Technology News

Wells Fargo's Scandals Finally Hurt Its Bottom Line

(6 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:Wells Fargo said operating losses surged 77% last quarter because of various problems in its auto lending, wealth management, mortgage and currency businesses. Overall expenses rose by 3%. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo said profit declined by 12% during the second quarter, missing Wall Street's expectations. The bank's stock, which has lagged behind the rest of the market, dropped 3% on Friday... Wells Fargo was also hurt by a $481 million income tax bill linked to a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows states to force online retailers to collect sales taxes... Even though the economy is strong, several crucial metrics at Wells Fargo are shrinking. For instance, average deposits dropped by 2% to $1.3 trillion, led by a drop-off in business from financial institutions. Wells Fargo blamed the decline on actions it had to take due to penalties imposed by the Federal Reserve that prohibit the bank from growing its balance sheet. Lending, the primary way that banks make money, also dipped by 1% from the first quarter at Wells Fargo. It cited declines for commercial real estate and consumer loans, including auto lending. Mortgage banking profits also declined sharply. If average deposits dropped by 2% to $1.3 trillion -- that looks like a drop of over $26 billion. CNN reports that an analyst at CFRA Research has downgraded his rating on Wells Fargo -- to "sell."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitter suspends two accounts linked to 12 Russians indicted by Mueller

(6 days ago)
Social networking site Twitter Inc. on Saturday suspended two accounts linked to 12 Russian spies indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Telescope Offers 'Clearest View Yet' of Milky Way - Including Plasma Filaments

(6 days ago)
Chris Reeve writes: The MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in South Africa this past Friday, revealing the clearest view yet of the center of the Milky Way. What is especially surprising about the produced image are the numerous prominent filaments which seem to appear in the foreground. Herschel made a similar announcement just three years prior that "Observations with ESA's Herschel space observatory have revealed that our Galaxy is threaded with filamentary structures on every length scale." Intriguingly, close inspection of yesterday's SKA image show these filaments twisting around one another, yet without combining — a phenomenon observable in most novelty plasma globes when the filaments are conducting electricity...The SKA telescopes is one of the first telescopes to witness these filaments because it is 50 times more powerful than any former telescope, but also because it is apparently one of the few telescopes which can observe dark mode plasmas. For these reasons, the SKA telescope will inevitably revive the debate over the underlying physical reasons for filaments which exhibit coherent thin magnetic structure over light-year distances. The original submission included a comment with more information about the theory of a plasma universe.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Maps API Becomes 'More Difficult and Expensive'

(7 days ago)
Government Technology reports:On July 16, Google Maps is going to make it more difficult and expensive to use its API, which could make custom maps that rely on the service less sustainable or even unfeasible for the people who made them... First, Google Maps is requiring all projects to have an official API key in order to work. If a user doesn't have a key, the quality of the map will likely be reduced, or it could simply stop working. Second, API keys will only work if they are attached to somebody's credit card. Google will charge that card if users exceed a certain number of API requests, which is different for different services. Google will provide users a free $200 credit toward those costs each month... There are a couple places where the changes might have more of an impact. One is in the civic hacking space, where people often work with government data to create niche projects that aim for low costs, or are free so that as many people as possible can use them... "I think that's what scares people a little bit, it certainly scares me, this thought of having this API out there and not knowing how many people are going to use it," said Derek Eder, founder of the civic tech company DataMade. "I don't want to suddenly get a bill for $1,000." There's at least three Open Source alternatives, and Geoawesomeness.com lists nine more. Slashdot reader Jiri_Komarek also points out that Google's move was good news for its competitor, MapTiler. "Since Google announced the[..]

Finally, Non-Compete Clauses Eliminated... For Fast Food Workers

(7 days ago)
"Non-compete clauses are common among professionals, justified by a variety of innocuous-sounding and apparently reasonable business reasons," writes Slashdot reader Beeftopia. "This story shows that, surprisingly, it is a very effective wage suppression mechanism as well, used in industries where it would seem unnecessary." NPR reports:For many years, fast-food franchises agreed not to recruit or hire one another's workers within the same chain. These "no-poach agreements," as they are known, meant a worker couldn't get better pay or move up the ladder by going to another franchise. Bob Ferguson, Washington's attorney general, said such agreements are clearly illegal. "These no-poach clauses, I think, are an example of a rigged system," he said. "I think you're a worker, you have no idea this clause exists, you haven't signed it. And yet when you try to go to another business to improve your wages, you can't do it, because of this condition in a contract that you never signed..." Princeton economist Alan Krueger says such restrictions make the labor market work inefficiently, keeping wages artificially low. "I think it's very hard to come up with a sound business justification for this practice, other than reducing competition for workers," he says. Arby's, Carl's Jr., and five other fast food chains agreed "under pressure" to stop enforcing their non-compete agreements, while eight more chains are currently being investigated by a coalition of 11 state attorney generals.[..]

