By BeauHD from Slashdot's too-vague department
A federal judge has blocked Washington State's 2004 cyberstalking law after ruling that a key provision violated First Amendment protections for free speech due to vague terms. "Its prohibitions against speech meant to 'harass, intimidate, torment or embarrass' weren't clearly defined, according to the judge, and effectively criminalized a 'large range' of language guarded under the Constitution," reports Engadget. "You could theoretically face legal action just by criticizing a public figure." From the report: The ruling came after a retired Air Force Major, Richard Rynearson III, sued to have the law overturned. He claimed that Kitsap County threatened to prosecute him under the cyberstalking law for criticizing an activist involved with a memorial to Japanese victims of U.S. internment camps during World War II. While Rynearson would use "invective, ridicule, and harsh language," the judge said, his language was neither threatening nor obscene.
Officials had contended that the law held up because it targeted conduct, not the speech itself. They also maintained that Rynearson hadn't shown evidence of a serious threat -- just that the prosecutor's office would see how Rynearson behaved and take action if necessary. A county court had already tossed out the activist's restraining order against Rynearson over free speech. It's not clear whether Washington will appeal the decision. If the ruling stays, though, it could force legislators to significantly narrow the scope if it wants a cyberstalking law to remain in place. This might also set a precedent that could affect legislation elsewhere in the country. The Electronic Frontier Foundation praises the judge's decision, adding: "This is all valuable speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and no state law should be allowed to undermine these rights. We are pleased that the judge has agreed."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's data-is-power department
theodp writes: Facebook may be facing the threat of a multi-billion dollar FTC fine for privacy lapses that included allowing companies to obtain users' email addresses from their friends, but that didn't discourage Bill Gates from taking to Twitter to urge his 46.5 million followers to give up the names and email addresses of teachers so they can be contacted by tech-bankrolled Code.org for a chance to receive a "Computer Science Scholarship" (attend Professional Development workshops). Or Amazon. Or Google. "The success of our professional learning program depends on the work of our partners to spread the word," explained Code.org in a Medium Post. "Corporate partners like Amazon, Infosys, and Google are rallying their employees and communities to nominate a teacher, and so are fellow teachers, parents, and students. We couldn't do it without you! [...] Code.org (and these scholarships) are supported by: Amazon, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Facebook, Google, Infosys Foundation USA, Microsoft [...] Code.org has prepared almost 100,000 educators to teach our courses, and they give our program rave reviews. We welcome teachers from all subject areas-no CS experience needed!"
< article continued at Slashdot's data-is-power department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
An anonymous reader writes from a report via NPR: Netflix announced this week that it has acquired the rights to stream Chinese sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth," which has already grossed more than $600 million globally and hit number two in the all-time Chinese box office rankings since it was released in theaters Feb. 5. Netflix will translate the movie into 28 languages and release it in more than 190 countries. The movie, based on a short story by Hugo award winner Liu Cixin (author of "Three Body Problem" and "Ball Lighting") is set in a distant future in which the earth is about to be devoured by the sun. Using propulsive engines, humans turn earth into a spaceship and try to launch it out of the solar system and the planet is saved by a Chinese hero (rather than American ones as typically seen in Hollywood sci-fi movies.) For China's film industry, the release marks a major milestone. "Filmmakers in China see science fiction as a holy grail," Raymond Zhou, an independent critic, told The New York Times. "It's like the coming-of-age of the industry." Two sci-fi movies, "The Wandering Earth" and "Crazy Alien," which is also inspired by Liu's work, topped this Chinese New Year movie season. Inkoo Kang wrote at Slate that the film "understands what American blockbusters are still loath to admit: Responding to climate change will pose infrastructural challenges on a massive order and require drastic measures on a planetary scale. Perhaps it takes a country like China, which is accustomed to a manic rate of construction and grandness of organizational possibility, to seriously consider how dramatically humanity will have to reimagine our ways of life to survive such a catastrophic force."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's latest-and-greatest department
LG's flagship G8 smartphone has been officially launched today, bringing many expected features that were teased over the past few months and several not-so-expected features. One such unusual feature in the G8 is its palm vein recognition, dubbed Hand ID, which LG claims is the first to offer this capability. TechCrunch reports: From the company's press materials, "LG's Hand ID identifies owners by recognizing the shape, thickness and other individual characteristics of the veins in the palms of their hands." It turns out, like faces and fingerprints, everyone's got a unique set of hand veins, so once registered, you can just however your hot blue blood tubes over the handset to quickly unlock in a few seconds. The Z camera also does depth-sensing face unlock that's a lot harder to spoof than the kind found on other Android handsets. LG's also put the tech to use for a set of Air Motion gestures, which allow for hands-free interaction with various apps like the camera (selfies) and music (volume control). Other features of the G8 include a 6.1-inch QHD+ "Crystal Sound OLED" display that uses the screen as an audio amplifier. There's a Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage, three cameras on the rear including a 16-megapixel Super Wide (F1.9), 12-megapixel Standard (F1.5), and 12-megapixel Telephoto (F2.4), a 3,500mAh battery that charges via USB-C, a headphone jack, and 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
Artem S. Tashkinov writes: Hailed as a third wave of computing, Microsoft has made the HoloLens 2 mixed-reality headset available for preorder for a staggering $3,500 and it's expected to be shipped later this year. It will be sold only to enterprise customers. Compared to the first generation HoloLens, the second version is better in almost every important way: it's more comfortable to wear, it offers a much wider field of view, it contains powerful recognition software that can detect real world physical objects and allow you to seamlessly interact with them using hand and finger gestures. It features new components like the Azure Kinect sensor, SnapDragon 850 SoC, eye-tracking sensors, an entirely different display system with 2K resolution for each eye, a couple of speakers, and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for video conferencing. It's also capable of full 6 degrees of tracking, and it also uses USB-C to charge.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-pricey department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The world's fastest growing mobile company has long had a chip on its shoulder when it comes to Apple and Samsung. For too long, the company has had to go out of its way to remind the world that it's capable of being every bit as innovative as those better established brands, a concept very much at the heart of the Mate X. The device lives right at the cross section of the year's biggest forward looking trends -- foldables and 5G, and unlike some of the concepts we've seen to date, the product does so with panache.
The device is thin, as far as tablets go, at 5.4 mm, unfolded. Closed, it's nearly double that, at 11 mm. Not thin, exactly, but still a heck of a lot easier to slip into your pants pockets than the 17mm Galaxy Fold. More impressive is what the company's been able to do with its displays. The screen is very much the thing on these products, and yet the Fold's outside screen only measures 4.6 inches. The Mate X, meanwhile, sports a pair of outward-facing displays, the larger of which measures 6.6 inches at 2480 x 1148 pixels, with a 19:5 aspect ration. The flip side is 6.38 inches, allowing for space for the camera bar -- a chin that folds over to meet the display. The system features a Leica lens and the design is such that photo subjects can see themselves on the outward-facing display as a shot is taken. On the device's side is a combo fingerprint reader/power button. The phone uses a proprietary "Falcon Wing" hinge to unfold and turn into a full 8-inch tablet. The report does note that there is "a visible crease in the middle of the phone." Inside are a pair of batteries that add up to 4,500mAh of power, as well as a Kirin 980 processor. In a separate article, TechCrunch says the Mate X is expected to retail for about $2,600, proving that there is certainly a pricing premium with foldables and 5G phones.Read Replies (0)
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)