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Amazon May Handle 30% Of All US Retail Sales ( 70

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: Amazon's yearly sales account for about 15% of total U.S. consumer online sales, according to the company's statements and the Department of Commerce. But the Seattle e-commerce company may actually be handling double that amount -- 20% to 30% of all U.S. retail goods sold online -- thanks to the volume of sales it transacts for third parties on its website and app. Only a portion of those sales add to its revenue.

"The punchline is that Amazon's twice as big as people give them credit for, because there's this iceberg under the surface, but you only see the tip," said Scot Wingo, executive chairman of Channel Advisor, an e-commerce software company that works with thousands of online sellers. When third-party sales are taken into account, Amazon's share of what U.S. shoppers spend online could be as high as $125 billion yearly...

Amazon's share will grow even larger when they can offer two-hour deliveries, warns one analyst, while another puts it more succinctly. "Amazon's just going to slowly grab more and more of your wallet."
The Almighty Buck

Silicon Valley Big Data Startup Palantir Responds To Labor Department's Discrimination Lawsuit ( 80

Silicon Valley's big data startup Palantir, founded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, has filed a response to the Department of Labor after the agency sued the company for discriminating against Asian job applicants. From a Fortune report: Palantir says that no discrimination took place and that the Labor Department's statistical analysis -- the basis for the recent suit -- is faulty. The suit, according to Palantir's 15-page response, wrongly suggests that the company "should have hired a workforce that matched the racial composition of the group of individuals whose resumes Palantir received, without regard to candidate qualifications." Palantir's response also points out that the suit addressed only three out of 44 job titles for which Palantir hired employees within the 18-month analysis period conducted by the Labor Department. What's more, says the response, 36% of those eventually hired across all the job openings within that timeframe were Asian -- a rate that exceeds the percentage of qualified Asian employees in the external labor market, according to stats from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Baidu's Voice Recognition Software Is More Accurate Than Typing ( 55

The massive Chinese web services company Baidu has launched their sophisticated new TalkType 'keyboard' which defaults to voice recognition app. An anonymous reader quotes The Stack: Baidu claims that the app's speech recognition is more accurate than actual typing, having developed and tested the technology alongside speech software experts at Stanford University...The researchers concluded that Baidu's technology was three times faster than a typical user typing in English. The results showed that the TalkType error rate was 20.4% lower than an English texter hunting and tapping for letters. The accuracy was even greater for those typing in Mandarin, with the error rate dropping 63.4% when using TalkType.
Of course, last year Baidu was also accused of gaming the testing for their image-recognition software.

Scientists Identify Another Source of Dangerous Greenhouse Gases: Reservoirs ( 159

A team of researchers from Canada, Holland, China, the U.S. and Brazil "found that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made reservoirs were likely equal to the equivalent of one gigaton of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year...a little less than one-sixth of the United State's greenhouse gas emissions." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Popular Science: A reservoir is usually created by damming a river, overflowing the banks and flooding the surrounding area, creating a man-made lake...the perfect conditions for microbes to generate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane (a gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide)... "When reservoirs are first flooded there's organic matter in the soil and vegetation that can be converted by microbes into methane and carbon dioxide," John Harrison, a co-author of the paper, tells Popular Science.

"Also, reservoirs because they are in line in rivers, they receive a lot of organic matter and organic sediment from upstream that can fuel the production of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide." Harrison says that reservoirs also tend to occur in areas where fertilizers are used on the surrounding land. Runoff from those fertilizers into bodies of water can cause algal blooms that can also produce more methane and carbon dioxide.

If the world's reservoirs were a country, they'd be #8 on a list of polluters -- right behind Brazil, China, the EU and the U.S.

Poor Scientific Research Is Disproportionately Rewarded ( 81

A new study calculates a low probability that real effects are actually being detected in psychology, neuroscience and medicine research paper -- and then explains why. Slashdot reader ananyo writes: The average statistical power of papers culled from 44 reviews published between 1960 and 2011 was about 24%. The authors built an evolutionary computer model to suggest why and show that poor methods that get "results" will inevitably prosper. They also show that replication efforts cannot stop the degradation of the scientific record as long as science continues to reward the volume of a researcher's publications -- rather than their quality.
The article notes that in a 2015 sample of 100 psychological studies, only 36% of the results could actually be reproduced. Yet the researchers conclude that in the Darwin-esque hunt for funding, "top-performing laboratories will always be those who are able to cut corners." And the article's larger argument is until universities stop rewarding bad science, even subsequent attempts to invalidate those bogus results will be "incapable of correcting the situation no matter how rigorously it is pursued."

