Businesses

With Her Blog Post About Toxic Bro-Culture at Uber, Susan Fowler Proved That One Person Can Make a Difference (recode.net) 11

Kara Swisher, writing for Recode: It was Lao Tzu who said that "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." In the case of complete and utter change reeling through Uber right now -- culminating in the resignation of its once untouchable CEO Travis Kalanick -- it turns out that it began with one of the most epic blog posts to be written about what happens when a hot company becomes hostage to its increasingly dysfunctional and toxic behaviors. It was clear from the moment you read the 3,000-word post by former engineer Susan Fowler about her time at the car-hailing company that nothing was going to be the same. Titled simply, "Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber," the essay deftly and surgically laid out the map that the media and others would use to prove to its out-to-lunch board and waffling investors that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to go. In her account, Fowler was neither mean nor self-righteous, although in reading the story that she laid out about her horrible time there, it would have been completely fair for her to have taken that tone.
Businesses

Remember When You Called Someone and Heard a Song? (vice.com) 115

An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard article: If you were youngish in the early 2000s, you probably remember this phenomenon -- calling a friend's cell phone, and instead of hearing the the standard ring, you heard a pop song. Called ringback tones, this digital music fad allowed cell phone owners to subject callers to their own musical preference. Ringback tones were incredibly trendy in the early and mid-2000's, but have since tapered off nearly to oblivion. Though almost nobody is buying ringbacks anymore, plenty of people still have them from back in the day. [...] In the process of writing this story, I heard from several people that they or someone they knew still had a ringback tone, in large part because they have had it for years, and don't know how to get rid of it.
The Almighty Buck

eBay Will Now Price Match Amazon, Walmart and Others On Over 50,000 Items (techcrunch.com) 51

eBay announced today a new Price Match Guarantee for over 50,000 items across its site -- promising that it will have the best deal online, or it will match the lowest price of a competitor. While only select items are available for this offer, "the move is a significant effort on eBay's part to ensure that it doesn't lose customers to Amazon, Walmart and other online stores as the market consolidates behind the industry's major players," reports TechCrunch. From the report: In order to qualify, the item must be one of the new, unopened items sold daily through eBay Deals, for starters. Deals are eBay's selection of "trending" inventory across all its categories -- like consumer electronics, home & garden, and fashion. The deals are also generally offered at 20 percent to 90 percent off, and are sourced from over 900 of eBay's trusted sellers. These sellers include both smaller merchants looking to grow their customer base as well as major consumer brands. At any time, eBay says there are "tens of thousands" of items offered through the Deals site, with featured deals updating at least once per day, beginning at 8 AM PT.
Transportation

South Korea Signs On To Build Full-Scale Hyperloop System (newatlas.com) 103

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has partnered with the South Korean government and local universities to build the world's first full-scale Hyperloop system. "The agreement was actually signed back in January but only revealed this week, and sees HTT team up with the South Korean government's department of technological innovation and infrastructure, along with the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building (KICT) and Hanyang University," reports New Atlas. From the report: It involves the construction of a full-scale testbed, licensing of HTT's vacuum tube, levitation, propulsion and battery technologies along with the co-development of safety standards and regulations. The agreement is a multi-year partnership intended to build a new transportation system for South Korea, one which will be known as the HyperTube Express and carry passengers between Seoul and Busan in under 20 minutes, compared to the current three-hour drive. HTT may be setting out to build the world's first Hyperloop but it is no guarantee, with fellow startups Arrivo and Hyperloop One also moving full-steam ahead with their plans. The latter in particular seems to be making solid progress, recently showing off a full-scale test track in Nevada and forming agreements with Russia, Finland and Dubai to explore the feasibility of a Hyperloop in those countries. It's too early to tell who will be first out of the gate, but the competition is certainly heating up.
Security

Facial Recognition Is Coming To US Airports (theverge.com) 116

Facial recognition systems will be coming to U.S. airports in the very near future. "Customs and Border Protection first started testing facial recognition systems at Dulles Airport in 2015, then expanded the tests to New York's JFK Airport last year," reports The Verge. "Now, a new project is poised to bring those same systems to every international airport in America." From the report: Called Biometric Exit, the project would use facial matching systems to identify every visa holder as they leave the country. Passengers would have their photos taken immediately before boarding, to be matched with the passport-style photos provided with the visa application. If there's no match in the system, it could be evidence that the visitor entered the country illegally. The system is currently being tested on a single flight from Atlanta to Tokyo, but after being expedited by the Trump administration, it's expected to expand to more airports this summer, eventually rolling out to every international flight and border crossing in the U.S. U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Larry Panetta, who took over the airport portion of the project in February, explained the advantages of facial recognition at the Border Security Expo last week. "Facial recognition is the path forward we're working on," Panetta said at the conference. "We currently have everyone's photo, so we don't need to do any sort of enrollment. We have access to the Department of State records so we have photos of U.S. Citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the U.S. and their biometrics are captured into [DHS biometric database] IDENT."
Privacy

