Technology News

Apple, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft Sign White House Pledge For Equal Pay

(One hour ago)
In honor of Women's Equality Day, an anonymous reader shares with us a festive report from Fortune: More than two months after the White House first announced its Equal Pay Pledge for the private sector, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and other major industry players have signed on. By taking the pledge, which was first introduced at the United State of Women Summit in June of this year, companies promise to help close the national gender pay gap, conduct annual, company-wide pay analyses, and review hiring and promotion practices. The new signees were announced in a White House statement on Friday -- which also happens to be Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Apple, which announced earlier this year that it has no pay gap, released a statement promising to dig even deeper into compensation. "We're now analyzing the salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all our employees worldwide. If a gap exists, we'll address it," the company said in a statement. Twenty-nine companies signed the pledge on Friday, bringing the total number of signatories to 57. The pledge is part of a $50-million, White House-led initiative to expand opportunities for and improve the lives of women and girls. The consortium members issued a statement via Whitehouse.gov's press release: "The Employers for Pay Equity consortium is comprised of companies that understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, including[..]

Google Wallet debuts automatic transfers so you can skip "cashing out" (Sarah Perez/TechCrunch)

(2 hours ago)
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:Google Wallet debuts automatic transfers so you can skip “cashing out”  —  Google today is stepping up its battle with Venmo, Square Cash and other person-to-person payment applications with an update to its Google Wallet mobile app, which now allows for automatic transfers to your bank account.

Ubuntu Linux 16.10 'Yakkety Yak' Beta 1 Now Available For Download

(3 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BetaNews: Today, the first beta of Ubuntu Linux 16.10 sees release. Once again, a silly animal name is assigned, this time being the letter "Y" for the horned mammal, "Yakkety Yak." This is also a play on the classic song "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters. Please be sure not to "talk back" while testing this beta operating system! "Pre-releases of the Yakkety Yak are not encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this bos grunniens ready. Beta 1 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. These images are still under development, so you should expect some bugs," says Set Hallstrom, Ubuntu Studio project lead. He adds: "While these Beta 1 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Yakkety Yak. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Beta 1 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 16.10 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date[..]

Twitter Is Working On Anti-Harassment Keyword Filtering Tool, Says Report

(3 hours ago)
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made it a top priority for company to limit hateful conduct. In late December 2015, for example, the company changed its rules to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time. A new report says Twitter is working to further curb the rise of hateful conduct as it is "working on a keyword-based tool that will let people filter the posts they see, giving users a more effective way to block out harassing and offensive tweets." Bloomberg reports: "The San Francisco-based company has been discussing how to implement the tool for about a year as it seeks to stem abuse on the site, said the people [familiar with the matter], who asked not to be identified because the initiative isn't public. By using keywords, users could block swear words or racial slurs, for example, to screen out offenders. The filtering tool could eventually become a moderator for any kind of content, the people said. For example, users could block a hashtag about an event they don't care to read about." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dyson Will Spend $1.4 Billion, Enlist 3,000 Engineers To Build a Better Battery

(4 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Among the 100 new products the company founder James Dyson wants to invent by 2020, the greatest investment in people and money is to improve rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, as reported by Forbes (Warning: paywalled). And Dyson is not planning incremental improvements. His opinion is that current Li-ion batteries don't last long enough and aren't safe enough -- the latter as evidenced by their propensity to spontaneously catch on fire, which is rare but does happen. Dyson believes the answer lies in using ceramics to create solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Dyson says he intended to spend $1.4 billion in research and development and in building a battery factory over the next five years. Last year Dyson bought Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Sakti3, which focuses on creating advanced solid-state batteries, for $90 million. The global lithium-ion battery market accounts for $40 billion in annual sales, according to research firm Lux as cited by Forbes. Dyson's company (which is an accurate description since he has 100-percent ownership) currently employs 3,000 engineers worldwide. He intends to hire another 3,000 by 2020. Their average age is 26. Dyson values young engineers, saying, "The enthusiasm and lack of fear is important. Not taking notice of experts and plowing on because you believe in something is important. It's much easier to do when you're young."[..]

