News

Apple Will Fight 'Right To Repair' Legislation

slashdot - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 01:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple is planning to fight proposed electronics "Right to Repair" legislation being considered by the Nebraska state legislature, according to a source within the legislature who is familiar with the bill's path through the statehouse. The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public. Nebraska is one of eight states that are considering right to repair bills; last month, Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Wyoming introduced legislation. Last week, lawmakers in Illinois and Tennessee officially introduced similar bills. According to the source, an Apple representative, staffer, or lobbyist will testify against the bill at a hearing in Lincoln on March 9. ATT will also argue against the bill, the source said. The source told me that at least one of the companies plans to say that consumers who repair their own phones could cause lithium batteries to catch fire. So far, Nebraska is the only state to schedule a hearing for its legislation.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is IoT a Reason To Learn C?

slashdot - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 01:00
itwbennett writes: Whether or not beginning programmers should learn C is a question that has been roundly debated on Slashdot and elsewhere. The general consensus seems to be that learning it will make you a better programmer -- and it looks good on your resume. But now there might be another reason to learn C: the rapid growth of the internet of things (IoT) could cause a spike in demand for C skills, according to Gartner analyst Mark Driver. "For traditional workloads there is no need to be counting the bytes like there used to be. But when it comes to IoT applications there is that need once again..."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Disney, YouTube Cut Ties With PewDiePie, Top YouTube Submitter, Over Anti-Semitic Videos

slashdot - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 00:20
jo7hs2 writes: Disney's Maker Studios has cut ties PewDiePie, the YouTube submitter with 53 million subscribers, over anti-Semitic clips the submitter released earlier in the year. The clips, three videos published in January, have since been removed from the channel. According to TechCrunch, "They included one skit in which [Felix Kjellberg, PewDiePie's real name] paid a Sri Lanka-based group of men to hold up a sign that read 'Death to All Jews,' while another featured a clip of a man dressed as Jesus saying that 'Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong.' Kjellberg used freelance job finding site Fiverr for both clips. He argued that he wasn't serious with either and instead wanted to show the things people will do for money." A spokesperson for Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2014, told the Wall Street Journal, "Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate." Writing on his Tumblr blog, Kjellberg said the purpose of the examples was "to show how crazy the modern world is, specifically some of the services available online." He continued, "I picked something that seemed absurd to me -- That people on Fiverr would say anything for 5 dollars. I think it's important to say something and I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes." UPDATE 2/14/17: YouTube has also cut ties with Kjellberg. A YouTube representative confirmed to Business Insider that the company has canceled its YouTube Red original show starring Kjellberg. Business Insider reports: "Kjellberg's show, 'Scare PewDiePie,' was a YouTube original accessible through the company's subscription service, YouTube Red. The show was about to premiere its second season. YouTube is also removing Kjellberg from Google's preferred advertising program, which helps the platform's most popular personalities attract bigger advertisers."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook To Autoplay Videos With Sound On By Default

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 23:40
Currently, Facebook videos autoplay on your News Feed as you scroll up and down. While they eat data and various resources, the saving grace is that they are silent -- that is, until now. Facebook has announced several new changes to its video platform today, including a setting that will autoplay videos with sound turned on by default. Android and Me reports: The audio of videos will fade in and out as you're scrolling through your feed. Fortunately, Facebook will at least make it so that audio won't autoplay if your phone is set to silent. If you're not a fan of this change, there will be a setting to turn audio autoplay off. The change is that it will now be on by default for everyone. Other feature introductions are larger previews for vertical videos, a picture-in-picture mode for videos so you can watch and continue scrolling (and even exit the app without interrupting the video on Android), and a Facebook Video app coming to smart TVs.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Drupal.org Industry Pages Are Live!

drupal - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 23:30

Media Industry Page

We are excited to announce that the first three industry pages are now live on Drupal.org, highlighting the power of Drupal solutions in higher education, government and media/publishing. The pages are designed to quickly inform and inspire technical evaluators and connect them to service providers and technology vendors who can help them move further through their Drupal adoption journey.

The Drupal Association is incredibly proud to showcase the Drupal community’s innovation, creativity, and ability to solve end users’ challenging problems. More importantly, these pages are a resource that Drupal businesses can point to as they convince potential clients that Drupal is the right choice for them. We know this is a needed resource not only because Drupal agencies have asked for this, but because our user research was resoundingly positive. One government digital director said “I wish this was around when I was pitching my state CIO on Drupal”.

