eBay Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Over 'Seller Recruitment'

1 hour 10 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: EBay has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the U.S. retail giant of using illegal tactics to recruit sellers. It says Amazon representatives abused eBay's internal email system to contact sellers -- a violation of the marketplace's policies. Amazon declined to comment on the case, which follows a letter from eBay demanding an end to the activity. It had previously said that it was investigating the claims. In the lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County, California, eBay says Amazon representatives created eBay accounts to solicit sellers, often sending messages within minutes of setting up their profiles. The activity dates back to at least 2015 and involved dozens of Amazon representatives, who each sent hundreds of emails, it says. EBay was alerted to the issue a few weeks ago by a seller and asked Amazon to stop.

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Automation is Democratizing Experimental Science

1 hour 50 minutes ago
New advances are taking automation to the highest end of human endeavors, offering scientists a shot at some of the most intractable problems that have confounded them -- and along the way tipping a global balance to give upstarts like China a more level playing field in the lab. From a report: A combination of artificial intelligence and nimble robots are allowing scientists to do more, and be faster, than they ever could with mere human hands and brains. "We're in the middle of a paradigm shift, a time when the choice of experiments and the execution of experiments are not really things that people do," says Bob Murphy, the head of the computational biology department at Carnegie Mellon University. Automated science is "moving the role of the scientist higher and higher up the food chain," says Murphy. Researchers are focusing their efforts on big-picture problem-solving rather than the nitty-gritty of running experiments. He says it will also allow scientists to take on more problems at once -- and solve big, lingering ones that are too complex to tackle right now. Starting next year, Murphy's department will offer students a master's degree in automated science, the university announced last week.

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When Your Day Job Isn't Enough

2 hours 30 minutes ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: A lot of people are pursuing creative side gigs while they hold down big office jobs. It used to be that many had to choose between their creative aspirations and their commitment to a corporate career, but in the era of the side hustle some manage to do both [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. [...] Doing both comes with trade-offs and tensions. Unlike the aspiring actor waiting tables to pay the bills, true dual professionals have to balance the demands of both their aspirations, and often face a moment of reckoning where they are forced to sacrifice a step forward in one career path for job stability and financial security in the other. The two worlds of Theresa Vu -- also known as the rapper tvu -- often collide. As senior vice president of engineering at New York software firm AppNexus, Ms. Vu runs a team of coders who work on a digital advertising platform. As a vocalist with the band Magnetic North, she rhymes and drops beats, and helped propel the band's "Home: Word" album to No. 2 on the Japanese hip-hop chart.

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Earth on Pace For Fourth-Warmest Year on Record, NOAA and NASA Say

3 hours 10 minutes ago
The first nine months of 2018 was the fourth-warmest such period on Earth since record-keeping began in 1880, NOAA and NASA said in their analyses this week. From a report: 2016 had the warmest January-September period, according to NOAA, followed by 2017, then 2015. NASA's analysis agreed the Earth was on pace for its fourth-warmest year. NASA climate modeler Gavin Schmidt said in a tweet that 2018 was "almost guaranteed" to be the fourth-warmest year in its period of record. Record or near-record warmth in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America helped propel the January-September 2018 period to the fourth-warmest on record, NOAA said. With temperatures 3.35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.86 degrees Celsius) above average, Europe had its record-warmest first nine months of the year, exceeding the previous record set in 2014 by more than 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 degrees Celsius). Records in the continent date to 1910. Breaking it down a bit further, Africa had its fifth-warmest year-to-date temperature on record, Asia its sixth-warmest and South America its eighth-warmest, according to NOAA. North America experienced its lowest January-September temperature departure from average since 2013. The only notable pocket of cooler-than-average temperatures in 2018's first nine months was over the far North Atlantic Ocean just south of Greenland.