Facebook Inflated Video Viewing Stats For Two Years ( 49

Facebook has admitted inflating the average time people spend watching videos for two years by failing to count people who watched for less than three seconds. CNET reports: The metric was artificially inflated because it only counted videos as viewed if they had been seen for three or more seconds, not taking into account shorter views, the company revealed several weeks ago in a post on its advertiser help center web page. Facebook has been putting a greater emphasis on video in recent years, particularly live video. In March, Facebook began giving anyone with a phone and internet connection an easy way to broadcast live video to the 1.7 billion people who use its service every day.

Stanford's New Alcohol Policy Isn't Based On Much Research ( 201

Sophia Carter-Kahn, reporting for Motherboard: Last week Stanford University announced a strict new alcohol policy in hopes to curb binge drinking. The new policy bans hard liquor at on-campus parties, and restricts hard alcohol in undergraduate possession to containers smaller than 750 milliliters ("a fifth"). Lisa Lapin, the vice president of university communications, clarified that the goal is to prevent medical transports [i.e. trips to the hospital]. Universities across the country are looking for new ways to deal with dangerous binge drinking. If this new restriction at Stanford is successful, it would set a precedent for how universities across the country grapple with a seemingly insurmountable alcohol problem. There's just one catch: there's little data to suggest restricting bottle size can change college drinking culture. Colleges have tried different strategies, from mailing parents flyers about alcoholism stats to policing campuses to break up parties. Dartmouth College, for example, implemented a hard alcohol ban last year. And the University of Virginia cracked down on liquor and Greek life on campus. But their efforts don't seem to be working. Drunkorexia -- skipping meals to have more room for alcohol -- is on the rise. And administrative desperation to find some way to reduce alcohol consumption has continued.

Older Workers Are Better At Adapting To New Technology, Study Finds ( 219

"Don't let the millennial buzz fool you. Older workers handle and adapt to new systems better than younger people," writes CIO magazine. Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: A survey by London-based market research firm Ipsos Mori, sponsored by Dropbox, found that older workers are less likely to find using technology in the workplace stressful and experience less trouble working with multiple devices than the younger cohort.
Millennials "are used to using tech in their personal lives that's pretty darn good," suggests one Dropbox executive, "and that raises the expectations of what tech can be in their professional lives... So younger people will feel frustration at tools that are not up to snuff." Out of 4,000 information workers who were surveyed in the U.S. and Europe, 37% of the 18-34-year-old group reported trouble with multiple devices, compared to just 13% of respondents over 55.
Data Storage

8TB Drives Are Highly Reliable, Says Backblaze ( 209

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Yahoo News: Cloud backup and storage provider Backblaze has published its hard drive stats for Q2 2016. Yahoo News reports: "The report is based on data drives, not boot drives, that are deployed across the company's data centers in quantities of 45 or more. According to the report, the company saw an annualized failure rate of 19.81 percent with the Seagate ST4000DX000 4TB drive in a quantity of 197 units working 18,428 days. The next in line was the WD WD40EFRX 4TB drive in a quantity of 46 units working 4,186 days. This model had an annualized failure rate of 8.72 percent for that quarter. The company's report also notes that it finally introduced 8TB hard drives into its fold: first with a mere 45 8TB HGST units and then over 2,700 units from Seagate crammed into the company's Blackblaze Vaults, which include 20 Storage Pods containing 45 drives each. The company moved to 8TB drives to optimize storage density. According to a chart provided in the report, the 8TB drives are highly reliable. The HGST HDS5C8080ALE600 worked for 22,858 days and only saw two failures, generating an annualized failure rate of 3.20 percent. The Seagate ST8000DM002 worked for 44,000 days and only saw four failures, generating an annual failure rate of 3.30 percent." For comparison, Backblaze's reliability report for Q1 2016 can be found here.

UPDATE 8/2/16: Corrected Seagate Model "DT8000DM002" to "ST8000DM002."
The Almighty Buck

Dark Patterns Across the Web Are Designed To Trick You 128

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Harry Brignell has posted a 30-minute video documenting dark patterns, deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces (not exclusive to the internet) that trick users into setting up recurring payments, purchasing items added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through pre-checked forms on Facebook games for example. Basically, they're tactics used by online services to get users to do things they wouldn't normally do. Yael Grauer has written an in-depth report on Ars Technica about dark patterns, where he discusses Brignull's work with UX designers and business executives: "Klein [Principal at Users Known and author of UX for Lean Startups] believes many of the worst dark patterns are pushed by businesses, not by designers. 'It's often pro-business at the expense of the users, and the designers often see themselves as the defender or advocate of the user,' she explained. And although Brignull has never been explicitly asked to design dark patterns himself, he said he has been in situations where using them would be an easy solution -- like when a client or boss says they really need a large list of people who have opted in to marketing e-mails. 'The first and easiest trick to have an opt-in is to have a pre-ticked checkbox, but then you can just get rid of that entirely and hide it in the terms of conditions and say that by registering you're going to be opted in to our e-mails,' Brignull said. 'Then you have a 100-percent sign-up rate and you've exceeded your goals. I kind of understand why people do it. If you're only thinking about the numbers and you're just trying to juice the stats, then it's not surprising in the slightest.' 'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'" Brignull's website has a number of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.

