Facebook reserves $3B for FTC fine, but keeps growing with 2.38B users in Q1

Advertising Tech - Posted On:2019-04-24 17:15:01 Source: techcrunch

A massive penalty hangs over Facebook’s head, but it otherwise had a very strong Q1 earnings report. Facebook reached 2.38 billion monthly users, up 2.5 percent from 2.32 billion in Q4 2018 when it grew 2.2 percent, and it now has 1.56 billion daily active users, up 2.63 percent from 1.52 billion last quarter when […]

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Facebook Sets Aside $3 Billion For a Potential FTC Fine

technology - Posted On:2019-04-24 16:59:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Facebook is taking a $3 billion charge as a contingency against a possible fine by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency has been investigating Facebook, but has not announced any findings yet. The one-time charge slashes Facebook's first-quarter net income considerably, although revenue grew by 25% in the period. The FTC has been looking into whether Facebook is in violation of a 2011 agreement promising to protect user privacy. The social network said Wednesday that its net income was 85 cents per share in the January-March period. Revenue grew 26 % to $15.08 billion from a year earlier. Excluding the charge, it earned $1.89 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.62 per share and revenue of $14.98 billion. Facebook's monthly user base grew 8% to 2.38 billion. According to The New York Times, Facebook says it's expected to be fined up to $5 billion for privacy violations, including improper handling of people's data involving Cambridge Analytica, as well as a major data breach. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Apple Updates XProtect to Block 'Windows' Malware on Macs

Security - Posted On:2019-04-24 16:45:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

Apple's XProtect security software has been silently updated to include signatures that detect Windows PE files and Windows executables that can run on Macs by utilizing the Mono .NET framework. [...]

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Microsoft beats expectations with $30.6B in revenue as Azure’s growth continues

Earnings - Posted On:2019-04-24 16:30:00 Source: techcrunch

Microsoft reported its quarterly earnings for Q3 2019 today. Overall, Wall Street expected earnings of about $1 per share and revenue of $29.84 billion. The company handily beat this with revenue of $30.6 billion (up 14 percent from the year-ago quarter) and earnings per share of $1.14. With Microsoft focusing heavily on its cloud business, […]

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Some Amazon Sellers Are Paying $10,000 A Month To Trick Their Way To The Top

technology - Posted On:2019-04-24 16:14:59 Source: slashdot

Amazon's marketplace is so competitive that it has led to the emergence of a secretive, lucrative black market where agents peddle "black hat" services, sometimes obtained by bribing Amazon employees, that purportedly give marketplace sellers an advantage over their rivals, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. These consultants charge up to $10,000 to manipulate rankings by rewriting URLs and programming bots to click on products, a report says. From the report: Other tactics to promote sellers' products include removing negative reviews from product pages and exploiting technical loopholes on Amazon's site to lift products' overall sales rankings. These services make it harder for Amazon sellers who abide by the company's terms of service to succeed in the marketplace, and sellers who rely on these tactics mislead customers and undermine trust in Amazon's products. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Applying For Your Next Job May Be an Automated Nightmare

technology - Posted On:2019-04-24 15:30:00 Source: slashdot

merbs writes: If you think looking for a job is already daunting, anxiety-riddled, and unpleasant, just wait until the algorithms take over the hiring process. When they do, a newfangled 'digital recruiter' like VCV, which just received $1.7 million in early investment, hopes it will look something like this: First, a search bot will be used to scan CVs by the thousands, yours presumably among them. If it's picked out of the haystack, you will be contacted by a chatbot. Over SMS, the bot will set an appointment for a phone interview, which will be conducted by an automated system enabled by voice recognition AI. Next, the system will ask you, the applicant, to record video responses to a set of predetermined interview questions. Finally, the program can use facial recognition and predictive analytics to complete the screening, algorithmically determining whether the nervousness, mood, and behavior patterns you exhibit make you a fit for the company. If you pass all that, then you will be recommended for an in-person job interview. [...] VCV, which did not respond to a request for comment, is far from alone here. A growing suite of startups is pitching AI-driven recruitment services, promising to save corporations millions of dollars throughout the hiring process by reducing overhead, to pluck more ideal candidates out of obscurity, and to reduce bias in the hiring process. Most offer little to no evidence of how they actually do so. VCV's much-larger competitor, HireVue, which has raked in a staggering $93 million in funding and is backed by top-tier Silicon Valley venture capital firms like Sequoia, is hocking many of the same services. It counts 700 companies as its clients, including, it says, Urban Outfitters, Intel, Honeywell, and Unilever. AllyO, which was founded in 2015, and "utilizes deep workflow conversational AI to fully automate end to end recruiting workflow" has $19 million in backing. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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In meeting with Twitter chief, Trump complains about lost followers

Biz & IT - Posted On:2019-04-24 15:15:00 Source: arstechnica

On April 23, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had a meeting in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. According to an email message to Twitter employees from Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the health of the public conversation on Twitter.”