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Remote South Atlantic Islands Are Flooded With Plastic

3 hours 50 minutes ago
Thirty years ago, the ocean waters surrounding British islands in the South Atlantic were near-pristine. But plastic waste has increased a hundredfold since then, and is ten times greater than it was a decade ago. From a report: The islands of the British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic, including St. Helena, East Falkland, and Ascension Island, are so tiny and remote that most people don't even realize they exist. For centuries, that kept them relative clean and pristine, but in recent decades discarded straws, fishing nets, and millions of bits of degraded plastic have begun washing up on their shores. Now, reports Marlene Cimons at Nexus Media, that pollution is getting even worse. A new study in the journal Current Biology shows that plastic trash on the beaches and in the ocean has increased tenfold in the just the last decade and a hundredfold over the last three decades. During four research cruises between 2013 and 2018, researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and nine other organizations aboard the RMS James Clark Ross sought to quantify the plastic around the islands. The crew took samples of marine debris from the water's surface, the water column, the seabed and the beaches. They also investigated plastic ingestion in 2,243 animals comprised of 26 different species ranging across the marine food web from plankton to apex predators, like seabirds; all were found to consume plastic at high rates. What they found was plastic, and lots of it. About 90 percent of all the contaminants they analyzed were made of plastic, which abundant in the ocean, on the beach and inside the animals.

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Ubuntu Linux 18.10 'Cosmic Cuttlefish' Arrives

4 hours 30 minutes ago
Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish, the latest version of Ubuntu, is now available to download. From a report: Under the hood, the Cosmic Cuttlefish boasts the 4.18 Linux Kernel. This updates comes with better support for for AMD and Nvidia GPU, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt, a way for unprivileged users to mount Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) can be mounted by, and CPUfreq performance improvements. On top of this, you'll find the freshest version of GNOME 3.30. You can, of course, use other desktops, but GNOME, since Ubuntu 17.10, is Ubuntu's default desktop. You'll be glad to know that GNOME is faster than it has been for a while. That's because some nasty memory leaks have been patched. Canonical has also added some performance tweaks that didn't make it into the GNOME 3.30 upstream. Ubuntu 18.10 also comes with a new desktop theme, the Yaru Community theme installed by default, for your visual enjoyment. Further reading: Ubuntu 18.10: What's New? [Video]; Ubuntu 18.10 Review; and Ubuntu 18.10 Flavors Released, Ready to Download.

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Panasonic Designed Human Blinders To Block Out Open-Plan Office Distraction

5 hours 10 minutes ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Open plan offices, once the darling of design, are now showing their fault lines. To get a little bit of personal space, we've come up with all sorts of solutions, from phone booths to furniture designed to create a sense of privacy. All of those ideas seem totally, completely normal compared to this new project from Panasonic. The tech company's Future Life Factory design studio partnered with Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga to develop an open-plan solution to end all open-plan solutions. Say hello to Wear Space. Wear Space is, for lack of a better description, like equine blinkers for humans. The strip of flexible material wraps around the back of the head and covers the side of the eyes, blocking up to 60 percent of a wearer's peripheral vision, Panasonic says. Think of it as a sign for potential bothersome coworkers that broadcasts, "I'm busy."

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Number of Robocalls Placed in the US Surged By 50 Percent in the First Half of This Year

5 hours 50 minutes ago
An anonymous reader has shared an NBC report, which explores the state of robocalls in the United States. The report, which shares several anecdotes, also cites data from YouMail, a company that provides voicemail and call-blocking services, according to which the number of robocalls placed nationwide increased by 50 percent from February to July this year. From the report: Robo-dialed and unwanted telemarketing calls were the top consumer complaint to the Federal Communications Commission last year, and they are again this year. This puts those complaints ahead of billing disputes, service availability and program indecency. Not all robocalls are bad. Some, like appointment reminders and flight updates, are usually welcome. But robocall scams, such as the wave of calls that targeted Chinese communities this spring, can be harmful. According to news reports, more than 30 consumers in New York City were tricked out of an estimated $3 million by callers pretending to be from the Chinese consulate and demanding money to settle a criminal matter. According to YouMail, scams made up about 40 percent of the 4.4 billion robocalls placed to Americans in September. Not all area codes are equal: Phone owners with a 404 area code (Atlanta) on average received 68 robocalls in September. That's much higher than the next-worst area code, 202 in Washington, D.C., which got an average of 49 robocalls the same month.

