Slashdot

Subscribe to Slashdot feed Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 6 min 1 sec ago

Some of the World's Biggest Economies Are on the Brink of Recession

30 min 14 sec ago
Markets closed out last week on an anxious note. It's not difficult to see why: the coronavirus continues to spread, and there are signs that some of the world's top economies could slide into recession as the outbreak compounds pre-existing weaknesses. From a report: Take Japan: The world's third-largest economy shrank 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2019 as the country absorbed the effects of a sales tax hike and a powerful typhoon. It was biggest contraction compared to the previous quarter since 2014. Then there's Germany. The biggest economy in Europe ground to a halt right before the coronavirus outbreak set in, dragged down by the country's struggling factories. The closely-watched ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment in Germany decreased sharply for February, reflecting fears that the virus could hit world trade. Bank of America economist Ethan Harris points to the number of smaller economies that are hurting, too. Hong Kong is in recession and Singapore could soon suffer a similar fate. Fourth quarter GDP data from Indonesia hit a three-year low, while Malaysia had its worst reading in a decade, he noted to clients on Friday. Meanwhile, engines of growth like China and India slowed in 2019. Fourth quarter GDP data for the latter comes out this week. All of this brings to the fore concerns about the global economy's ability to withstand a shock from the coronavirus. Harris says the weak quarter was likely a result of lingering damage from the trade war between China and the United States. The coronavirus is poised to make matters worse.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

EU Commission To Staff: Switch To Signal Messaging App

1 hour 10 min ago
The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications. From a report: The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that "Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging." The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology. "It's like Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage but it's based on an encryption protocol that's very innovative," said Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven. "Because it's open-source, you can check what's happening under the hood," he added. Signal was developed in 2013 by privacy activists. It is supported by a nonprofit foundation that has the backing of WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who had left the company in 2017 after clashing with Facebook's leadership.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Katherine Johnson Dies at 101; Mathematician Broke Barriers at NASA

1 hour 51 min ago
The New York Times: They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them. Wielding little more than a pencil, a slide rule and one of the finest mathematical minds in the country, Mrs. Johnson, whose death at 101 was announced on Monday by NASA, calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong's history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth. A single error, she well knew, could have dire consequences for craft and crew. Her impeccable calculations had already helped plot the successful flight of Alan B. Shepard Jr., who became the first American in space when his Mercury spacecraft went aloft in 1961. The next year, she likewise helped make it possible for John Glenn, in the Mercury vessel Friendship 7, to become the first American to orbit the Earth. Yet throughout Mrs. Johnson's 33 years in NASA's Flight Research Division -- the office from which the American space program sprang -- and for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name. Mrs. Johnson was one of several hundred rigorously educated, supremely capable yet largely unheralded women who, well before the modern feminist movement, worked as NASA mathematicians. But it was not only her sex that kept her long marginalized and long unsung: Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, a West Virginia native who began her scientific career in the age of Jim Crow, was also African-American. In old age, Mrs. Johnson became the most celebrated of the small cadre of black women -- perhaps three dozen -- who at midcentury served as mathematicians for the space agency and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Their story was told in the 2016 Hollywood film "Hidden Figures," based on Margot Lee Shetterly's nonfiction book of the same title, published that year. The movie starred Taraji P. Henson as Mrs. Johnson, the film's central figure. It also starred Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae as her real-life colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Microsoft Reveals More Xbox Series X Specs