Sources: Facebook letting go of entire Trending Topics editorial staff, consisting of 15-18 workers contracted through a third party (Quartz)

(4 hours ago)
Quartz:Sources: Facebook letting go of entire Trending Topics editorial staff, consisting of 15-18 workers contracted through a third party  —  Facebook will no longer employ humans to write descriptions for items in its Trending section, which attracted controversy over allegations of political bias in May.

Facebook Says Humans Won't Write Its Trending Topic Descriptions Anymore

(5 hours ago)
Following a former Facebook journalist's report that the company's workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's Trending Topics section, the company has been in damage control mode. First, the company announced it would tweak its Trending Topics section and revamp how editors find trending stories. Specifically, they will train the human editors who work on Facebook's trending section and abandon several automated tools it used to find and categorize trending news in the past. Most recently, Facebook added political scenarios to its orientation training following the concerns. Now, it appears that Facebook will "end its practice of writing editorial descriptions for topics, replacing them with snippets of text pulled from news stories." Kurt Wagner, writing for Recode: It's been more than three months since Gizmodo first published a story claiming Facebook's human editors were suppressing conservative news content on the site's Trending Topics section. Facebook vehemently denied the report, but has been dealing with the story's aftermath ever since. On Friday, Facebook announced another small but notable change to Trending Topics: Human editors will no longer write the short story descriptions that accompany a trending topic on the site. Instead, Facebook is going to use algorithms to "pull excerpts directly from stories." It is not, however, cutting out humans entirely. In fact, Facebook employees will still select[..]

Spotify Is Burying Tracks From Musicians Who Give Exclusives To Apple and Tidal

(5 hours ago)
The music-streaming market is very competitive these days, especially since Apple released Apple Music last year. In retaliation for musicians giving Apple exclusive access to their new music, Spotify has reportedly been making their songs harder to find on its service. Bloomberg reports: "Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won't be able to get their tracks on featuring playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people [familiar with the strategy], who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world's largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn't alter search rankings. Spotify has been using such practices for about a year, one of the people said, though others said the efforts have escalated over the past few months. Artists who have given exclusives to Tidal, the streaming service run by Jay Z, have also retaliated against, the person said, declining to identify specific musicians." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Net1 to invest up to $40 million in India's MobiKwik over 2 years

(6 hours ago)
MUMBAI (Reuters) - Payment services provider Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc will invest up to $40 million in Indian mobile wallet services provider MobiKwik over the next 24 months, the companies said in a joint statement on Friday.

St. Jude says report by short sellers 'false and misleading'

(6 hours ago)
(Reuters) - Medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical Inc said on Friday a report by short-selling firm Muddy Waters and a cyber-security researcher alleging its heart devices were riddled with bugs was "false and misleading."

Net1 to invest up to $40 million in India's MobiKwik over 2 years

(6 hours ago)
MUMBAI (Reuters) - Payment services provider Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc will invest up to $40 million in Indian mobile wallet services provider MobiKwik over the next 24 months, the companies said in a joint statement on Friday.

Facebook changes 'Trending' feature to rely less on human editors

(6 hours ago)
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc changed its popular "Trending" feature, which shows users the most-talked about topics of the day, to make it more automated and further eliminate the potential for human bias, the company wrote in a blog post on Friday.

Facebook changes 'Trending' feature to rely less on human editors

(6 hours ago)
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc changed its popular "Trending" feature, which shows users the most-talked about topics of the day, to make it more automated and further eliminate the potential for human bias, the company wrote in a blog post on Friday.

