By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Why is it still so easy for consumers to buy poorly made, dangerous batteries that explode, and why is it so difficult to tamp down on counterfeits or hold the sellers -- or the platforms the sellers use, such as Amazon -- accountable? From a report: In the massive global network of manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and resellers, it can be nearly impossible to tell who's actually responsible for getting any given product into your living room. Even when it sets your couch on fire. [...] More than half of the items sold on Amazon are listed by third-party sellers -- not by Amazon itself -- which makes ensuring that products are safe and authentic difficult, according to Juozas Kaziukenas, the founder of Marketplace Pulse, a firm that researches Amazon. In the case of batteries, batches of lithium-ion cells made in China that don't pass inspection sometimes end up listed by sellers on Amazon, said Michael Rohwer, a director of Business for Social Responsibility, a nonprofit that works with companies on their supply-chain practices.
[...] Insurance companies have even started to sue both Amazon and battery makers because they say they've had to pay out many claims over lithium-ion-battery explosions. Allstate New Jersey Insurance sued Amazon in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, alleging that a battery bought on Amazon caused "extensive" damage to a home, which required the insurance company to make "significant payments" to the insured. That case was eventually dismissed, but both State Farm and General Insurance Company of America are currently suing Amazon because of fires they say were caused by lithium-ion batteries purchased on the platform.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department
The intelligence community's annual transparency report revealed a spike in the number of warrantless searches of Americans' data in 2018. From a report: The data, published Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), revealed a 28 percent rise in the number of targeted search terms used to query massive databases of collected Americans' communications. Some 9,637 warrantless search queries of the contents of Americans' calls, text messages, emails and other communications were conducted by the NSA during 2018, up from 7,512 searches on the year prior, the report said. The figures also don't take into account queries made by the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration, which also has access to the database, nor do they say exactly how many Americans had their information collected.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Is streaming video responsible for America's falling fertility rate? 'One of us usually ends up falling asleep.' From a report: Once upon a time, Netflix dates were synonymous with romance, best captured by the viral hashtag #NetflixandChill, a euphemistic suggestion disguised as an invitation to watch TV. These days, the literal chill of the on-demand streaming video service is so great that some young couples call it the new birth control [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. [...] Demographers have lots of theories about why the U.S. fertility rate recently hit an all-time low, ranging from the aftereffects of the recession that followed the financial crisis to the broader use of long-term birth control. It is hard to ignore, anecdotally at least, the impact of streaming entertainment, popularized by Netflix and available from the likes of Amazon.com Inc., Hulu and HBO.
A 2017 paper in "Archives of Sexual Behavior," which revealed that Americans were having less sex, on average, than they did three decades ago, offered streaming video as one possible culprit. Dr. Jean Twenge, the lead author and a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, says in the old days a favorite TV show was done at 10 p.m. sharp and commercial breaks gave people an excuse to talk to their partners. "Now, if you're watching something streaming, the next episode is immediately available, and there are no commercials where you could look over and say, 'Honey, you look cute tonight,'" she said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department
Canonical's real money comes from the cloud and Internet of Things, but AI and machine learning developers are demanding -- and getting -- Ubuntu Linux desktop with enterprise support. From a report: In a wide-ranging conversation at Open Infrastructure Summit, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux and its corporate parent Canonical, said: "We have seen companies signing up for Linux desktop support, because they want to have fleets of Ubuntu desktop for their artificial intelligence engineers." This development caught Shuttleworth by surprise. "We're starting actually now to commercially support the desktop in a way that we've never been asked to before," he said. Of course, Ubuntu has long been used by developers, but Shuttleworth explained, "Previously, those were kind of off the books, under the table. You know, 'Don't ask don't tell deployments.' "But now suddenly, it's the AI team and they've got to be supported."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's you-have-been-served department
This week, as scientists work through an exercise simulating an imminent asteroid impact with Earth, NASA's administrator Jim Bridenstine warned the real-world threat should be taken seriously. From a report: Bridenstine acknowledged "the giggle factor," the dismissive response the topic has been met with in the past, at the start of his keynote remarks Monday at the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Maryland. "We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it's not about movies," he said. "This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life and that is the planet Earth." As part of the conference activities, space agencies will also be live-tweeting a fictional exercise simulating what it might be like if such an asteroid were discovered on a collision course with our planet.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shiny-new-Linux-distro-updates department
Fedora 30, the newest release of the venerable Linux distribution that serves (in part) as the staging environment for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, was released Tuesday, bringing with it a number of improvements and performance optimizations. From a report: he most exciting aspect, for workstation/desktop users at least, is the update to GNOME 3.32. Of course, that is hardly the only notable update -- the DNF package manager is getting a performance boost, for instance. In other words, this is a significant operating system upgrade that should delight both existing Fedora users and beginners alike. "Fedora 30 brings enhancements to all editions with updates to the common underlying packages, from bug fixes and performance tweaks to new versions. In Fedora 30, base updates include Bash shell 5.0, Fish 3.0, the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 9 and Ruby 2.6. Fedora 30 also now uses the zchunk format for data compression within the DNF repository. When metadata is compressed using zchunk DNF will only download the differences between earlier copies of metadata and the current versions, saving on resources and increasing efficiency," says The Fedora Project.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Indonesia has announced plans to build a new capital city as its current capital, Jakarta, struggles with pollution, traffic gridlock -- and the fact that the city is sinking. From a report: After a Cabinet meeting on Monday, planning minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said President Joko Widodo has decided to move the capital out of Indonesia's main island, Java. It's not clear exactly when this will happen, or where the new capital would be located. The idea has been out there for decades, though previous leaders have been unable to accomplish the ambitious plan. Earlier this month, Widodo secured another term in office, according to independent polling organizations. His challenger also declared victory, and official results have not yet been announced.
"The idea to move the capital city appeared long ago. ... But it has never been decided or discussed in a planned and mature manner," Widodo said before the meeting, according to The Associated Press. Jakarta faces massive challenges. As the BBC has reported, it's the fastest-sinking city in the world, with almost half of its area below sea level.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
A "cyber event" interrupted grid operations in parts of the western United States last month, according to a cryptic report posted by the Department of Energy. From a report: The March 5 incident lasted from 9 a.m. until nearly 7 p.m. but didn't lead to a power outage, based on a brief summary of the electric disturbance report filed by the victim utility. If remote hackers interfered with grid networks in California, Utah and Wyoming, as the DOE filing suggests, the event would be unprecedented. A cyberattack is not known to have ever disrupted the flow of electricity anywhere in the United States, though Russian hackers briefly cut off power to parts of Ukraine in 2015 and again in 2016. DOE uses a broad definition of "cyber event," describing it as any disruption to an electrical system or grid communication network "caused by unauthorized access" to hardware, software or data. That leaves open the possibility that a utility employee or trespasser, rather than a remote hacker, triggered the March 5 event.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Hackers have broken into an internet infrastructure firm that provides services to dozens of the world's largest and most valuable companies, including Oracle, Volkswagen, Airbus, and many more as part of an extortion attempt, Motherboard reported Tuesday. From the report: The attackers have also threatened to release data from all of those companies, according to a website seemingly set up by the hackers to distribute the stolen material. Citycomp, the impacted Germany-based firm, provides servers, storage, and other computer equipment to large companies, according to the company's website. Michael Bartsch, executive director of Deutor Cyber Security Solutions, a firm Citycomp said was authorized to speak about the case, confirmed the breach to Motherboard in an email Tuesday. "Citycomp has been hacked and blackmailed and the attack is ongoing," Bartsch wrote. "We have to be careful as the whole case is under police investigation and the attacker is trying all tricks."Read Replies (0)