2 hours 30 min ago
Microsoft revealed new details on its next-generation console, text, on Monday morning, confirming specifications on what the company calls its "superior balance of power and speed" for its new hardware. From a report: The next-gen Xbox, Microsoft said, will be four times as powerful as the original Xbox One. The Xbox Series X "next-generation custom processor" will employ AMD's Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architecture, head of Xbox Phil Spencer wrote on the Xbox website. "Delivering four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enabling developers to leverage 12 [teraflops] of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance -- twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One," Spencer said. He called the next-generation Xbox's processing and graphics power "a true generational leap," offering higher frame rates -- with support for up to 120 fps -- and more sophisticated game worlds. That 12 teraflops claim is twice that of what Microsoft promised with the Xbox One X (then known as Project Scorpio) when it revealed the mid-generation console update back in 2016. Spencer also outlined the Xbox Series X's variable rate shading, saying, "Rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritize individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects. This technique results in more stable frame rates and higher resolution, with no impact on the final image quality." He also promised hardware-accelerated DirectX ray tracing, with "true-to-life lighting, accurate reflections and realistic acoustics in real time." Microsoft also reconfirmed features like SSD storage, which promise faster loading times, as well as new ones, like Quick Resume, for Xbox Series X.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Drug Dealer Loses $58M in Bitcoin After Landlord Accidentally Throws Codes Out

3 hours 10 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Between 2011 and 2012, 49-year-old Clifton Collins bought 6,000 Bitcoin using money he earned from growing and selling weed, reports The Irish Times. At the time, the cryptocurrency's price varied between $4 and $6. Today it stands at over $9,700. But Collins isn't enjoying any euphoria for the windfall -- because his landlord threw out his Bitcoin codes. The Irish Times reports that Collins was arrested in 2017 for growing and selling weed, and was subsequently hit with a five-year prison sentence. Following this, his landlord sent many of Collins' possessions to a local dump during the process of clearing out Collins' room. One such item was a fishing rod case, which housed a pice of A4 paper with â53.6 million ($58 million) in Bitcoin codes printed onto it. Cryptocurrency is bought through so-called cryptowallets. Once you buy Bitcoin, the cryptowallet issues you a code that's needed to access it. Anyone who gets that code can access and potentially steal the cryptocurrency, so buyers are usually encouraged to hide their codes somewhere safe. In 2017, Collins spread his 6,000 Bitcoin across 12 accounts in order to guard against losing his crypto-fortune, according to the Times. He printed out the codes to his Bitcoin stash on a piece of A4 paper, the same paper he stuffed into the aforementioned fishing rod case.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Open Source CPU Architecture RISC-V Is Gaining Momentum

4 hours 37 min ago
The CEO of the RISC-V Foundation (a former IBM executive) touted the open-source CPU architecture at this year's HiPEAC conference, arguing there's "a growing demand for custom processors purpose-built to meet the power and performance requirements of specific applications..." As I've been travelling across the globe to promote the benefits of RISC-V at events and meet with our member companies, it's really stuck me how the level of commitment to drive the mainstream adoption of RISC-V is like nothing I've seen before. It's exhilarating to witness our community collaborate across industries and geographies with the shared goal of accelerating the RISC-V ecosystem...With more than 420 organizations, individuals and universities that are members of the RISC-V Foundation, there is a really vibrant community collaborating together to drive the progression of ratified specs, compliance suites and other technical deliverables for the RISC-V ecosystem. While RISC-V has a BSD open source license, designers are welcome to develop proprietary implementations for commercial use as they see fit. RISC-V offers a variety of commercial benefits, enabling companies to accelerate development time while also reducing strategic risk and overall costs. Thanks to these design and cost benefits, I'm confident that members will continue to actively contribute to the RISC-V ecosystem to not only drive innovation forward, but also benefit their bottom line... I don't have a favorite project, but rather I love the amazing spectrum that RISC-V is engaged in — from a wearable health monitor to scaled out cloud data centres, from universities in Pakistan to the University of Bologna in Italy or Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, from design tools to foundries, from the most renowned global tech companies to entrepreneurs raising their first round of capital. Our community is broad, deep, growing and energized... The RISC-V ecosystem is poised to significantly grow over the next five years. Semico Research predicts that the market will consume a total of 62.4 billion RISC-V central processing unit (CPU) cores by 2025! By that time I look forward to seeing many new types of RISC-V implementations including innovative consumer devices, industrial applications, high performance computing applications and much more... Unlike legacy instruction set architectures (ISAs) which are decades old and are not designed to handle the latest workloads, RISC-V has a variety of advantages including its openness, simplicity, clean-slate design, modularity, extensibility and stability. Thanks to these benefits, RISC-V is ushering in a new era of silicon design and processor innovation. They also highlighted a major advantage. RISC-V "provides the flexibility to create thousands of possible custom processors. Since implementation is not defined at the ISA level, but rather by the composition of the system-on-chip and other design attributes, engineers can choose to go big, small, powerful or lightweight with their designs."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Judge Forces America's FCC To Seek New Public Feedback on Its Net Neutrality Repeal