British Companies Are Selling Advanced Spy Tech To Authoritarian Regimes

(6 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Since early 2015, over a dozen UK companies have been granted licenses to export powerful telecommunications interception technology to countries around the world, Motherboard has learned. Many of these exports include IMSI-catchers, devices which can monitor large numbers of mobile phones over broad areas. Some of the UK companies were given permission to export their products to authoritarian states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Egypt; countries with poor human rights records that have been well-documented to abuse surveillance technology. In 2015, the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) started publishing basic data about the exportation of telecommunications interception devices. Through the Freedom of Information Act, Motherboard obtained the names of companies that have applied for exportation licenses, as well as details on the technologies being shipped, including, in some cases, individual product names. The companies include a subsidiary of defense giant BAE Systems, as well as Pro-Solve International, ComsTrac, CellXion, Cobham, and Domo Tactical Communications (DTC). Many of these companies sell IMSI-catchers. IMSI-catchers, sometimes known as "Stingrays" after a particularly popular brand, are fake cell phone towers which force devices in their proximity to connect. In the data obtained by Motherboard, 33 licenses are explicitly marked as being for[..]

Hillary Clinton Used BleachBit To Wipe Emails

(7 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Neowin: The open-source disk cleaning application, BleachBit, got quite a decent ad pitch from the world of politics after it was revealed lawyers of the presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, used the software to wipe her email servers. Clinton is currently in hot water, being accused of using private servers for storing sensitive emails. "[South Carolina Representative, Trey Gowdy, spoke to Fox News about Hillary Clinton's lawyers using BleachBit to wipe the private servers. He said:] 'She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn't just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can't read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don't use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridesmaids emails. When you're using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.'" Two of the main features that are listed on the BleachBit website include "Shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery," and "Overwrite free disk space to hide previously deleted files." These two features would make it pretty difficult for anyone trying to recover the deleted emails.Slashdot reader ahziem adds: The IT team for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the open source cleaning software BleachBit to wipe systems "so even God couldn't read them," according to South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy on Fox News. His comments on the "drastic cyber-measure" were in response to the question of[..]

SpaceX Dragon Returns Home From ISS

(7 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Florida Today: A SpaceX Dragon capsule that helped prepare the International Space Station for future commercial astronaut flights has returned to Earth after a stay of more than month-long mission. A robotic arm released the unmanned capsule packed with 3,000 pounds of cargo at 6:11 a.m. EDT, then fired thrusters several times to move a safe distance away from the station orbiting about 250 miles up. The departure began a less than six-hour journey that culminated in a Pacific Ocean splashdown at 11:47 a.m. EDT, about 300 miles southwest of Baja, California. The Dragon launched from Cape Canaveral early July 18 on a Falcon 9 rocket and berthed at the station two days later. Among the cargo brought back from space Friday were a dozen mice from a Japanese science experiment -- the first brought home alive in a Dragon. Samples from mice euthanized as part of an experiment by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly also were on board. Results were returned from an experiment that studied the behavior of heart cells in microgravity, and from research into the composition of microbes in the human digestive system, NASA said. Findings from both could help keep astronauts healthy during deep space exploration missions. SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station next Saturday, Sept. 3.[..]

Facebook will now select stories and excerpts automatically for Trending topic pages, show topics instead of story descriptions in Trending section (Facebook Newsroom)

(8 hours ago)
Facebook Newsroom:Facebook will now select stories and excerpts automatically for Trending topic pages, show topics instead of story descriptions in Trending section  —  Today, we're making some changes to the Trending feature on Facebook that will make the product more automated and will no longer require people …

Sprint Charging 'Unlimited' Users $20 More for Unthrottled Video

(8 hours ago)
Sprint has a new "unlimited" data plan for users that want to watch videos in full-HD (1080p) screen resolution. Dubbed "Unlimited Freedom Premium" plan, it offers the same features as the "Unlimited Freedom" plan with the bonus of allowing users to stream videos in full-HD. Also, it costs $20 extra. DSLReports points out the obvious:Last week we noted that Sprint unveiled its new Unlimited Freedom plan, which provides unlimited text, voice and data for $60 a month for one line, $40 a month for a second line, and $30 a month for every line thereafter (up to a maxiumum of 10). But the plan also, following on T-Mobile's heels, throttles all video by default to 480p, a move that has raised the hackles of net neutrality advocates. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Everything we know about the secretive NSO Group and its founder Omri Lavie, who are behind the latest iPhone hacks (Thomas Fox-Brewster/Forbes)