Anti-Amazon Graffiti Increasing In Seattle (with Photos)

(7 days ago)
Long-time Slashdot reader reifman writes: If you're eagerly awaiting your city's selection for HQ2, you may want to check out GeekWire's photo gallery of anti-Amazon graffiti images from around Seattle. Animosity towards Amazon has grown in the wake of its threats over a per head tax on employees, which the city council passed and then repealed shortly after. The tax would have increased the budget for services for our 12,000+ homeless. Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos also fought the state income tax on the wealthy in 2010.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Australian Experiment Wipes Out Over 80% of Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

(7 days ago)
schwit1 quotes CNN: In an experiment with global implications, Australian scientists have successfully wiped out more than 80% of disease-carrying mosquitoes in trial locations across north Queensland. The experiment, conducted by scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and James Cook University (JCU), targeted Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread deadly diseases such as dengue fever and Zika. In JCU laboratories, researchers bred almost 20 million mosquitoes, infecting males with bacteria that made them sterile. Then, last summer, they released over three million of them in three towns on the Cassowary Coast. The sterile male mosquitoes didn't bite or spread disease, but when they mated with wild females, the resulting eggs didn't hatch, and the population crashed.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Chrome Beats Edge and Firefox in 'Browser Benchmark Battle: July 2018' -- Sometimes

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: It's been more than 20 months since our last browser benchmark battle, and we really wanted to avoid letting two years elapse before getting a fresh set of a results. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have all improved significantly over the past year and a half, and as I've argued before, the browser wars are back. You can click on the individual test to see the results: SunSpider: Edge wins! Octane: Chrome wins! Kraken: Firefox wins! JetStream: Edge wins! MotionMark: Edge wins! Speedometer: Chrome wins! BaseMark: Chrome wins! WebXPRT: Firefox wins! HTML5Test: Chrome wins! Chrome looks to be ahead of the pack according to these tests. That said, browser performance was solid across all three contestants, and it shouldn't be your only consideration when picking your preferred app for consuming internet content. Chrome wins in four tests, beating Edge's three wins, and Firefox's two wins.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Systemd-Free Artix Linux OS is Looking For Packagers

(7 days ago)
MrBrklyn (Slashdot reader #4,775) writes: Artix Linux, the young systemd free OS based on arch, is reaching a critical point in it's development and calling for new packagers. Here's more from the ongoing thread on the project's forum:You don't have to be an expert in the occult arts for that; an elementary grasp of Linux in general and how PKGBUILD works should be enough for basic contributions. Help and training will be provided, free of charge!Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New 'Creative Fund' Promises To Back Every Project on Kickstarter

(7 days ago)
All Kickstarter campaigns are getting a show of support, according to a new web site. "Every day, The Creative Fund backs all newly launched projects based on our current patronage." It's the newest offering from BackerKit, which also makes a data management platform for crowdfunding campaigns, and so far they've pledged $1 to 10,594 different Kickstarter projects. An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat:One dollar doesn't seem like a lot, but it's just a start. BackerKit cofounder Rosanna Yau says that this is more of a proof of concept, to see if their community is willing to rally around the idea. She and cofounder Maxwell Salzberg have set up a Patreon, a monthly subscription service that enables people to support creators directly. All the donations they receive from that platform will be distributed among Kickstarter projects, and the goal is to make sure all projects have at least one pledge.... Yau says that the company is open to contributing more than a $1 in the future. Its Patreon guidelines say that for each $2,000 milestone reached, the fund will pledge $1 more to all Kickstarter projects. If something doesn't get funded, the fund's pledges will get recycled and re-donated to new projects. A Medium post says the new fund "supports the entrepreneurial spirit of all independent creators, one dollar at a time.... "Everyone deserves some inspiration and a virtual high-five."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Retiring Worn-Out Wind Turbines Could Cost Billions That Nobody Has