8 hours 37 min ago
"Earlier this week, the FCC successfully defeated Mozilla's attempt to undo the commission's repeal of net neutrality," reports Engadget. "But, while siding with the body, judges have asked the FCC to determine if repealing the law to prevent a multi-speed internet has had any negative consequences." That includes checking if net neutrality repeal has harmed public safety, reduced spending in infrastructure or hampered the Lifeline program. Consequently, the FCC will launch a period where the public and interested parties can share their views on the process. This is not an opportunity to re-litigate net neutrality repeal, but it is an opportunity to examine if the FCC acted properly and with regard to its broader obligations. The court, for instance, has directed the body to see if repeal has harmed public safety and reduced investment in critical infrastructure... The Register claims that the FCC is behaving churlishly, burying its request for comment in a wordy title that does not reflect its true intentions. But FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel published a statement asking people to "make some noise" and write in. Rosenworcel says that the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality was on the "wrong side of history" and that the public should demand an "open internet." Those wishing to make a comment can do so on the FCC's Electronic Filing System, entering 17-108 (Restoring Internet Freedom) in the proceedings box. The deadline for comments is March 30th.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

New California Bill Proposes $1,000-a-Month Universal Basic Income

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 23:34
1 out of 8 Americans live in California. Now a proposed California law "would provide most adults in the state with a universal basic income of $1,000 per month, similar to the proposed plan of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang," reports Newsweek: The California Universal Basic Income (UBI) Program was Funding the program with a value-added tax has been blasted by some who believe such a tax would disproportionately burden the poor. Concerns have also been raised over potentially forcing people to choose between UBI and other existing public assistance programs... Proponents of UBI argue that the Yang plan and others could counter the anticipated problem of increasing automation inevitably leading to widespread unemployment. Experts warn that a large percentage of the workforce is likely to be decimated by automation, with some studies estimating as many as 73 million jobs eliminated by 2030.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Forbes Criticizes Airbnb 'Surveillance Bugs To Make Sure Guests Behave'

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 21:17
"So this is creepy," writes a Forbes cybersecurity reporter, saying Airbnb "has put aside the stories of hosts secretly spying on guests" to promote a new line of devices Forbes calls "surveillance bugs to make sure guests behave." Vice reports: As part of its "party prevention" campaign, the home-sharing service is offering discounts on devices designed to alert hosts when there's an irregular level of noise in their homes... An email I received on Thursday from Airbnb (I've occasionally rented out my apartment) told me to "plan ahead to protect your home from unauthorized parties" and offered special discounts on "three of the top party prevention devices." The devices with the discounts range in price from $52 to $265. Websites for the three devices state that they monitor homes 24/7, can alert homeowners if anything unusual appears to be happening, and note that they don't record audio.... "[T]he devices detect issues in real time, keeping your property safe and your relationship with neighbors strong, all while protecting your guests' privacy," the email from Airbnb said. Airbnb stipulates that hosts must make guests aware that their homes are equipped with the noise surveillance devices — a policy that was reiterated to me by an Airbnb spokesman... Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, an U.S. organization that advocates for digital rights, said the party prevention campaign speaks to a broader trend of living under constant surveillance. "Certainly a device that only measures an increase in noise is better than having internet-connected surveillance cameras or listening devices in your home," she said. "But we're hurtling toward a world where almost everything we own is monitoring us in some way, and I'm not sure that's actually going to be a safer world."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