(8 hours ago)
Thomas Fox-Brewster / Forbes:Everything we know about the secretive NSO Group and its founder Omri Lavie, who are behind the latest iPhone hacks  —  NSO Group employees' lives must seem no different from others in the Israeli tech scene.  They turn up every morning at their office in Herzelia, in Tel Aviv's northern district …

Amazon Is Testing a 30-Hour, 75% Salary Workweek

(9 hours ago)
Amazon is planning a pilot program in which a select group of workers will need to work for 30 hours a week, instead of the usual 40 to 70 hours, and make 75 percent of the salary + benefits (alternate source). From the report:Currently, the pilot program will be small, consisting of a few dozen people. These teams will work on tech products within the human resources division of the company, working Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with additional flex hours. Their salaries will be lower than 40-hour workers, but they will have the option to transition to full-time if they choose. Team members will be hired from inside and outside the company. As of now, Amazon does not have plans to alter the 40-hour workweek on a companywide level, the spokesman said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Belgians Are Hunting Books, Instead Of Pokemon

(9 hours ago)
An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report:Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, a Belgian primary school headmaster has developed an online game for people to search for books instead of cartoon monsters, attracting tens of thousands of players in weeks. While with Pokemon Go, players use a mobile device's GPS and camera to track virtual creatures around town, Aveline Gregoire's version is played through a Facebook group called "Chasseurs de livres" ("Book hunters"). Players post pictures and hints about where they have hidden a book and others go to hunt them down. Once someone has finished reading a book, they "release" it back into the wild. "While I was arranging my library, I realized I didn't have enough space for all my books. Having played Pokemon Go with my kids, I had the idea of releasing the books into nature," Gregoire told Reuters. Though it was only set up a few weeks ago, more than 40,000 people are already signed up to Gregoire's Facebook group. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Alphabet's Nest Wants to Build a 'Citizen-Fueled' Power Plant

(10 hours ago)
Mark Chediak, reporting for Bloomberg:Alphabet Inc's Nest Labs is looking to enlist enough customers in California to free up as much power as a small natural gas-fired plant produces, helping alleviate potential energy shortages in the region following a massive gas leak that has restricted supplies. Nest, which supplies digital, wireless thermostats, is partnering with Edison International's Southern California Edison utility to get households enrolled in a state-established energy conservation program. The company wants to attract 50,000 customers through next summer that could shrink their total demand by as much as 50 megawatts when needed, Ben Bixby, Nest's director of energy businesses at Nest, said by phone. "We are building a citizen-fueled clean power plant," he said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dropbox Is Urging Users To Reset Their Passwords

(11 hours ago)
Dropbox is forcing a number of users to change their passwords after the cloud storage company found some account details linked to an old data breach. "The next time you visit dropbox.com, you may be asked to create a new password. We proactively initiated this password update prompt for Dropbox users who meet certain criteria," the company writes on its website. Fortune reports: The popular cloud storage said the move was related to the theft of an old set of Dropbox credentials, dating back to 2012. So the users the company has contacted are those who created Dropbox accounts before mid-2012 and have not updated their passwords since that time. Dropbox disclosed in July 2012 that some users were getting spammed, and the cause appeared to be the theft of usernames and passwords from other websites. As is often the case, some people reuse their usernames and passwords across different web services. (If it still needs saying, you really shouldn't reuse your passwords, ever.) Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Robot Babies Not Effective Birth Control, Australian Study Finds