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Major Facebook Investors Want Mark Zuckerberg Out as Chairman

6 hours 30 minutes ago
Major Facebook investors, including public pension funds and state officials, are pushing for Mark Zuckerberg's ouster as chairman of the company's board. From a report: The proposal is largely symbolic, since Zuckerberg holds absolute control of the board. But it comes at a difficult time for Facebook, as security breaches plague the company and spur questions around corporate oversight. "We need Facebook's insular boardroom to make a serious commitment to addressing real risks -- reputational, regulatory, and the risk to our democracy -- that impact the company, its share owners, and ultimately the hard-earned pensions of thousands of New York City workers," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement to CNBC. Stringer joined a previous motion by Trillium Asset Management in calling for Zuckerberg to step down.

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Apple To Announce New iPads on October 30

6 hours 50 minutes ago
Apple will hold its next big product announcement in New York later this month, the company said today. BuzzFeed News: It's the first time Apple, which usually holds these events in the Bay Area, will roll out new devices in New York City. It'll happen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, on October 30. The company is widely expected to refresh its iPad and possibly the MacBook Air lineups at the event.

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Samsung Announces Galaxy Book 2, a 2-in-1 Windows 10 S Hybrid With Gigabit LTE and 20-Hour Battery Life

7 hours 7 minutes ago
At an event in New York City today, the Seoul, South Korea electronics giant took the wraps off of the Galaxy Book 2, a Windows ultraportable powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 chip. From a report: The only catch? It runs Windows 10 S, a slimmed-down version of Microsoft's operating system that can only run applications from the Windows Store -- specifically Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps that Microsoft has explicitly approved (including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office). You can upgrade to Windows 10 for free, of course, but it's an emulated experience. But if that doesn't bother you, you'll be able to pick up a Book 2 at AT&T, Microsoft, and Samsung stores online for $999.99 starting November 2, 2018. It'll hit brick and mortar at AT&T, Sprint and Verizon later in the month. The Book2 -- which measures 11.32 x 7.89 x 30 inches and weighs in at 1.75 pounds -- looks sort of like Microsoft's Surface. Its gorgeous 12-inch 2,160 by 1,440-pixel AMOLED display (216 pixels per inch) is fully compatible with Samsung's S Pen stylus, which comes bundled in the box (along with a detachable keyboard that attaches magnetically to the bottom bezel), allowing you to scribble notes and mark up documents easily. The screen's paired with stereo speakers tuned by Samsung subsidiary AKG Acoustic with support for Dolby Atmos, a premium audio format for multichannel surround sound setups, and there's two cameras onboard: a front-facing 5-megapixel camera on tap and an 8-megapixel camera on the rear. Under the hood is the aforementioned Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 system-on-chip paired with 4GB of RAM, comprising four high-performance processor cores running at 2.96 GHz and four power-efficient cores clocked at 1.7 GHz.

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Adding Sensors To Every Ship Entering the Arctic Could Help Map the Uncharted Seafloor