New $300 Kitchen Playset For Children Includes Amazon's Alexa

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 19:17
"Kids can play with Alexa in their very own $300 pretend kitchen and grocery store," CNET reports, "with the Amazon voice assistant dishing out cooking advice, shopping help and plenty of goofy toddler humor." The Alexa 2-in-1 Kitchen and Market, from toymaker KidKraft, is making its debut at this weekend's New York Toy Fair... It uses a mix of RFID sensors and Bluetooth to tell Alexa which pretend food items kids are buying and cooking... Alexa speaks only when a sensor on the play set is activated. Put a toy hot dog into the pot on the stove, and Alexa knows you're cooking hot dogs. Kids hear the splash sound effect, and Alexa alerts when the hot dogs are done cooking and to hurry up and get the buns. "If they get cold, they will be chili dogs," she says... The accessories that come with the kitchen and market, which include fake food, cookware and a credit card, are fitted with RFID chips, and sensors can tell which items are at the register, stovetop or cutting board. The play set then relays that info to the smart speaker via Bluetooth. So, if a kid places lettuce on the market scanner, it could prompt Alexa to say, "Lettuce! Are we making a salad?" And if a kid says, "Yes," Alexa will say, "Great! I love salad. Maybe get some avocado, too." Engadget reports that once you install an Echo dot, "it will play games with your children and instruct them on how to make the best fake hot dog ever." And there's inevitably a game where Alexa tells your kids what to do: There's plenty of freeform play to be had, but to take advantage of Alexa's real capabilities a kid has to make use of the included "recipe cards." They're not real recipes with ingredients and instructions. Instead it's just a picture of the food the child wants to make, and they insert the card into a special reader on the counter to start the process of preparing it with Alexa's help. Alexa will instruct the child on whether to grab a pot or a pan, if it needs to be filled with water, and whether any ingredients need to be cut on the tiny chopping board. If the requested food isn't in the pantry, never fear: There's a store on the other side... Unsurprisingly, the KidKraft 2-in-1 Alexa Kitchen and Market will be an Amazon exclusive when it launches some time this year. And the price? A hefty $300. Tom's Guide calls the playset "clever --and also really creepy." "On one hand, it's a screen-free, interactive experience... But there are a few concerns that a toy of this budding breed creates. I can't help but question the social implications of making Alexa a child's on-demand playmate."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Google Detects Edge Users Visiting Its Sites, Urges Them to Switch to Chrome

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 18:04
In Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge browser, Chrome's extensions "work as good as they work on Chrome browsers," argues the MS Power User blog. But guess what happens when you use Edge to visit Chrome's "Web Store" for downloading extensions? According to Google, internet users should use Google Chrome instead of Microsoft Edge if they want to use browser extensions securely. On visiting the Chrome web store on Microsoft Edge, you'll be displayed a banner with a yellow background color saying "Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely" at the top of the page. A later article points out that Opera visitors don't receive that same warning -- and that's just the beginning: While Google doesn't show anything on Opera or Chrome, when you access Google.com, Drive and Docs on Edge, the websites show a pop-up asking you to switch to Chrome... Google went as far as saying Chrome helps you hide ads and protect from malware... [W]e can't really blame them for doing it. Google and Microsoft have a history of fighting over their own software. Microsoft has pushed users towards Edge on Windows 10 in the past and in a way Google seems to be returning the favour

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Activision Fights 'Call of Duty' Leaks With Subpoenas to Reddit

