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AT&T

AT&T Brings Fiber To Rich Areas While the Rest Are Stuck On DSL, Study Finds (arstechnica.com) 13

According to a new study from UC Berkeley's Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, AT&T has been focused on deploying fiber-to-the-home in the higher-income neighborhoods of California, giving wealthy people access to gigabit internet while others are stuck with DSL internet that doesn't even meet state and federal broadband standards. Ars Technica reports: California households with access to AT&T's fiber service have a median income of $94,208, according to "AT&T's Digital Divide in California," in which the Haas Institute analyzed Federal Communications Commission data from June 2016. The study was funded by the Communications Workers of America, an AT&T workers' union that's been involved in contentious negotiations with the company. By contrast, the median household income is $53,186 in California neighborhoods where AT&T provides only DSL, with download speeds typically ranging from 768kbps to 6Mbps. At the low end, that's less than 1 percent of the gigabit speeds offered by AT&T's fiber service. The median income in areas with U-verse VDSL, which ranges from 12Mbps to 75Mbps, is $67,021. In 4.1 million California households, representing 42.8 percent of AT&T's California service area, AT&T's fastest speeds fell short of the federal broadband definition of 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads, the report said.
China

Netflix Is Now In China Via a Deal With iQiyi (techcrunch.com) 5

randomErr writes: Last year, Netflix tried to go into China but ran into regulatory issues. So Netflix has entered into a licensing deal with iQiyi. iQiyi was founded in 2010 by Baidu in a very similar way that Google owns YouTube. What Netflix content will be shown and how the subscription service will work has yet to be announced.
Crime

Murdered Woman's Fitbit Nails Cheating Husband (nydailynews.com) 38

BarbaraHudson writes: A murdered woman's Fitbit data shows she was still alive an hour after her husband claims she was murdered and he was tied up, contradicting her husband's description of events. New York Daily News reports: "Richard Dabate, 40, was charged this month with felony murder, tampering with physical evidence and making false statements following his wife Connie's December 2015 death at their home in Ellington, Tolland County. Dabate called 911 reporting that his wife was the victim of a home invasion, alleging that she was shot dead by a 'tall, obese man' with a deep voice like actor Vin Diesel's, sporting 'camouflage and a mask,' according to an arrest warrant. Dabate alleged her death took place more than an hour before her Fitbit-tracked movements revealed."
EU

EU Lawmakers Include Spotify and iTunes In Geoblocking Ban (reuters.com) 16

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to ban online retailers from treating consumers differently depending on where they live and expanded their proposed law to include music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple's iTunes. Ending so-called geoblocking is a priority for the European Commission as it tries to create a single market for digital services across the 28-nation bloc, but many industries argue that they tailor their prices to specific domestic markets. The proposal, which will apply to e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Zalando and eBay, as well as for services provided in a specific location like car rental, forbids online retailers from automatically re-routing customers to their domestic website without their consent. In a blow for the book publishing and music industries, European Parliament members voted to include copyright-protected content such as music, games, software and e-books in the law. That would mean music streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes would not be able to prevent, for example, a French customer buying a cheaper subscription in Croatia, if they have the required rights.
Music

Streaming Services Help Global Music Industry To Fastest Growth in Nearly 20 Years (billboard.com) 27

The global music industry grew by 5.9 percent in 2016, its fastest rate of growth since 1997, as revenue generated by streaming services surged 60 percent. From a report: The IFPI's Global Music Report (previously known as the Digital Music Report) states that trade revenue generated by the global recorded music industry climbed by 5.9 percent to $15.7 billion, with digital sales up 17.7 percent across the board. After digital revenue surpassed physical for the first time in 2015, digital hits another milestone in 2016, accounting for 50 percent ($7.8 billion) of all music sales for the first time. More importantly, 2016 marked the second successive year that the recorded music market grew after nearly two decades of continually falling sales during which revenues dropped by almost 40 percent at their lowest point. [...] Breaking down the Global Music Report findings, the mass adoption of streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon and Apple Music in both established and emerging markets is -- as expected -- the main driver behind the industry's sustained upturn.
AI

IBM Watson Now Being Used To Catch Rogue Traders (siliconrepublic.com) 48

IBM is piloting its Jeopardy-winning Watson technology as a tool for catching rogue traders at large financial institutions, executives said in an interview Monday. From a report: Referred to as Watson Financial Services, the new product will become a monitoring tool within companies to search through every trader's emails and chats, combining it with the trading data on the floor. The objective? To see if there are any correlations between suspicious conversations online and activity that could be construed as rogue trading.
The Almighty Buck

