Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Sperm Stored In Space Produces Healthy Baby Mice On Earth

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Reproduction may be possible in space, Japanese researchers have said, after freeze-dried sperm stored on the International Space Station for nine months produced healthy offspring. The scientists said their findings could have significant ramifications for human settlements in space, which they consider "likely." The average daily radiation dose on the ISS is about 100 times stronger than that on Earth, posing a threat of serious reproductive problems for any space-dwelling organism. But mouse sperm stored on the ISS for 288 days from August 2013 to May 2014, then returned to Earth, fertilized in vitro and transferred into female mice, produced healthy offspring. The space-preserved samples showed evidence of slightly increased DNA damage compared with control samples preserved on Earth, but this was found to be largely repaired in embryos following fertilization. The birth rate and sex ratio of pups derived from the sperm stored in space was comparable to those of pups derived from the control samples. Subsequent whole genome analysis revealed only minor differences, and the pups developed into adults with normal fertility. The study was published in the proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

Java Creator James Gosling Joins Amazon Web Services

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The legendary computer scientist and founder of Java, James Gosling, is joining forces with Amazon Web Services. Gosling made the announcement today on Facebook saying that he's "starting a new Adventure" with the cloud computing juggernaut as a Distinguished Engineer. GeekWire reports: Gosling wrote Java, one of the most widely used programming languages in the history of computing, while at Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s. After leaving Sun following its acquisition by Oracle, Gosling did a short stint at Google before settling in for almost six years at Liquid Robotics, which is working on an autonomous boat called the Wave Glider. He likely ruffled a few feathers in Seattle last year after speaking out about fears of cloud vendor lock-in. "You get cloud providers like Amazon saying: 'Take your applications and move them to the cloud.' But as soon as you start using them you're stuck in that particular cloud," he said at IP Expo according to The Inquirer, echoing the sentiment of some skeptical IT organizations burned by enterprise vendors in the past.

5 minute provisioning times YEEHA

By Billly Gates • Score: 3 • Thread

with.lots.of.different.methods.to.chose.and.remember.from.tobe() implements java

I guess there is always Azure ... haha sorry had to type that last sentence

Java - the most awful programming language ever

By kugeln • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
So AWS is going to start crashing from running out of memory, spawning too many processes, or trying to run native, platform optimized binaries that only work on a specific antiquated version of the platform. Talk about progress!

Tough crowd tonight...

By creimer • Score: 3 • Thread
Does this mean that Amazon will support vendor-neutral implementation of their cloud?

Samsung's Galaxy S8 Active Looks Like a Rugged LG G6

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Wireless Power Consortium has released a leaked image of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 Active. While it's only one photo, the image shows a smartphone greatly resembling LG's G6. The Verge reports: First, the display: the S8 Active won't have curved edges, like the regular S8. The big question this year was what Samsung planned to do about the screen, since curved glass may be more susceptible to cracking, and Samsung seems to have decided the best option was to get rid of it altogether. Instead, the S8 Active has a flattened out look but retains the S8's rounded corners, making the front of the phone look a lot like LG's G6. Samsung seems to have made the bezels a little bit larger on the S8 Active, particularly on the sides. But overall, the front of the phone still seems to get fairly close to the nearly all-screen look of actual S8. The second thing this photo shows is that Samsung isn't putting buttons back on the front of the phone. That's not necessarily a huge surprise, but it'll make the device a bit harder to handle when wet, since owners will be relying on the touchscreen. And finally, this photo reveals a bit of what Samsung is doing to make the phone rugged. All four of its corners bump out, suggesting they've been reinforced to absorb shock should the phone get dropped; it looks a lot like what Samsung has done in the past.

PayPal Sues Pandora Over 'Patently Unlawful' Logo

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
PayPal has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Pandora, arguing that the company's minimalist logo " dilutes the distinctiveness" of its own branding. "Element by element and in overall impression, the similarities between the logos are striking, obvious, and patently unlawful," the lawsuit alleges. Billboard reports: In October 2016, Pandora announced it was redesigning its logo from a thin, serifed "P" into the chunky, sans serifed "P" that it is today. The color scheme was also changed from midnight blue to a softer shade of blue. By comparison, PayPal's logo, active since 2014, also features a minimalist-looking "P" in a sans serif font and sporting a blue color palette. PayPal's mark actually consists of two overlapping and slanted "Ps," whereas Pandora keeps it to one. Both P's lack a hole. It is because of these similarities that PayPal believes customers of both companies are unable to distinguish the two, and that many are complaining about inadvertently opening Pandora instead of PayPal on their smartphones. The lawsuit includes various screen grabs, primarily from Twitter, of people noting the similarities. PayPal's lawsuit also points out Pandora's current struggles as a brand, saying that since it is primarily an ad-supported service, it "has no obvious path to profitability," especially given "overwhelming competition" from the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. The suit alleges that Pandora purposely "latched itself on to the increasingly popular" PayPal logo look-and-feel as part of its efforts to reverse its fortunes.

WTF

By Patent Lover • Score: 3 • Thread
One's a P, the other is two P's. Likelihood of confusion? I think PayPal's pissed that they suck and Pandora doesn't.

Re:WTF

By Your.Master • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't think that's quite fair.

In text:

PayPal has two capital Ps, on slant, overlapping with one slightly further down and to the right. The P's font is most notable for lacking the "hole" in the letter. Each P is a distinct shade of blue, plus a third shade of blue for the overlap.

Pandora has a single capital P, upright. It is a particular shade of blue. The font's most noticeable feature is the lack of a hole in the P.