California May Restore Broadband Privacy Rules Killed By Congress and Trump (arstechnica.com) 78

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A proposed law in California would require Internet service providers to obtain customers' permission before they use, share, or sell the customers' Web browsing history. The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, a bill introduced by Assembly member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) on Monday, is very similar to an Obama-era privacy rule that was scheduled to take effect across the US until President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated it. If Chau's bill becomes law, ISPs in California would have to get subscribers' opt-in consent before using browsing history and other sensitive information in order to serve personalized advertisements. Consumers would have the right to revoke their consent at any time. The opt-in requirement in Chau's bill would apply to "Web browsing history, application usage history, content of communications, and origin and destination Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of all traffic." The requirement would also apply to geolocation data, IP addresses, financial and health information, information pertaining to minors, names and billing information, Social Security numbers, demographic information, and personal details such as physical addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.
Security

Honda Shuts Down Factory After Finding NSA-derived Wcry In Its Networks (arstechnica.com) 58

A Honda factory near Tokyo was shuttered for over 24 hours this week after its computers became infected with WannaCry, the same ransomware virus responsible for crippling systems in dozens of countries last month, the car manufacturer said Wednesday. From a report: The automaker shut down its Sayama plant northwest of Tokyo on Monday after finding that WCry had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China, and other regions, Reuters reported Wednesday. Discovery of the infection came on Sunday, more than five weeks after the onset of the NSA-derived ransomware worm, which struck an estimated 727,000 computers in 90 countries. [...] Honda officials didn't explain why engineers found WCry in their networks 37 days after the kill switch was activated. One possibility is that engineers had mistakenly blocked access to the kill-switch domain. That would have caused the WCry exploit to proceed as normal, as it did in the 12 or so hours before the domain was registered. Another possibility is that the WCry traces in Honda's networks were old and dormant, and the shutdown of the Sayama plant was only a precautionary measure. In any event, the discovery strongly suggests that as of Monday, computers inside the Honda network had yet to install a highly critical patch that Microsoft released in March.
Businesses

Walmart to Vendors: Get Off Amazon's Cloud (wsj.com) 153

Amazon vs. Walmart saga continues. It turns out, Walmart isn't thrilled about its partners using Amazon's cloud, and it's telling them to get off it (alternative source). From a report: Walmart is telling some technology companies that if they want its business, they can't run applications for the retailer on Amazon's leading cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services, several tech companies say. [...] Walmart, loath to give any business to Amazon, said it keeps most of its data on its own servers and uses services from emerging AWS competitors, such as Microsoft's Azure.
United States

Etsy Slashes Almost a Quarter Of Its Staff In Attempt To Refocus (engadget.com) 53

Etsy, the online market for artisan and handmade goods, said on Wednesday that it will reduce its workforce by 15 per cent on top of another round of job cuts announced last month. From a report: CEO Josh Silverman announced this morning that Etsy was laying off 15 percent of its workforce. That's in addition to layoffs that were announced in early May; the total workforce reduction comes in at 22 percent, or about 230 employees. Silverman said the layoffs were part of an effort to focus on Etsy's "vital few initiatives," though he didn't specify exactly what parts of the company were being a drag. The only indication was that the company would focus on its "core marketplace."
Government

Trump Promises a Federal Technology Overhaul To Save $1 Trillion (technologyreview.com) 348

New submitter threc shares a report from MIT Technology Review: The tech world descended on Washington, D.C. yesterday to attend a tech summit at the White House. According to MIT Technology Review associate editor Jamie Condliffe: "Trump suggested he might relax his stance on immigration as a way to get tech leaders to help his cause. 'You can get the people you want,' he told the assembled CEOs. That sweetener may be a response to a very vocal backlash in the tech world against the administration's recent travel bans. Trump may hope that his business-friendly stance will offer enough allure: if tech giants scratch his back, he may later deign to scratch theirs." The report continues: "'Our goal is to lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government's technology that will deliver dramatically better services for citizens,' said Trump at the start of his meeting with the CEOs, according to the Washington Post. 'We're embracing big change, bold thinking, and outsider perspectives.' The headline announcement from the event was Trump's promise to overhaul creaking government computing infrastructure. According to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and advisor, there's much to be done: federal agencies have over 6,000 data centers that could be consolidated, for instance, while the 10 oldest networks in use by the government are all at least 39 years old. The upgrade, said Trump, could save the country $1 trillion over the next 10 years."
Printer