This launch is the first phase for this initiative. We will learn and iterate to keep improving the pages and we will expand the industries to include pages like healthcare, finance, ecommerce, and more.

The Research We Used

Building the industry pages was a community effort. Drupal Association staff framed the concept and then reached out to end-users of Drupal in these industries, service providers who've built solutions for these markets, and the community at large. We listened to all of you who shared your thoughts in the original blog post about this initiative.

We conducted user research, interviewing decision makers and influencers at end user organizations to make sure the pages resonated strongly with them. We talked to organizations like Weather.com, Burda Media, State of North Carolina, Georgia Technology Authority, Duke University, Cornell University - and more!

We also talked to people at agencies who pitch Drupal solutions all day long such as Acquia, Ashday, Blackmesh, Digital Echidna, FFW, Forum One, ImageX Media, Kwall, Lingotek, Lullabot, Palantir.net, Pantheon, and Phase2.

We will continue to take feedback from our global community. Our goal is to keep iterating on these industry pages as we learn more.

About The Pages

The industry pages are part of the About Drupal section and they are promoted from the Drupal.org front page. The homepage of Drupal.org receives about 350,000 visits a month, and about 50% of those visitors are new to Drupal.org The front page is primarily technical evaluators coming to learn more about Drupal and we see this as they click on our evaluator resources like About Drupal, TryDrupal, and Case Studies.

Based on user research, we know that before someone comes to the industry pages, they likely know that Drupal is an open source community-built CMS and their organization is leaning towards an open source solution. However, we did make sure the pages do not assume the visitor already knows what Drupal is, because some will find the page through search.

Another key feature is geo-targeting. Currently, we serve localized content for the Americas, EMEA, and AP/Australia/New Zealand regions. This allows us to showcase case studies that will resonate to visitors based on their location. For example, on the Americas page, we highlight the Department of Energy - a U.S federal agency. In EMEA, we highlight City of London - a UK city, and in AP/Australia/New Zealand we highlight the State Revenue Office of Victoria, Australia - a federal agency.  We took this approach because business owners at digital agencies from each region said that having localized brand names and case studies helps them convince their potential clients that Drupal is a viable option for them.

The Story We Are Telling

The story that the pages tell to visitors is:

  1. Drupal is the open source CMS of choice for this industry. Just look at the strong adoption rate, industry brand names, and their success stories.

  2. Build amazing Drupal solutions to solve problems related to your industry.

  3. Solutions are made up of Drupal and third party software and hosting solutions. Plus, you can use industry-specific distributions to accelerate your build.

  4. Because of Drupal’s extensibility and our robust ecosystem of third-party technology integrations, modules, Drupal hosting, and distributions, you can tailor a solution to solve your unique problems or create new opportunities. Check out some featured industry-specific vendors.

  5. Read case studies to learn how big names in your industry achieved business gains with a Drupal solution.

  6. These solutions were built by people at well-respected Drupal agencies who are top contributors to Drupal.

  7. If you want to talk to someone about creating a Drupal solution, fill out the form and all three will contact you.

  8. Want to meet your peers? Attend the industry summit at DrupalCon Baltimore.

For the Americas region we have secured partners for Drupal evaluators to reach out to discuss their industry needs. However, we have not yet secured agency and vendor sponsors for these pages. It takes a lot of work to line up those relationships and tee-up the content and we wanted to launch sooner than later so we could start learning how to optimize the pages. So for now, we've selected initial case study content for these regions, and we are promoting a link to the marketplace to show agencies who have industry experience in these regions. Over time, we will open up the opportunity for agencies to sponsor the pages similar to our approach in the Americas region.

Thank you to our sponsors

Contribution comes in three forms: Time, Talent, and Treasure. Many people shared their time and talent to help us create these pages for the community. We could not have built something of value without them. And, there were several companies who contributed treasure as well by investing financially to sponsor these pages. Those companies are: Acquia, Ashday, Blackmesh, Digital Echidna, FFW, Forum One, ImageX Media, Kwall, Lingotek, Lullabot, Palantir.net, Pantheon, and Phase2.