There's a lot more similarities than it being the letter P. To be fair, there are also more differences than it being 1 vs. 2 Ps, although the other ones are fairly subtle -- the lack of slant, the particular shade of blue (Pandora's is close to one of PayPal's), the way PayPal's P's have no corners while Pandora's do, and way Pandora's "stem" is noticeably short.

Here's my lay assessment which is definitely not informed by actual trademark law, just me trying to apply common sense to the idea behind trademarks:

- I do think I could be confused by these marks if I wasn't specifically looking at them.
- I really doubt this was intentional. This looks like a mistake that could happen innocently.
- I think PayPal's mark has enough elements to be distinctive, clearly. Pandora's would be stretching it a bit even if PayPal was not already there, although stylized single-letter marks are not a new phenomenon.
- I'm not sure I would feel the same way if Pandora were first and PayPal the supposed infringer, which is an interesting asymmetry that I'm not sure can actually hold up in any court of law. The thing is that PayPal's mark has strictly more elements to distinguish it. Pandora looks like part of the PayPal mark taken out of context.

I use neither of these services regularly, but have used both in the past. No particular loyalties.

Re:This isn't about a trademark

By Duckman5 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
This is absolutely about trademark. I recently started using Pandora again a few days ago. The first time I looked back at my phone I was confused because I hadn't purchased anything with Paypal recently. I didn't know why there was a notification. It was just Pandora. The logos, especially when monochrome, are strikingly similar. As far as I know, Trademark law requires Paypal to defend their mark or risk losing it, too.

Re:WTF

By Capsaicin • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

But doesn't a trademark only cover a business area?

That certainly used to be the case.

With the introduction of TRIPS , however, special protection for "well-known marks" applies, under certain circumstances "to goods or services which are not similar to those in respect of which a trademark is registered." That is where such use could be taken to indicate a connection with the owner of the famous mark AND where "the interests of the owner of the registered trademark are likely to be damaged by such use." (Article 16(3)). As to what constitutes 'damage' to the trademark holder's interests, the Joint Recommendation Concerning Provisions on the Protection of Well-Known Marks on which the TRIPS provision is based suggest this may include "the use of that mark is likely to impair or dilute in an unfair manner the distinctive character of the well-known mark." (Article 4(1)(b)(ii) [Note however that unlike the actual TRIPS agreement, the Joint Recommendation envisaged that this should be a sufficient condition rather than requiring conjunction with any suggestion of connection].

This 'reform' left me anxious as to whether the basal principle of equality before the law is being offended against, however subtly, since the holder of a well-known mark would seem, at first gloss anyway, to receive more favourable treatment vis à vis other trademark holders.

As to whether PayPal either qualifies as a 'well-known' brand; whether the Pandora mark creates confusion as to connection and would damage the interests of PayPal, I offer no opinion.

I don't know of any PayPal music service. Maybe I confused it with Pandora...

Well yes, who knows who owns whom these days. ;)

Remote Pacific Island Is the Most Plastic-Contaminated Spot Yet Surveyed

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Plastic is durable -- very, very durable -- which is why we like it. Since it started being mass-produced in the 1950s, annual production has increased 300-fold. Because plastic is so durable, when our kids grow up and we purge our toy chests, or even just when we finish a bottle of laundry detergent or shampoo, it doesn't actually go away. While we're recycling increasing amounts of plastic, a lot of it still ends up in the oceans. Floating garbage patches have brought some attention to the issue of our contamination of the seas. But it's not just the waters themselves that have ended up cluttered with plastic. A recent survey shows that a staggering amount of our stuff is coming ashore on the extremely remote Henderson Island. Henderson Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Pitcairn Group of Islands in the South Pacific, roughly half way between New Zealand and Peru. According to UNESCO, Henderson is one of the best examples we have of an elevated coral atoll ecosystem. It was colonized by Polynesians between the 12th and 15th centuries but has been uninhabited by humans since then. It is of interest to evolutionary biologists because it has 10 plant species and four bird species that are only found there. Despite its uninhabited status and its extremely remote location, a recent survey of beach plastic on Henderson Island revealed that the island has the highest density of debris reported anywhere in the world: an estimated minimum of 37.7 million items weighing 17.6 tons. This represents the total amount of plastic that is produced in the world every 1.98 seconds. Further reading: Here And Now

It's not plastic that's the problem...

By iMadeGhostzilla • Score: 3 • Thread

Plastic has great utility (as long as it's safe), it's disposable plastic that's the problem. And much of it is just for convenience that's not necessarily all that convenient.

As an example -- I've been drinking water from disposable plastic bottles for over a decade and just recently switched to refilling water at my local store. At 50 cents a gallon I pay less for higher quality water in a BPA-free container. I had thought that's too much of a hassle but with "double buffering" it's actually less hassle than the bottled water, it's cheaper, tastier, and supposedly healthier.

Re:It's not plastic that's the problem...

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

just recently switched to refilling water at my local store. At 50 cents a gallon ...

Could please you explain your rationale for doing this instead of just getting water from the faucet in your kitchen?

Re:It must not matter much

By Ogive17 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Well, it doesn't matter to me so I'll just dump my trash in your front yard. If it matters to you, you'll clean it up!

Mind-boggling

By jenningsthecat • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"... an estimated minimum of 37.7 million items weighing 17.6 tons. This represents the total amount of plastic that is produced in the world every 1.98 seconds".

If that's true, then it's a staggering and sobering statistic. In nice round numbers, call it 8 tons per second. That's over 690,000 tons of plastic produced per day! Given that plastic is largely made from a non-renewable resource, and that it takes a huge amount of energy to produce, and that much of it is used frivolously... Talk about fouling our own nest! As a species we are remarkably good at choosing short term gain that causes long term pain. Sadness...