(7 days ago)
schwit1 shared this article from Energy Central News: Estimates put the tear-down cost of a single modern wind turbine, which can rise from 250 to 500 feet above the ground, at $200,000... Which means landowners and counties in Texas could be on the hook for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars if officials determine non-functional wind turbines need to be removed. Or if that proves to be too costly, as seems likely, some areas of the state could become post-apocalyptic wastelands steepled with teetering and fallen wind turbines, locked in a rigor mortis of obsolescence. Companies will of course have the option of upgrading those aging wind turbines with new models, a resurrection of sorts. Yet the financial wherewithal to do so may depend on the continuation of federal wind subsidies, which is by no means assured. Wind farm owners say the recycling value of turbines is significant and recovering valuable material like copper and steel will cover most of the cost of decommissioning... Yet extracting valuable materials from the turbines is not as easy as it sounds... "The blades are composite, those are not recyclable, those can't be sold," said Lisa Linowes, executive director of WindAction Group, a nonprofit which studies landowner rights and the impact of the wind energy industry. "The landfills are going to be filled with blades in a matter of no time...." Unlike Duke Energy, some of the smaller wind farm companies operating in Texas, with fewer financial[..]

Intel Sends in a Final Batch Of DRM Feature Updates Targeting Linux 4.19

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader shares a report: After several big feature pull requests of new "i915" Intel DRM driver features landing in DRM-Next for Linux 4.19, the Intel open-source developers have sent in what they believe to be their last batch of feature changes for queuing this next kernel cycle. Feature activity has dwindled compared to the earlier pull requests, but this latest gathering of patches does include Intel GVT vGPU huge-page support for guests, continued Panel Self Refresh (PSR) fixes/clean-ups, GMBUS improvements for HDCP v2.2 compliance, GEM memory management improvements, and other display code improvements.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China auto firms to set up ride-sharing platform

(7 days ago)
Chinese firms FAW Group, Dongfeng Automobile and Chongqing Changan Automobile have set up a venture to establish a ride-sharing platform, Changan said on Saturday, creating the kind of service pioneered by Uber.

Major League Baseball Is Going Crypto

(7 days ago)
The blockchain gaming company Lucid Sight is partnering with Major League Baseball to launch MLB Crypto Baseball. Engadget's Daniel Roberts explains: Ethereum, launched in 2015, is a decentralized platform for "smart contracts," which are automated agreements for an exchange of value. It runs on a blockchain, the same peer-to-peer, immutable, public ledger technology that bitcoin runs on. The cryptocurrency of Ethereum is ether. Because of Ethereum's usefulness for smart contracts, it has become a proving ground for blockchain-based games, where users collect and trade one-of-a-kind items that no one can duplicate or steal. On a blockchain, each digital item (or contract) is verified and tamper-proof. In MLB Crypto Baseball, users will pay in ether to buy digital avatars tied to specific moments in recent games. They can then sell the items, or in some cases, earn rewards and stickers. The game is a decentralized app, or "dApp." [...] To play the game at launch, users must own some amount of ether and must transfer it to a web plug-in called MetaMask. (CryptoKitties works the same way.) Lucid Sight hopes to have an easy mobile app ready shortly after launch. "We are not building this just for tech savvy people," says Lucid Sight cofounder Octavio Herrera. "That said, the game will roll out in stages. So yes, for version 1 you will need ether, you will need MetaMask, it will be a little bit difficult to get into. But I do think people will open up Coinbase accounts, buy some[..]

Amazon's Share of the US Ecommerce Market Is Now 49 Percent

(7 days ago)
New numbers from researchers at eMarketer reveal that Amazon is set to clear $258.22 billion in U.S. retail sales in 2018, "which will work out to 49.1 percent of all online retail spend in the country, and 5 percent of all retail sales," reports TechCrunch. From the report: It started as an online bookstore, but today Amazon is a behemoth in all areas of e-commerce, fueled by a strong Marketplace network of third-party sellers, an ever-expanding range of goods from groceries to fashion, and a very popular loyalty program in the form of Prime. Now, it is fast approaching a tipping point where more people will be spending money with Amazon, than with all other retailers -- combined. Amazon's next-closest competitor, eBay, a very, very distant second at 6.6 percent, and Apple in third at 3.9 percent. Walmart, the world's biggest retailer when counting physical stores, has yet to really hit the right note in e-commerce and comes in behind Apple with 3.7 percent of online sales in the U.S. The report goes on to mention that Amazon's pace has not slowed down. "Its sales are up 29.2 percent versus a year ago, when it commanded 43 percent of all e-commerce retail sales," reports TechCrunch. These new numbers may renew the prospect of antitrust action being brought against the online giant.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Accused Silk Road administrator extradited to U.S. from Ireland