Because the industry pages give premier visibility and sponsorship is so limited, we wanted to be as fair as possible when opening up this sponsorship opportunity. As we say amongst staff, we want to “sell with a soul”. We decided to only sell these sponsorship opportunities to those who are top contributors. We looked at companies’ code contribution levels and how long they supported the Drupal Association financially and came up with an internal ranking system. Only those above a certain threshold were invited to sponsor.

This means that not only are these sponsors contributing time, talent, and treasure to this specific initiative, but they are long time contributors to the Project, helping Drupal thrive over time. It’s important to the Association that we highlight and reward good Drupal citizenship. When good Drupal citizens are doing well, we all do well. When successful, businesses can hire more Drupal talent and sponsor their contributions back to the Project. They can fund more camps and DrupalCon so we can unite and accelerate the Project in person, and they can fund Drupal.org hosting and engineers so the community can build the Project together online. We are thankful for our sponsors' generous giving and proud to work with them on this initiative.

We've created value together

We see this initiative as a great demonstration of serving our mission - “to unite the community to help them build and promote the software”. We united members from all facets of the community: end-users, service providers, and the community at large. The pages promote the software by showing that Drupal is a winning choice for evaluators in these key industries.

This project is a reflection of Drupal’s amazing spirit and culture of respecting diverse opinions, collaboration, and striving to do the best. Thank you to everyone involved in this project for working so well together, listening to each other’s different ideas, and finding ways to incorporate them so together we can build something amazing.

AI Software Juggles Probabilities To Learn From Less Data

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 22:40
moon_unit2 quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: You can, for instance, train a deep-learning algorithm to recognize a cat with a cat-fancier's level of expertise, but you'll need to feed it tens or even hundreds of thousands of images of felines, capturing a huge amount of variation in size, shape, texture, lighting, and orientation. It would be lot more efficient if, a bit like a person, an algorithm could develop an idea about what makes a cat a cat from fewer examples. A Boston-based startup called Gamalon has developed technology that lets computers do this in some situations, and it is releasing two products Tuesday based on the approach. Gamalon uses a technique that it calls Bayesian program synthesis to build algorithms capable of learning from fewer examples. Bayesian probability, named after the 18th century mathematician Thomas Bayes, provides a mathematical framework for refining predictions about the world based on experience. Gamalon's system uses probabilistic programming -- or code that deals in probabilities rather than specific variables -- to build a predictive model that explains a particular data set. From just a few examples, a probabilistic program can determine, for instance, that it's highly probable that cats have ears, whiskers, and tails. As further examples are provided, the code behind the model is rewritten, and the probabilities tweaked. This provides an efficient way to learn the salient knowledge from the data.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Delays February Patch Tuesday Indefinitely

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 22:00
UnderAttack writes: Microsoft today announced that it had to delay its February Patch Tuesday due to issues with a particular patch. This was also supposed to be the first Patch Tuesday using a new format, which led some to believe that even Microsoft had issues understanding how the new format is exactly going to work with no more simple bulletin summary and patches being released as large monolithic updates. Ars Technica notes the importance of this Patch Tuesday as "there's an in-the-wild zero-day flaw in SMB, Microsoft's file sharing protocol, that at the very least allows systems to be crashed." They also elaborate on the way Microsoft is "continuing to tune the way updates are delivered to Windows 7, 8.1, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, and Server 2012 R2."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Office Sensors Know When You Leave Your Desk

