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FCC Cancels $886 Million In Funding For SpaceX's Starlink

Slashdot - 2 hours 10 min ago
The FCC is canceling $886 million in funding for Starlink to expand access in rural areas, citing the satellite internet system's cost and doubts over whether it can supply fast enough speeds. PC Magazine reports: The agency today announced it had rejected "long-form applications" from both SpaceX and an ISP called LTD Broadband to secure funding from the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. "The Commission determined that these applications failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service," the FCC said in a statement. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel added: "We cannot afford to subsidize ventures that are not delivering the promised speeds or are not likely to meet program requirements." In December 2020, the FCC awarded $886 million to SpaceX to help its Starlink service supply high-speed broadband to 642,925 locations in 35 states. However, it came with a requirement that SpaceX provide a long-form application about how Starlink would meet its obligations before the federal funding could be fully secured. The FCC's goal with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is to supply gigabit internet speeds to over 85% of the selected rural locations and at least 100Mbps download speeds for all 99.7% of the locations in the coming years. "Starlink's technology has real promise," Rosenworcel said. "But the question before us was whether to publicly subsidize its still developing technology for consumer broadband -- which requires that users purchase a $600 dish -- with nearly $900 million in universal service funds until 2032."

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GM Makes $1,500 OnStar Subscription Mandatory On GMC, Buick, Cadillac Models

Slashdot - 5 hours 40 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Drive: If you don't want to pay for in-car subscriptions every month, no problem: Just pay it all upfront. That's the line from General Motors today after news spread that it's making a three-year, $1,500 OnStar connected services subscription a mandatory "option" for new Buick, GMC, and Cadillac Escalade models. The subscription, which enables things like using your phone as a key fob, data-enabled navigation, audio streaming, and Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant, is still optional on other GM vehicles, with the Premium package running $49.99 a month. But don't be surprised if this new setup spreads across the automaker's full portfolio. The $1,500 charge for OnStar will effectively raise the base prices of these cars, though the exact increase varies from model to model. All Buicks will see a price increase of $1,500. Higher trim GMCs will see an increase of as little as $905 with the Hummer EV getting no MSRP boost. Base model GMC pickups, the Sierra and Canyon, are hit the hardest with a $1,675 increase. By far the most common price hike is $1,500, which also applies to the Cadillac Escalade, Automotive News reports. Speaking to GM Authority, a spokesperson said making customers pay for the service will "enhance [their] vehicle ownership experience." They went on to state that "By including this plan as standard equipment on the vehicle, it provides more customer value and a more seamless onboarding experience." The automaker confirmed to AN that buyers who don't activate OnStar and have no desire to use the services will not be offered a discount. Further reading: BMW Starts Selling Heated Seat Subscriptions For $18 a Month

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IRS Seeks SFOX Customer Information in Cryptocurrency Tax Push

Slashdot - 7 hours 8 min ago
The Internal Revenue Service is seeking to identify customers of cryptocurrency prime dealer SFOX as part of its efforts to force crypto investors to pay taxes on their holdings. Bloombeg reports: In court filings in New York and Los Angeles, the tax authority asked federal judges to let it serve summonses on SFOX and M.Y. Safra Bank, which partnered with SFOX in 2019 to offer its customers cash deposit accounts backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The IRS is seeking account and transaction records for users with cryptocurrency transactions over $20,000 in any year from 2016 to 2021. "Transactions in cryptocurrency have grown substantially in recent years, and the IRS is concerned that taxpayers are not properly reporting these transactions on their tax returns," a lawyer for the government said in court papers filed Monday in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg (paywalled), the FTC is "investigating the operators of the BitMart cryptocurrency exchange over a December 2021 hack that led to consumer losses between $150 million and $200 million -- marking the agency's first known probe into crypto markets."