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 17:16
Gizmodo shares the saga of a now-deleted video claiming to show Call of Duty's new "battle royale" mode: The YouTube video, initially posted by a user who goes by TheGamingRevoYT, was slammed with a copyright claim and ripped from the platform. Meanwhile, other gamers noticed that Reddit posts and Twitter threads even mentioning the upcoming release were being taken down for "copyright infringement." Last week, when one Redditor found a leak of what appeared to be the cover art for the new game, that got hit with a copyright claim too — and some other legal action. According to court documents obtained by TorrentFreak, Activision has spent the last week actively subpoenaing Reddit to uncover the identity of the Reddit user who leaked the initial artwork... It's worth noting, as TorrentFreak points out, that there wasn't technically any "infringing content" posted to the thread itself — just an external link to a site that hosted the image in question.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Oracle's Allies Against Google Include Scott McNealy and America's Justice Department

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 15:45
America's Justice Department "has filed a brief in support of Oracle in its Supreme Court battle against Google over whether Java should have copyright protection," reports ZDNet: The Justice Department filed its amicus brief to the Supreme Court this week, joining a mighty list of briefs from major tech companies and industry luminaries — including Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun, which Oracle bought in 2010, acquiring Sun-built Java in the process. While Microsoft, IBM and others have backed Google's arguments in the decade-long battle, McNealy, like the Justice Department, is opposing Google. McNealy called Google's description of how it uses Java packages a "woeful mischaracterization of the artful design of the Java packages" and "an insult to the hard-working developers at Sun who made Java such a success...." Joe Tucci, former CEO of now Dell-owned enterprise storage giant EMC, threw in his two cents against Google. "Accepting Google's invitation to upend that system by eliminating copyright protection for creative and original computer software code would not make the system better — it would instead have sweeping and harmful effects throughout the software industry," Tucci's brief reads. Oracle is also questioning the motives of Google's allies, reports The Verge: After filing a Supreme Court statement last week, Oracle VP Ken Glueck posted a statement over the weekend assailing the motives of Microsoft, IBM, and the CCIA industry group, all of which have publicly supported Google. Glueck's post comes shortly after two groups — an interdisciplinary panel of academics and the American Conservative Union Foundation — submitted legal briefs supporting Oracle. Both groups argued that Google should be liable for copying code from the Java language for the Android operating system. The ACUF argued that protecting Oracle's code "is fundamental to a well-ordered system of private property rights and indeed the rule of law itself...." Earlier this year, Google garnered around two dozen briefs supporting its position. But Oracle claims that in reality, "Google appears to be virtually alone — at least among the technology community." Glueck says Google's most prominent backers had ulterior motives or "parochial agendas"; either they were working closely with Google, or they had their own designs on Java... Even if you accept Oracle's arguments wholeheartedly, there's a long list of other Google backers from the tech community. Advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology signed on to amicus briefs last month, as did several prominent tech pioneers, including Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. The CCIA brief was signed by the Internet Association, a trade group representing many of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley. Patreon, Reddit, Etsy, the Mozilla Corporation, and other midsized tech companies also backed a brief raising "fundamental concerns" about Oracle's assertions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Would Star Trek's Transporters Kill and Replace You?

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 14:35
schwit1 quotes Syfy Wire: There is, admittedly, some ambiguity about precisely how Trek's transporters work. The events of some episodes subtly contradict events in others. The closest thing to an official word we have is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, which states that when a person enters a transporter, they are scanned by molecular imaging scanners that convert a person into a subatomically deconstructed matter stream. That's all a fancy-pants way of saying it takes you apart, atom by atom, and converts your matter into energy. That energy can then be beamed to its destination, where it's reconstructed. According to Trek lore, we're meant to believe this is a continuous process. Despite being deconstructed and rebuilt on the other end, you never stop being "you...." [Alternately] the fact that you are scanned, deconstructed, and rebuilt almost immediately thereafter only creates the illusion of continuity. In reality, you are killed and then something exactly like you is born, elsewhere. If the person constructed on the other end is identical to you, down to the atomic level, is there any measurable difference from it being actually you? Those are questions we can't begin to answer. What seems clear — whatever the technical manual says — is you die when you enter a transporter, however briefly. The article also cites estimates that it would take three gigajoules of energy (about one bolt of lightning) to disassemble somebody's atoms, and 10 to the 28th power kilobytes to then hold all that information -- and 2.6 tredecillion bits of data to transmit it. "The estimated time to transmit, using the standard 30 GHz microwave band used by communications satellites, would take 350,000 times longer than the age of the universe."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Safari Will Stop Trusting Certs Older Than 13 Months