In the email thread, first revealed by Motherboard, Dorsey himself explained, “As you know, I believe that conversation, not silence, bridges gaps and drives towards solutions." Dorsey pointed out that he had met "with every world leader who has extended an invitation to me, and I believe the discussions have been productive, and the outcomes meaningful.” While Dorsey noted that some employees might be less than thrilled with him taking the meeting, "In the end, I believe it’s important to meet heads of state in order to listen, share our principles and our ideas.”

The meeting came just two days after Twitter suspended some 5,000 accounts believed to be "bots" involved in a campaign to boost "#RussiaGate" and other hashtags related to posts critical of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller—bots that had connections to an account previously used to boost pro-Saudi propaganda.

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LEGO Braille bricks are the best, nicest, and in retrospect most obvious idea ever

Education - Posted On:2019-04-24 15:00:01 Source: techcrunch

Braille is a crucial skill for children with visual impairments to learn, and with these LEGO Braille Bricks kids can learn through hands-on play rather than more rigid methods like Braille readers and printouts. Given the naturally Braille-like structure of LEGO blocks, it's surprising this wasn't done decades ago.

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Out of bounds: Why basketball players believe they weren’t last to touch ball

Science - Posted On:2019-04-24 15:00:00 Source: arstechnica

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, emotions are running high among super-fans, inevitably leading to lots of heated arguments about bad referee calls and disputed plays. For instance, when a ball goes out of bounds, it can sometimes be challenging to determine which player touched it last. Both players will undoubtedly argue their opponent touched it last, trying to give possession of the ball to their own team. The other player will just as forcefully argue the opposite.

Who is right? According to a new paper in Science Advances, both players are subject to a kind of temporal bias whereby they will perceive themselves touching the ball first. "Our brains tell us that actions generated by ourselves come before simultaneous external events," the authors write. "Briefly, we have identified what may be a principal cause of arguments in ball games, and it's about time."

According to co-author Ty Tang, a graduate student in psychology at Arizona State University, the idea for the study emerged from conversations with his advisor, Michael McBeath, about subjective perception, particularly of time. This naturally evolved into how this subjective perception plays out in sports, specifically arguments over who touched the ball last before it went out of bounds in basketball. Tang proposed a series of three experiments to determine if the players might genuinely experience hitting the ball before their opponents in such scenarios. It wasn't the chaotic environment of a live basketball game, but it allowed them to control the variables to produce a robust study.

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Scientific Linux Distro is Being Discontinued; The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN Will Move To CentOS

linux - Posted On:2019-04-24 15:00:00 Source: slashdot

Scientific Linux, a 14-year-old operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and which was maintained by some significant members of the scientific community such as The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN, is being discontinued. From a report: While current versions (6 and 7) will continue to be supported, future development has permanently ended, with the organizations instead turning to CentOS -- another distro based on RHEL. "Scientific Linux is driven by Fermilab's scientific mission and focused on the changing needs of experimental facilities. Fermilab is looking ahead to DUNE and other future international collaborations. One part of this is unifying our computing platform with collaborating labs and institutions," said James Amundson, Head of Scientific Computing Division, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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EPA administrator asked to back up climate claims made on TV with science

Policy - Posted On:2019-04-24 14:45:00 Source: arstechnica

In an appearance on CBS News in late March, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett that the threat posed by climate change is "50 to 75 years out."

Now, environmental lobby group Sierra Club has asked the EPA for any scientific evidence that backs up this claim. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the agency, hoping to receive documentation that could back up Wheeler's claim.

The move is preliminary, but it's interesting because it follows in the footsteps of a successful challenge by another activist group: PEER, or Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. In 2017, PEER submitted a FOIA request for scientific evidence that could support statements made by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on CNBC, where the administrator claimed that carbon dioxide was not known to be a major factor in climate change.

