By BeauHD from Slashdot's cross-platform department
Microsoft has unveiled "Project xCloud," its new game streaming service designed to work across consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. "Scaling and building out Project xCloud is a multi-year journey for us," explains Microsoft's cloud gaming chief Kareem Choudhry in a blog post. "We'll begin public trials in 2019 so we can learn and scale with different volumes and locations." The Verge reports: Microsoft has built custom hardware for its datacenters, as The Verge previously exclusively reported, so that existing and future Xbox games will be compatible with the services. Games will be streamed to devices, and Microsoft has been testing the xCloud service with Xbox wireless controllers connected to consoles, mobile devices, and PCs. Microsoft says its research teams are "creating ways to combat latency" via advanced network techniques combined with video encoding and decoding. This should make game streaming viable on 4G networks, too.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's million-dollar-questions department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Lawyers representing a Southern California limousine company that sued Uber last month over state unfair competition allegations have now filed a motion for partial summary judgement. If the filing is granted by the judge, the motion would substantially streamline the case and answer the vexing question: are Uber drivers employees or not? The proposed class-action lawsuit, known as Diva Limousine v. Uber, relies on a recently decided California Supreme Court decision that makes it more difficult for companies to unilaterally declare their workers as contractors, which effectively deprives them of benefits that they would otherwise receive as employees.
In the California Supreme Court case, known as Dynamex, that court came up with a three-part test, known as the ABC test, to figure out whether companies can assert contractor status or not: "(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact, (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity's business, and (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business, the worker should be considered an employee and the hiring business an employer under the suffer or permit to work standard in wage orders." "The standard for summary judgement is that there is no triable issue of material facts. That seems to be the case here," says Professor Veena Dubal of the University of California, Hastings, which is just blocks from Uber's headquarters in San Francisco.
< article continued at Slashdot's million-dollar-questions department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's further-expansion department
tedlistens writes: Police officers wearing new cameras by Axon, the U.S.'s largest body camera supplier, will soon be able to send live video from their cameras back to base and elsewhere, potentially expanding police surveillance. Another feature of the new device -- set to be released next year -- triggers the camera to start recording and alerts command staff once an officer has fired their weapon, a possible corrective to the problem of officers forgetting to switch them on. (The initial price of $699 doesn't include other costs, like a subscription to Axon's Evidence.com data management system.) But adding new technologies to body camera video introduces new privacy concerns, say legal experts, who have cautioned that a network of live-streaming cameras risks turning officers into roving sentinels for a giant panopticon-like surveillance system. Harlan Yu, the executive director of Upturn, a Washington nonprofit consultancy that has studied body cameras, says that live-streaming could erode community trust and help enable more controversial technologies like real-time face recognition. "The capability to live stream all BWC footage back to a department- or precinct-wide command center... will further entrench body-worn cameras as tools for police surveillance of communities, rather than tools for transparency," he said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's further-commitment department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Four years ago, IBM announced that it was investing $3 billion over the next five years into the future of nanoelectronics with a broad project it dubbed "7nm and Beyond." With at least one major chipmaker, GlobalFoundries, hitting the wall at the 7-nm node, IBM is forging ahead, using graphene to deposit nanomaterials in predefined locations without chemical contamination. In research described in the journal Nature Communications, the IBM researchers for the first time electrified graphene so that it helps to deposit nanomaterials with 97% accuracy. "As this method works for a wide variety of nanomaterials, we envision integrated devices with functionalities that represent the unique physical properties of the nanomaterial," said Mathias Steiner, manager at IBM Research-Brazil. "We also can envision on-chip light detectors and emitters operating within a distinct wavelength range determined by the optical properties of the nanomaterial." As an example, Steiner explained that if you wanted to modify the spectral performance of an optoelectronic device, you could simply replace the nanomaterial while keeping the manufacturing process flow the same. If you take the method one step further, you could assemble different nanomaterials in different places doing multiple passes of assembly to create on-chip light detectors operating in different detection windows at the same time.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's cultural-phenomenon department
