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Most Americans Think They're Being Constantly Tracked, Study Finds

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: More than 60% of Americans think it's impossible to go through daily life without being tracked by companies or the government, according to a new Pew Research study. It's not just that Americans (correctly) think companies are collecting their data. They don't like it. About 69% of Americans are skeptical that companies will use their private information in a way they're comfortable with, while 79% don't believe that companies will come clean if they misuse the information. When it comes to who they trust, there are differences by race. About 73% of black Americans, for instance, are at least a little worried about what law enforcement knows about them, compared with 56% of white Americans. But among all respondents, more than 80% were concerned about what social-media sites and advertisers might know. Despite these concerns, more than 80% of Americans feel they have no control over how their information is collected.

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US Workers Show Little Improvement In 21st Century Skills

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 04:20
A new government agency report found that U.S. workers are failing to improve the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly global economy. Bloomberg reports: The National Center for Education Statistics asked 3,300 respondents ages 16-to-65 to read simple passages and solve basic math problems. What the researchers found is that literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving ability in the U.S. have stagnated over the past few years. Some 19% of the test-takers ranked at the lowest of three levels for literacy and 24% lacked basic digital problem-solving abilities. Meanwhile, a shocking 29% performed at the lowest level for numeracy, the same as findings from the previous study conducted in 2012-2014. Almost one in three couldn't correctly answer "how much gas is in a 24-gallon tank if the gas gauge reads three-quarters full." There were a few bright spots among the research. Latino adults saw their overall scores improve in both literacy and digital problem solving. Some 35% ranked at the highest of three levels for the latter, up from 24% during the 2012-2014 survey period. In addition, high school graduation rates climbed 2 percentage-points to 14%, while the percentage of people with more than a high school diploma jumped 3 percentage-points to 48%.

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Ghost Ships, Crop Circles, and Soft Gold: A GPS Mystery in Shanghai

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 03:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: One night last summer, a ship called the MV Manukai arrived at the port of Shanghai. It would be the American container ship's last stop in China before making its long homeward journey to Long Beach, California. As the crew carefully maneuvered the 700-foot ship through the world's busiest port, its captain watched his navigation screens closely. They showed another ship steaming up the same channel at about seven knots (eight miles per hour). Suddenly, it disappeared from the display. Then it reappeared, then disappeared again. Eventually, mystified, the captain picked up his binoculars and scanned the dockside. The other ship had been stationary at the dock the entire time. When it came time for the Manukai to head for its own berth, the bridge began echoing to multiple alarms. Both of the ship's GPS units had lost their signals, and its transponder had failed. Even a last-ditch emergency distress system could not get a fix. Now, new research shows the Manukai and thousands of other vessels in Shanghai are falling victim to a mysterious new weapon that can spoof GPS systems. Who could be behind it? The Chinese state? Or could it be daring and sophisticated sand thieves? Read MIT Technology Review story to find out more.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Fuel Cell Drone Makes An Epic Ocean Crossing

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 03:00
Earlier this week, a hydrogen-powered delivery drone managed to make a one-hour, 43-minute ocean crossing. New Atlas reports: The exercise was the result of a collaboration between Texas-based drone development company Guinn Partners, Georgia-based Skyfire Consulting, the U.S. Department of Health, and drone manufacturer Doosan Mobility Innovation -- the latter supplied the aircraft, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered DS30 octocopter. Utilizing its temperature-controlled payload system, the drone was used to transport live bacteria samples from a hospital on the Caribbean island of St. Croix to a testing facility on the neighboring island of St. Thomas. This involved crossing 43 miles (69 km) of open ocean. Upon successfully reaching its destination, the copter reportedly still had almost 30 minutes of flight time left on its fuel cell.

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Germany Forces Apple To Let Other Mobile Wallet Services Use iPhone's NFC Chip

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 02:20
A new German law passed yesterday requires Apple to allow other mobile payments services access to the iPhone's NFC chip for payments to allow them to fully compete with Apple Pay. 9to5Mac reports: Apple initially completely locked down the NFC chip so that it could be used only by Apple Pay. It later allowed some third-party apps to use the chip but has always refused to do so for other mobile payment apps. Reuters reports that the law doesn't name Apple specifically, but would apply to the tech giant. The piece somewhat confusingly refers to access to the NFC chip by third-party payment apps as Apple Pay. "A German parliamentary committee unexpectedly voted in a late-night session on Wednesday to force the tech giant to open up Apple Pay to rival providers in Germany," reports Reuters. "This came in the form of an amendment to an anti-money laundering law that was adopted late on Thursday by the full parliament and is set to come into effect early next year. The legislation, which did not name Apple specifically, will force operators of electronic money infrastructure to offer access to rivals for a reasonable fee." Apple says that the change would be harmful: "We are surprised at how suddenly this legislation was introduced. We fear that the draft law could be harmful to user friendliness, data protection and the security of financial information."