Re:It's not plastic that's the problem...

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Most tap water is poisoned with fluoride.

The water sold in the grocery store is usually filtered tap water. The filtering does not remove fluoride. In fact, there is no evidence that it removes anything other than money from your wallet.

Microsoft Says a Chinese 'Gaming Service' Company Is Hacking Xbox Accounts

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Since 2015, a Chinese gaming website has been hacking Xbox accounts and selling the proceeds on the open market, according to a complaint filed by Microsoft in federal court on Friday. On its website, iGSKY presents itself as a gaming service company, offering players a way to pay for in-game credits and rare items -- but according to Microsoft, many of those credits were coming from someone else's wallet. The complaint alleges that the company made nearly $2 million in purchases through hacked accounts and their associated credit cards, using purchases as a way to launder the resulting cash. On the site, cheap in-game points are also available for the FIFA games, Forza Horizon 3, Grand Theft Auto V, and Pokemon Go, among others.

I love PokÃf©mon Go!

By drinkypoo • Score: 3 • Thread

Come on, Slashdot. What year is it?

Microsoft Wants To Use DNA For Cloud Data Storage

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last July, researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington said that they had successfully encoded about 200 megabytes of data onto synthetic DNA molecules. The company is now planning to take the technology commercial. "Computer architects at Microsoft Research say the company has formalized a goal of having an operational storage system based on DNA working inside a data center toward the end of this decade," reports MIT Technology Review. "The aim is a 'proto-commercial system in three years storing some amount of data on DNA in one of our four centers for at least a boutique application,' says Doug Carmean, a partner architect at Microsoft Research." From the report: Internally, Microsoft harbors the even more ambitious goal of replacing tape drives, a common format used for archiving information. Major obstacles to a practical storage system remain. Converting digital bits into DNA code (made up of chains of nucleotides labeled A, G, C, and T) remains laborious and expensive because of the chemical process used to manufacture DNA strands. In its demonstration project, Microsoft used 13,448,372 unique pieces of DNA. Experts say buying that much material on the open market would cost $800,000. According to Microsoft, the cost of DNA storage needs to fall by a factor of 10,000 before it becomes widely adopted. While many experts say that's unlikely, Microsoft believes such advances could occur if the computer industry demands them.

talk about virus vulnerabilities...

By dAzED1 • Score: 3 • Thread
I know MS has long had a history of being especially prone to viruses based on basic design decisions, but this is almost retro!

Success depends on simplicity

By Gravis Zero • Score: 3 • Thread

Using DNA for data storage is a real possibility but what they need to do more than anything is to simplify the encoding and decoding so that it is both speedy and more importantly, costs next to nothing. What this really means is building complex molecular machines which is something we have yet to manage. It might take 50 years before we manage to figure out how make complex molecular machines but the result will be amazing in the same way that graphics rendering thought up 50 years ago is amazing on modern GPUs.

Re:So that's how we create the Andromeda Strain

By interkin3tic • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
There's no biosafety level 5, it only goes up to four.

More importantly, no to the rest of it.These are not going to be living things, they're going to be dried nucleotides on paper most likely. There is going to be no transcription or translation and creation of proteins. First of all that's much more difficult and doesn't happen on its own. Second that would defeat the point of data storage. Having the DNA doing stuff would cause its degradation and loss.

It's like saying "don't download that encyclopedia on that external hard drive! It might achieve sentience!" Nothing is happening to the data either way, and in both cases, making "life" would be impossible.

Life requires a lot more than DNA. There are some plant viruses IIRC that can reproduce simply by injecting their DNA or RNA sequence into plant cells. But I didn't hear about any such human viruses. Viruses require protein machinery to take over the cell in addition to their DNA. You synthesize the smallpox genome and inject it into your veins, you're not going to develop smallpox.

... I mean, I wouldn't try that myself, but my fears over doing that are purely illogical.

The smallpox genome is also a 186 kilobase sequence. It's not something that's sure to show up with much frequency even if all the DNA in MS's storage were to get into your cells. If anyone knows a way of calculating how much DNA you'd need to synthesize at random before you came up with those specific 186000 nucleotides, I'd be very interested, but I'm guessing it's a lot.

Finally, synthesizing nucleotides is old hat. The scale and cost is the new thing here. You want to synthesize a smallpox genome? You can do that already. There aren't even any laws against it yet! It's going to cost you a lot and again, DNA itself wouldn't do shit besides freak people out, but you can. It'd be much easier just to find smallpox itself. But either way, there's nothing completely new here besides it's now cheap and fast enough to consider doing for data storage.

Quit getting spooked by biology.

Ethereum Could Be Worth More Than Bitcoin Very Soon

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Ethereum is an open software platform based on blockchain technology that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications, according to Blockgeeks. It is currently the second most valuable cryptocurrency on the planet, but it could overthrow Bitcoin and become the most valuable cryptocurrency in the near future. Inc.com reports: If you aren't familiar, what Bitcoin does for payments, Ethereum does for anything involving programming and computing. While it utilizes its own version of a blockchain, it is functionally different from Bitcoin. For example, on the Ethereum platform you could host a crowdfunding campaign or any type of "smart contract." Ethereum's goal is to make a decentralized internet. And it has a very good shot at becoming "the new internet," literally. It could one day replace a lot of technology and ways that we host and execute code online. As of the time of writing, Ethereum has a market cap of over $17 billion. Bitcoin's market cap is $34 billion. This makes Ether (the name of Ethereum's token) the second most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. And that number jumped up over $3 billion just yesterday. It's making a major climb and has no end in sight, according to many. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance is what initially spiked major interest (and shot up the price). Just the other day, 86 new companies joined the alliance.