7 hours 50 minutes ago
Equipping every ship that enters the Arctic with sensors could help fill critical gaps in maritime charts. From a report: Throughout the world, the ocean floor's details remain largely a mystery; less than 10 percent has been mapped using modern sonar technology. Even in the United States, which has some of the best maritime maps in the world, only one-third of the ocean and coastal waters have been mapped to modern standards. But perhaps the starkest gaps in knowledge are in the Arctic. Only 4.7 percent of the Arctic has been mapped to modern standards. "Especially when you get up north, the percentage of charts that are basically based on Royal Navy surveys from the 19th century is terrifying -- or should be terrifying," said David Titley, a retired U.S. Navy Rea Admiral who directs the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at the Pennsylvania State University. Titley spoke alongside several other maritime experts at a recent Woodrow Wilson Center event on marine policy, highlighting the need for improved oceanic maps. When he was on active duty in the Navy, Titley said, "we were finding sea mounts that we had no idea were there. And conversely, we were getting rid of sea mounts on charts that weren't there." The problem, he said, comes down to accumulating -- and managing -- data. But there could be an intriguing solution: crowdsourcing. "How does every ship become a sensor?" Titley asks. Ships outfitted with sensors could provide the very information they need to travel more effectively. Each ship would collect information on oceans, atmosphere, ecosystems, pollutants and more. As the ships traverse the ocean, they would help improve existing maps and information about the waters they tread. Maps are becoming more important as shipping activity increases -- both around the world and in the Arctic. In August, the Russian research ship Akademik Ioffe ran aground in Canada's Arctic. In 2015, the Finnish icebreaker Fennica ripped a three-foot gash in its hull -- while sailing within the relatively better charted waters of Alaska's Dutch Harbor. "The traditional way that we have supplied these ships with information -- with nautical charts and predicted tides and tide tables, and weather over radio facts -- are not anywhere near close to being what's necessary," said Rear Admiral Shep Smith, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. The "next generation of services" would go much further, predicting the water level, salinity, and other information with more precision and detail. One of NOAA's top priorities, Smith said, is "the broad baseline mapping of the ocean -- including the hydrography, the depth and form of the sea floor, and oceanography." Such maps are necessary to support development, including transportation, offshore energy, fishing and stewardship of natural resources, he said.

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One of the World's Largest Organisms is Shrinking

8 hours 30 minutes ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Pando aspen grove, located in central Utah, is the largest organism on the planet by weight. From the surface, it may look like a forest that spans more than 100 U.S. football fields, but each tree shares the exact same DNA and is connected to its clonal brethren through an elaborate underground root system. Although not quite as large in terms of area as the massive Armillaria gallica fungus in Michigan, Pando is much heavier, weighing in at more than 6 million kilograms. Now, researchers say, the grove is in danger, being slowly eaten away by mule deer and other herbivores -- and putting the fate of its ecosystem in jeopardy. "This is a really unusual habitat type," says Luke Painter, an ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis who was not involved with the research. "A lot of animals depend on it." [...] Scientists first noticed the Pando shrinking in the late '90s. They suspected elk, cattle, and most prominently deer were eating the new shoots, so in the new study Rogers and colleagues divided the forest into three experimental groups. One section was completely unfenced, allowing animals to forage freely on the baby aspen. A second section was fenced and left alone. And a third section was fenced and then treated in some places with strategies to spur aspen growth, such as shrub removal and controlled burning; in other places it was left untreated. The results were surprising: Simply keeping the deer out was enough to allow the grove to successfully recover, the team reports today in PLOS ONE. Even in the fenced-off plots where there was no burning or shrub removal, young trees were thriving.

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The Rate at Which the World is Getting Online Has Fallen Sharply Since 2015, New Report Suggests

9 hours 10 minutes ago
Ian Sample, writing for The Guardian: The growth of internet access around the world has slowed dramatically, according to new data, suggesting the digital revolution will remain a distant dream for billions of the poorest and most isolated people on the planet. The striking trend, described in an unpublished report shared with the Guardian, shows the rate at which the world is getting online has fallen sharply since 2015, with women and the rural poor substantially excluded from education, business and other opportunities the internet can provide. The slowdown is described in an analysis of UN data that will be published next month by the Web Foundation, an organisation set up by the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The data shows that growth in global internet access dropped from 19% in 2007 to less than 6% last year. "We underestimated the slowdown and the growth rate is now really worrying," said Dhanaraj Thakur, research director at the Web Foundation. "The problem with having some people online and others not is that you increase the existing inequalities. If you're not part of it, you tend to lose out."