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 13:34
"Safari will, later this year, no longer accept new HTTPS certificates that expire more than 13 months from their creation date..." writes the Register. Long-time Slashdot reader nimbius shares their report: The policy was unveiled by the iGiant at a Certification Authority Browser Forum (CA/Browser) meeting on Wednesday. Specifically, according to those present at the confab, from September 1, any new website cert valid for more than 398 days will not be trusted by the Safari browser and instead rejected. Older certs, issued prior to the deadline, are unaffected by this rule. By implementing the policy in Safari, Apple will, by extension, enforce it on all iOS and macOS devices. This will put pressure on website admins and developers to make sure their certs meet Apple's requirements — or risk breaking pages on a billion-plus devices and computers... The aim of the move is to improve website security by making sure devs use certs with the latest cryptographic standards, and to reduce the number of old, neglected certificates that could potentially be stolen and re-used for phishing and drive-by malware attacks... We note Let's Encrypt issues free HTTPS certificates that expire after 90 days, and provides tools to automate renewals.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Flat-Earth Daredevil Mad Mike Hughes Dies in Homemade Rocket Launch

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 12:34
"He was working on a TV show, Homemade Astronauts, when his craft crashed in the California desert," reports NBC. Four different Slashdot readers shared the news. NBC News reports: Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes died Saturday when a homemade rocket he was attached to launched but quickly dove to earth in the California desert. The stunt was apparently part of a forthcoming television show, "Homemade Astronauts," that was scheduled to debut later this year on Discovery Inc.'s Science Channel. Discovery confirmed the 64-year-old's death in a statement. "It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey," the company said... In 2018, he successfully launched himself about 1,875 feet into the sky above the Mojave desert via a garage-made rocket. His landing that year was softened when he deployed a parachute. In social media video of Saturday's accident, a parachute-like swath of fabric can be seen flying away from the rocket shortly after blast-off.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

American Lawmakers Launch Investigations Into Ring's Police Deals

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 11:34
A U.S. Congressional subcommittee is now "pursuing a deeper understanding of how Ring's partnerships with local and state law enforcement agencies mesh with the constitutional protections Americans enjoy against unbridled police surveillance," reports Gizmodo: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on economic and consumer policy, is seeking to learn why, in more than 700 jurisdictions, police have signed contracts that surrender control over what city officials can say publicly about the Amazon-owned company... "In one instance, Ring is reported to have edited a police department's press release to remove the word 'surveillance,'" the letter says, citing a Gizmodo report from last fall. But that's just the beginning, reports Ars Technica: Congress wants a list of every police deal Ring actually has, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy wrote in a letter (PDF) dated February 19. After that, the Subcommittee wants to know... well, basically everything. The request for information asks for documentation relating to "all instances in which a law enforcement agency has requested video footage from Ring," as well as full lists of all third-party firms that get any access to Ring users' personal information or video footage. Ring is also asked to send over copies of every privacy notice, terms of service, and law enforcement guideline it has ever had, as well as materials relating to its marketing practices and any potential future use of facial recognition. And last but not least, the letter requests, "All documents that Ring or Amazon has produced to state attorneys general, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, or Congress in response to investigations into Ring...." The company in the fall pulled together a feel-good promotional video comprising images of children ringing Ring doorbells to trick-or-treat on Halloween. It is unclear if Ring sought consent to use any of the clearly visible images of the children or their parents shown in that video... Ring has also faced pressure to describe its plans for future integration of facial recognition systems into its devices. While the company has stated repeatedly that it has no such integration, documents and video promotional materials obtained by reporters in the past several months show that the company is strongly looking into it for future iterations of the system... The House letter gives Amazon a deadline of March 4 to respond with all the requested documentation. Amazon responded by cutting the price of a Ring doorbell camera by $31 -- and offering to also throw in one of Amazon's Alexa-enabled "Echo Dot" smart speakers for free.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