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 21:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: About a year ago, in a widely reported story, journalists at British newspaper the Telegraph found little black boxes installed under their desks. The devices, which had "OccupEye" emblazoned on them, detected if employees were at their workstations. Not shockingly, writers and editors were suspicious, worried that bosses were monitoring their moves, even their bathroom breaks. The National Union of Journalists complained to management about Big Brother-style surveillance. The company insisted the boxes were intended to reduce energy costs, ensuring that empty cubicles weren't overheated or over-air-conditioned, but the damage was done, and the devices were removed. Sensors that keep tabs on more than temperature are already all over offices -- they're just less conspicuous and don't have names that suggest Bond villains. "Most people, when they walk into buildings, don't even notice them," says Joe Costello, chief executive officer of Enlighted, whose sensors, he says, are collecting data at more than 350 companies, including 15 percent of the Fortune 500. They're hidden in lights, ID badges, and elsewhere, tracking things such as conference room usage, employee whereabouts, and "latency" -- how long someone goes without speaking to another co-worker. Proponents claim the goal is efficiency: Some sensors generate heat maps that show how people move through an office, to help maximize space; others, such as OccupEye, tap into HVAC systems.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Canada Remains a 'Safe Haven' For Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 20:40
The MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups are calling out Canada, claiming that it remains a "safe haven" for copyright infringers and pirate sites, reports TorrentFreak. From the article: One of the main criticisms is that, despite having been called out repeatedly in the past, the country still offers a home to many pirate sites. "For a number of years, extending well into the current decade, Canada had a well-deserved reputation as a safe haven for some of the most massive and flagrant Internet sites dedicated to the online theft of copyright material," IIPA writes. Another disturbing development, according to IIPA, is the emergence of stand-alone BitTorrent applications that allow users to stream content directly through an attractive and user-friendly interface, hinting at Popcorn Time. In addition to the traditional pirate sites that remain in Canada, IIPA reports that several websites offering modified game console gear have also moved there in an attempt to escape liability under U.S. law.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Big Week For Drones: Dubai Permits Passenger-Carrying Drone; Kenya Finally Approves Commercial Use

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 20:00
It's shaping up to be a major week for drone enthusiasts. A pilot-less drone designed to carry one passenger at a time is set to start making regular trips in Dubai later this year. In some other news, Kenya has joined the neighbor Rwanda in opening up its skies for commercial drone use. From an AP report: Up, up and away: Dubai hopes to have a passenger-carrying drone regularly buzzing through the skyline of this futuristic city-state in July. The arrival of the Chinese-made EHang 184 -- which already has had its flying debut over Dubai's iconic, sail-shaped Burj al-Arab skyscraper hotel -- comes as the Emirati city also has partnered with other cutting-edge technology companies, including Hyperloop One. The question is whether the egg-shaped, four-legged craft will really take off as a transportation alternative in this car-clogged city already home to the world's longest driverless metro line. From a Quartz report: Flying a drone will soon be legal in Kenya, which has effectively banned the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for anyone outside of the military for the past two years. A spokesperson for the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said that draft regulations for the commercial use of drones had been approved by security officials. The agency said details of the law would be released soon. The approval comes as regulators elsewhere in Africa have tightened restrictions on UAVs. In Ghana, flying an unregistered drone is punishable by up to 30 years in jail. In Nigeria, operators require permits from the aviation authority as well as the office of the National Security Adviser (the process of getting a permit costs up to $4,000).

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Around 2.2 Million Deaths in a Year in India and China From Air Pollution

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 19:20
India is on the verge of overtaking China as the country with the most deaths caused by air pollution, the world's biggest environmental killer, according to research published on Tuesday. From a report: The State of Global Air 2017 report states that extensive, long-term exposure to fine particulate matter contributed to more than four million premature deaths in 2015. The report is a joint effort between the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evalution's Global Burden of Disease Project. "We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide," Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, said in a statement. "The trends we report show that we have seen progress in some parts of the world -- but serious challenges remain," Greenbaum went on to add. The report's analysis showed that India -- with extra exposure and its aging population -- now competes with China in terms of air pollution health burdens. Both countries saw around 1.1 million early deaths due to air pollution in 2015.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook is Bringing Its Social Network To TV, Video App Announced For Apple's and Amazon's Set-Top Boxes

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 18:40
Facebook is making perhaps its biggest push yet to turn the social network into a destination for watching video with a new Facebook Video app for smart TVs. From a report on Recode: The social network on Tuesday announced a new app for set-top boxes, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and the Samsung Smart TV. The app will let you watch the same kinds of video you can already find on Facebook, but (presumably) on a much larger screen. Dan Rose, Facebook's VP of Partnerships, announced the new app at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif. The new app, which will launch "soon," gives Facebook yet another way to reach consumers interested in videos and, most likely, another platform to sell video ads.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What's new on Drupal.org? - January 2017

drupal - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 16:42

Read our Roadmap to understand how this work falls into priorities set by the Drupal Association with direction and collaboration from the Board and community.

