current, a non-linear vibration is induced, enabling room temperature superconductivity. "This concept enables the transmission of electrical power without any losses and exhibits optimal thermal management (no heat dissipation)," according to the patent document, "which leads to the design and development of novel energy generation and harvesting devices with enormous benefits to civilization."
Long-time Slashdot reader resistant writes:
NextBigFuture says the same individual appears to have made other startling claims that arguably stretch the boundaries of belief, such as a "high-frequency gravitational wave generator" that could supposedly drive a spaceship without conventional propellants as well as an "inertial mass reduction device." Prudence would appear to dictate examining these and other claims by Mr. Salvatore Cezar Pais with great caution.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sound-of-silence department
"It's an unnerving sensation, being alone with your thoughts in the year 2019," writes New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose, in an article shared by DogDude. "I don't love referring to what we have as an 'addiction.' That seems too sterile and clinical to describe what's happening to our brains in the smartphone era."
We might someday evolve the correct biological hardware to live in harmony with portable supercomputers that satisfy our every need and connect us to infinite amounts of stimulation. But for most of us, it hasn't happened yet... [S]ometime last year, I crossed the invisible line into problem territory. My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations. Social media made me angry and anxious, and even the digital spaces I once found soothing (group texts, podcasts, YouTube k-holes) weren't helping...
Mostly, I became aware of how profoundly uncomfortable I am with stillness. For years, I've used my phone every time I've had a spare moment in an elevator or a boring meeting. I listen to podcasts and write emails on the subway. I watch YouTube videos while folding laundry. I even use an app to pretend to meditate. If I was going to repair my brain, I needed to practice doing nothing.
Another science journalist helped him through "phone rehab," and "now, the physical world excites me, too -- the one that has room for boredom, idle hands and space for thinking." After a final 48 hour digital detox, "I also felt twinges of anger -- at myself, for missing out on this feeling of restorative boredom for so many years; at the engineers in Silicon Valley who spend their days profitably exploiting our cognitive weaknesses; at the entire phone-industrial complex that has convinced us that a six-inch glass-and-steel rectangle is the ideal conduit for worldly experiences...
< article continued at Slashdot's sound-of-silence department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-living-through-chemistry department
A new adsorbent material "soaks up uranium from seawater, leaving interfering ions behind," reports the ACS's Chemical & Engineering News, in an article shared by webofslime:
The world's oceans contain some 4 billion metric tons of dissolved uranium. That's roughly 1,000 times as much as all known terrestrial sources combined, and enough to fuel the global nuclear power industry for centuries. But the oceans are so vast, and uranium's concentration in seawater is so low -- roughly 3 ppb -- that extracting it remains a formidable challenge... Researchers have been looking for ways to extract uranium from seawater for more than 50 years...
Nearly 20 years ago, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) confirmed that amidoxime-functionalized polymers could soak up uranium reliably even under harsh marine conditions. But that type of adsorbent has not been implemented on a large scale because it has a higher affinity for vanadium than uranium. Separating the two ions raises production costs. Alexander S. Ivanov of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, together with colleagues there and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other institutions, may have come up with a solution. Using computational methods, the team identified a highly selective triazine chelator known as H2BHT that resembles iron-sequestering compounds found in bacteria and fungi.... H2BHT exhibits little attraction for vanadium but has roughly the same affinity for uranyl ions as amidoxime-based adsorbents do.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fast-flights department
pgmrdlm quotes CBS News: On Monday night, the river of air 35,000 feet above the New York City area, known as the jet stream, clocked in at a blazing 231 mph. This is the fastest jet stream on record since 1957 for the National Weather Service in Upton, New York — breaking the old record of 223 mph, according to NWS forecaster Carlie Buccola. This wind provided a turbo boost to commercial passenger planes along for the ride. With the help of this rapid tailwind, Virgin Atlantic Flight 8 from Los Angeles to London hit what could be a record high speed for a Boeing 787: 801 mph over Pennsylvania at 9:20 p.m. Monday night...
"The typical cruising speed of the Dreamliner is 561 mph," CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave points out. "The past record for the 787 is 776 mph set in January 2017 by a Norwegian 787-9 flying from JFK to London Gatwick. That flight set a record for the fastest subsonic transatlantic commercial airline flight -- 5 hours and 13 minutes, thanks to a 202 mph tailwind."
FlightAware, a global aviation data services company, reminds CBS that even a 100 mph increase in the jet stream can shorten a flight by an hour.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's guilty-until-proven-innocent department
An anonymous reader writes:
The Verge reports that San Francisco Bay Area police "pulled over a California privacy advocate and held him at gunpoint after a database error caused a license plate reader to flag a car as stolen, a lawsuit alleges." Brian Hofer, the chairman of Oakland's Privacy Advisory Commission, was handcuffed and surrounded by multiple police cars, and says a police deputy injured his brother by throwing him to the ground. They were finally released -- 40 minutes later. But ironically, Hofer has been a staunch critic of license plate readers, "which he points out have led to wrongful detentions, invasions of privacy and potentially costly lawsuits." (California bus driver Denise Green was detained at gunpoint when her own car was incorrectly identified as stolen -- leading to a lawsuit which she eventually settled for nearly $500,000.) And at least one thief simply swapped license plates with an innocent driver.
