Academy Leaves Door Open To Netflix After Tussle Over Oscars Eligibility Rules
The Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences has ruled that films from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
will continue to be eligible to win Academy Awards. The Academy had considered changing Rule Two, which allowed any film to be eligible for an Academy Award as long as it had a seven-day run in a Los Angeles theater. From a report:
That proposal, reportedly pushed by megadirector Steven Spielberg, would have made it difficult for streaming services such as Netflix to compete for the academy's big prizes by restricting eligibility to just films that got a significant run in theaters. Films that debuted online and only got a limited theatrical release simply would be out of luck. But when the academy's board of governors released its rules for next year's prize -- a book that runs to 35 pages, all told -- the would-be changes were not among them. "We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions," John Bailey, president of the academy, said in a statement released Tuesday night. "Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration."
Justice Department Warns Academy About Changing Oscar Rules To Exclude Streaming.
Facebook Sets Aside $3 Billion For a Potential FTC Fine
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News:
Facebook is taking a $3 billion charge as a contingency against a possible fine by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency has been investigating Facebook, but has not announced any findings yet. The one-time charge slashes Facebook's first-quarter net income considerably, although revenue grew by 25% in the period. The FTC has been looking into whether Facebook is in violation of a 2011 agreement promising to protect user privacy.
The social network said Wednesday that its net income was 85 cents per share in the January-March period. Revenue grew 26 % to $15.08 billion from a year earlier. Excluding the charge, it earned $1.89 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.62 per share and revenue of $14.98 billion. Facebook's monthly user base grew 8% to 2.38 billion.
According to The New York Times, Facebook says it's expected to be fined up to $5 billion for privacy violations, including improper handling of people's data
involving Cambridge Analytica, as well as a major data breach.
Some Amazon Sellers Are Paying $10,000 A Month To Trick Their Way To The Top
Amazon's marketplace is so competitive that it has led to the
emergence of a secretive, lucrative black market where agents peddle "black hat" services, sometimes obtained by bribing Amazon employees, that purportedly give marketplace sellers an advantage over their rivals, according to documents obtained by
BuzzFeed News. These consultants charge up to $10,000 to manipulate rankings by rewriting URLs and programming bots to click on products, a report says. From the report:
Other tactics to promote sellers' products include removing negative reviews from product pages and exploiting technical loopholes on Amazon's site to lift products' overall sales rankings. These services make it harder for Amazon sellers who abide by the company's terms of service to succeed in the marketplace, and sellers who rely on these tactics mislead customers and undermine trust in Amazon's products.
Applying For Your Next Job May Be an Automated Nightmare
If you think looking for a job is already daunting, anxiety-riddled, and unpleasant, just wait until the algorithms take over the hiring process. When they do, a newfangled 'digital recruiter' like VCV, which just received $1.7 million in early investment, hopes it will look something like this: First, a search bot will be used to scan CVs by the thousands, yours presumably among them. If it's picked out of the haystack, you will be contacted by a chatbot. Over SMS, the bot will set an appointment for a phone interview, which will be conducted by an automated system enabled by voice recognition AI. Next, the system will ask you, the applicant, to record video responses to a set of predetermined interview questions. Finally, the program can use facial recognition and predictive analytics to complete the screening, algorithmically determining whether the nervousness, mood, and behavior patterns you exhibit make you a fit for the company. If you pass all that, then you will be recommended for an in-person job interview.
[...] VCV, which did not respond to a request for comment, is far from alone here. A growing suite of startups is pitching AI-driven recruitment services, promising to save corporations millions of dollars throughout the hiring process by reducing overhead, to pluck more ideal candidates out of obscurity, and to reduce bias in the hiring process. Most offer little to no evidence of how they actually do so. VCV's much-larger competitor, HireVue, which has raked in a staggering $93 million in funding and is backed by top-tier Silicon Valley venture capital firms like Sequoia, is hocking many of the same services. It counts 700 companies as its clients, including, it says, Urban Outfitters, Intel, Honeywell, and Unilever. AllyO, which was founded in 2015, and "utilizes deep workflow conversational AI to fully automate end to end recruiting workflow" has $19 million in backing.