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Iran Cheerfully Admits Using Cryptocurrency To Pay For Imports

Slashdot - 7 hours 45 min ago
Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions. The Register reports: Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet [here], which translates as "This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries." It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure. But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

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Spotify Tests Selling Concert Tickets Directly To Fans

Slashdot - 8 hours 25 min ago
As first reported by Music Ally, Spotify is testing a new website to sell tickets directly to fans, "rather than just linking to external ticketing firms." From the report: For now, this is strictly a test rather than a full commercial launch. It kicks off [August 10] with a small number of artists, with pre-sale tickets available to fans through Spotify's app and a newly-launched tickets.spotify.com website. The test is happening in the US, with Annie DiRusso, Tokimonsta, Osees, Dirty Honey, Limbeck, Crows and Four Years Strong the first artists confirmed for the initiative. The tickets will come from those artists' pre-sale allocations for upcoming concerts. Don't get carried away with any 'Spotify takes on Ticketmaster' hyperbole just yet. The company is making it very clear that this is just a test for now, and that it's focused on pre-sales rather than primary ticketing. [...] The theory behind the test kicking off this week is to find out whether Spotify can both widen its involvement in pre-sales while selling the tickets directly. We would expect that to include a share of the revenues, although Spotify declined to give any details of the business model. There's another obvious motivation behind the test. Pre-sales of their own allocations can be an important income stream for artists, so if Spotify can help them do it, that could be a reputation-booster at a time of renewed debate (alright: big arguments) about musicians' streaming royalties. If Spotify can also become one of the ways artists ensure their tickets go to genuine fans rather than touts -- resales are not allowed in the test -- that could also be positive. And in this case, Spotify has the data to prove whether ticket buyers are genuine fans: their listening history. Important caveat: there's no suggestion at this point that Spotify will use this data as a barrier to purchase, in a 'you can't buy this artist's pre-sale ticket because you haven't streamed them enough' way. We're imagining something else: options for artists to promote their native-Spotify pre-sales to their biggest listeners in the cities / regions where the concerts are happening.

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Twitch Founder Justin Kan: Web3 Games Don't Need To Lure Players With Profit

Slashdot - 9 hours 8 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Top crypto VCs are constantly touting the potential of video games as one of the most compelling use cases for blockchain technology. [...] TechCrunch talked to Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch and more recently, Solana-based gaming NFT marketplace Fractal, to get his thoughts on what it will take for this subsector of web3 to live up to the hype. Kan said that web3 gaming has a long way to go -- while there are about 3 billion gamers in the world, including those who play mobile games, he noted, far fewer have bought or interacted with any sort of blockchain-based gaming asset. Kan sees this gap as an opportunity for blockchain technology to fundamentally change how video game studios operate. "I think the idea of creating digital assets, and then taxing everyone for all the transactions around them is a good model," Kan said. In some ways, web3 gaming was been built in response to the success of games such as Fortnite that were able to unlock a lucrative monetization path for gaming studios through micro-transactions from users buying custom items such as outfits and weapons. Web3 game developers hope to take that vision a step further by enabling players to take those custom digital assets between different games, turning gaming into an interoperable, immersive ecosystem, Kan explained. Kan has made around 10 angel investments in web3 gaming startups, including in the studio behind NFT-based shooter game BR1: Infinite Royale, he said. Still, he admitted that building this interoperable ecosystem, which he sees as the future of video games overall, doesn't technically require blockchain technology at all. "Blockchain is just the way that it's going to happen, I think, because there's a lot of cultural momentum around people equating blockchain with openness and trusting things that are decentralized on the blockchain." [T]he appeal of an open gaming ecosystem is more about the principle of the matter than it is about making a living. "I actually think that people equate NFTs and games with this play-to-earn model where people are making money and doing their job [by gaming], and I think that's completely unnecessary," Kan said. "Having digital assets in your game can work and be valuable, even if nobody is making money and there's no speculative appreciation or price appreciation on your assets," he added. It's common for popular games to attract new development on top of their existing intellectual property. Kan shared the example of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), a video game in which custom "skins" have sold for as much as $150,000 each. "I funded a company that builds on top of the CSGO skins," he said. "CSGO changed the rules about what was allowed and actually confiscated over a million dollars just from this company -- so yeah, I don't want to build on top of these non-open platforms anymore." "Kan sees blockchain-based games as just a 'more economically immersive' version of the marketplaces that already exist in video games," adds TechCrunch. "He doesn't think users will flock to blockchain gaming just to make money, though." "I think that web3 games are just being more open and saying, instead of this being a black market, we're going to make this a real market and people's economic participation is going to vary to different levels. There's gonna be people who only play the game and never buy things with money. There's gonna be some people who are making some side money because they're really good at the game, and they're getting some things in the game they're selling [or trading]." He added: "In order for this market to actually be big, it's going to require normal people who want to play games for fun to play these games. That doesn't exist yet. I think most of the market today is people who are crypto-native."