Linux Grabs More Than 2% of Desktop Market Share ( 249

LichtSpektren writes: W3Counter's stats for June 2016 are in, and Linux desktop accounts for 2.48% of all web visits from tracked websites... (Android is counted separately from "Linux desktop.")
Meanwhile, NetMarketShare shows Linux with a 2.02% share of the desktop market. And StatCounter shows a more detailed breakdown of the top 7 operating systems, with Windows 7 at 42.02%, Windows 10 at 21.88%, OSX at 9.94%, Windows 8.1 at 8.66%, Windows XP at 6.5%, and another 4.06% for "Unknown" (which is roughly tied with "Other") -- beating Windows 8.0 at 3.52%. In May they also reported another thought-provoking statistic: that Firefox's browser usage had surpassed that of IE and Edge combined for the first time.

Crypto Ransomware Attacks Have Jumped 500% In The Last Year ( 36

Kaspersky Lab is reporting that the last year saw a 500% increase in the number of users who encountered crypto ransomware. Trailrunner7 shares an article from On The Wire: Data compiled by Kaspersky researchers from the company's cloud network shows that from April 2015 to March 2016, the volume of crypto ransomware encountered by users leapt from 131,111 to 718,536. That's a massive increase, especially considering the fact that ransomware is a somewhat mature threat. It didn't just burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. Kaspersky's researchers said the spike in crypto ransomware can be attributed to a small group of variants. "Looking at the malware groups that were active in the period covered by this report, it appears that a rather short list of suspects is responsible for most of the trouble caused by crypto-ransomware..."

It's difficult to overstate how much of an effect the emergence of ransomware has had on consumers, enterprises, and the security industry itself. The FBI has been warning users about crypto ransomware for some time now, and has consistently advised victims not to pay any ransoms. Security researchers have been publishing decryption tools for specific ransomware variants and law enforcement agencies have had some success in taking down ransomware gangs.

Enterprise targets now account for 13% of ransomware attacks, with attackers typically charging tens of thousands of dollars, the article reports, and "Recent attacks on networks at the University of Calgary and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have demonstrated the brutal effectiveness of this strategy."
The Internet

Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report: Messaging Apps Could Rival Home Screen ( 32

Mary Meeker, a former Morgan Stanley internet analyst and now partner at venture-capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, has delivered her annual report that offers critical stats and trends about how technology is evolving. TechCrunch has highlighted the takeaways from the report: 1) The global internet adoption rate was flat year-over-year at 9%, reaching 3 billion users or 42% of the world's population.
2) Smartphone adoption's growth is slowing, while Android increases marketshare despite a shrinking average selling price.
3) Video viewership is exploding, with Snapchat and Facebook Live showing the way, though video ads aren't always effective.
4) Messaging is dominated by Facebook and WeChat, it's growing rapidly, and evolving from simple text communication to become our new home screen with options for vivid self-expression and commerce.
5) US advertising is growing, with Google and Facebook controlling 76% of the market and rising, but advertisers still spend too much on legacy media rather than new media where the audience has shifted.
6) Meeker predicts the rise of voice interfaces because they're fast, easy, personalized, hands-free, and cheap, with Google on Android now seeing 20% of searches from voice, and Amazon Echo sales growing as iPhone sales slow.


Study Indicates Americans Don't Trust AI ( 151

Taco Cowboy writes: It may be brilliant, but it's not all that trustworthy. That appears to be the opinion Americans hold when it comes to Artificial Intelligence systems... And while we may be interacting with AI systems more frequently than we realize (hi, Siri), a new study from Time etc suggests that Americans don't believe the AI revolution is quite here yet, with 54 percent claiming to have never interacted with such a system

The more interesting finding reveals that 26 percent of respondents said they would not trust an AI with any personal or professional task. Sure, sending a text message or making a phone call is fine, but 51 percent said they'd be uncomfortable sharing personal data with an AI system. Moreover, 23 percent of Americans who say they have interacted with an AI reported being dissatisfied with the experience.