Earlier this month, The New York Times ran a story which looks at the ways a network of illegal radio stations changed British music, and wonders where young people are going to make culture now, now that the internet is killing off the pirate radio. An excerpt from the story: Ofcom, the British communications regulator, estimated there are now just 50 pirate stations in London, down from about 100 a decade ago, and hundreds in the 1990s, when stations were constantly starting up and shutting down. Ofcom considers this good news, because illegal broadcasters could interfere with radio frequencies used by emergency services and air traffic control, a spokesman said. But pirate radio stations also offered public services, of a different sort: They gave immigrant communities programming in their native languages, ran charity drives and created the first radio specifically for black Britons. Pirate radio was also the site of some of Britain's most important musical innovations, introducing pop to the airwaves in the 1960s and incubating the major underground British music trends of recent decades, up to and including dubstep and grime: Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Skepta all launched their careers on the pirates.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An academic study published last month shows that despite years worth of research into the woeful state of network traffic inspection equipment, vendors are still having issues in shipping appliances that don't irrevocably break TLS encryption for the end user. From a report: Encrypted traffic inspection devices (also known as middleware), either special hardware or sophisticated software, have been used in enterprise networks for more than two decades. System administrators deploy such appliances to create a man-in-the-middle TLS proxy that can look inside HTTPS encrypted traffic, to scan for malware or phishing links or to comply with law enforcement or national security requirements. [...] In the last decade, security researchers have looked closely at the issue of TLS inspection appliances that break or downgrade encryption. There has been much research on the topic, from research teams from all over the world. But despite years worth of warnings and research, some vendors still fail at keeping the proper security level of a TLS connection when relaying traffic through their equipment/software. Academic research [PDF] published at the end of September by three researchers from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, shows that network traffic inspection appliances still break TLS security, even today.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, WSJ reported Monday, citing people briefed on the incident and documents. From the report: As part of its response to the incident, the Alphabet unit plans to announce a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+, the people said. The move effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook and is widely seen as one of Google's biggest failures. A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident. A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google's legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger "immediate regulatory interest" and invite comparisons to Facebook's leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica. Update: In an announcement Monday, Google said it was shutting down Google+ for consumers: We are shutting down Google+ for consumers. Over the years we've received feedback that people want to better understand how to control the data they choose to share with apps on Google+. So as part of Project Strobe, one of our first priorities was to closely review all the APIs associated with Google+. This review crystallized what we've known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds. Google+ still receives north of 200 million page views every month on the web, according to SimilarWeb, a third-party web analytics firm.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-additions department
Intel unveiled its 9th-generation Core desktop chips, with the notable omission of a key feature: Hyper-Threading, at least on all but the most exclusive Core i9-9900K for mainstream PCs. Hyper-Threading has also been reserved for a new iteration of Intel's X-series processors, which includes up to 18 cores and 36 threads. From a report: In a livestream Monday morning from its Fall Launch Event in New York, the company announced just a single Core i9 chip, the $488 Core i9-9900K. Later, the company privately revealed two others in the Core i7 and Core i5 families. Intel also announced a new series of X-class chips, ranging from 8 cores and 16 threads through 18 cores and 36 threads. Prices will range from $589 to $1,979. It's certainly fair to say that Intel surprised us all with the unexpected shift of its upcoming 28-core chip to the Xeon family, as well as the announcement of the X-series chips, too. And what's the deal with hyperthreading? Intel's announcement certainly adds some new topics to talk about in the months ahead. Part of the confusion was due to what Intel was expected to announce: a family of new 9th-gen chips, from Core i3s up through the Core i9, and how it did so. On the publicly available livestream, the company revealed only the presence of the Core i9-9900K, as well as the presence of the new X-series parts. Later, after the livestream had concluded, Intel fleshed out the remaining members of the K-series parts, and disclosed the price and performance of the X-series parts. However, Intel didn't even mention what many enthusiasts wanted to know: why only the i9-9900K, out of all of Intel's mainstream parts, boasts the Hyper-Threading feature. Further reading: Intel claims best gaming processor with 9th Gen Core unveiling.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
Scott Blew, an entrepreneur and engineer, recalled an article he'd recently read in WIRED about a new kind of film that blocked the light emitted from screens. He wondered if the same technology might work on a pair of glasses, to block the screens that seemed to be everywhere. From a report: He contacted Steelcase, the company that made the Casper screen-blocking film, and ordered a sample. Then he popped out the lenses in a pair of cheap sunglasses and replaced them with the film. Amazingly, it worked: Blew could look through the lenses and see everything -- except for screens, which turned black. Now, Blew and a small team are turning that concept into a real product. Their IRL Glasses, which launched on Kickstarter this week, block the wavelengths of light that comes from LED and LCD screens. Put them on and the TV in the sports bar seems to switch off; billboards blinking ahead seem to go blank. Within three days of launch, the project had surpassed its funding goal of $25,000.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-scrutiny department