Top UK Supermarket Laser Prints Labels On Avocados To Reduce Waste (telegraph.co.uk) 207

One of the largest British retailers in London, M&S, is opting in for laser-printed barcodes to reduce paper waste. "The labels, which are etched onto fruit's skins with lasers instead of stickers, will save 10 tons of paper and five tons of glue every year according to M&S," reports The Telegraph. The labels will be etched into the skins of avocados, but "could soon be introduced to other fruit and vegetables and adopted by other supermarkets which are looking for new waste reduction techniques." The labels themselves include the shop logo, best before date, country of origin and product code for entering at the till. What's more is that the avocado's skin is the only area impacted by the lasers -- none of the fruit gets damaged. Bruce66423 writes: Print the information usually on the packaging to reduce waste. Excellent idea -- although the Aldi (the radically cheap, all own brand chain) alternative is to leave avocados untouched and get the cashiers to enter the code.
Earth

Sweden Passes Bill To Become Carbon Neutral By 2045 (newscientist.com) 208

Sweden is the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris accord in 2015. The country has passed a new bill committing to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045. New Scientist reports: The law was drawn up by a cross-party committee and passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament by 254 votes to 41. The legislation establishes an independent Climate Policy Council and requires an action plan to be updated every four years. Sweden had previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, having met its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule. To achieve carbon-neutral status, the country will focus on reducing emissions from transport by increasing the use of biofuels and electric vehicles. It plans to cut domestic emissions by at least 85 per cent, and offset remaining emissions by planting trees or investing in projects abroad.
Businesses

The Best And Worst ISPs According To Consumer Reports (dslreports.com) 90

In the August 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, the nonprofit organization ranked internet service providers based off customer satisfaction. According to the report, many consumers still don't like their broadband and television provider, and don't believe they receive a decent value for the high price they pay for service. DSLReports summarizes the findings: The report [...] names Chattanooga municipal broadband provider EPB as the most-liked ISP in the nation. EPB was followed by Google Fiber, Armstrong Cable, Consolidated Cable and RCN as the top-ranked ISPs in the nation. Google Fiber "was the clear winner for internet service," notes the report, "with the only high score for value." Google Fiber also received high marks for customer support and service. But large, incumbent ISPs continue to be aggressively disliked due to high prices and poor customer service, according to the report. Despite endless annual promises that customer service is the company's priority, Comcast ranked number 27 out of the 32 providers measured. The company's survey results were weighed down by low consumer marks for value, channel selection, technical support, customer service and free video on demand offerings. The least-liked ISPs in the nation, according to the report, are: Charter (Spectrum), Cable ONE, Atlantic broadband, Frontier Communications, and Mediacom. Not coincidentally, the two largest ISPs in that list just got done with massive mergers or acquisitions that resulted in higher prices and worse service than consumers saw previously. MyRatePlan has a breakdown of ISP providers and plans by ZIP code.
Android

Mozilla Launches Privacy-Minded 'Firefox Focus' Browser For Android (venturebeat.com) 58

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched a new browser for Android. In addition to Firefox, the company now also offers Firefox Focus, a browser dedicated to user privacy that by default blocks many web trackers, including analytics, social, and advertising. You can download the new app now from Google Play. Because Google isn't as strict as Apple, Android users can set Firefox Focus as their default browser. There are many use cases for wanting to browse the web without being tracked, but Mozilla offers a common example: reading articles via apps "like Facebook." On iOS, Firefox Focus is basically just a web view with tracking protection. On Android, Firefox Focus is the same, with a few additional features (which are still "under consideration" for iOS):
  • Ad tracker counter -- Lists the number of ads that are blocked per site while using the app.
  • Disable tracker blocker -- For sites that are not loading correctly, you can disable the tracker blocker to fix the issues.
  • Notification reminder -- When Firefox Focus is running in the background, a notification will remind you so you can easily tap to erase your browsing history.