Scientific Linux Distro is Being Discontinued; The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN Will Move To CentOS
Scientific Linux, a
14-year-old operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and which was maintained by some significant members of the scientific community such as The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN,
is being discontinued. From a report:
While current versions (6 and 7) will continue to be supported, future development has permanently ended, with the organizations instead turning to CentOS -- another distro based on RHEL. "Scientific Linux is driven by Fermilab's scientific mission and focused on the changing needs of experimental facilities. Fermilab is looking ahead to DUNE and other future international collaborations. One part of this is unifying our computing platform with collaborating labs and institutions," said James Amundson, Head of Scientific Computing Division, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Drivers Think Bikers Are Less Than Human, Survey Says
Researchers have found an explanation for why many drivers act out toward cyclists: They are
actually dehumanizing people who ride bikes, according to an April study by Australian researchers in the journal
Transportation Research. From a report:
And this dehumanization -- the belief that a group of people are less than human -- correlates to drivers' self-reported aggressive behavior. Since 2010, cyclist fatalities have increased by 25 percent in the US. A total of 777 bicyclists were killed in crashes with drivers in 2017, and 45,000 were injured from crashes in 2015. Data compiled by the League of American Bicyclists also suggests that, in some states, bicyclists are overrepresented in the number of traffic fatalities.
"The idea is that if you don't see a group of people as fully human, then you're more likely to be aggressive toward them," said Narelle Haworth, a professor and director of the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety at Queensland University of Technology, one of the authors of the study. The researchers asked 442 Australians, including those who identified as cyclists, to rank the average cyclist on a scale from ape to human. This ape-to-human diagram has been used in other studies, like this one from 2015, looking at the dehumanization of marginalized groups, such as Muslims and black people.
Hacker Can Monitor Cars And Kill Their Engines After Breaking Into GPS Tracking Apps
A hacker broke into thousands of accounts belonging to users of two GPS tracker apps, giving him the ability to monitor the locations of tens of thousands of vehicles and even turn off the engines for some of them while they were in motion, Motherboard has learned. The hacker, who goes by the name L&M, told Motherboard he hacked into more than 7,000 iTrack accounts and more than 20,000 ProTrack accounts, two apps that companies use monitor and manage fleets of vehicles through GPS tracking devices. The hacker was able to track vehicles in a handful of countries around the world, including South Africa, Morocco, India, and the Philippines. On some cars, the software has the capability of remotely turning off the engines of vehicles that are stopped or are traveling 12 miles per hour or slower, according to the manufacturer of certain GPS tracking devices.
By reverse engineering ProTrack and iTrack's Android apps, L&M said he realized that all customers are given a default password of 123456 when they sign up. At that point, the hacker said he brute-forced 'millions of usernames' via the apps' API. Then, he said he wrote a script to attempt to login using those usernames and the default password. This allowed him to automatically break into thousands of accounts that were using the default password and extract data from them.
First 'Marsquake' Detected on Red Planet
There are earthquakes and moonquakes, and now a NASA spacecraft has detected what's believed to be a "marsquake" on the Red Planet. From a report:
The spacecraft picked up the faint trembling of Mars's surface on 6 April, 128 days after landing on the planet last November. The quake is the first to be detected on a planetary body other than Earth or Moon. The shaking was relatively weak, the French space agency CNES said on 23 April. The seismic energy it produced was similar to that of the moonquakes that Apollo astronauts measured in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "We thought Mars was probably going to be somewhere between Earth and the Moon" in terms of seismic activity, says Renee Weber, a planetary scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "It's still very early in the mission, but it's looking a bit more Moon-like than Earth-like," she says. It's not yet clear whether the shaking originated within Mars or was caused by a meteorite crashing into the planet's surface.
Car Rental Company Hertz Sues Accenture Over $32M Website Project
Car rental giant Hertz is suing consultancy firm Accenture over a website redesign. From a report:
The US corporation hired monster management consultancy firm Accenture in August 2016 to completely revamp its online presence. The new site was due to go live in December 2017. But a failure to get on top of things led to a delay to January 2018, and then a second delay to April 2018 which was then also missed, we're told. As Hertz endured the delays, it found itself immersed in a nightmare: a product and design that apparently didn't do half of what was specified and still wasn't finished. "By that point, Hertz no longer had any confidence that Accenture was capable of completing the project, and Hertz terminated Accenture," the car rental company complained in a lawsuit lodged against Accenture in New York this month.
Hertz is suing for the $32m it paid Accenture in fees to get to that aborted stage, and it wants more millions to cover the cost of fixing the mess. "Accenture never delivered a functional website or mobile app," Hertz claimed. Accenture told El Reg on Tuesday this week it believes Hertz's lawsuit is "without merit."
Chalking Tires To Enforce Parking Rules is Unconstitutional, Court Finds
Marking your tires with chalk is trespassing, not law enforcement, the federal appeals panel said in a Michigan case. U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote that when drivers pull into parking spaces, "the city commences its search on vehicles that are parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as 'individualized suspicion of wrongdoing' -- the touchstone of the reasonableness standard." Moreover, overstaying your welcome at a parking space doesn't cause "injury or ongoing harm to the community," she wrote, meaning the city is wrong to argue that parking enforcement is part of its "community caretaking" responsibility, potentially justifying a search without a warrant. In fact, she wrote, "there has been a trespass in this case because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor's vehicle."
