By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T lost 946,000 TV subscribers in Q2 2019, a loss that the company attributed to price increases, competition, and other factors. AT&T reported a net loss of 778,000 subscribers in the "Premium TV" category, which includes its DirecTV satellite and U-verse wireline TV services. AT&T attributed this loss to "an increase in customers rolling off promotional discounts, competition, and lower gross adds due to a focus on the long-term value customer base." AT&T also lost 168,000 subscribers of DirecTV Now, an online service with linear channels that's similar to traditional satellite and cable TV. AT&T said the DirecTV Now customer loss was "due to higher prices and less promotional activity," meaning that customers have balked at price increases and a refusal to extend discounts.
The Premium TV loss brought AT&T down to 21.6 million customers in that category, while the DirecTV Now loss brought that service down to 1.3 million customers. Including both, AT&T's total number of video subscribers dropped from 25.4 million in Q2 2108 to 22.9 million in Q2 2019. The loss of 946,000 TV subscribers easily outstripped last quarter's AT&T net loss of 627,000 subscribers. "AT&T said it expects a similar level of video losses to continue in the current quarter," according to Reuters.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Online gaming may be popular and fun, but it's not without pitfalls. More than 70% of online gamers have experienced some form of harassment, according to a survey released Thursday from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Technology and Society. From a report: And 65% of players said they've experienced "severe harassment," including physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment. "Online hate causes real harm," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a release. "Every time someone in an online multiplayer game physically threatens or harasses another player repeatedly because of who they are or what they believe, that experience doesn't just end for that individual when the game is over."
Among online gamers who experience harassment, 53% reported being targeted based on their race, religion, ability, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, according to the ADL. Nearly 30% also report being doxed, which means having their contact or other personal information published online. The ADL also said that some gamers reported being exposed to "extremist ideologies and hateful propaganda."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's officially-official department
Apple is officially acquiring Intel's smartphone modem business for $1 billion, the two companies announced today. As rumored earlier this week, the move "would jump-start the iPhone maker's push to take control of developing the critical components powering its devices." The Verge reports: The acquisition means that Apple is now well on the way to producing its own 5G modems for its smartphones, rather than having to rely on Qualcomm for the hardware. Developing its own modems has the potential to deliver big benefits for Apple. In particular, it would no longer be subject to the patent licensing terms of Qualcomm, which were the source of the two companies' lengthy legal dispute. In the past, Apple has accused Qualcomm for charging "disproportionately high" fees in patent royalties, which it was accused of forcing companies to agree to if they want access to its hardware as part of a "no license -- no chips" policy.
The talks with Intel to acquire its modem business are understood to have started last summer, according to the WSJ, when Intel's new CEO Bob Swan arrived with a focus on cleaning up the company and addressing its loss-making segments. Acquiring another business to develop an in-house competitor is a tactic Apple has used at least once before when it spent $300 million to acquire part of Dialog, a company that previously supplied Apple with power management chips for its phones. The time of the acquisition, which included 300 employees, was Apple's biggest ever in terms of headcount.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-challenge department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Groundwater is an "invisible resource," writes environmental engineer Debra Perrone. It "flows slowly under our feet through cracks in rocks and spaces in sediments," she says, contrasting it with the more visible and obvious dams and rivers on the surface. This invisible resource is a quiet hero, supplying around a quarter of the US' daily freshwater needs. Its distributed nature makes groundwater a challenging resource to manage. Unlike on the surface, where we can manage through public infrastructure like dams and reservoirs, groundwater is mostly tapped through millions of wells drilled by individuals, businesses, and farms. But current levels of groundwater use are not sustainable: resources are being steadily depleted as groundwater use outpaces natural replenishment. This depletion means that shallower wells may run dry. Across the US, people are drilling deeper and deeper wells, report Perrone and her colleague Scott Jasechko in a paper in Nature Sustainability this week. That suggests that the easy-to-access water is already vanishing. But it's also not sustainable to keep going deeper.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where-things-stand department
Apple has spent nearly a decade dramatically expanding its use of solar energy across the United States, and the effort has paid off. From a report: The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports today that Apple now has the most installed solar capacity of any U.S. company, followed by Amazon, as both companies vaulted over prior industry leaders Target and Walmart. But there's a catch. In the Solar Means Business 2017 report, Apple ranked fourth behind both of the top brick-and-mortar retailers and Prologis, an industrial warehouse company, while Amazon ranked tenth, below such retailers as Kohls, Costco, Ikea, and Macy's.
The SEIA's just-published 2018 report showed Apple and Amazon surging as measured by megawatts of installed solar capacity, with Apple at 393.3MW to Amazon's 329.8MW. Target jumped from 203.5MW in 2017 to 229.7MW in 2018, and Walmart from 149.4MW to 208.9MW, but the year-over-year gains from their digital-first competitors were comparatively huge.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-use-cases department
For those of us who live in places where driving directions are available at our fingertips, it might be surprising to learn that millions of miles of roads around the world have yet to be mapped. From a blog post: For more than 10 years, volunteers with the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project have worked to address that gap by meticulously adding data on the ground and reviewing public satellite images by hand and annotating features like roads, highways, and bridges. It's a painstaking manual task. But, thanks to AI, there is now an easier way to cover more areas in less time". With assistance from Map With AI (a new service that Facebook AI researchers and engineers created) a team of Facebook mappers has recently cataloged all the missing roads in Thailand and more than 90 percent of missing roads in Indonesia. Map With AI enabled them to map more than 300,000 miles of roads in Thailand in only 18 months, going from a road network that covered 280,000 miles before they began to 600,000 miles after. Doing it the traditional way -- without AI -- would have taken another three to five years, estimates Xiaoming Gao, a Facebook research scientist who helped lead the project.