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Like Pruitt before him, EPA chief Wheeler is asked to back up climate claims

Policy - Posted On:2019-04-24 14:30:00 Source: arstechnica

In an appearance on CBS News in late March, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett that the threat posed by climate change is "50 to 75 years out."

Now, environmental lobby group Sierra Club has asked the EPA for any scientific evidence that backs up this claim. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the agency, hoping to receive documentation that could back up Wheeler's claim.

The move is preliminary, but it's interesting because it follows in the footsteps of a successful challenge by another activist group: PEER, or Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. In 2017, PEER submitted a FOIA request for scientific evidence that could support statements made by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on CNBC, where the administrator claimed that carbon dioxide was not known to be a major factor in climate change.

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Leaked report: crashed Russian Air Force MiG-31 was shot down by wingman

Biz & IT - Posted On:2019-04-24 14:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Almost exactly two years ago, a Russian Air Force MiG-31 Foxhound supersonic interceptor went down during an exercise over the Telemba proving grounds in Buryatia, a Siberian semi-autonomous Russian republic that borders Mongolia. (Telemba was one of the sites for Vostok, Russia’s giant wargames staged last fall with Chinese and Mongolian troops in attendance.) The incident was described by Russia’s Defense Ministry at the time as a simple mishap: the fighter “crashed during a training flight,” and both crewmembers had ejected and parachuted to safety.

Now, however, the independent Russian news organization Baza has revealed leaked government documents that give somewhat more embarrassing details about the incident: the jet was shot down by another MiG-31. The accident was caused as a result of the second aircraft crew’s “violation of safety measures and missions for flight, expressed in the premature activation of the aircraft’s on-board radar station by the navigator and the unauthorized launch of the R-33 guided missiles by the commander,” the leaked report states. But the incident was also the result of a failure of the aircraft’s target-identification system (also known as an identification friend or foe, or IFF, system).

The MiG-31 was the first aircraft to use a phased array radar—the Zaslon passive electronically scanned array radar, capable of being used for both search and weapons targeting. (The passive phased arrays can be used to electronically steer radio signal beams, allowing some antennas to remain in search mode while others are used to lock on for a missile attack.)

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Drivers Think Bikers Are Less Than Human, Survey Says

technology - Posted On:2019-04-24 14:15:00 Source: slashdot

Researchers have found an explanation for why many drivers act out toward cyclists: They are actually dehumanizing people who ride bikes, according to an April study by Australian researchers in the journal Transportation Research. From a report: And this dehumanization -- the belief that a group of people are less than human -- correlates to drivers' self-reported aggressive behavior. Since 2010, cyclist fatalities have increased by 25 percent in the US. A total of 777 bicyclists were killed in crashes with drivers in 2017, and 45,000 were injured from crashes in 2015. Data compiled by the League of American Bicyclists also suggests that, in some states, bicyclists are overrepresented in the number of traffic fatalities. "The idea is that if you don't see a group of people as fully human, then you're more likely to be aggressive toward them," said Narelle Haworth, a professor and director of the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety at Queensland University of Technology, one of the authors of the study. The researchers asked 442 Australians, including those who identified as cyclists, to rank the average cyclist on a scale from ape to human. This ape-to-human diagram has been used in other studies, like this one from 2015, looking at the dehumanization of marginalized groups, such as Muslims and black people. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Hacker Can Monitor Cars And Kill Their Engines After Breaking Into GPS Tracking Apps

yro - Posted On:2019-04-24 13:29:59 Source: slashdot

Reader eatmorekix writes: A hacker broke into thousands of accounts belonging to users of two GPS tracker apps, giving him the ability to monitor the locations of tens of thousands of vehicles and even turn off the engines for some of them while they were in motion, Motherboard has learned. The hacker, who goes by the name L&M, told Motherboard he hacked into more than 7,000 iTrack accounts and more than 20,000 ProTrack accounts, two apps that companies use monitor and manage fleets of vehicles through GPS tracking devices. The hacker was able to track vehicles in a handful of countries around the world, including South Africa, Morocco, India, and the Philippines. On some cars, the software has the capability of remotely turning off the engines of vehicles that are stopped or are traveling 12 miles per hour or slower, according to the manufacturer of certain GPS tracking devices. By reverse engineering ProTrack and iTrack's Android apps, L&M said he realized that all customers are given a default password of 123456 when they sign up. At that point, the hacker said he brute-forced 'millions of usernames' via the apps' API. Then, he said he wrote a script to attempt to login using those usernames and the default password. This allowed him to automatically break into thousands of accounts that were using the default password and extract data from them. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Motor technology from Model 3 helps Tesla boost Model S range 10%

Cars - Posted On:2019-04-24 13:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Tesla's Model S is known for its long range, with the 100kWh version rated to travel 335 miles between charges. On Tuesday, Tesla announced changes to the Model S drivetrain that boosted the range by more than 10 percent to 370 miles.