Across the technology industry, rank-and-file employees are demanding greater insight into how their companies are deploying the technology that they built. An anonymous reader shares a report: At Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce, as well as at tech start-ups, engineers and technologists are increasingly asking whether the products they are working on are being used for surveillance in places like China or for military projects in the United States or elsewhere. That's a change from the past, when Silicon Valley workers typically developed products with little questioning about the social costs. It is also a sign of how some tech companies, which grew by serving consumers and businesses, are expanding more into government work. And the shift coincides with concerns in Silicon Valley about the Trump administration's policies and the larger role of technology in government. "You can think you're building technology for one purpose, and then you find out it's really twisted," said Laura Nolan, 38, a senior software engineer who resigned from Google in June over the company's involvement in Project Maven, an effort to build artificial intelligence for the Department of Defense that could be used to target drone strikes. All of this has led to growing tensions between tech employees and managers. In recent months, workers at Google, Microsoft and Amazon have signed petitions and protested to executives over how some of the technology they helped create is being used. At smaller companies, engineers have begun asking more questions about ethics.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Facebook on Monday unveiled a pair of smart speakers, complete with cameras and microphones, for your home. From a report: The devices, Portal and Portal+, directly challenge Amazon, Google and Apple in the fast-growing smart-speaker market with a unique approach that will emphasize video calling. It's Facebook's first hardware product outside the Oculus line of virtual-reality devices. To start a video call, users can say "Hey Portal, call ..." followed by the name of a connection on Facebook's Messenger service. These calls include entertaining augmented-reality features that can outfit users with cat hats or turn their living rooms into animated night clubs. Another feature is Smart Camera, which uses artificial intelligence and the devices' cameras to perfectly frame users on video as they move around while on a call. [...] Besides video calls, the Portal devices can stream music from Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music and video from Facebook Watch. Not included at launch are services like Apple Music, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu or HBO Now. The devices come equipped with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and the many skills available on that service, allowing them to ask questions like "What's the weather?" or "How are my teams doing?" [...] The company is taking preorders for the devices now and will begin shipping them early next month. The Portal, which features a 10-inch screen, is available for $199 while the Portal+, which has a long, 15.6-inch screen, is priced at $349. WashingtonPost reports that the device follows the person in their house: What's unique about Facebook's device is the tech it uses to make the video calls look good. Think of it as a personal cinematographer: A 12-megapixel camera -- equivalent to most phones -- identifies the shape of people within its 140-degree field of view and pans and zooms to make sure they're all always in the frame. You can wander around the room, do chores, Jazzercise, play with the kids or whatever. (Or, if you want, you can tap on the face of one person and the Portal camera will track just them.)Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-looks-noisy department
Speaking at the GeekWire Summit, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company is making rapid progress on the first operational self-driving airborne vehicles and that we could see them take to the skies in under five years. "Muilenburg laid out the company's vision for flying cars, as well as the importance of safety measures for the concept," reports GeekWire. "Muilenburg said the company is already building prototypes and expects them to fly within the year." From the report: "Imagine a future city that has three-dimensional highways, with flying taxis, flying cars," Muilenburg said. "That future is not that far away. In fact we are building the prototype vehicles today. We are also investing in the ecosystem that will allow that to operate safely and reliably as it must." The full vision of self-flying cars ferrying people through busy urban areas will take longer than five years to realize, Muilenburg said, but vehicles that start with more simple functions like cargo aren't far away.
The ecosystem to manage this new method of travel includes enhanced air traffic control. Earlier this year, Boeing teamed up with Austin-based SparkCognition to develop artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies for tracking and directing flying cars through traffic corridors. Muilenburg wouldn't say where these futuristic vessels would be tested, though he did say that the environment would be a "similar case" to Airbus' Vahana flying-taxi testing ground in Pendleton, Ore. Testing self-flying cars requires dedicated airspace and a slate of approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's survival-of-the-fittest department
In a 6,000-word leaked memo to Cheddar's Alex Heath, Snapchat's CEO Evan Spiegel attempts to revive employee morale with philosophy, tactics and contrition as Snap's share price sinks to an all-time low of around $8 -- half its IPO price and a third of its peak. TechCrunch reports: "The biggest mistake we made with our redesign was compromising our core product value of being the fastest way to communicate," Spiegel stresses throughout the memo regarding "Project Cheetah." It's the chat that made Snapchat special, and burying it within a combined feed with Stories and failing to build a quick-loading Android app have had disastrous consequences. Spiegel shows great maturity here, admitting to impatient strategic moves and outlining a cohesive path forward. There's no talk of Snapchat ruling the social app world here. He seems to understand that's likely out of reach in the face of Instagram's competitive onslaught. Instead, Snapchat is satisfied if it can help us express ourselves while finally reaching even meager profitability.
Snapchat may be too perceived as a toy to win enough adults, too late to win back international markets from the Facebook empire and too copyable by good-enough alternatives to grow truly massive. But if Snap can follow the Spiegel game plan, it could carve out a sustainable market through a small but loyal audience who want to communicate through imagery. The report goes on to highlight nine of the most interesting takeaways from the memo and why they're important. They include: "Apologizing for rushing the redesign; Chat is king; Snapchat must beat Facebook as best friends; Discover soars as Facebook Watch and IGTV stumble; But Discover is a mess; Aging up to earn money; Finally prioritizing developing markets; Fresh ideas, separate apps; and The freedom of profitability.Read Replies (0)