In Costly Bay Area, Even Six-Figure Salaries Are Considered 'Low Income' (mercurynews.com) 233

An anonymous reader shares an article: In the high-priced Bay Area, even some households that bring in six figures a year can now be considered "low income." That's according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which recently released its 2017 income limits -- a threshold that determines who can qualify for affordable and subsidized housing programs such as Section 8 vouchers. San Francisco and San Mateo counties have the highest limits in the Bay Area -- and among the highest such numbers in the country. A family of four with an income of $105,350 per year is considered "low income." A $65,800 annual income is considered "very low" for a family the same size, and $39,500 is "extremely low." The median income for those areas is $115,300. Other Bay Area counties are not far behind. In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, $80,400 for a family of four is considered low income, while in Santa Clara County, $84,750 is the low-income threshold for a family of four.
China

China To Boost Non-Fossil Fuel Use To 20 Percent By 2030 (reuters.com) 34

An anonymous reader shares a report: China aims for non-fossil fuels to account for about 20 percent of total energy consumption by 2030, increasing to more than half of demand by 2050, its state planner said on Tuesday, as Beijing continues its years-long shift away from coal power. In a policy document, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will peak by 2030 and total energy demand will be capped at 6 billion tons of standard coal equivalent by 2030, up from 4.4 billion tons targeted for this year.
Transportation

Uber is Getting Serious About Building Real, Honest-To-God Flying Taxis (theverge.com) 72

An anonymous reader shares an article: When Uber first announced its crazy-sounding plan to explore "on-demand urban aviation" -- essentially a network of flying taxis that could be hailed via a smartphone app and flown from rooftop to rooftop -- the company made it clear that it never intended to go it alone. Today, as it kicked off its three-day Elevate conference in Dallas, Texas, the ride-hail company announced a slew of partnerships with cities, aviation manufacturers, real estate, and electric charging companies, in its effort to bring its dream of flying cars a little closer to reality. Uber said it will be teaming up with the governments of Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai to bring its flying taxis to those cities first. It is also joining forces with real estate firm Hilwood Properties in Dallas-Fort Worth to identify sites where it will build takeoff and landing pads, which Uber calls "vertiports." It has signed contracts (or is in the midst of contract negotiations) with five aircraft manufacturers to work on the design and production of lightweight, electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. And it launched a partnership with an electric charging company called ChargePoint, to develop charging stations for Uber's flying taxis.
Transportation

Alphabet's Self-Driving Cars To Get Their First Real Riders (bloomberg.com) 41

After almost a decade of research, Google's autonomous car project is close to becoming a real service. From a report on Bloomberg: Now known as Waymo, the Alphabet self-driving car unit is letting residents of Phoenix sign up to use its vehicles, a major step toward commercializing a technology that could one day upend transportation. For the service, Waymo is adding 500 customized Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its fleet. Waymo has already tested these vehicles, plus other makes and models, on public roads, but only with its employees and contractors as testers. By opening the doors to the general public with a larger fleet, the company will get data on how people experience and use self-driving cars -- and clues on ways to generate revenue from the technology.
Bitcoin

BitTorrent Inventor Bram Cohen Will Start His Own Cryptocurrency (torrentfreak.com) 81

Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, has showed deep interest in cryptocurrency in the past, and now it looks like he is going to start his own. From a report: Without going into technical details, Cohen believes that Bitcoin is wasteful. He suggests that a cryptocurrency that pins the mining value on storage space rather than processor time will be superior. In an interview with TorrentFreak's Steal This Show, Cohen revealed that his interest in cryptocurrencies is not merely abstract. It will be his core focus in the near future. "My proposal isn't really to do something to BitCoin. It really has to be a new currency," Cohen says. "I'm going to make a cryptocurrency company. That's my plan." By focusing on a storage based solution, BitTorrent's inventor also hopes to address other Bitcoin flaws, such as the 51% attack. "Sometimes people have this misapprehension that Bitcoin is a democracy. No Bitcoin is not a democracy; it's called a 51% attack for a reason. That's not a majority of the vote, that's not how Bitcoin works."
Google

Google Looks at People As it Pledges To Fight Fake News and 'Offensive' Content (betanews.com) 138