Drupal.org updates Recognizing more types of contribution in the Drupal.org Marketplace

We were very pleased to announce an expansion of the issue credit system into a broader contribution credit system which recognizes more than just code contributions for the purposes of ranking organizations in the marketplace.

We now calculate the following 4 types of contribution into overall contribution credit:

User research for the upcoming industry pages

In a previous blog post on Drupal.org, we talked about our increasing focus on the adoption journey and our plans to create industry specific landing pages on Drupal.org. In January we did extensive user research with people in media and publishing, higher education, and government, which will be the first industries we promote. We're hoping to launch these pages very soon, so keep an eye on the home page.

Preparing for community elections for the Drupal Association board

Elections

The elections process for the community seats on the Drupal Association board kicks off with self-nominations in February each year. This means that we dedicated some time in January to making small refinements and improvements to the nomination process. In particular we've added more in-context educational materials about the board to the self-nomination form, including a video by executive director Megan Sanicki. We've also refined our candidate questions to help candidates express their unique qualifications.

If you're interested in bringing your perspective to the Drupal Association board, please nominate yourself.

Membership history messaging

To make it easier for members to understand their membership history, we've added new messaging to the membership join and renew pages. Users who go to join or renew their Drupal Association membership will now see a message indicating their current membership expiration date, their last contribution amount, a link to contribute again, and their auto-renewal status.

Membership messaging

Migration of Drupal Association content to Drupal.org

Drupal Association

In January we also migrated the majority of content from assoc.drupal.org to a new section on Drupal.org itself. This effort is part of our larger content restructure initiative. By moving Drupal Association content into Drupal.org we hope to increase discoverability of information about the DA, and create a tighter integration between Drupal Association news and the front-page news feed.

DrupalCI Checkstyle results now available on the DrupalCI dispatcher

DrupalCI logo

Thanks to community member mile23, DrupalCI now supports automated code style testing. To see checkstyle results for any test on Drupal.org, click on the test result bubble and then click the 'view results' link to view the detailed test results on DrupalCI's jenkins dispatcher.

We're still gathering input and feedback for this initial release of the checkstyle feature, as we decide how to integrate the checkstyle results more tightly with Drupal.org. If you have feedback or suggestions please leave your comments in this issue: #1299710: [meta] Automate the coding-standards part of patch review.

Updated testing environments

DrupalCI supports testing code against a matrix of php and database versions. In January we updated the php environments that DrupalCI supports, so that you can test against the minimum supported versions or the latest point releases. Our 5.X containers have been upgraded to the latest version for each minor release (5.3.29, 5.4.45, 5.5.38, 5.6.29). The singular PHP 7 environment that we were using was following the 7.0.x branch of php7. This has now been expanded into four php 7 environments, 7.0 (7.0.14), 7.1 (7.1.0), 7.0.x, and 7.1.x.

The dev versions of php are primarily intended for Core to sense upstream changes to php before they become released, as our comprehensive test suite often finds unanticipated bugs in php7. Additionally some missing features in the php7 containers were added, specifically apcu.

Local testing improvements

DrupalCI has always supported local testing, in order to allow developers to test changes on their own machines. This is helpful for several reasons: it allows people to test on their own machines before triggering one of the DrupalCI test bots, it lets users troubleshoot failing tests, and it helps to eliminate the 'works on my machine' problem where code appears to work in a local environment, but fails on the test bots.

To make local testing even easier, DrupalCI now automatically generates a vagrant environment for local testing. To use this functionality simply clone the drupalci_testrunner.git repo and then run $ vagrant up from within the directory. Furthermore, DrupalCI can download a build.yml file from a dispatcher.drupalci.org url to replicate any test that has been run on Drupal.org. More information about this will be added to the DrupalCI documentation soon.

Adding test priority

DrupalCI runs thousands of tests of the Drupal codebase for core and contrib modules every month. These tests include commit and patch testing for the active development which may be occurring at any time day or night, as well as the hundreds of daily regression tests run for both core and contrib projects. To help make testing more responsive, we've added a notion of testing priority. When there is a queue of waiting tests, Drupal 8 core patch tests will take priority; followed by D8 branch tests; followed by D8 contrib tests; followed by Drupal 7 patch, branch, and contrib tests.