The executive director of Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a state government program, acknowledged that the accuracy rate of the license plate readers is about 90 percent, yet "added that in some cases, the technology has actually exonerated people, or given potential suspects alibis. But there is no way for the public to know just how effective the license plate reader technology is in capturing criminals" -- apparently because police departments aren't capturing that data. Only one of the region's police departments, in Piedmont, California, reported its "efficacy metrics" to the agency -- with 7,500 "hits" which over 11 months led to 28 arrests (and the recovery of 39 cars) after reading 21.3 million license plates. The license plate readers cost $20,000 per patrol car.
< article continued at Slashdot's guilty-until-proven-innocent department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's higher-further-faster department
"If you're willing to spend $250,000 for a quick trip to space, that option is getting closer to reality," reports CNN.
VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane, climbed to a record altitude of nearly 56 miles during a test flight on Friday, marking the second time Richard Branson's startup has reached space. Two pilots, and for the first time, an additional crew member, were on board. Beth Moses, Galactic's chief astronaut trainer and an aerospace engineer, rode along with the pilots. The trip allowed her to run safety checks and get a first look at what Galactic's customers could one day experience. Moses has logged hundreds of hours on zero gravity aircrafts, and she described the G Forces aboard the supersonic plane as "mildly wild." Some moments were intense, she told CNN Business, but it was never uncomfortable. "I was riveted and I think our customers will be as well."
Unity took off from a runway in California's Mojave Desert just after 8 am PT and cruised to about 45,000 feet attached to its mothership before it broke away and fired its rocket motor. The plane then swooped into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, 295,000 feet high, at supersonic speeds. It's top speed was Mach 3. At the peak of its flight path, Unity experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and looked out into the black skies of the cosmos. Moses said she was able to leave her seat and take in the view. "The Earth was beautiful -- super sharp, super clear," she said, "with a gorgeous view of the Pacific mountains."
America's Federal Aviation Administration says they'll now award commercial astronaut wings to all three members of the crew, and CNN reports that this second successful test flight suggests Galactic "could be on track" to start flying tourists into space this year.
"About 600 people have reserved tickets, priced between $200,000 and $250,000, to fly with Galactic. And the company says it wants to eventually lower prices to broaden its customer base."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's animated-talking-paper-clips department
An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider's update on Microsoft Clippy, the animated cartoon paperclip that was Office's virtual assistant until the early 2000s, that "everyone loved to hate."
After 18 years, has it become retro chic?
When Chloe Condon, a newly hired Microsoft cloud evangelist, ordered new business cards, she avoided the standard corporate look and instead went with Clippy-themed cards and tweeted them out... They've got a picture of Clippy on the front and on the back they say, "It looks like you are trying to get in touch with Chloe," with her contact info listed below...
Naturally, the Clippy The Paperclip Twitter account loved these cards. He tweeted, "@chloecondon It looks like you're using my likeness on your new business cards. Would you like help with WAIT I'M ON BUSINESS CARDS NOW?!" And then former Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky, the man credited for developing Microsoft Office into a massive hit, noticed the cards and tweeted, "I suppose if you live long enough, others will wear your failures as a badge of honor...."
After four years of scorn, Clippy was officially retired in 2001. Sinofsky tells Business Insider that the company even issued a funny press release about it.... Microsoft even held an official retirement party for him in San Francisco, too. Sinfosky shared a photo from that party with us... If you look closely, you'll see unemployed Clippy is actually using the party thrown in his honor to collect charity for himself and beg for food.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's getting-a-reaction department
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian:
An American 14-year-old has reportedly become the youngest known person in the world to create a successful nuclear reaction. The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, a hobbyist group, has recognised the achievement by Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, Tennessee, when he was aged 12 in January 2018....
The enterprising teenager said he transformed an old playroom in his parents' house into a nuclear laboratory with $10,000 (£7,700) worth of equipment that uses 50,000 volts of electricity to heat deuterium gas and fuse the nuclei to release energy. "The start of the process was just learning about what other people had done with their fusion reactors," Jackson told Fox. "After that, I assembled a list of parts I needed. I got those parts off eBay primarily and then oftentimes the parts that I managed to scrounge off of eBay weren't exactly what I needed. So I'd have to modify them to be able to do what I needed to do for my project...."
[S]cientists are likely to remain sceptical until Oswalt's workings are subject to verification from an official organisation and are published in an academic journal. Still, the teenager may now have usurped the previous record holder, Taylor Wilson, who works in nuclear energy research after achieving fusion aged 14.Read Replies (0)