Google said today it is taking its first attempt to combat the circulation of "fake news" on its search engine. The company is offering new tools that will allow users to report misleading or offensive content, and it also pledged to improve results generated by its algorithm. From a report: While the algorithm tweaks should impact on general search results, the reporting tools have been designed for Google's Autocomplete predictions and Featured Snippets which have been problematic in recent months. Updated algorithms should help to ensure more authoritative pages receive greater prominence, while low-quality content is demoted. Vice president of engineering at Google Search, Ben Gomes, admits that people have been trying to "game" the system -- working against the spirit of the purpose of algorithms -- to push poor-quality content and fake news higher up search results. He says that the problem now is the "spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information."
Security

Antivirus Webroot Deletes Windows Files, Causes Serious Problems For Users (pcworld.com) 57

Users of Webroot's endpoint security product, consumers and businesses alike, had a nasty surprise Monday when the program started flagging Windows files as malicious. From a report: The reports quickly popped up on Twitter and continued on the Webroot community forum -- 14 pages and counting. The company came up with a manual fix to address the issue, but many users still had problems recovering their affected systems. The problem is what's known in the antivirus industry as a "false positive" -- a case where a clean file is flagged as malicious and is blocked or deleted. False positive incidents can range in impact from merely annoying -- for example, when a program cannot run anymore -- to crippling, where the OS itself is affected and no longer boots. The Webroot incident falls somewhere in the middle because it affected legitimate Windows files and sent them to quarantine. This is somewhat unusual because antivirus firms typically build whitelists of OS files specifically to prevent false positive detections.
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales is Launching an Online Publication To Fight Fake News (cnn.com) 157

Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia, is launching a new online publication which will aim to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with an army of volunteer community contributors. The news site is called Wikitribune. From a report: "We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events," the publication's website states. The site will publish news stories written by professional journalists. But in a page borrowed from Wikipedia, internet users will be able to propose factual corrections and additions. The changes will be reviewed by volunteer fact checkers. Wikitribune says it will be transparent about its sources. It will post the full transcripts of interviews, as well as video and audio, "to the maximum extent possible." The language used will be "factual and neutral."
Network

Gamers in Hawaii Can't Compete... Because of Latency (theoutline.com) 225

Sometimes it's very important to know that the servers of the web services you're using are situated somewhere in your neighbourhood. And it's not just because of privacy concerns. The Outline has a story this week in which it talks about gamers in Hawaii who're increasingly finding it difficult to compete in global tournaments because the games' servers are almost every time placed overseas. From the article: [...] The game's server is in Chicago. That means if you live in the Midwest, your computer can communicate with it almost instantaneously. If you're in L.A., it can take roughly 60 milliseconds. But if you're in Hawaii, it can take 120 milliseconds, with some players reporting as long as 200 milliseconds. And at the highest echelons of competitive video gaming, milliseconds matter. [...] In League and other eSports games, playing on a high ping is a big disadvantage. The goal of the game is to set up defenses to protect your base while pushing forward to capture the enemy's base, and there are typically lightning bolts and fireballs and slime-spitting dragons shooting across the screen. Playing on a high ping means players may not see all of the action that happens in a game. Latency can really screw things up for a young eSports scene, said Zack Johnson, who runs gg Circuit, a global tournament provider for gaming centers like PC Gamerz. Players on the mainland sometimes say they don't want to compete against Hawaii players, he said, because the high ping throws things off.
Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer Will Make $186 Million on Yahoo's Sale To Verizon (cnbc.com) 147

Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYTimes: Yahoo shareholders will vote June 8 on whether to sell the company's internet businesses to Verizon Communications for $4.48 billion. A yes vote, which is widely expected, would end Marissa Mayer's largely unsuccessful five-year effort to restore the internet pioneer to greatness. But Ms. Mayer, the company's chief executive, will be well compensated for her failure. Her Yahoo stock, stock options and restricted stock units are worth a total of $186 million, based on Monday's stock price of $48.15, according to data filed on Monday in the documents sent to shareholders about the Verizon deal. That compensation, which will be fully vested at the time of the shareholder vote, does not include her salary and bonuses over the past five years, or the value of other stock that Ms. Mayer has already sold. All told, her time at Yahoo will have netted her well over $200 million, according to calculations based on company filings.
Botnet

BrickerBot, the Permanent Denial-of-Service Botnet, Is Back With a Vengeance (arstechnica.com) 93