Community Initiatives Project Applications Revamp

Our primary community initiative priority for the first quarter of the new year is the Project Application Revamp. There are four phases to the revamp: 1) preserving security advisory coverage signals about projects, 2) transitioning security advisory coverage to an opt-in process, 3) opening the gates to allow any user to promote a project to full and create releases, 4) building new tools to incentivize code review and provide code quality signals on project pages. One of the changes we made as part of phase 1 was to adjust the way recommended releases are highlighted on Drupal.org project pages.

Contrib Documentation Migration

Project maintainers are now able to create documentation guides on their projects using the new documentation content types. Maintainers can then migrate their old documentation content into these new guides, or create new documentation pages. For more information about this process, please consult our guide to contrib documentation.

Help port Dreditor features to Drupal.org

Are you a Drupal.org power user who relies on Dreditor? Markcarver is currently leading the charge to port Dreditor features to Drupal.org, and invites anyone interested in contributing to join him in #dreditor on freenode IRC or the Dreditor GitHub.

———

As always, we’d like to say thanks to all the volunteers who work with us, and to the Drupal Association Supporters, who made it possible for us to work on these projects.

If you would like to support our work as an individual or an organization, consider becoming a member of the Drupal Association.

Follow us on Twitter for regular updates: @drupal_org, @drupal_infra

US National Weather Service Suffered 'Catastrophic' Outage; Website Stopped Sending Forecasts, Warnings

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 09:00
jo7hs2 quotes a report from Miami Herald: On a day when a blizzard is pasting Maine and Northern California faces a dire flooding threat, several of the National Weather Service's primary systems for sending out alerts to the public have failed. As of approximately 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time, products from the National Weather Service ceased disseminating over the internet, including forecasts, warnings and current conditions. The Weather Service's public-facing website, Weather.gov, has not posted updated information since the outage began. Ryan Hickman, chief technology officer for Allison House, a weather data provider, called the situation "catastrophic." Hickman said two core routers for transmitting information from the Weather Service offices out to satellites, which beam the information back to public service providers, had stopped working. Hickman added that another backup system known as the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN) was also not operating. Slashdot reader jo7hs2 notes: "The systems are back up as of Monday evening."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Michael Flynn Resigns As Trump's National Security Adviser

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 05:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: President Donald Trump's embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn, who faced questions about a call to the Russian ambassador prior to the inauguration, has resigned. Retired Army General Keith Kellogg was named acting national security adviser to replace Flynn. ABC News reported Monday that Flynn called Vice President Mike Pence on Friday to apologize for misleading him about his conversation with the ambassador in November. Flynn previously denied that he spoke about sanctions the U.S. imposed on Russia for its suspected interference in the 2016 election, a claim repeated by Pence in January. An administration official later claimed Pence was relying on information provided to him by Flynn. In his resignation later, Flynn cited the "fast pace of events" for "inadvertently" briefing "the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding [his] phone calls with the Russian Ambassador." You can view Flynn's full resignation letter, as provided by the White House, here.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Banned Chemicals From 1970's Persist In Deepest Reaches of the Pacific Ocean, Study Shows

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 03:30
walterbyrd quotes a report from BBC: Scientists were surprised by the relatively high concentrations of pollutants like PCBs and PBDEs in deep sea ecosystems. Used widely during much of the 20th Century, these chemicals were later found to be toxic and to build up in the environment. The results are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. The team led by Dr Alan Jamieson at the University of Newcastle sampled levels of pollutants in the fatty tissue of amphipods (a type of crustacean) from deep below the Pacific Ocean surface. The pollutants found in the amphipods included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants. PCB production was banned by the U.S. in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a UN treaty signed in 2001. From the 1930s to when PCBs were banned in the 1970s, the total global production of these chemicals is estimated to be in the region of 1.3 million tons. Released into the environment through industrial accidents and discharges from landfills, these pollutants are resistant to being broken down naturally, and so persist in the environment. The authors of the study say that the deep ocean can become a "sink" or repository for pollutants. They argue that the chemicals accumulate through the food chain so that when they reach the deep ocean, concentrations are many times higher than in surface waters.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Playboy Is Featuring Naked Women Again -- After Dropping Nudity a Year Ago Due To the Internet