Ether Holder Here

By WoodburyMan • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I have been holding Ether since February and have been accumulating other ERC20 tokens (Golem, Gnosis, etc) that also run on the Etherium Blockchain. Back when I read Microsoft, Intel, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, The U.N., and tons of other Fin-Tech companies were getting in, I was intrigued and immediately converted the majority of my Bitcoin holdings over to Ether after dealing with VERY slow transaction times with Bitcoin and being fed up with it and the thread of a Bitcoin hard fork. Never looking back. Instant payment, low fees, backed by MAJOR tech and finance companies.

2 "hard forks" already... pathetic!

By ffkom • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Don't forget Etherium was the group touting "the code is the contract" until the very moment someone outsmarted their code, at which point they suddenly changed their mind.

"Hard forking" whenever someone claims the system was abused does not scale to any reasonable size - a blockchain utilized by millions would require "hard forks" every day.

Re:Does Ethereum solve anything?

By WoodburyMan • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You don't need the entire blockchain downloaded for Etherium or Bitcoin to work. That's only if you want a "Full Node" client. You can run Wallet apps on your system such as Jaxx, or use a Hardware wallet such as Ledge Nano, or a Paper Wallet via MyEtherWallet.com. For Etherium you can use browser plugins for dapps as well. Bandwith is a few kb and small download for the app.

Re:What is pumping Etherium?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

ETH is vulnerable in the same way that any Turing-complete language is.

And that will be its downfall.

The reason Bitcoin's scripting language has a limited command set and heavily scrutinized implementation is to prevent the kilometer-wide attack surface that such a language would allow. ETH already has had their share of problems regarding this, with 75% of the network going down during one of the devs roadshow conferences in China. All the devs had to leave the stage to resurrect the network, lol.

Also, there are two prices, one is the ETH computing token traded price, and the other is a centrally-set "gas" price which is determined by the same group of "genuises" that couldn't forsee the network problem. I'm sure it will be entertaining to some when the distributed app you set up doesn't have enough "gas" to run during a critical demo.

Using market cap to compare cryptocurrencies is a red herring too. I could make "SlashDotCoin" and offer 500 Billion units priced at 1 dollar each, and win that argument. It has no relation to utility whatsoever.

But someone is pumping it, and showing everybody exactly what is meant by "misallocation of capital".

Baking Soda Shortage Has Hospitals Frantic, Delaying Treatments and Surgeries

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Amid a national shortage of a critical medicine, US hospitals are hoarding vials, delaying surgeries, and turning away patients, The New York Times reports. The medicine in short supply: solutions of sodium bicarbonate -- aka, baking soda. The simple drug is used in all sorts of treatments, from chemotherapies to those for organ failure. It can help correct the pH of blood and ease the pain of stitches. It is used in open-heart surgery, can help reverse poisonings, and is kept on emergency crash carts. But, however basic and life-saving, the drug has been in short supply since around February. The country's two suppliers, Pfizer and Amphastar, ran low following an issue with one of Pfizer's suppliers -- the issue was undisclosed due to confidentiality agreements. Amphastar's supplies took a hit with a spike in demand from desperate Pfizer customers. Both companies told the NYT that they don't know when exactly supplies will be restored. They speculate that it will be no earlier than June or August. With the shortage of sodium bicarbonate, hospitals are postponing surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. A hospital in Mobile, Alabama, for example, postponed seven open-heart surgeries and sent one critically ill patient to another hospital due to the shortage.

Re:The Free Market at Work

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Is this shortage happening in countries with "socialized medicine", or just in free market America?

We don't have a free market medical system. We have a cronyist monopoly enforced by laws written by hospitals and pharma company. If the medical system produced computers, a PC would cost about the same as a Lamborghini.

Re:Pfizer and Amphastar the only option?

By sit1963nz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There is :
- ensuring everything is done in a sterile environment
- ensuring its purity
- testing of batches
- tracing and tracking the whole process
- precise weighing and packaging
- ensuring everything is in tamper proof packaging
- auditing of the whole process

All the equipment used in the manufacture, testing, packaging and the people involved are also traced and certified, with everything going back to calibrated National Standards and tested annually (or more). The temperature, humidity, raw materials, etc etc etc etc etc are all tracked right through the whole system in triplicate.

This is not a "throw a teaspoon full in" and it will be all OK.
Ingesting something (and we all swallow a low of bugs, insects, dirt, etc every year) is totally different to having it injected into the blood stream,

Re:Pfizer and Amphastar the only option?

By hey! • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

You say "purity and packaging" as if it's no big deal. It's a very big deal for something you're going to inject into someone's bloodstream. Take some common fungal spores which might not even count as contamination in food, inject them into patients and you could be facing horrific medical consequences on a massive scale.

Good thing the FDA is looking out for US

By Archfeld • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

See, without the great and wise FDA's policies of looking out for the people by allowing the concentration of critical supplies and medicines into the hands of 2 such wise and benevolent entities we'd not be in a position where decisions made entirely for profit could affect the lives of the general public. As much as I hate to see people suffer, I almost wish there would be deaths as a result of this and that forced some legal light onto the situation. Critical basics that are free from patent should required to be multiply sourced to ensure a steady interruption free supply chain, not concentrated into one or two 'most' profitable and controllable streams.

Re:Pfizer and Amphastar the only option?

By slew • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Purity.

Not exactly. Both food grade and pharma grade sodium bicarbonate are greater than 99% "pure". Many industrial producers make both food and pharma grade sodium bicarbonate, some of them on the same line and processed to the same purity level...