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Disney Raises Streaming Prices After Services Post Big Operating Loss

Slashdot - 9 hours 50 min ago
As part of an effort to make its streaming business profitable, Disney announced that the price of ad-free Disney+ will rise 38% to $10.99 -- "a $3 per month increase," reports CNBC. "The price of Hulu without ads will rise by $2 per month, from $12.99 to $14.99, effective as of Oct. 10. Hulu with ads will go up by $1 per month, rising from $6.99 to $7.99." From the report: The price increases reflect the growing operating loss for Disney's streaming services. Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ combined to lose $1.1 billion in the fiscal third quarter, $300 million more than the average analyst estimate, reflecting the higher cost of content on the services. The increased operating loss occurred even while Disney added about 15 million new Disney+ subscribers in the quarter, about 5 million more than analysts estimated. Disney has previously stated it plans to lose money on Disney+ until 2024. Average revenue per user for Disney+ decreased by 5% in the quarter in the U.S. and Canada due to more customers taking cheaper multi-product offerings. Overall, the company's quarterly results, also announced Wednesday, beat analysts' expectations on the top and bottom lines. Disney+ subscriptions rose to 152.1 million during the most recent period, higher than Wall Street's projections of 147 million. In a separate article, CNBC reports that Disney now projects between 215 million and 245 million total Disney+ customers by 2024, "down 15 million on both the low end and high end of the company's previous guidance." Previously, the guidance was between 230 million and 260 million by the end of fiscal 2024. They also reaffirmed its expectation that the streaming service will become profitable by the end of 2024.

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A Fifth of US Teens Use YouTube 'Almost Constantly,' With TikTok Not Far Behind

Slashdot - 10 hours 30 min ago
Pew Research has published a new report that examines social media usage trends among US teens. The organization found that a whopping 95 percent of them use YouTube, while 19 percent are on the platform "almost constantly." Engadget reports: Perhaps unsurprisingly, two-thirds (67 percent) said they used TikTok, with 16 percent claiming they are on the app "almost constantly." The third most-popular social media platform among teens is Instagram, per Pew, with 62 percent using it. A tenth say they use it almost all the time -- despite the app occasionally telling them to take a break. A previous poll conducted in 2014-15 found that 52 percent were using Instagram (Pew didn't ask about YouTube usage for that survey and TikTok didn't exist at the time). Snapchat also rose among teens, with 59 percent using it in 2022, compared with 41 percent in the previous poll. Facebook was the top social media app among teens seven years ago, with 71 percent of them using it, but that figure has dropped to 32 percent. Teen adoption of Twitter (down from 33 percent to 23 percent) and Tumblr (14 percent to five percent) has fallen over the same period too. The 2014-15 poll didn't ask about Twitch, WhatsApp or Reddit. These days, a fifth of teens use Twitch, 17 percent are on WhatsApp and 14 percent are accessing Reddit.

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Amazon Begins Large-Scale Rollout of Palm Print-Based Payments

Slashdot - 11 hours 8 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Amazon will expand its Amazon One palm print checkout system to dozens of Whole Foods locations, marking the most significant expansion of the technology that was introduced in 2020. Amazon One allows customers to speedily check out at retail locations using only their palm prints after storing a scan of their hand via an interface at Amazon's kiosks. The palm print data is encrypted and stored on Amazon's servers. And before you worry too much about COVID-19 transmission or future pandemics, Amazon One works when you hover your palm over the scanner -- unlike some handprint tech. Amazon initially added the technology in its Amazon Go stores and the now-shuttered Amazon Books retail locations. It then made its way to several Whole Foods locations in the Seattle area. (Amazon has owned the Whole Foods grocery chain since 2017.) Now, Amazon Go will expand to 65 Whole Foods stores across California. The rollout starts in Malibu and Santa Monica, with more locations adopting it in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and the Bay Area over the next few weeks. Amazon previously rolled the tech out to a few select locations in California, but never at this scale.