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 02:05
mi quotes a report from New York Post: The 63-year-old legendary men's magazine is bringing back nude models in its upcoming issue -- one year after banning naked photos in an effort to boost circulation and attract more mainstream advertisers. That effort obviously has failed. One of the main reasons why Playboy dropped nudity in the first place was because the internet filled the demand. Ravi Somaiya reports in the New York Times, "For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance." The issues published under the no-nudes policy, which featured both scantily clad models and could-be naked women with strategic parts of their body covered up, will all change with the March/April issue now hitting newsstands. The issue trumpets the change with a cover headline: "Naked is normal."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

T-Mobile Responds To Verizon By Improving Its Own Unlimited Data Plan

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 01:25
It didn't take long for T-Mobile to respond to Verizon's recently announced unlimited data plans. T-Mobile's CEO John Legere announced two improvements to the carrier's T-Mobile One unlimited plan that both take effect this Friday, reports The Verge. "Beginning February 17th, the plan will include HD video, an upgrade to the 480p/DVD-quality 'optimizations' that are currently in place." From the report: The other change Legere announced is related to the hotspot feature of T-Mobile One, which lets you share your smartphone's data connection with other devices. As of Friday, the plan will let customers use up to 10GB of high-speed data each month for tethering. That matches Verizon's plan, which also allows for 10GB of LTE tethering. But again, prior to today, T-Mobile One only allowed 3G hotspot speeds unless you paid extra for the T-Mobile One Plus plan. Lastly, Legere announced a promotion that will offer two lines of T-Mobile One for $100. A two-line family plan usually costs $120 per month. Unlike other carriers, T-Mobile includes taxes and fees in its advertised price -- so that should be all you pay month to month. Verizon charges $140 (plus taxes and fees) for a two-line unlimited plan. Assuming there's no sneaky fine print or trickery here, T-Mobile has at least for now regained its feature-for-feature price advantage compared against Verizon Unlimited. The company also has a higher threshold (28GB versus Verizon's 22GB) before its users might experience reduced speeds when the network is congested. In a long series of tweets, John Legere announced the new improvements/promo and took several jabs at Big Red. In one tweet, Legere wrote: "... And we all know no one was falling for [Verizon's] 'you don't need unlimited' bullshit. Hey @verizon - your ads are still up..."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

H-1Bs Reduced Computer Programmer Employment By Up To 11%, Study Finds

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 00:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MarketWatch: There would have been up to 11% more computer science jobs at wages up to 5% higher were it not for the immigration program that brings in foreign high-skilled employees, a new study finds. The paper -- by John Bound and Nicolas Morales of the University of Michigan and Gaurav Khanna of the University of California, San Diego -- was conducted by studying the economy between 1994 and 2001, during the internet boom. It was also a period where the recruitment of so-called H-1B labor was at or close to the cap and largely before the onset of the vibrant IT sector in India. In 2001, the number of U.S. computer scientists was between 6.1%-10.8% lower and wages were between 2.6% and 5.1% lower. Of course, there also were beneficiaries -- namely consumers and employers. Immigration lowered prices by between 1.9% and 2.4%, and profits increased as did the total number of IT firms.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Engineers On Google's Self-Driving Car Project Were Paid So Much That They Quit

slashdot - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 00:05
According to a new report from Bloomberg, most of the money Google spent on it self-driving car project, now spun off into a new entity called Waymo, has gone to engineers and other staff. While it has helped retain a lot of influential and dedicated workers in the short run, it has resulted in many staffers leaving the company in the long run due to the immense financial security. The Verge reports: Bloomberg says that early staffers "had an unusual compensation system" that multiplied staffers salaries and bonuses based on the performance of the self-driving project. The payments accumulated as milestones were reached, even though Waymo remains years away from generating revenue. One staffer eventually "had a multiplier of 16 applied to bonuses and equity amassed over four years." The huge amounts of compensation worked -- for a while. But eventually, it gave many staffers such financial security that they were willing to leave the cuddly confines of Google. Two staffers that Bloomberg spoke to called it "F-you money," and the accumulated cash allowed them to depart Google for other firms, including Chris Urmson who co-founded a startup with ex-Tesla employee Sterling Anderson, and others who founded a self-driving truck company called Otto which was purchased by Uber last year, and another who founded Argo AI which received a $1 billion investment from Ford last week.

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.