FizzBuzz 2.0: Pragmatic Programming Questions For Software Engineers

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 10:34
A former YC partner co-founded a recruiting company for technical hiring, and one of its software engineers is long-time Slashdot reader compumike. He now writes: Like the decade-old Fizz Buzz Test, there are some questions that are trivial for anyone who can build software at a professional level, but are likely to stump anyone who can't hack it. I analyzed the data from over 100,000 programmers to reveal how five multiple-choice questions easily separate the real software engineers from the rest. The questions (and the data about correct answers) come from Triplebyte's own coder-recruiting quiz, and "98% of successful engineers answer at least 4 of 5 correctly," explains Mike's article. ("Successful" engineers are defined as those who went on to receive an inbound message from a company matching their preferences through Triplebyte's platform.) "I'm confident that if you're an engineering manager running an interview, you wouldn't give an offer to someone who performed below that line." Question 1: What kind of SQL statement retrieves data from a table? LOOKUPREADFETCHSELECT

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

How Peloton Bricked the Screens On Flywheel's Stationary Bikes

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 09:34
DevNull127 writes: Let me get this straight. Peloton's main product is a stationary bicycle costing over $2,000 with a built-in touchscreen for streaming exercise classes. ("A front facing camera and microphone mean you can interact with friends and encourage one another while you ride," explained the Kickstarter campaign which helped launch the company in 2013, with 297 backers pledging $307,332.) Soon after they went public last summer, Bloomberg began calling them "the unprofitable fitness company whose stock has been skidding," adding "The company is working on a new treadmill that will cost less than the current $4,000 model, as well as a rowing machine." Last March they were also sued for $150 million for using music in workout videos without proper licensing, according to the Verge — which notes that the company was then valued at $4 billion. And then this week Vice reported on what happened to one of their competitors. "Flywheel offered both in-studio and in-home stationary bike classes similar to Peloton. Peloton sued Flywheel for technology theft, claiming Flywheel's in-home bikes were too similar to Peloton's. Flywheel settled out of court and, as part of that settlement, it's pointing people to Peloton who is promising to replace the $2,000 Flywheel bikes with refurbished Pelotons... When Peloton delivers these replacement bikes, it'll also haul away the old Flywheels." The Verge reports that one Flywheel customer who'd been enjoying her bike since 2017 "received an email from Peloton, not Flywheel, informing her that her $1,999 bike would no longer function by the end of next month." "It wasn't like Flywheel gave us any option if you decide not to take the Peloton," she says. "Basically it was like: take it or lose your money. They didn't even attempt to fix it with their loyal riders. It felt like a sting."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Signing Up With Amazon, Wal-Mart, Or Uber Forfeits Your Right To Sue Them

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 07:34
Long-time Slashdot reader DogDude shared this article from CNN: Tucked into the sign-up process for many popular e-commerce sites and apps are dense terms-of-service agreements that legal experts say are changing the nature of consumer transactions, creating a veil of secrecy around how these companies function. The small print in these documents requires all signatories to agree to binding arbitration and to clauses that ban class actions. Just by signing up for these services, consumers give up their rights to sue companies like Amazon, Uber and Walmart before a jury of their peers, agreeing instead to undertake a private process overseen by a paid arbitrator... The proliferation of apps and e-commerce means that such clauses now cover millions of everyday commercial transactions, from buying groceries to getting to the airport... Consumers are "losing access to the courthouse," said Imre Szalai, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Pages