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LG's 97-inch Vibrating OLED TV Claims To Offer 5.1 Audio Without Speakers

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 23:22
LG Display has shown off some interesting ideas as it looks to change the way OLED panels work, from positing bizarre form factors to addressing dimmer brightness levels compared to LED alternatives. Now, the panel maker is exploring a new approach to OLED TV audio. From a report: Today, LG Display announced its creation of a 97-inch OLED EX TV panel that debuts the company's Cinematic Sound OLED (CSO), "which allows the display to vibrate and generate the sound directly from the display without separate speakers." "A 5.1 channel sound system is embedded into the widescreen, creating a performance that offers a cinematic level of immersion," LG Display said. Sony has used similar technology called Acoustic Surface in OLED TVs since 2017. These sets also don't use speakers and instead vibrate actuators behind the display. However, Sony doesn't compare Acoustic Surface to 5.1 surround sound. Instead, it encourages users to connect their own gear to the set and to use the TV as the center channel for a surround sound setup. Considering audio will be coming from a central point rather than all around you, it's hard to imagine LG Display's gargantuan TV panel can deliver the surround sound experience of a movie theater.

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AMD Continues PC and Server Market Share Gains Amid Slumping Demand

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 22:42
The preliminary Mercury Research CPU market share results are in for the second quarter of 2022, arriving during what is becoming a more dire situation for the PC market as sales cool after several years of stratospheric growth. From a report: According to the recent earnings report from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, the recovery will be a long one. Still, for now, AMD appears to be weathering the storm better than its opponents as it continued to steal market share from Intel in every segment of the CPU market. The desktop PC market is still on fire, but it isn't a good kind of fire. Intel issued a dire earnings report last week -- the company lost money for the first time in decades, partially driven by PC declines. Intel also announced it was delaying its critical Xeon Sapphire Rapids data center chips and killing off another failing business unit, Optane; the sixth unit retired since new CEO Pat Gelsinger took over. In contrast, AMD's revenue was up 70% year-over-year as the company continued to improve its already-great profitability. AMD is firing on all cylinders and will launch its Ryzen 7000 CPUs, RDNA 3 GPUs, and EPYC Genoa data center processors on schedule. That consistent execution continues to pay off. AMD continued to take big strides in the mobile/laptop market, setting another record for unit share in that segment with 24.8%. AMD also gained in the server market for the 13th consecutive quarter, reaching 13.9% of the market. Notably, AMD's quarterly gain in servers is the highest we've seen with our historical data, which dates back to 2017.

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The Most Curious Nation About Crypto Is Nigeria, Study Shows

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 22:02
Africa's most-populous nation showed more interest in cryptocurrencies than any other country since the digital assets began to decline in April, according to a study by price tracker CoinGecko. From a report: Nigeria scored 371 in the study that looked at Google Trends data for six searches such as "buy crypto" or "invest in crypto" that were then combined to give each English-speaking nation a total search ranking. The West African country was followed by the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. "This study provides interesting insight into which countries remain most interested in cryptocurrency in spite of market pullbacks," CoinGecko's co-founder Bobby Ong said in an emailed statement. "The countries at the top of this list appear to be keenest to buy the dip, and highlight their long-term outlook for cryptocurrencies."

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Google Fiber Plans 5-State Growth Spurt, Biggest Since 2015

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 21:20
Google Fiber plans to bring its high-speed internet service to multiple cities in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska and Nevada over the next several years in its first big expansion since it spun out as an independent Alphabet unit in 2015. From a report: In his first media interview since becoming chief executive of Google Fiber in February 2018, Dinni Jain told Reuters on Wednesday that his team was finally prepared to "add a little bit more build velocity" after over four years of sharpening operations. The anticipated expansion to 22 metro areas across the United States from 17 today includes previously announced projects to launch in Mesa, Arizona and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The choices were based the company's findings of where speeds lag. "There was an impression 10 years ago that Google Fiber was trying to build the entire country," Jain said. "What we are gesturing here is, 'No, we are not trying to build the entire country.'"

