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Businesses

Teamsters Seek To Unionize More Tech Shuttle Bus Drivers In Silicon Valley 295

Posted by samzenpus
from the shuttle-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about the effort to unionize shuttle drivers in Silicon Valley. "Shuttle bus drivers for five prominent tech companies will decide whether to unionize on Friday in a vote that has the potential to dramatically expand organized labor's territory in Silicon Valley and embolden others in the tech industry's burgeoning class of service workers to demand better working conditions. Drivers who ferry Yahoo, Apple, Genentech, eBay and Zynga workers -- all employed by contractor Compass Transportation -- will decide whether to join the Teamsters union in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Union leaders say they want to bring the drivers into the fold so they can negotiate better pay and benefits -- as well as relief from a split shift that has the drivers working morning and evening shifts with no pay in between. A contract the Teamsters struck over the weekend for Facebook's shuttle bus drivers, who work for Loop Transportation, offers a glimpse of what may be possible: paid sick and vacation time, full health care coverage and wages of up to $27.50 an hour."
Encryption

NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data 406

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
jfruh writes: This may not come as a huge shock, but the director of the NSA doesn't believe that you have the right to encrypt your data in a way that the government can't access it. At a cybersecurity policy event, Michael Rogers said that the U.S. should be able to craft a policy that allows the NSA and law enforcement agencies to read encrypted data when they need to.
Security

'Babar' Malware Attributed To France 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the white-flag dept.
sarahnaomi writes: The NSA, GCHQ, and their allies in the Five Eyes are not the only government agencies using malware for surveillance. French intelligence is almost certainly hacking its targets too — and now security researchers believe they have proof. On Wednesday, the researchers will reveal new details about a powerful piece of malware known as "Babar," which is capable of eavesdropping on online conversations held via Skype, MSN and Yahoo messenger, as well as logging keystrokes and monitoring which websites an infected user has visited. The researchers are publishing two separate but complementary reports that analyze samples of the malware, and all but confirm that France's spying agency the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) was responsible for its creation.
AI

Breakthrough In Face Recognition Software 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the anonymity-takes-another-hit dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Face recognition software underwent a revolution in 2001 with the creation of the Viola-Jones algorithm. Now, the field looks set to dramatically improve once again: computer scientists from Stanford and Yahoo Labs have published a new, simple approach that can find faces turned at an angle and those that are partially blocked by something else. The researchers "capitalize on the advances made in recent years on a type of machine learning known as a deep convolutional neural network. The idea is to train a many-layered neural network using a vast database of annotated examples, in this case pictures of faces from many angles. To that end, Farfade and co created a database of 200,000 images that included faces at various angles and orientations and a further 20 million images without faces. They then trained their neural net in batches of 128 images over 50,000 iterations. ... What's more, their algorithm is significantly better at spotting faces when upside down, something other approaches haven't perfected."
Facebook

Facebook Launches ThreatExchange To Let Companies Share Threat Info 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Facebook today launched ThreatExchange, described as "an API-based clearinghouse for security threat information." It's really a social platform, which Facebook naturally excels at building, which allows companies to share with each other details about malware and phishing attacks. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Yahoo participated in ThreatExchange and gave feedback as Facebook was developing it. New contributors Bitly and Dropbox have also recently joined, bringing the initial participant list to seven major tech companies.
NASA

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches, Rocket Recovery Attempt Scrapped 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
An anonymous reader writes After scrubbing a launch Sunday because a radar glitch, and canceling one Tuesday due to high winds, SpaceX has successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket holding the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. The DSCOVR will orbit between Earth and the sun, observing and providing advanced warning of particles and magnetic fields emitted by the sun. The planned attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket via autonomous drone ship was scrapped due to huge waves in the Atlantic.
Bitcoin

Alleged Bitcoin Scam Leaves Millions Missing 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-think-I've-heard-this-story dept.
First time accepted submitter OutOnARock writes Yahoo Finance is reporting on the latest Bitcoin scam, this time from Hong Kong. "Investors in a Hong Kong-based Bitcoin trading company fear they have fallen victim to a scam after it closed down, a lawmaker said Monday, adding losses could total HK$3 billion ($387 million). Leung Yiu-chung said his office recently received reports from dozens of investors in Hong Kong who paid a total of HK$40 million ($5.16 million) into the scheme run online by MyCoin, but the total loss may be vastly more. 'The number of cases is increasing. These two days I received calls about more than 30 cases. We estimate more than 3,000 people and HK$3 billion are involved,' he told AFP."
Input Devices