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Google Cancels Weekly All-Hands Meetings Amid Growing Workplace Tensions

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 01:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Google is getting rid of one of its best-known workplace features: TGIF, its weekly all-hands meeting. The company confirmed to CNBC that it will instead hold monthly all-hands meetings that will be focused on business and strategy while holding separate town halls for "workplace issues." An email announcing the change was previously reported by The Verge. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started TGIFs in 1999 as a forum where employees could regularly express concerns and discuss topics open and freely with management. At that time, the company was small enough to fit in a meeting room, but the all-hands continued to grow as the employee base grew -- until recently, that is. Page and Brin stopped attending regularly in 2019. A company spokesperson said that the meetings had recently become a bi-weekly instead of weekly occurrence. The new model comes as the company cracks down on the open work culture that's long been part of its identity of holding free discussion. Employees have increasingly voiced their concerns about everything from the handling of sexual harassment to government hires and contracts. In recent months, employees have leaked meeting notes to the media, which have shown growing tension between executives and workers. "In other places -- like TGIF -- our scale is challenging us to evolve," Pichai said in a memo to employees this week. "TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it's not working in its current form." "We're unfortunately seeing a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF," the note reportedly states. "I know this is new information to many of you, and it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics."

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White House Unveils Rules Requiring Online Disclosure of Hospital Prices

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 01:00
schwit1 shares a report from The Hill: The Trump administration on Friday unveiled new rules to require increased disclosure of health care prices, in a move officials said would drive down costs by increasing competition. One regulation would require hospitals to provide a consumer-friendly online page where prices are listed for 300 common procedures like X-rays and lab tests. A second regulation would require insurers to provide an online tool where people could compare their out-of-pocket costs at different medical providers before receiving treatment. The rule announced Friday affecting hospitals is a final rule, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. The rule for insurers is still a proposal that is not yet finalized. "Hospitals and insurers will fight this. The last thing they want is consumers price shopping," adds schwit1.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Here's a glimpse at free-to-play FPS CrossFireX

Eurogamer - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 00:21

UPDATE 16th Nov 2019: This article incorrectly linked the footage of CrossfireX released this week to its Remedy-developed campaign. We've edited the headline to remove this link. Sorry for the mistake!

ORIGINAL STORY 15th Nov 2019: CrossFire, SmileGate Entertainment's phenomenally popular free-to-play online tactical shooter, is heading west for the first time next year in the guise of CrossFireX for Xbox One. And now, thanks to Microsoft's X019 event, we've been given a first look at its Remedy Entertainment developed single-player campaign.

CrossFire, if you're unfamiliar, has amassed over 650 million registered players since its initial launch in 2007, making it one of the most played PC games in the world. It's primarily known for its Counter-Strike-like competitive multiplayer mode, pitting teams of players - representing one of two mercenary corporations, either Black List or Global Risk - against each other in a race to complete various objective-based scenarios.

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Categories: Video Games

MacBook Pro Teardown Confirms the New Keyboard Is Basically Just the Old, Good Keyboard

Slashdot - Sat, 16/11/2019 - 00:20
iFixit's teardown of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro confirms that the keyboard uses the more reliable scissor-style switches that Apple first introduced in its Magic Keyboards in 2015. The Verge reports: The switches on the 16-inch MacBook Pro are so similar to the standalone keyboard, in fact, that iFixit's report says that keys are interchangeable between the two products. The change comes after a long, multiyear debate between Apple and customers over the butterfly switches, causing Apple to revamp the mechanism multiple times to block debris and add extra strength. Apple was also forced to acknowledge that the keyboards were problematic, and offered an extended warranty program for those laptops. Per iFixit, the new keys also have more travel when you press them (about 0.5 mm more), and the keycaps themselves are about 0.2 mm thicker compared to the much-maligned butterfly switches. The teardown also notes that the clips that attach the keycaps to the switches appear to be more reinforced to make it easier to remove or replace them down the line.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Supreme Court Will Hear Long-Running Google and Oracle Copyright Lawsuit

Slashdot - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 23:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The Supreme Court said on Friday that it will hear a dispute between tech giants Oracle and Google in a blockbuster case that could lead to billions of dollars in fines and shape copyright law in the internet era. The case concerns 11,500 lines of code that Google was accused of copying from Oracle's Java programming language. Google deployed the code in Android, now the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Oracle sued Google in 2010 alleging that the use of its code in Android violated copyright law. Google won two victories in the lower courts but ultimately lost on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last year for Oracle. Oracle has previously said it is entitled to $9 billion in damages, though no official penalty has been set. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle purchased in a deal valued at $7.4 billion that was completed in 2010. Underlying the legal issues in the case is a technical dispute over the nature of the code that Google used. Google has said that the code was essentially functional -- akin to copying the placement of keys on a QWERTY keyboard. Oracle maintains that the code, part of Java's application programming interface, or API, is a creative product, "like the chapter headings and topic sentences of an elaborate literary work." A number of high-profile tech firms urged the top court to take the case in order to side with Google.