I thought it was interesting that 66% of the respondents said they'd be uncomfortable sharing financial data with an AI, while 53% said they'd be uncomfortable sharing professional data.

Ubuntu Linux Continues To Dominate OpenStack and Other Clouds ( 23

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: One reason Ubuntu is increasing its lead is that Jujo, Canonical's application modeling and deployment DevOps tool, has been gaining in popularity. In the latest OpenStack user survey, we see that OpenStack is finally gaining real momentum in private clouds. We also see that Ubuntu Linux is continuing to dominate OpenStack. As Canonical cloud marketing manager Bill Bauman said, "Ubuntu OpenStack continues to dominate the majority of deployments with 55 percent of production OpenStack clouds. The previous survey showed Ubuntu OpenStack at 33 percent of production clouds. Ubuntu has seen almost 67 percent growth in an area where Ubuntu was already the market leader. These numbers are a huge testament to the community support Ubuntu OpenStack receives every day." The Cloud Market's latest analysis of operating systems on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) shows Ubuntu with just over 215,000 instances. Ubuntu is followed by Amazon's own Amazon Linux Amazon Machine Image (AMI), with 86,000 instances. Further back, you'll find Windows with 26,000 instances. In fourth and fifth place, respectively, you'll find Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with 16,500 instances and then CentOS with 12,500 instances.

The Guardian Publishes Comment Abuse Stats, Invites Debate On Moderation ( 303

AmiMoJo writes: British newspaper The Guardian has published some stats on its popular comment sections attached to each story. So far the Guardian's site has received 70 million comments, of which around 2% were removed for violation of community standards. Articles written by women tended to get the most blocked comments, especially if they were in male-writer dominated sections like sports and technology, while fashion was one of the few areas where men got more abuse. Further down the article the reader is invited to moderate some sample comments and see how their actions compared to those of the paper's staff. You can leave suggestions for improvement here.

More Devs Now Use OS X Than Linux, Says Survey ( 532

An anonymous reader writes from an article on 9to5Mac: Stack Overflow reports that more developers now use OS X than Linux as their primary OS, and that if the trend continues, fewer than half of all developers will be using Windows next year. The site says it carried out "the most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted," with more than 56,000 coders across 173 countries taking part.
The survey also mentioned more were still developing for Android than iOS -- 61.9% versus 47.5%. However, almost a third of developers are using Swift, which was also the second most loved language after Rust.

Study Finds 3 Laws Could Reduce Firearm Deaths By 90% ( 819

An anonymous reader writes: The study, published in The Lancet, used a cross-sectional, state-level dataset relating to a host of topics associated with firearm mortality including gun ownership and even unemployment from across the U.S. to examine the relationship between recorded gun deaths and gun-control legislation. The study found that some laws, such as those that restrict gun access to children through locks and age restrictions, were simply ineffective while others, such as the stand-your-ground law that allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense, actually increase gun-related deaths significantly. According to the study's model, a federal law expanding background checks for all gun purchases could reduce the national gun death rate by 57%, lowering it from 10.35 to 4.46 per 100,000 people while background checks for all ammunition purchases could lower the rate by 81% to 1.99 per 100,000 and firearm identification could reduce it by 83% to 1.81 per 100,000. If the federal government implemented all three laws, the scholars predict that the overall national rate of firearm deaths would drop by over 90% to 0.16 per 100,000.
United States

This Was America's Warmest Winter On Record ( 446

hondo77 writes: On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its official assessment of December, January, and February's temperatures across the United States, and the results are striking: Not a single state in the U.S. had a cooler than average winter. (NOAA treats Alaska and Hawaii separately, due to shorter weather data records there -- though both states were significantly warmer than normal this winter. Weather records for the contiguous United States go back to 1895.) NOAA blames the recent warm weather on a record-strength El Nino "and other climate patterns," most notably, global warming. As a whole, this winter in the lower 48 was about 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average: a sharp contrast to the previous back-to-back frigid polar vortex winters, especially in the Northeast.

Many Surveys, About One In Five, May Contain Fraudulent Data ( 115

sciencehabit writes: How often do people conducting surveys simply fabricate some or all of the data? Several high-profile cases of fraud over the past few years have shone a spotlight on that question, but the full scope of the problem has remained unknown. [Tuesday], at a meeting in Washington, D.C., a pair of well-known researchers presented a statistical test for detecting fabricated data in survey answers. When they applied it to more than 1000 public data sets from international surveys, a worrying picture emerged: About one in five of the surveys failed, indicating a high likelihood of fabricated data.

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