The Algorithm That 'Sees' Beauty In Photographic Portraits 76

Posted by timothy
from the see-truth-and-extrapolate dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But what if the beholder is a machine? Scientists from Yahoo Labs in Barcelona have trained a machine learning algorithm to pick out beautiful photographic portraits from a collection of not-so-beautiful ones. They began with a set of 10,000 portraits that have been rated by humans and then allowed the algorithm to "learn" the difference by taking into account personal factors such as the age, sex and race of the subject as well as technical factors such as the sharpness of the image, the exposure and the contrast between the face and the background and so on. The trained algorithm was then able to reliably pick out the most beautiful portraits. Curiously, the algorithm does this by ignoring personal details such as age, sex, race, eye colour and so on and instead focuses only on technical details such as sharpness, exposure and contrast. The team say this suggests that any subject can be part of a stunning portrait regardless of their looks. It also suggests that "perfect portrait" algorithms could be built in to the next generation of cameras, rather like the smile-capturing algorithms of today."
Businesses

Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.
Medicine

Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated? 673

Posted by samzenpus
from the goofy-with-disease dept.
HughPickens.com writes According to Joanna Rothkopf Disneyland is already a huge petri dish of disease with tired children wiping their snot faces on Goofy and then riding log flumes through mechanized rivers filled with the backwash of thousands of other sweaty, unwashed, weeping toddlers. Now John Tozzi reports at Businessweek that five workers at Disneyland have been diagnosed with measles in an outbreak that California officials trace to visitors at the theme park in mid-December. The measles outbreak is a publicity nightmare for Disney and the company is urging its 27,000 workers at the park to verify that they're inoculated against the virus, and the company is offering tests and shots on site for workers who are unvaccinated. One thing Disney won't do, however, is require workers to get routine vaccinations as a condition of employment. Almost no companies outside the health-care industry do. "To make things mandatory just raises a lot of legal concerns and legal issues," says Rob Niccolini. Disney has been working with public health officials, and they've already put some employees on paid leave until medically cleared. "They recognized that they were just a meeting place for measles," says Gilberto Chávez. "And they are quite concerned about doing what they can to help control the outbreak."
Programming

Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
Stats

Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics 335

Posted by timothy
from the facts-are-stubborn-things dept.
theodp writes Some of the world's leading Data Scientists are on the payrolls of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple. So, it'd be interesting to get their take on the infographics the tech giants have passed off as diversity data disclosures. Microsoft, for example, reported its workforce is 29% female, which isn't great, but if one takes the trouble to run the numbers on a linked EEO-1 filing snippet (PDF), some things look even worse. For example, only 23.35% of its reported white U.S. employee workforce is female (Microsoft, like Google, footnotes that "Gender data are global, ethnicity data are US only"). And while Google and Facebook blame their companies' lack of diversity on the demographics of U.S. computer science grads, CS grad and nationality breakouts were not provided as part of their diversity disclosures. Also, the EEOC notes that EEO-1 numbers reflect "any individual on the payroll of an employer who is an employee for purposes of the employers withholding of Social Security taxes," further muddying the disclosures of companies relying on imported talent, like H-1B visa dependent Facebook. So, were the diversity disclosure mea culpas less about providing meaningful data for analysis, and more about deflecting criticism and convincing lawmakers there's a need for education and immigration legislation (aka Microsoft's National Talent Strategy) that's in tech's interest?
Security

19,000 French Websites Hit By DDoS, Defaced In Wake of Terror Attacks 206

Posted by timothy
from the just-don't-say-mon-dieu dept.
An anonymous reader writes Since the three day terror attack that started in France on January 7 with the attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, 19,000 websites of French-based companies have been targeted by cyber attackers. This unprecedented avalanche of cyber attacks targeted both government sites and that of big and small businesses. Most were low-level DDoS attacks, and some were web defacements. Several websites in a number of towns in the outskirts of Paris have been hacked and covered with an image of an ISIS flag. The front pages of the official municipality websites have been covered with the Jihadist militant group's black flag. In a report, Radware researchers noted that Islamic hacker group AnonGhost has also launched a "digital jihad" against France.
Verizon

Ad Company Using Verizon Tracking Header To Recreate Deleted Cookies 70

Posted by timothy
from the oh-that-bothers-you? dept.
itwbennett writes The story began a few months ago when it was reported that both Verizon and AT&T were injecting unique identifiers in the Web requests of their mobile customers. AT&T has since stopped using the system, but Verizon continues. Now, Stanford computer scientist Jonathan Mayer has found that one advertising company called Turn, which tracks users across the Web when they visit major sites including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, BlueKai, AppNexus, Walmart and WebMD, uses the Verizon UIDH to respawn its own tracking cookies.
Google

Google Sees Biggest Search Traffic Drop Since 2009 As Yahoo Gains Ground 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-we're-back dept.
helix2301 writes: Google's grip on the Internet search market loosened in December, as the search engine saw its largest drop since 2009. That loss was Yahoo's gain, as the Marissa Mayer-helmed company added almost 2% from November to December to bring its market share back into double digits. Google's lead remains overwhelming, with just more than three-quarters of search, according to SatCounter Global Stats. Microsoft's Bing gained some momentum to take 12.5% of the market. Yahoo now has 10.4%. All other search engines combined to take 1.9%.
Programming