(11 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Girls given imitation babies to look after in an effort to deter teenage pregnancy could actually be more likely to get pregnant, according to a study. Researchers in Australia found 8% of girls who used the dolls were expecting by the age of 20, compared with 4% of those who did not. The number of girls having at least one abortion was also higher among girls given the dolls: 9% compared to 6%. 'Baby Think It Over' dolls were used in a Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) programme which began in 57 schools in Western Australia in 2003. During the three-year study, published in The Lancet, 1267 girls aged 13 to 15 used the simulators -- which need to be fed and changed, while 1567 learned the normal health curriculum. The idea originated in the United States and is used in 89 countries. Researchers from the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia are now warning that such programmes may be a waste of public money. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'First Apple computer' sells for $815,000

(12 hours ago)
A prototype Apple 1, a holy-grail item in electronics memorabilia, has sold for $815,000 (£618,000) in an online auction.

WhatsApp and Facebook data sharing plan being investigated

(12 hours ago)
The UK's Information Commissioner (ICO) is looking into WhatsApp's decision to share more data with parent company Facebook.

HP laptop blocks over-shoulder snooping

(12 hours ago)
Computer firm Hewlett-Packard has developed two new laptops that feature an optional privacy mode that obscures the screen unless viewed face-on.

McDonald's fitness bands recalled after skin-burn complaints

(12 hours ago)
McDonald's is recalling millions of fitness wristbands that it bundled with Happy Meals after customers complained of skin irritation and burns.

Head teacher Ashley Yates jailed for filming pupils in toilets

(12 hours ago)
A primary school head teacher who used a spy pen to film pupils in the toilets at his school is jailed.

Airlander 10: Longest aircraft hit power cable before nosediving

(12 hours ago)
The world's longest aircraft came into contact with "high voltage power cables" before nosediving on landing, UK Power Networks says.

Star Wars Millennium Falcon shed attacked by raiders

(12 hours ago)
A shed replica of the Millennium Falcon cockpit from Star Wars is vandalised during a raid on a charity-run farm.

The Slashdot Interview With VideoLAN President and Lead VLC Developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf

(12 hours ago)
You asked, he answered! VideoLan President and Lead Developer of VLC Jean-Baptiste Kempf has responded to questions submitted by Slashdot readers. Read on to find out about the upcoming VideoLAN projects; how they keep VLC sustainable; what are some mistakes they wish they hadn't made; and what security challenges they face, among others! Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Labor Watch accuses iPhone 7 manufacturer Pegatron of illegally forcing overtime, low wages of $2/hour, urges Apple to invest in improving conditions (Jordan Kahn/9to5Mac)

(12 hours ago)
Jordan Kahn / 9to5Mac:China Labor Watch accuses iPhone 7 manufacturer Pegatron of illegally forcing overtime, low wages of $2/hour, urges Apple to invest in improving conditions  —  Industry watchdog China Labor Watch this week published a new report detailing what it says are continued workers' rights violations …

Google hires Airbnb exec to commercialize self-driving cars

(12 hours ago)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google self-driving car project took a step closer to market with the hire of a top executive from Airbnb, the online vacation home rental marketplace.

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Use Optical Media?

(13 hours ago)
The other day at an event, public relation officials were handing out press kit (it usually contains everything the company announced, photos from the event, and contact information of the company) to journalists. When I reached office and opened the kit, I found a CD in it. Which was weird because it's been two to three years since I had a computer with an optical drive. And all these years I didn't need one. Which begs a question: Does your work require dealing with CDs and DVDs anymore? An anonymous reader asks the same question: I still use optical discs for various backup purposes, but recently I developed doubts as to the reliability of the media to last a reasonable amount of time. I have read a review on Amazon of the TDK DVDs, in which somebody described losing 8000 (sic!) DVDs of data after 4 years of storage. I promptly canceled my purchase of TDKs. So, do you still use opticals for back-up -- Blu-Rays, DVDs, CDs? -- and if so, how do you go about it?I do buy Blu-Ray discs of movies, though. So my life isn't optical disc free yet. What about yours? Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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