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Hulu Boosts the Price of Its Live-TV Service

Slashdot - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 23:15
Hulu said Friday it will increase the price of its online cable TV alternative product Hulu Live by $10 to $55 a month in what is the latest sign providers are having trouble making money on discounted packages of channels that rival cable. From a report: Hulu Live, which offers about 60 channels such as ESPN and CNN, was first introduced two years ago. The price increase takes effect Dec. 18, the company said in a statement. So-called skinny bundles -- cheaper online alternatives to cable packages -- have struggled recently as budget-conscious consumers seem more willing to just cut out traditional cable networks entirely. Sony is shutting down its offering, PlayStation Vue, in January.

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Xbox One November Update Arrives With Google Assistant, Gamertag Updates, More

Slashdot - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 23:00
Microsoft's November 2019 update for Xbox One consoles is now headed out to everyone. From a report: After a period of testing with Xbox Insiders, several new features are now rolling out to the public, including Google Assistant support, the option to use any Gamertag, text filters, and more. Perhaps the biggest update here is support for Google Assistant. While it doesn't run on your Xbox, Google Assistant support allows you to issue commands to control your Xbox from your phone or smart speaker. It works much like the Amazon Echo integration that hit Xbox consoles several months ago, letting you turn your Xbox on, launch games, and more with your voice. The Gamertag updates in the November 2019 update bring more choice to players on consoles. Microsoft announced a plan earlier this year to revamp Gamertags, allowing you to choose any name you want. If you pick a Gamertag that's already taken, you'll have a numbered suffix added to it. "With the November 2019 Xbox Update, these gamertag options are now supported on console, including profiles, friend lists, messages, Clubs, LFG and more," Microsoft says.

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Anthem reportedly set for major overhaul as BioWare looks to reboot its troubled game

Eurogamer - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 20:43

Since its rocky launch in February, BioWare's online shooter Anthem has struggled to spin its story into a positive one, particularly in light of continued development difficulties and the departure of high-profile team members. However, despite persistent speculation that BioWare and publisher EA might quietly abandon the game, the developer is reportedly now looking to massively overhaul the experience ready for a future reboot.

According to a Kotaku's Jason Schreier, plans to overhaul the troubled shooter have been in the works for some time. Eurogamer has previously heard similar word from its own sources.

Kotaku says the project is referred to as both "Anthem Next" and "Anthem 2.0", and as those names suggest, the scope of BioWare's intended plans are substantial, with the developer reportedly leaving little untouched. Changes to loot, quests, difficulty, progression, the world map, social elements, and possibly even the entire game structure have all been mooted.

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Categories: Video Games

Billboards Love Streaming Wars Because That's Where Ads End Up

Slashdot - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 19:23
Streaming services are the hottest thing in entertainment these days. But when it comes to getting the word out about the newest offerings, it's traditional media that often benefits. From a report: Apple, Disney and other big tech and media giants are increasingly turning to outlets like TV, billboards and newspapers to promote their new online products. Spending on broadcast and cable ads by streaming services jumped 19% to $209 million over the past 10 weeks, according to data from researcher ISpot.TV. The biggest spender was Apple, which launched its Apple TV+ service on Nov. 1. It accounted for almost one-quarter of the spending, followed closely behind by Amazon.com , with $37 million in TV ad purchases. "Television is the easiest place to find people who like TV," said Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence for GroupM, the ad buying unit of WPP. Disney, which introduced its new Disney+ streaming service on Tuesday, relied heavily on its own networks for marketing. Ads ran on ESPN's Monday Night Football, while ABC aired the first episode of the service's new "High School Musical" series the Friday before the launch. The company also promoted the service on its radio network and in the hotel rooms at its theme parks.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Jurassic World Evolution's next DLC heads back to the original Jurassic Park

Eurogamer - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 18:41

Jurassic World Evolution is going back to where in all began in its next DLC on 10th December, transplanting its dinosaur theme park management action to the original Jurassic Park.

According to developer Frontier, Return to Jurassic Park, as the new paid DLC will be known, features locations, park designs, dinosaurs, and characters from the original film.