Interviews: Ask Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose a Question 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Alexander Stepanov studied mathematics at Moscow State University and has been programming since 1972. His work on foundations of programming has been supported by GE, Brooklyn Polytechnic, AT&T, HP, SGI, and, since 2002, Adobe. In 1995 he received the Dr. Dobb's Journal Excellence in Programming Award for the design of the C++ Standard Template Library. Currently, he is the Senior Principal Engineer at A9.com. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer and research scientist who has held management positions at Apple, AltaVista, Xigo, Yahoo, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. His research focuses on all aspects of search technology, ranging from low-level algorithms for index compression to human-computer interaction issues in web search. Rose led the team at Apple that created desktop search for the Macintosh. In addition to working together, the pair have recently written a book, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Alexander and Daniel have agreed to answer any questions you may have about their book, their work, or programming in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."
Government

Snowden Documents Show How Well NSA Codebreakers Can Pry 278

Posted by timothy
from the keeping-you-well-under-surveillance dept.
Der Spiegel has published today an excellent summary of what some of Edward Snowden's revelations show about the difficulty (or, generally, ease) with which the NSA and collaborating intelligence services can track, decrypt, and correlate different means of online communication. An interesting slice: The NSA and its allies routinely intercept [HTTPS] connections -- by the millions. According to an NSA document, the agency intended to crack 10 million intercepted https connections a day by late 2012. The intelligence services are particularly interested in the moment when a user types his or her password. By the end of 2012, the system was supposed to be able to "detect the presence of at least 100 password based encryption applications" in each instance some 20,000 times a month. For its part, Britain's GCHQ collects information about encryption using the TLS and SSL protocols -- the protocols https connections are encrypted with -- in a database called "FLYING PIG." The British spies produce weekly "trends reports" to catalog which services use the most SSL connections and save details about those connections. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Yahoo and Apple's iCloud service top the charts, and the number of catalogued SSL connections for one week is in the many billions -- for the top 40 sites alone. ... The NSA also has a program with which it claims it can sometimes decrypt the Secure Shell protocol (SSH). This is typically used by systems administrators to log into employees' computers remotely, largely for use in the infrastructure of businesses, core Internet routers and other similarly important systems. The NSA combines the data collected in this manner with other information to leverage access to important systems of interest.
Education

Tech's Gender Gap Started At Stanford 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the setting-the-standard-early dept.
JCallery writes: The New York Times has an in-depth look at the gender gap in tech through the eyes of Stanford's class of 1994. The article surveys the culture of the school and its attempts at changing the equation on diversity. It also examines Stanford's impact on the big companies (Yahoo, PayPal, WhatsApp, Stella & Dot) and big names (Peter Theil, Rachel Maddow, Brian Acton) that came of age during the pioneering era of the early web.
China

Serious Economic Crisis Looms In Russia, China May Help 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-the-bears dept.
jones_supa writes: Russia is facing a "full-blown economic crisis," a former finance minister has warned, as the country is forced to take emergency financial measures. The economy has been battered by a wave of sanctions (set by other countries as a result of tensions over Ukraine), geopolitical uncertainty, and falling oil prices. Analysts have warned that the Russian economy will not improve in the long run until the aforementioned conditions have also improved. The Central Bank of Russia said that a plan to loan Trust bank an amount of up to 30bn rubles ($54m) had been approved. Trust bank has run a series of advertisements featuring actor Bruce Willis in Russia, along with the ironic quote: "When I need money, I just take it." Anna Stupnytska, an economist at Fidelity Solutions, said that "the risk of a sovereign default is low, it's the corporate sector where the main vulnerabilities lie, and banking in particular. Due to sanctions, companies cannot refinance their debt as access to international markets has been essentially cut off." Reader hackingbear adds: Two Chinese ministers offered support for Russia as President Vladimir Putin seeks to shore up the plummeting ruble without depleting foreign-exchange reserves. Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of the yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia. Western governments and experts have been criticizing China for restricting exchange and suppressing the value of its currency, even though anyone who lived in China during the 1990's knew that the value of the yuan was cut to align with the (vibrant) black market. But as grandma has warned us, we should be careful of what we wish for. China has greatly sped up the relaxation of currency exchange and is promoting the yuan as an alternative to the dollar for global trade and finance. They've signed currency-swap agreements with 28 other central banks to encourage this. Once accomplished, and backed by China's growing military might, Renminbi would be a formidable competitor to U.S. Dollar, which would hamper the U.S's ability to borrow almost freely with banks around the world.
Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer's Reinvention of Yahoo! Stumbles 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-laid-plans dept.
schnell writes The New York Times Magazine has an in-depth profile of Marissa Mayer's time at the helm of Yahoo!, detailing her bold plans to reinvent the company and spark a Jobs-ian turnaround through building great new products. But some investors are saying that her product focus (to the point of micromanaging) hasn't generated results, and that the company should give up on trying to create the next iPod, merge with AOL to cut costs and focus on the unglamorous core business that it has. Is it time for Yahoo! to "grow up" and set its sights lower?