Open Source

Opus 1.2 Released 22

jmv writes: The Opus audio codec, used in WebRTC and now included in all major web browsers, gets another major upgrade with the release of version 1.2. This release brings quality improvements to both speech and music, while remaining fully compatible with RFC 6716. There are also optimizations, new options, as well as many bug fixes. This Opus 1.2 demo describes a few of the upgrades that users and implementers will care about the most. It includes audio samples comparing to previous versions of the codec, as well as speed comparisons for x86 and ARM.
Transportation

It's Too Hot For Some Planes To Fly In Phoenix (npr.org) 258

In Phoenix on Tuesday, temperatures were forecast to climb as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, causing more than 40 American Eagle regional flights out of Phoenix's international airport to be canceled. NPR reports: American Airlines said in a statement that the Bombardier CRJ aircraft used on some shorter routes have a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. For bigger jets, the threshold is higher. The carrier says that, for example, Airbus aircraft have a maximum operating temperature of 127 degrees and that for Boeing, it is 126 degrees. As USA Today reports: "Extreme heat affects a plane's ability to take off. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and the hotter the temperature, the more speed a plane needs to lift off. A runway might not be long enough to allow a plane to achieve the necessary extra speed." Bianca Hernandez, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tells NPR that Phoenix is seeing an unusually strong high-pressure system, which is causing the soaring temperatures.
Software

Uber Finally Adds a Tipping Option To Its App (gizmodo.com) 84

After years of complaints, Uber is rolling out a tipping option for drivers. "Tipping is available in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston as of today. We're starting with only 3 cities so we can create the best tipping experience for you and your riders. We'll be adding more cities over the next few weeks, and will make tips available to all U.S. drivers, by the end of July 2017," Uber said in an email to drivers. Gizmodo reports: Uber will also roll out a full set of driver-friendly features. The cancellation window will narrow to two minutes (it was previously five) and drivers will get a per-minute fee if a rider makes them wait beyond two minutes. Drivers will also get a cut of Uber's "teen fare" which had previously gone exclusively to Uber. Now, drivers will get $2 of the fee. Uber will also offer drivers the option to enroll in injury-protection insurance. Uber has always argued that it offers a seamless experience and that adding a tip feature into its app would interfere with that. The company promises an up-front fare to the rider, with no fumbling around for cash or evaluation of a driver's performance beyond assigning a rating.
Bitcoin

South Korean Web Hosting Provider Pays $1 Million In Ransomware Demand (bleepingcomputer.com) 97

An anonymous reader writes: Nayana, a web hosting provider based in South Korea, announced it is in the process of paying a three-tier ransom demand of nearly $1 million worth of Bitcoin, following a ransomware infection that encrypted data on customer' servers. The ransomware infection appears has taken place on June 10, but Nayana admitted to the incident two days later, in a statement on its website.

Attackers asked for an initial ransom payment of 550 Bitcoin, which was worth nearly $1.62 million at the time of the request. After two days of negotiations, Nayana staff said they managed to reduce the ransom demand to 397.6 Bitcoin, or nearly $1 million. In a subsequent announcement, Nayana officials stated that they negotiated with the attackers to pay the ransom demand in three installments, due to the company's inability to produce such a large amount of cash in a short period of time.

On Saturday, June 17, the company said it already paid two of the three payment tranches. In subsequent announcements, Nayana updated clients on the server decryption process, saying the entire operation would take up to ten days due to the vast amount of encrypted data. The company said 153 Linux servers were affected, servers which stored the information of more than 3,400 customers.

Government

Tim Cook Told Trump Tech Employees Are 'Nervous' About Immigration (cnbc.com) 314

Behind the scenes at the White House tech CEO meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook told President Donald Trump that technology employees are "nervous" about the administration's approach to immigration, CNBC reports, citing a source familiar with the exchange. From the report: The source said the president told the CEOs on Monday that the Senate's health-care bill needs "more heart." That would be a second known instance of the president criticizing the GOP plan in private meetings. To that, the source said, Cook replied that the immigration approach by the administration also "needs more heart." Cook cited the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is under review by the Trump administration. He also said people in tech and their co-workers were nervous about their status, and added that it "would be great" if the president could "send them a signal." Here's what executives of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft said.
Businesses

Amazon Will Now Let You Try On Clothes Before You Buy Them (theverge.com) 104

For many people, buying clothing online is not worth the hassle of getting a pair of pants or a shirt that does not fit. Many retailers have sought to eliminate that risk by offering free returns on clothing, but now Amazon is going even further. From a report: Amazon is launching Prime Wardrobe, a new program that will let you try on clothes before you buy them. Once you select at least three Prime Wardrobe-eligible pieces from over a million clothing options, Amazon will ship your selections to you in a resealable return box with a prepaid shipping label. After you try on the clothes, you can put the ones you don't want back in the box and leave it at your front door -- Prime Wardrobe also comes with free scheduled pickups from UPS. If you decide to keep at least three items you will get a 10 percent discount off your purchase, and if you keep five or more pieces the discount rises to 20 percent.

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