The difference is that Pharma grade sodium bicarbonate is specifically tested to assure very small levels of certain specific impurities** mostly to minimize potential issues with inconvenient formation of various precipitates and other complications in equipment (e.g., hemodialysis), or your body.

All that product testing/certification isn't cheap and is completely unnecessary if you are simply eating it. For example, if 0.05% of the impurity was NaCl or MgCl, that would *bad* in your blood, but if you ate the typical amount of bicarbonate, you wouldn't even notice that impurity.

**USP has specific tests for impurities such as Chloride (0.015%), Sulfur (0.015%), Aluminium (2ug/g), Arsenic (2ppm), Calcium (0.01%), Magnesium (0.004%), Copper (1ppm). Iron (5ppm), Ammonia (20ppm), Organics (0.01%), etc...

Amazon's 1.7 Million Free Bananas 'Disrupting' Local Fruit Economy

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon has transformed businesses including retailing, filmmaking and data storage. But no one anticipated the bananas. It started with a brainstorm from founder and CEO Jeff Bezos that Amazon should offer everyone near its headquarters -- not just employees -- healthy, eco-friendly snacks as a public service. After considering oranges, Amazon picked bananas, and opened its first Community Banana Stand in late 2015. However, not everyone is pleased with the ecommerce giant's effort. From a report: Although there is no money in Amazon's community banana stands -- where the company has been offering free fruit to both workers and locals in Seattle since 2015 -- the tech giant's largesse is changing the banana landscape for some nearby businesses. [...] Thus far, the company says it's handed out more than 1.7 million free banana, reports The Wall Street Journal. But while many folks are fans of the free bananas, others say it's changing banana consumption in the community: Some workers say it's harder to find bananas at local grocery stores, while nearby eateries have also stopped selling as many banana as they used to.

OMG!

By JMZero • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

They just have to stop doing this, then. I mean, it's tragic when any business is harmed in any way - but this is just too far. The banana eatery business is what this country was built on, and I can't imagine the hardships faced by grocers selling less bananas than normal.

God only approves of food consumption if it's part of a legal financial transaction.

Money in the banana stand?

By Tom Veil • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

"Although there is no money in Amazon's community banana stands"

That's ridiculous. There's always money in the banana stand.

Bananas are not deer

By Quirkz • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

As in, the plural requires an S. I counted at least two instances of "banana" used as the plural. What else about this report is half-assed and slapdash?

Bananas are eco friendly?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

Jeff is an idiot. Those bananas have burned more fossil fuels to get to Seattle than I have and will my entire life.

Eco friendly would be creating gardens on top of his buildings or in vacant lots, then paying Amazon workers to tend the gardens and giving that fruit away. Not shipping mono-culture fruit half way around the world. What an idiot.

Re:the "why we can't have nice things" department

By kangsterizer • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The problem is that it kills competition with an unfair advantage, even thus in this case this is clearly not Amazon's main reason for doing this (unless they're playing 6D evil chess). This is similar to the monopoly problem.
Step 1: provide service for free, pay users to use it, because you've more money and resources than many countries.
Step 2: wait until all smaller competing businesses collapse as they cannot keep up with you paying people to get free stuff.
Step 3: change the service price to now cost 100x more than during the step 1 period.

Imagine if Amazon did this for all fresh products all the time, then directed people to their Amazon Fresh Prime after all competition collapsed?

Self-Driving Cars Could Cost America's Professional Drivers Up To 25,000 Jobs a Month

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The full impact of self-driving cars on society is several decades away -- but when it hits, the job losses will be substantial for American truck drivers, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs. From a report: When autonomous vehicle saturation peaks, U.S. drivers could see job losses at a rate of 25,000 a month, or 300,000 a year, according to a report from Goldman Sachs Economics Research. Truck drivers, more so than bus or taxi drivers, will see the bulk of that job loss, according to the report. That makes sense, given today's employment: In 2014, there were 4 million driver jobs in the U.S., 3.1 million of which were truck drivers, Goldman said. That represents 2 percent of total employment.

Re:Good thing it'll never happen

By Spy Handler • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It could happen in my lifetime (I'm assuming i'll live another 40 years). But not with the roads that we currently have.

The Nissan CEO saying it will happen by 2019 was just fantasy. AI is nowhere near good enough to handle rainy roads, icy roads, construction debris, pedestrians, basketballs rolling from the playground, etc. etc. etc. Hell, it can't even handle a gigantic 18 wheeler blocking the road because it was painted WHITE and some dude got his head decapitated in a Tesla.

In fact I don't think AI will *ever* be good enough to handle current roads. However autonomous cars taking over can still happen if the laws change and roads are retrofitted with sensors and rebuilt to exact dimensions and uniform markings, everywhere.

Maybe by the time I die of old age.

Re:trains?

By Tjp($)pjT • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I third this. Some studies of highways built to Interstate Highway standards in the US show cars can't wear out the main road and would take over a century to wear out bridges and other connectors. Trucks are what break roads. And in this amazing fact based world, we subsidize long haul trucking, and we are systematically dismantling over a century of right-of-way building destroying critical infrastructure. Even the military mothballs vehicles just in case... In the Seattle area, by way of example, on the east side of Lake Washington, the right-of-way for rails owned by various regional agencies have systematically, deliberately, and with no thought to the future dismantled the railbed that could be used by the current light rail effort. This will increase the cost of light rail dramatically. (not to mention that light rail is not a good economic fit for the region, they spend billions and more billions of a project doomed to eternal subsidy.) The rail system could also act as a "backup" for the tracks through Seattle to allow for needed reformation there.

No planning just money grubbing and empire building. Can't very well build an empire if someone else owns the infrastructure!

Re:It was a hard way to make a living as it was..