"We were really excited about this achievement because it has proven Map With AI works at a large scale," Gao says. Starting today, anyone will be able to use the Map With AI service, which includes access to AI-generated road mappings in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, with more countries rolling out over time. As part of Map With AI, Facebook is releasing our AI-powered mapping tool, called RapiD, to the OSM community. RapiD is an enhanced version of the popular OSM editing tool iD. RapiD is designed to make adding and editing roads quick and simple for anyone to use; it also includes data integrity checks to ensure that new map edits are consistent and accurate. You can find out more about RapiD at mapwith.ai.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
DRAM is just as much a commodity as oil. But manufacturers can only dream about the benefits of negotiating supply together. From a report: You've got to feel for the world's biggest suppliers of DRAM. Makers of these chips, which temporarily store information in PCs, smartphones and services, endured years of boom-bust profit swings and bruising competition long before the trade war began. The sector finally consolidated into just three companies holding 95% of global supply of DRAM. And yet earnings stability still eludes them. SK Hynix early Thursday posted an 88% drop in second-quarter net income, the lowest in three years and missing estimates. Investors cheered when the South Korean company concurrently announced that it will slow expansion.
SK Hynix supplies around 30% of DRAM. As much as manufacturers would like to tell you otherwise, these chips are all pretty similar, which is why they're considered a commodity. And with most commodities, like oil, prices shift with supply and demand. Profits, in turn, depend on balancing price and supply against the cost of the multi-billion dollar factories required to churn out these chips. It's no easy task. In fact, profitability is as much a function of game theory as capacity and cost management. If you cut supply while your competitor maintains output, prices may rise -- but most of that benefit goes to your rival and you miss out. If no one cuts supply even when demand is falling, then you're all likely to suffer lower prices, which could drag you into the red.
There's a collection of 14 nations well aware of how this works that came up with an ingenious solution: Sit down and negotiate supply together. Except they're peddling oil, not chips, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries can't always see eye to eye.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's day-to-day-roles department
Tesla co-founder and CTO JB Straubel is stepping down as an executive at the automaker, CEO Elon Musk announced during a conference call with analysts Wednesday. Drew Baglino, vice president of technology, will take over his duties, Musk said. Straubel will stay on in a senior advisor role. TechCrunch reports: "I want to thank JB for his fundamental role in creating and building Tesla," Musk said during the call. "If we hadn't had lunch in 2003, Tesla wouldn't exist, basically," Musk added. Straubel described his time at Tesla as an adventurous 16 years. "I'm not disappearing, and I just wanted to make sure that people understand that this was not some, you know, lack of confidence in the company or the team or anything like that," Straubel said, adding that he loves the company.
Straubel's role at Tesla cannot be understated. The executive was responsible for some of the company's most important technology, notably around batteries. His understated yet steady presence along with his technological acumen gave provided stability even when its CEO became embroiled in controversy. Straubel is involved in another company called Redwood Materials, which emerged in 2017. An SEC filing in 2017 details a $2 million initial investment in the Redwood City, Calif.-based company that describes itself at its site as focused on "advanced technology and process development for materials recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse." In the second quarter of 2019, Tesla "built 87,048 EVs and delivered 95,356 of them," reports Ars Technica. "However, the company lost $408 million over the same three months according to the latest earnings report. Although it's the second loss-making quarter in a row, it's still an improvement of Q1 2019."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-frontier department
In an effort to gain an elusive trading edge, some of the world's biggest hedge funds have been snapping up large swaths of alternative data from Fitbits, Rokus, Teslas and employment websites like Glassdoor. Bloomberg reports: Spotting trends and patterns in consumer habits is big business, part of a global market for big data, that a JPMorgan Chase report said could reach more than $200 billion by next year. Still, there's no guarantee all that information will lead to riches. It needs to be scrubbed, organized and aggregated to be of any use. WiFi and Bluetooth connections have become so ubiquitous they're often taken for granted. But hedge funds have become keenly interested in tracking devices that connect to the internet.
Capturing signals they emit can show "when and where new things appear in the world,"; said Hugh O'Connor, director of data sourcing and partnerships at Eagle Alpha, which gathers alternative data for the finance industry. Firms can keep tabs on the number of Roku video-streaming devices or Fitbit fitness trackers being used, the length of time consumers spend on them and their approximate locations. Similarly, if you buy a Tesla Model 3 car and use its Bluetooth-enabled media, a data provider can capture when your new ride is hitting the road. There's been "incredible demand" from some of the world's largest asset managers for this type of information. Hedge funds are also pulling data from mobile phones as they can reveal, in real time, the number of people carrying devices at a particular location. "This can shed light on how many -- or few -- people are frequenting a retailer, supermarket or fast-food joint," the report says. They're also scraping the web to create bespoke collections of public data. "Some examples include pricing trends on airline flights or hotels, inventory figures for products offered on coupon website Groupon, or sales posted for merchandise on Amazon.com," reports Bloomberg.
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