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: BrickerBot, the botnet that permanently incapacitates poorly secured Internet of Things devices before they can be conscripted into Internet-crippling denial-of-service armies, is back with a new squadron of foot soldiers armed with a meaner arsenal of weapons. Pascal Geenens, the researcher who first documented what he calls the permanent denial-of-service botnet, has dubbed the fiercest new instance BrickerBot.3. It appeared out of nowhere on April 20, exactly one month after BrickerBot.1 first surfaced. Not only did BrickerBot.3 mount a much quicker number of attacks -- with 1,295 attacks coming in just 15 hours -- it used a modified attack script that added several commands designed to more completely shock and awe its targets. BrickerBot.1, by comparison, fired 1,895 volleys during the four days it was active, and the still-active BrickerBot.2 has spit out close to 12 attacks per day. Shortly after BrickerBot.3 began attacking, Geenens discovered BrickerBot.4. Together, the two newly discovered instances have attempted to attack devices in the research honeypot close to 1,400 times in less than 24 hours. Like BrickerBot.1, the newcomer botnets are made up of IoT devices running an outdated version of the Dropbear SSH server with public, geographically dispersed IP addresses. Those two characteristics lead Geenens to suspect the attacking devices are poorly secured IoT devices themselves that someone has compromised and used to permanently take out similarly unsecured devices. Geenens, of security firm Radware, has more details here.
Data Storage

Intel Launches Optane Memory That Makes Standard Hard Drives Perform Like SSDs (hothardware.com) 136

MojoKid writes: Intel has officially launched its Optane Memory line of Solid State Drives today, lifting embargo on performance benchmark results as well. Optane Memory is designed to accelerate the storage subsystem on compatible machines, to improve transfer speeds, and reduce latency. It is among the first products to leverage 3D XPoint memory technology that was co-developed by Intel and Micron, offering many of the same properties as NAND flash memory, but with higher endurance and certain performance characteristics that are similar to DRAM. The SSD can be paired to the boot drive in a system, regardless of the capacity or drive type, though Optane Memory will most commonly be linked to slower hard drives. Optane Memory is used as a high-speed repository, as usage patterns on the hard drive are monitored and the most frequently accessed bits of data are copied from the boot drive to the Optane SSD. Since the SSD is used as a cache, it is not presented to the end-user as a separate volume and works transparently in the background. Paired with an inexpensive SATA hard drive, general system performance is more in line with an NVMe SSD. In benchmark testing, Intel Optane Memory delivers a dramatic lift in overall system performance. Boot times, application load time, file searches, and overall system responsiveness are improved significantly. Setting up Intel Optane Memory is also quick and easy with "set it and forget it" type of solution. Optane Memory modules will hit retail this week in 16GB and 32GB capacities, at $44 and $77, respectively.
Power

In Preparation For Model 3, Tesla Plans To Double the Size of Its Supercharger Network This Year (fortune.com) 157

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Tesla says it will double the number of electric vehicle chargers in its network this year as the automaker prepares for the production of its mass-market vehicle the Model 3. The plan, announced Monday in a blog post on the company's website, will grow its global network of Superchargers from more than 5,400 today to more than 10,000 by the end of the year. Tesla, which had previously announced in its annual shareholder letter plans to double the network in North America, did not disclose the cost of such an ambitious expansion. Many sites will soon enter construction to open in advance of the summer travel season, according to Tesla. The company says it will add charging locations within city centers as well as highway sites this year. The goal is to make "charging ubiquitous in urban centers," Tesla says in its blog post. The company says it will build larger sites along busy travel routes to accommodate several dozen Teslas simultaneously. These larger sites will also have customer service centers.
The Almighty Buck

How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All (theatlantic.com) 221

Thelasko shares an excerpt from a report via The Atlantic, which describes how price discrimination is used in online shopping and how businesses like Amazon try to extract consumer surplus: Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer. We live in the age of the variable airfare, the surge-priced ride, the pay-what-you-want Radiohead album, and other novel price developments. But what was this? Some weird computer glitch? More like a deliberate glitch, it seems. "It's most likely a strategy to get more data and test the right price," Guru Hariharan explained, after I had sketched the pattern on a whiteboard. The right price -- the one that will extract the most profit from consumers' wallets -- has become the fixation of a large and growing number of quantitative types, many of them economists who have left academia for Silicon Valley. It's also the preoccupation of Boomerang Commerce, a five-year-old start-up founded by Hariharan, an Amazon alum. He says these sorts of price experiments have become a routine part of finding that right price -- and refinding it, because the right price can change by the day or even by the hour. (Amazon says its price changes are not attempts to gather data on customers' spending habits, but rather to give shoppers the lowest price out there.)

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