By saloomy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Exactly. Automating trucking (and other transportation) would be a huge boon to our economy, not a drag on it. Suppose for a moment that in one day, every truck was capable of moving itself around automatically, sans person. What do you think will happen to the cost of shipping goods? What will happen to the volume of goods moved? What does that do to the volume produced / consumed? There may be 3,000,000 truckers, but there are 300,000,000 consumers, and everyone of them benefits.

These stories are very one sided and usually portray the losing side. Just like crying for the buggy whip manufacturers when buggies got petrol-powered engines.

Food will cost less. More people can therefore afford to eat. This is a good thing.

Re:I wonder if there will be a rise in truck robbe

By Kjella • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'm sure a lot of criminals who don't have the gall to assault a regular truck may be able to justify going after a self-driving truck, since there are no people onboard to leave behind as witnesses.

Well there's also nobody to intimidate. Nobody with any keys or codes to give you access to or control over the truck. My first thoughts apart from the constant cell phone/GPS tracking to alert police would be to just kill the engine, lock the brakes, give a little light and siren show and if you can't draw anyone's attention and they're really determined to break in by force before the police get there, just set off a few dye packs/stink bombs. Sure it'll ruin the cargo but zero payoff will make the highway robberies stop pretty quick.

Re:It was a hard way to make a living as it was..

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
'Processing information' incorrectly or inadequately hundreds of times faster than a human being can is still incorrectly processed information. The difference here is that instead of just a few people getting injured or killed (in the case of a passenger vehicle), or some sheet metal getting crumpled, dozens or maybe hundreds of people could DIE when 18000 gallons of flammable liquid is spilled all over the place and ignited.

When it comes right down to it, this whole damned subject is supposed to be about safety of human beings, and it CANNOT be about anything else. I have said for as long as this whole 'self driving car' subject has been around, that if a 'self driving' vehicle of ANY KIND cannot be AT LEAST as flawless and safe as a human vehicle operator, then it has no business operating a vehicle at all. So far all I'm seeing is this entire technology being rushed to market as fast as they possibly can, and, apparently, to hell with who might get hurt in the process. Apparently, human lives are cheap, compared to the profit to be made from this.

How Fonts Are Fueling the Culture Wars

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Reader mirandakatz writes: Typography is having a bit of a moment: Suddenly, tons of people who don't work in design have all sorts of opinions about it, and are taking every opportunity to point out poor font choices and smaller design elements. But they're missing the bigger picture. As Medium designer Ben Hersh writes at Backchannel, typography isn't just catchy visuals: It can also be dangerous. As Hersh writes, 'Typography can silently influence: It can signify dangerous ideas, normalize dictatorships, and sever broken nations. In some cases it may be a matter of life and death. And it can do this as powerfully as the words it depicts.' Don't believe him? He's got ample visual examples to prove it.

Fraktur is a terrible typeface

By Sir Holo • Score: 3 • Thread

Anyone who has read any historical Nazi-era documents will tell you that Fraktur, the Nazi's favorite Blackletter (gothic) typeface, is headache-inducing. Fraktur is ugly. All of those embellishments make it a struggle to differentiate between letters – kind of the opposite of what written text is supposed to do.

Oh, and Arial is a terrible font.

Re:Reading way to far into buts of propaganda

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

There was a recent article in the Economist about publishing in the Arab World. With the turmoil in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, Arabic publishing is dying. In Beirut bookstores, 40% of the books are in English, 40% in French, and only 20% in Arabic. Part of this is because Arabic is designed to be written by hand, and not printed. The shape of individual "letters" depends on the preceding and following "letters", much like English cursive, except even worse.

Re:Comic Sans

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's not funny, just pretentious.

Comic Sans has an actual use in the classroom for young readers and writers. It is the only font that has all of the following features at the same time:

a. It's widely available, installed on pretty much any computer some random Word or PowerPoint file might find itself.
b. The lower case "a" has a single loop and a small tail, the way it's usually taught for handwriting.
c. The lower case "g" has a single loop and a hook, the way it's usually taught for handwriting.
d. The "I" and "l" characters are easily distinguished (see what I did there?).
e. The "U" and "u" characters are easily distinguished.

Re:Comic Sans

By arth1 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It quickly became a way to separate those with typographical sophistication from the hoi polloi.

"The hoi polloi" is like saying "the La Brea tar pits" or "The big Rio Grande river".

Does not matter

By Drunkulus • Score: 3 • Thread
Honestly, in a time when UI "designers" insist that text be just a shade or two grayer than a light gray background, you're lucky to make it out at all.

Tech-Savvy Workers Increasingly Common in Non-IT Roles

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares an article: IT professionals are becoming an increasingly common presence outside of the traditional IT departments, new research has found. According to CompTIA, it seems executives are calling for specialized skills, faster reflexes and more teamwork in their workers. According to the report, a fifth (21 percent) of CFOs say they have a dedicated tech role in their department. Those roles include business scientists, analysts, and software developers. There are also hybrid positions -- in part technical, but also focused on the business itself. "This isn't a case of rogue IT running rampant or CIOs and their teams becoming obsolete," says Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, CompTIA. "Rather, it signals that a tech-savvier workforce is populating business units and job roles."

Re:Why is it always the workers that need skills?

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

When will we reach the point where we don't even need executives?

Fixed that for you.

Painfully missing the obvious

By wierd_w • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

--Or is that "being the oblivious"? Maybe both?

Seriously-- ever since the CTOs and other higher ups put moronic HR people in that cant tell a wall power outlet from an RJ45 receptacle, and the endless pressure those drones have had toward ever increasing levels of "FUCKING ABSURD" they demand for entry positions, (you know, that whole "perfect fit" requirement bullshit?) IT people have been leaving IT in droves, and moving into other positions.