The DLC's seven new story missions, which play out across both Isla Nublar (the location of Jurassic Park itself) and Isla Sorna (better known as Site B), will, for instance, task players with restoring John Hammond's park following its destruction in the 1993 movie.

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Categories: Video Games

Disney + and 'The Mandalorian' Are Driving People Back To Torrenting

Slashdot - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 18:41
An anonymous reader shares a report: A simple glance at torrent websites shows that plenty of people are stealing from the brand new steaming services -- episodes of The Mandalorian and Dickinson all have hundreds or thousands of seeders and are among the most popular shows on torrent sites. I reached out specifically to Disney, Apple, and Netflix to ask what their policy was on going after pirated content, and haven't heard back, but it's obvious that these companies assume that at least some of their viewers aren't paying the full price for their services. Given that you can watch as many as six simultaneous streams with Apple TV+, and four with Disney+ and the top Netflix package, the more common form of piracy -- password sharing -- is built into the system. But for pirates who don't have any access to the legit services, what makes stealing content particularly appealing in this age is that there are few if any people who face consequences for the crime. Since the discontinuation of the "six strikes" copyright policy in 2017, there's been lax enforcement of copyright laws. Rather than going after individuals for exorbitant fines for downloading a handful of songs like copyright holders did a decade ago, enforcement these days has focused on the providers of pirated content, with the much more efficient goal of taking down entire streaming sites rather than just a few of their visitors. Of course, as the continued resilience of The Pirate Bay shows, the current strategy isn't particularly effective at stopping piracy, either. But it does mean that those who only download already-stolen content are safer than they've ever been.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The Org That Doles Out<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.Org Websites Just Sold Itself To a For-Profit Company

Slashdot - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 18:01
Today, the Public Interest Registry (PIR), which maintains the .org top-level domain, announced that it will be acquired by Ethos Capital, a private equity firm. From a report: This move will make PIR, previously a non-profit domain registry, officially part of a for-profit company -- which certainly seems at odds with what .org might represent to some. Originally, ".org" was an alternative to the ".com" that was earmarked for commercial entities, which lent itself to non-profit use. That's not all: On June 30th, ICANN, the non-profit that oversees all domain names on the internet, agreed to remove price caps on rates for .org domain names -- which were previously pretty cheap. Seems like something a for-profit company might want. Removing price caps wasn't exactly a popular idea when it was first proposed on March 18th. According to Review Signal, only six of the more than 3,000 public comments on the proposal were in favor of the change.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Rust heads to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next year

Eurogamer - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 17:58

Yep, that's right: the game that made me fear the sound of helicopters is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next year, so even more people can experience the nudist, rock-bashing trauma fun. Hurrah!

Announced last night during Microsoft's X019 presentation, survival sim Rust is arriving on consoles sometime in 2020, although we don't yet know key details such as whether cross-play will be a feature. Things could get interesting if a batch of fresh newbies are released onto PC servers.

Developed by Facepunch and released in 2013, Rust has consistently been doing well on Steam - with player numbers reaching a concurrent player peak of over 93k back in July, with around 8m players in total. It's a game of complete anarchy and resource-grabbing, with highly aggressive bears and equally aggressive players. Having said that, I've also had some very stupid adventures in Rust, including an episode where my friend and I went on a revenge murder spree.

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Categories: Video Games

West of Dead is a fast-paced indie shooter starring Ron Perlman

Eurogamer - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 17:48

Last night, Microsoft announced West of Dead - a Wild West style twin-stick shooter, with a main character voiced by none-other than Ron Perlman.

The game puts the player in the boots of William Mason, a Ghost Rider-looking undead cowboy who awakens in Purgatory having lost his memory. To find it again it seems he needs to fight his way through procedurally generated hunting grounds, tactically dodging and outgunning enemies to survive.

"Purgatory, Wyoming, 1888. A place of gun smoke and darkness, sin and damnation, wendigos and witches," the game's description reads. "When a dead man awakens with only the memory of a figure in black, he sets into motion a chain of events that have truly mythic consequences."

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Categories: Video Games

Here's the brilliant new Microsoft Flight Simulator trailer

Eurogamer - Fri, 15/11/2019 - 17:22

I have watched last night's Microsoft Flight Simulator gameplay trailer numerous times today and gosh, what a majestic thing this game looks to be.

So, yes, I could give you the press release spiel: Microsoft has now confirmed a bunch of aeroplane companies it will officially license planes from: Airbus, Boeing, CubCrafters, Daher, Diamond Aircraft Industries, ICON Aircraft, Robin Aircraft and Textron Aviation.

Or you could just watch the trailer a couple more times and marvel at its astonishing recreation of the planet below.

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