Similar improvements have pushed the range of the high-end Model X up to 325 miles. And that's all without increasing the vehicle's battery capacity. The cars are simply able to go 10 percent further for every kWh of charge—which translates to electricity savings for Tesla customers.

Several factors combined to produce these impressive efficiency gains. Tesla switched one of the motors in the Model S and Model X to a new technology pioneered in the Model 3. The company also announced an improved suspension system and other efficiency tweaks throughout the vehicle. The impressive result: greater than 93 percent energy efficiency.

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First 'Marsquake' Detected on Red Planet

science - Posted On:2019-04-24 13:00:00 Source: slashdot

There are earthquakes and moonquakes, and now a NASA spacecraft has detected what's believed to be a "marsquake" on the Red Planet. From a report: The spacecraft picked up the faint trembling of Mars's surface on 6 April, 128 days after landing on the planet last November. The quake is the first to be detected on a planetary body other than Earth or Moon. The shaking was relatively weak, the French space agency CNES said on 23 April. The seismic energy it produced was similar to that of the moonquakes that Apollo astronauts measured in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "We thought Mars was probably going to be somewhere between Earth and the Moon" in terms of seismic activity, says Renee Weber, a planetary scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "It's still very early in the mission, but it's looking a bit more Moon-like than Earth-like," she says. It's not yet clear whether the shaking originated within Mars or was caused by a meteorite crashing into the planet's surface. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Leaked report: Russian Air Force MiG-31 crash was shot down by wingman

Biz & IT - Posted On:2019-04-24 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Almost exactly two years ago, a Russian Air Force MiG-31 Foxhound supersonic interceptor went down during an exercise over the Telemba proving grounds in Buryatia, a Siberian semi-autonomous Russian republic that borders Mongolia. (Telemba was one of the sites for Vostok, Russia’s giant wargames staged last fall with Chinese and Mongolian troops in attendance.) The incident was described by Russia’s Defense Ministry at the time as a simple mishap: the fighter “crashed during a training flight,” and both crewmembers had ejected and parachuted to safety.

Now, however, the independent Russian news organization Baza has revealed leaked government documents that give somewhat more embarrassing details about the incident: the jet was shot down by another MiG-31. The accident was caused as a result of the second aircraft crew’s “violation of safety measures and missions for flight, expressed in the premature activation of the aircraft’s on-board radar station by the navigator and the unauthorized launch of the R-33 guided missiles by the commander,” the leaked report states. But the incident was also the result of a failure of the aircraft’s target-identification system (also known as an identification friend or foe, or IFF, system).

The MiG-31 was the first aircraft to use a phased array radar—the Zaslon passive electronically scanned array radar, capable of being used for both search and weapons targeting. (The passive phased arrays can be used to electronically steer radio signal beams, allowing some antennas to remain in search mode while others are used to lock on for a missile attack.)

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The Oscars decides Netflix is ok after all, following DOJ warning

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2019-04-24 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Netflix and other streaming platforms won't be banned from the Oscars as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has rejected calls from Steven Spielberg and others to restrict eligibility for the annual awards.

The Academy's Board of Governors approved rules for the February 2020 Oscars and left the eligibility requirement unchanged. Just as before, feature-length films must be shown for at least one week in a Los Angeles County theater to be eligible, a requirement Netflix-backed movies such as Roma met on their way to winning awards. Proposals to require theater runs of at least four weeks were rejected.

"We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions," Academy President John Bailey said in an announcement yesterday. "Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues."

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Huawei’s P30 Pro excels on the camera front

Gadgets - Posted On:2019-04-24 12:30:01 Source: techcrunch

It’s been a month since Huawei unveiled its latest flagship device — the Huawei P30 Pro. I’ve played with the P30 and P30 Pro for a few weeks and I’ve been impressed with the camera system. The P30 Pro is the successor to the P20 Pro and features improvements across the board. It could have been […]

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