They dont just somehow forget how to be IT people though. So, naturally, those IT skills are going to start showing up all over the damned place.

But of course, those idiots cannot put two and two together. Rather than realize, "Hey! Look at all this tech savvy that is showing up all over the board!! Maybe our strict requirements for IT related positions REALLY ARE bullshit, like our IT people have been telling us for almost a decade now! Maybe there really *ISN'T* an IT labor shortage after all!!" like a sensible person who actually pays attention to what their employees tell them would-- they instead go full retard, and give bullshit answers like this one. "Oh, it's this YOUNG generation! They are just so naturally tech savvy!! We can just abuse this to fill the BLEEDING RAGGED HOLES in our IT chains, without paying extra for it!-- Naturally, that means our policies about excluding older workers are totally correct! GENIUS!"

Even though, the very people that are causing this shift in other professional roles, ARE THE VERY IT PEOPLE THEY HAVE BEEN LIQUIDATING, JUST TRYING TO FUCKING FIND JOBS.

It never dawns on them that this thing-- People with scary IT skills showing up doing other, totally non-tech related jobs-- is directly contra-indicative of their endless sob-story about why they "Desperately NEEEED" to keep bringing in H1B visa holders from professional diploma mills in India. You know, the whole "We can't find qualified applicants!" sob story? Yeah, that one.

Because nothing quite says "Lack of qualified tech applicants" quite like "Drowning in tech savvy non-tech workers."

Re:Painfully missing the obvious

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We can't find qualified applicants!

If they were searching for applicants in the non-IT world, they'd be asking for NASA-certified brain surgeons who can operate on farming equipment.

Hybrid professional career was great

By rbrander • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I got an engineering degree and certification, then was tossed out of work by a major recession. I went back for a CompSci degree and managed a low-level job in the then-new field of PC support, won a promotion to IT "coordinator" (manager w/o staff, because they were all rented on a project basis from the IT department) with the Waterworks for several years.
Then Waterworks remembered my engineering degree after 100 reminders and took me in as a construction-planning engineer, but I found my IT skills were key to the engineering job. I handled the drafting and GIS systems, was a lead on the project to bring in the new work-order system, was developing small solutions (tiny web apps, fancy VBA spreadsheets, etc) practically ever day. Heck, just knowing real SQL rather than trying to coax complex reports out of Business Objects was a vital skill for construction and maintenance management. It wound up being the last 20 years of my 30-year career.
I can't recommend this career strategy enough; it's more interesting than either IT or the base profession alone, and more secure than either, too. The hardest thing in IT is getting across the real user needs to the developers - and an IT-savvy member of the customers is always going to be the guy that's either handling the IT specifications, and usually the IT project management from the user side; or just throws their hands up at the IT bureaucracy and develops the solution themselves. (Some of my "small solutions" would up taking weeks of time and growing over years into >1000 lines-of-code; hated to do it, but IT bureaucracy would have taken even longer.)
So I tell people interested in IT careers to first become a nurse, accountant, engineer, technician, even lawyer - any profession that USES a lot of IT. Then add in IT, and you are practically guaranteed an interesting and lucrative career.

Tech Savvy?

By acoustix • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Is this what we're calling people who are security nightmares for organizations now? The script kiddie who thought it would be fun to store data in Excel/Access files outside of company control and outside of the ERP? They thought it would be cool to store vital company data in multiple spots, so none of it matched and meant that all of the reports conflicted with each other. Is that what we mean by tech savvy?

Cool. Let me know how that works out for you cause I'm done cleaning up those messes.

COO: Hey did you know that Andy has a really cool report that shows our operational KPIs?
Me: Really? How's he doing it?
COO: I don't know but it's really nice.
Me: [goes to employee] Andy, how are you getting those reports for management?
Andy: Oh, I just setup a little Excel/Access/DB over here on this site and then I copy/paste some stuff into from application ___ and then manually fill in some of the other info as I get it.
Me: Oh, so you're violating company policy by storing that data separately and even outside of company control?
Andy: Yeah, I guess so.
Me: Well, I'd like to run a consistency check on the data against our DB. Can you get me a data dump?
Andy: Sure.
Me: [runs checks against production data]
Me: Hey COO, most of the data in Andy's reports are crap. There are serious data integrity issues. You shouldn't base any decisions on those reports.
COO: what? You need to fix this.
Me: No, I already provide the reports as you have requested. Those reports are based on the actual data in the system. Not something copied half-assed by a kid with no DB experience.

Pittsburgh Is Falling Out of Love With Uber's Self-Driving Cars

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A worn-out welcome: The city rolled out the red carpet as a host to Uber's driverless car experiments, but nine months later its mayor and residents have built up a list of grievances with the public-private partnership. From a report: While our experience in one of the autonomous vehicles was thankfully pretty safe, it wasn't long before reports of accidents and wrong-way driving began to surface during the first month of the operation. Nine months later, the relationship continues to sour, according to a report in the New York Times. The things Uber promised in return for the city's support -- including free rides in driverless cars, backing the city's $50 million federal transportation grant and jobs for a neighborhood nearby Uber's testing track -- have not materialized. The situation was an issue during the mayoral primary, too, with critics calling out incumbent Bill Peduto for not getting these agreements in writing from the ride-sharing company.

A fiction analogy

By TWX • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

In the relationship between Uber and all of the other entities working on self-driving technology, I'm sort of reminded of the fictional work The Cryoptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. In the 1990s part of the story Goto Dengo represents the bulk of the entities trying to develop self-driving cars on their own, while Mr. Wing's part is played by Uber, trying to take without knowing/developing on one's own.