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One of 5G's Biggest Features Is a Security Minefield

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 20:41
True 5G wireless data, with its ultrafast speeds and enhanced security protections, has been slow to roll out around the world. As the mobile technology proliferates -- combining expanded speed and bandwidth with low-latency connections -- one of its most touted features is starting to come in to focus. But the upgrade comes with its own raft of potential security exposures. From a report: A massive new population of 5G-capable devices, from smart-city sensors to agriculture robots and beyond, are gaining the ability to connect to the internet in places where Wi-Fi isn't practical or available. Individuals may even elect to trade their fiber-optic internet connection for a home 5G receiver. But the interfaces that carriers have set up to manage internet-of-things data are riddled with security vulnerabilities, according to research that will be presented on Wednesday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. And those vulnerabilities could dog the industry long-term. After years of examining potential security and privacy issues in mobile-data radio frequency standards, Technical University of Berlin researcher Altaf Shaik says he was curious to investigate the application programming interfaces (APIs) that carriers are offering to make IoT data accessible to developers. These are the conduits that applications can use to pull, say, real-time bus-tracking data or information about stock in a warehouse. Such APIs are ubiquitous in web services, but Shaik points out that they haven't been widely used in core telecommunications offerings. Looking at the 5G IoT APIs of 10 mobile carriers around the world, Shaik and his colleague Shinjo Park found common, but serious API vulnerabilities in all of them, and some could be exploited to gain authorized access to data or even direct access to IoT devices on the network. "There's a big knowledge gap. This is the beginning of a new type of attack in telecom," Shaik told WIRED ahead of his presentation. "There's a whole platform where you get access to the APIs, there's documentation, everything, and it's called something like 'IoT service platform.' Every operator in every country is going to be selling them if they're not already, and there are virtual operators and subcontracts, too, so there will be a ton of companies offering this kind of platform."

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Newly Identified Langya Virus Tracked After China Reports Dozens of Cases

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 20:00
Researchers have begun tracking a newly identified virus in China, with dozens of cases recorded so far. From a report: The novel Langya henipavirus (LayV) was first detected in the north-eastern provinces of Shandong and Henan in late 2018 but was only formally identified by scientists last week. The virus was likely transmitted from animals to humans, scientists said, and Taiwan's health authority is now monitoring the spread. The researchers tested wild animals and found LayV viral RNA in more than a quarter of 262 shrews, "a finding that suggests that the shrew may be a natural reservoir." The virus was also detected in 2% of domestic goats and 5% of dogs.

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Archaeologists Rebury 'First-of-Its-Kind' Roman Villa

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 19:20
Ruins of a sprawling ancient Roman villa discovered in the United Kingdom have been reburied, just one year after their discovery was announced. From a report: Historic England, a government preservation organization, hopes the move will safeguard the "first-of-its-kind" archeological site for future generations, reports BBC News. The discovery last year delighted experts, who underscored its historical significance. "These archaeological remains are a fantastic find and are far more than we ever dreamed of discovering at this site," said Keith Emerick, inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, in a statement last year. "They are already giving us a better knowledge and understanding of Roman Britain." Archaeologists unearthed the ruins in Scarborough, England, in 2021 when investigating land slated for a housing development. The structures found are likely from a "high status" property, such as a luxury dwelling or religious site. The compound, which included a luxury bathhouse, could even have been a "stately home-cum-gentleman's club," reported the Guardian's Alexandra Topping last year. Roughly the size of two tennis courts, the villa had a circular center that was probably a tower, per the BBC, with hallways leading to several rooms and outbuildings. Regardless of how the villa was used, archeologists agree it was "designed by the highest-quality architects in northern Europe in the era and constructed by the finest craftsmen," said Karl Battersby, who works for the North Yorkshire county council, to the Guardian.

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As Metaverse Land Prices Plummet, Mark Cuban Says Buying Digital Land Is 'the Dumbest Sh*t Ever'

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 18:40
Mark Cuban, the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner and avid crypto enthusiast, is not sold on the metaverse. "The worst part is that people are buying real estate in these places. That's just the dumbest shit ever," he told the crypto-themed YouTube channel Altcoin Daily this past weekend. From a report: Cuban's comments come as the hype surrounding the metaverse -- a term that loosely describes an emerging virtual world where people can hang out, play, and shop -- seems to be cooling. Last November, Facebook changed its name to Meta, spurring a flurry of excitement about the potential of the metaverse, which fueled a land grab for digital plots in so-called metaverse platforms created by the likes of the Sandbox and Decentraland. These platforms enable investors to buy land as an NFT, which can be developed with virtual buildings or experiences or resold on secondary markets like NFT exchange OpenSea. Companies like Warner Music Group, Atari, Samsung, and Adidas have all bought digital land -- a move that Cuban, based on his latest comments, appears unlikely to follow. Cuban also isn't buying the central claim of metaverse land speculators that scarcity will make these digital plots valuable. "It's not even as good as a URL or an ENS [Ethereum naming service], because there's unlimited volumes that you can create," he said during the YouTube interview. Despite being an investor in Yuga Labs, the owner of popular NFT collections Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, Cuban said he was not a fan of the company's land sale, which raised about $317 million for its metaverse platform Otherside in April. "I still thought it was dumb to do the real estate. That was great money for them, you know, but that wasn't based off a utility," he said.