A court ruling 'chalking' illegal could make way for more privacy-invasive tech.
Microsoft Blocks Windows 10 May 2019 Update on PCs That Use USB Storage or SD Cards
Microsoft has published a support document today warning Windows 10 users that the impending May 2019 Update
may not install on their systems if they use external USB storage devices or SD cards. From a report:
The OS maker cited problems with "inappropriate drive reassignment" as the main reason for blocking the May 2019 Update. "Inappropriate drive reassignment can occur on eligible computers that have an external USB device or SD memory card attached during the installation of the May 2019 update," the company said. "For this reason, these computers are currently blocked from receiving the May 2019 Update."
iFixit's Galaxy Fold Teardown Reveals Its Biggest Design Flaw
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Following up on its post speculating on the possible causes of the various screen breakages we've seen on review units, iFixit's teardown analysis seems to reveal a fundamental design tradeoff Samsung had to make -- one that may have doomed the phone. It seems as though Samsung focused quite a bit on ensuring the mechanics of the hinge would be a sturdy and dependable mechanism for folding and unfolding a screen. Yet for whatever reason, the Galaxy Fold does not have enough protection against the ingress of debris. And because that screen is so incredibly delicate (as any OLED is if it's not protected by something like Gorilla Glass), that was a significant risk.
We still can't know the full reasoning behind Samsung's decision to delay the launch of the phone, but this debris/bulge problem feels much more fundamental than the fact that the protective layer on the top looks like a screen protector that should be peeled off (but, again, should not be as that breaks the screen as well). The bulk of the rest of the reviewers who had broken screens tried to remove that layer -- a natural inclination since the review unit packaging didn't have any warning on it.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat:
Google today launched Chrome 74 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes support for a reduced motion media query, private class fields, feature policy improvements, and more developer features. You can update to the latest version now using Chrome's built-in updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome.
Motion sickness in the browser is a real thing. Android provides an accessibility option to reduce motion whenever possible, as shown above in the âoeremove animationsâ setting. Chrome is now taking that a step further so websites can limit motion sickness when viewing parallax scrolling, zooming, and other motion effects. Chrome 74 introduces prefers-reduced-motion (part of Media Queries Level 5) that allows websites to honor when an operating system is set to limit motion effects. This might not seem like a big deal today, but it could be very useful if websites start abusing motion effects. Check out the
full changelog for more information on this release.
Tesla Plans To Launch a Robotaxi Network In 2020
Iwastheone shares a report from TechCrunch:
Tesla expects to launch the first robotaxis as part of broader vision for an autonomous ride-sharing network in 2020, CEO Elon Musk said during the company's Autonomy Day. "I feel very confident predicting that there will be autonomous robotaxis from Tesla next year -- not in all jurisdictions because we won't have regulatory approval everywhere" Musk said without detailing what regulations he was referring to. He added that he is confident the company will have regulatory approval somewhere next year. Tesla will enable owners to add their properly equipped vehicles to its own ride-sharing app, which will have a similar business model to Uber or Airbnb. Tesla will take 25 percent to 30 percent of the revenue from those rides, Musk said. In places where there aren't enough people to share their cars, Tesla would provide a dedicated fleet of robotaxis. Musk also said at the event that all new Tesla vehicles are now produced with its
custom full self-driving computer chip. The remaining step for Tesla's full self-driving mode to work is the software, "which Musk says will be 'feature complete' and at a reliability level that we could consider that no one needs to pay attention, by the middle of next year," reports TechCrunch.
Scientists Develop Self-Propelling Phoenix Aircraft That Inhales Air
The BBC reports on a 50ft long and only 120kg heavy blimp-like UAV aircraft that is designed to fly at 70,000 feet, is entirely solar powered, uses variable-buoyancy for propulsion, and can essentially stay airborne in a self-powered way until it experiences mechanical or electrical failure. The Phoenix varies its buoyancy continuously using a helium-filled fuselage that also has an interior air sack that works a bit like a lung. It can inhale air and compress it on demand, making the aircraft temporarily heavier than air, and expel the inhaled air through a nozzle at the back of the aircraft, making the aircraft lighter than air again, creating some extra forward propulsion in the process.
The Phoenix -- which is a simple, cheap-to-build aircraft that its designers describe as "almost a disposable aircraft" -- could one day act as a satellite replacement flying at 70,000 feet. It may also be used for surveillance purposes or to release micro-satellites into earth orbit. The Phoenix has already completed short test-flights of 120m inside the hangar it was built in. This YouTube video shows just how gently the Phoenix rises into the air, hovers in place, and lands again. Unlike drones that need to land, refuel and then take to the skies again, the Phoenix may stay in the air for very long periods of time, landing only for periodic maintenance of its electrical and mechanical components.