Now, obviously the backstory is entirely different, so the analogy entirely breaks-down if one looks at how the two entities started. That early relationship is more like Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan with Uber playing the role of Harding.

DOT will need to set standards for map data format

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

DOT will need to set standards for

* Map data formats
* smart traffic light systems
* road markings
* parking lot markings
* define who is liable
* rules to say that all logs / source codes must be given up in a court case or the manufacturer is 100% liable.

Rules for the systems.
* Minimum Free update times for software / maps at least 5-8+ years and by free that means with bigger hdd's / new cpus are needed then they must be installed free of change.
* free data (entertainment does not need to be part of this) with fringe roaming covered.
* no forced dealer service and no locking of 3rd party lights / batterys / oil changes / etc.

Re:Wrong way is normal for Uber

By Sir Holo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I complained after an Uber driver made me late through his bad driving. Uber apologised that he failed to follow the optimal route offered by his GPS. They didn't seem to want to acknowledge my point that he went further than failing to follow his GPS, but went against three no entry signs and drive the wrong way up a single lane one way road.

Pretty much.

I had an Uber driver leave as I was reaching for the door handle. The time limit for idling-for-customer had been exceeded. OK, true, but my GF was talking to him for the prior three minutes. And the ride we wanted to take was a lo-o-o-ong one. He figured that he would just collect his $10 'no-show' fee, and find another ride in a minute or two. I requested a Lyft, and that person got the long fare. RE the 'no-show' fee: I sorted it all out via email w/Uber, and the driver did not receive the $10 in free money.

Another time, I was in a Lyft. The driver and I were talking about how Uber doesn't do sufficient background checks, and will basically take anyone on as a driver. I noticed a car driving erratically nearby, noted it, and my Lyft driver wisely passed him to get away. Within 100 feet, at a standard-traffic-flow stop-light, the Uber driver rear-ended my Lyft-driver's car. Yes, literally! No injuries, so we went on our way, but what a serendipitous demonstration of how bad Uber drivers can be – just when the topic comes up...

Also, their CEO is a combative dickhead.

Re:DOT will need to set standards for map data for

By OrangeTide • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Map makers want to have exclusivity on maps (copyright), so they'll continue to put weird data into the maps.

What we actually need is federally funded programs to make accurate maps, and use DOT registration and testing fees to help pay for it. Because ultimately it's the car industry that benefits from proper maps, and the public who benefits from cars that do not drive the wrong way down the street.

(yeah, I know this will make heads explode in the libertarian groupthink)

Re:Enough with "self-driving"

By vtcodger • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I'll start taking AI seriously if/when I encounter an automated phone answering system that functions half as well as a high-school dropout receptionist nursing a hangover.

Mark Zuckerberg Is Working On a Way To Connect You To People You 'Should' Know

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday shared some of what he has learned from his early trips around the country. Recode adds: The actual crux of the post comes later when Zuckerberg writes why he's taking on this new challenge. Basically: He's not running for office, he wants to find ways to strengthen Facebook's "community." Mark said, "I also think this is an area where Facebook can make a difference. Some of you have asked if this challenge means I'm running for public office. I'm not. I'm doing it to get a broader perspective to make sure we're best serving our community of almost 2 billion people at Facebook and doing the best work to promote equal opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In many ways, relationships are the most important things in our lives -- whether we're trying to form healthy habits, stay out of trouble, or find better opportunities. And yet, research shows the average American has fewer than three close friends we can turn to for support." To make that difference Zuckerberg is talking about, he said that Facebook is helping people find people they already know but is also working on a way to connect you with people that you should know like mentors.

No.

By sqorbit • Score: 3 • Thread
I don't like half the people I know already. I'm pretty sure there's no one else I "should" know.

Screw people I "should" know

By Vermonter • Score: 3 • Thread
I don't even want to connect with most of the people I already *do* know... why one Earth would I want to add another person to my social network that I obviously don't care enough about to have already gotten to know?

Re:Not easily reduced to algorithm

By H3lldr0p • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Because it's not really about connecting people who should be friends. Don't let Zuck fool you.

This is about advertisement. Back a couple years ago, FB threw up its collective hands and told us we had to put people into categories since they couldn't get people to click on a nag-button. This is the next step in that. You've already been analyzed and habits tracked. Now you're going to be put into discrete groups so that the advertisers can target better.

See? This isn't about connecting people or bettering communications. This is about how FB makes money and returning all those billions that's been invested in it.

You and now the various groups you belong to are the product. Funny how the wheel has already turned from micro-targeting individuals to targeting broader groups. It's almost as if broadcasting was the best way to get potential customers' attention in the first place. Who knew we could and would ignore the individuation of advertisement?

Oh, wait. Everyone.

Facebook Friend Bubbles

By PineHall • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It looks like to me he is wanting to reinforce those Facebook friend bubbles. For the most part my Facebook friends reinforce what I believe and what I think is right. I do not see the differing opinions. Actually I have a few outlier 'friends' that help give me a broader perspective, but for the most part my 'friends' reinforce what I believe.

I do not think this is good for any country.. I think the thing to do is not to reinforce our bubbles but to break them down some with thoughtful alternative viewpoint posts (news articles). We need to see the other side and break down the caricatures . Conservatives need to hear what those Liberals are thinking, and the Liberals need to hear what the Conservatives are thinking. It may not be popular but I think it would be good for the country and world. This is what would really build community.

No. Just no.

By JohnFen • Score: 3 • Thread

In many ways, relationships are the most important things in our lives

I agree. Which is why it's important, for the sake of our relationships, to avoid Facebook.