(7 days ago)
Ireland extradited an Irish national on Friday to the United States to face charges that he helped run the now-defunct Silk Road, an online black market where illegal drugs and other goods were bought and sold, U.S. prosecutors announced.

HHS Plans To Delete 20 Years of Critical Medical Guidelines Next Week

(7 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Beast: The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate a vast trove of medical guidelines that for nearly 20 years has been a critical resource for doctors, researchers and others in the medical community. Maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the database is known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse [NGC], and it's scheduled to "go dark," in the words of an official there, on July 16. "Guideline.gov was our go-to source, and there is nothing else like it in the world," King said, referring to the URL at which the database is hosted, which the agency says receives about 200,000 visitors per month. "It is a singular resource," Valerie King, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of Research at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, added. [She] said the NGC is perhaps the most important repository of evidence-based research available. Medical guidelines are best thought of as cheatsheets for the medical field, compiling the latest research in an easy-to use format. When doctors want to know when they should start insulin treatments, or how best to manage an HIV patient in unstable housing -- even something as mundane as when to start an older patient on a vitamin D supplement -- they look for the relevant guidelines. The documents are published by a myriad of professional[..]

Facebook Chooses To Demote Fake News Instead of Remove It

(7 days ago)
Facebook says it will not remove fake news from its platform because it does not violate its community standards. According to the BBC, Facebook said publishers often had "very different points of view" and removing fabricated posts would be "contrary to the basic principles of free speech." Instead, it is choosing to demote posts in the news feed that it deems to be fake news. From the report: Facebook has been scrutinized for its role in spreading fake news after evidence emerged that Russia tried to influence U.S. voters using the social network. On Wednesday, the company held an event in New York where it sought to convince journalists it was tackling the problem. The company said it would not remove fake news that did not break its rules but would down-rank content that had been marked as false. "We allow people to post it as a form of expression, but we're not going to show it at the top of News Feed," a spokeswoman told CNN.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Only 39 Percent of Viewers Choose Live TV As Their Default Option, Says Study

(7 days ago)
According to a new study by Hub Entertainment Research, viewers are increasingly defaulting to on-demand sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu instead of live TV. The study found that only 39% of viewers tune into live programming from a traditional pay-TV provider, down from 47% last year. On-demand sources, collectively, were the first choice for 48% of viewers. Deadline reports: For viewers aged 18-34, the pattern is more stark -- only about a quarter (26%) of the demo lists live TV as a default, compared with 35% a year ago. One clear influence on consumer behavior is the increase in TV sources -- the average person has 4.5 distinct sources to choose from (including linear TV, DVR, VOD, Netflix, etc.). That number is up from 3.7 in 2014. Among viewers 18-34, the number is higher, at 5.1 sources -- plus, Hub found that fully 50% of 18-34-year-olds subscribe to at least two of the "big three" SVOD services, Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. Even older generations accustomed to the "clicker" have turned away from live TV as a default. About 56% of viewers 55 and older listed live as their first choice, but that's down from 66% a year ago.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Lifts ZTE Export Ban

(7 days ago)
The U.S. Commerce Department has lifted the export ban on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE now that it has met all the terms required to get a full reprieve. "Officials confirmed that ZTE had put $400 million in escrow on top of other requirements, including the payment of a $1 billion fine, replacing key leadership and accepting outside monitors that will ensure it honors U.S. export controls," reports Engadget. From the report: Strictly speaking, this more of a probation -- as with the last time, the Commerce Department is suspending its ban rather than removing it entirely. The monitors will keep watch over ZTE during the entire 10-year period of the suspension, so it won't have much choice but to fly straight if it wants to avoid another ban. The earlier ban would have "only" lasted seven years. The Senate recently passed a bill that would reinstate U.S. sanctions on the company, but the White House has vowed to squash it before it becomes law.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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