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Microsoft is Open-Sourcing Its Emoji

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 18:13
Microsoft said Wednesday that it has released almost all of its emoji designs to GitHub and Figma, allowing anyone to tweak and design their own. From a report: Microsoft isn't saying that you'll be able to use your own emoji designs inside Windows, and the company isn't saying that absolutely all of the company's emoji are being released into open source, either. Specifically, Microsoft is excluding the Clippy emoji (boo!) and a few that includes the Microsoft logo. Naturally, Microsoft can't release its own copyrighted trademarks into the public domain, Jon Friedman, a corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. It's no small task to open-source each of Microsoft's 1,538 emoji, Friedman wrote. "Similar to how typeface sets include bold, italic, and regular styles, emoji must exist as a SVG, PNG, and JPG file to allow for true versatility. And for each of those, a vector, flat, and monochrome version should be created for scale and flexibility."

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Microsoft Reportedly Lays Off Team Focused on Winning Back Consumers

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 17:38
Microsoft is reportedly laying off its team focused on winning back consumers. From a report: In 2018 the software giant originally detailed its efforts to win back the non-enterprise customers it let down, forming a Modern Life Experiences team to focus on professional consumers (prosumers). Business Insider now reports that Microsoft is laying off that team, and telling the roughly 200 affected employees to find another position at the company or take severance pay. While Microsoft isn't officially commenting on the end of its Modern Life initiative, a Microsoft senior designer revealed there was "hard news" for the Modern Life Experiences team this week in a LinkedIn post. The news comes weeks after Microsoft cut less than 1 percent of its 180,000-person workforce, with job cuts in consulting, and customer and partner solutions. Microsoft has also been cutting open job roles as it slows hiring amid a weakening economy.

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Man Who Built ISP Instead of Paying Comcast $50K Expands To Hundreds of Homes

Slashdot - Wed, 10/08/2022 - 16:41
Jared Mauch, the Michigan man who built a fiber-to-the-home Internet provider because he couldn't get good broadband service from AT&T or Comcast, is expanding with the help of $2.6 million in government money. From a report: When we wrote about Mauch in January 2021, he was providing service to about 30 rural homes including his own with his ISP, Washtenaw Fiber Properties. Mauch now has about 70 customers and will extend his network to nearly 600 more properties with money from the American Rescue Plan's Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, he told Ars in a phone interview in mid-July. The US government allocated Washtenaw County $71 million for a variety of infrastructure projects, and the county devoted a portion to broadband. The county conducted a broadband study before the pandemic to identify unserved locations, Mauch said. When the federal government money became available, the county issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking contractors to wire up addresses "that were known to be unserved or underserved based on the existing survey," he said. "They had this gap-filling RFP, and in my own wild stupidity or brilliance, I'm not sure which yet, I bid on the whole project [in my area] and managed to win through that competitive bidding process," he said. Mauch's ISP is one of four selected by Washtenaw County to wire up different areas. Mauch's network currently has about 14 miles of fiber, and he'll build another 38 miles to complete the government-funded project, he said. In this sparsely populated rural area, "I have at least two homes where I have to build a half-mile to get to one house," Mauch said, noting that it will cost "over $30,000 for each of those homes to get served." The contract between Mauch and the county was signed in May 2022 and requires him to extend his network to an estimated 417 addresses in Freedom, Lima, Lodi, and Scio townships. Mauch lives in Scio, which is next to Ann Arbor. Although the contract just requires service to those 417 locations, Mauch explained that his new fiber routes would pass 596 potential customers. "I'm building past some addresses that are covered by other [grant] programs, but I'll very likely be the first mover in building in those areas," he said. Under the contract terms, Mauch will provide 100Mbps symmetrical Internet with unlimited data for $55 a month and 1Gbps with unlimited data for $79 a month.

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