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US Announces Plans To Withdraw From 144-Year-Old Postal Treaty

10 hours 10 minutes ago
JoeyRox writes: The Trump Administration announced today that it's intending to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union, an international postage rate system overseen by the United Nations. "The decision was borne out of frustration with discounts imposed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) that allow China and some other nations to ship products into the U.S. at cheaper rates than American companies receive to ship domestically," reports The Hill. "The administration argues the system undercuts U.S. manufacturers and allows China to flood the market with cheap goods." The U.S. is hoping to renegotiate the rates, known as terminal dues, but was frustrated with opposition from other nations in the UPU. According to the report, "The withdrawal would not take effect for one year, allowing the U.S. some time to broker a new deal." "The 144-year-old UPU sets fees that postal services charge to deliver mail and packages from foreign carriers," reports The Hill. "For decades, developing nations have been allowed to pay lower rates than wealthier nations. China has fallen under the developing nation category, a designation the U.S. says it no longer deserves because of its booming economy." The Trump administration wants to move to a system of "self-declared rates" that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to set its own prices for shipping international packages of all sizes. As it stands, the P.O. is only allowed to use self-declared rates on packages exceeding 4.4 pounds.

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Scientists Discover Weird Sounds In Antarctic Ice Shelf

13 hours 10 minutes ago
pgmrdlm shares a report from USA Today: Using special instruments, scientists have discovered weird sounds at the bottom of the world. The noise is actually vibrating ice, caused by the wind blowing across snow dunes, according to a new study. It's kind of like you're blowing a flute, constantly, on the ice shelf," study lead author Julien Chaput, a geophysicist and mathematician at Colorado State University, said in a statement. Another scientist, glaciologist Douglas MacAyeal of the University of Chicago, likened the sounds to the buzz of thousands of cicadas. The sounds are too low in frequency to be heard by human ears unless sped up by the monitoring equipment. The scientists originally buried 34 seismic sensors under the snow on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf to study the continent's ice shelves -- not to record the sounds they heard. "Studying the vibrations of an ice shelf's insulating snow jacket could give scientists a sense of how it is responding to changing climate conditions," reports USA Today. "Changes to the ice shelf's 'seismic hum' could also indicate whether cracks in the ice are forming that might indicate whether the ice shelf is susceptible to breaking up."

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NASA Astronaut Details Fall To Earth After Failed Soyuz Launch

16 hours 10 minutes ago
After surviving an aborted launch to the ISS, NASA astronaut Nick Hague details his fall to Earth and shares what it was like inside the capsule. CNET reports: In his first interviews since surviving the largely uncontrolled "ballistic descent" back to Earth that followed, Hague told reporters on Tuesday that the launch felt normal for the first two minutes but that it became clear "something was wrong pretty quick." "Your training really takes over," Hague said, adding that he and [Russian Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin] had practiced what to do in case of just such a launch-abort scenario. Hague also credited years of flight training, going back to his days as a U.S. Air Force pilot. The escape procedure has been compared to being launched sideways out of a shotgun -- but while the shotgun is rocketing upward. Hague described the side-to-side shaking inside the capsule as "fairly aggressive but fleeting." "I expected my first trip to space to be memorable," he said. "I didn't expect it to be quite this memorable." Because of the combination of rocket-fueled ascent and the sudden sideways escape maneuver, the crew experienced a higher level of g-forces than during a normal flight. Once the Soyuz reached the top of its arc and began to descend, Hague said, what followed was really the same as a normal Soyuz landing, but with one major difference: The pair couldn't be certain where they were. "My eyes were looking out the window trying to gauge where we were going to land." Luckily, the capsule deployed its parachutes and landed on smooth, flat terrain where Hague and Ovchinin were met by rescue helicopters and whisked off for medical evaluations.

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The Future of the Cloud Depends On Magnetic Tape

19 hours 40 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Although the century-old technology has disappeared from most people's daily view, magnetic tape lives on as the preferred medium for safely archiving critical cloud data in case, say, a software bug deletes thousands of Gmail messages, or a natural disaster wipes out some hard drives. The world's electronic financial, health, and scientific records, collected on state-of-the-art cloud servers belonging to Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google, and others, are also typically recorded on tape around the same time they are created. Usually the companies keep one copy of each tape on-site, in a massive vault, and send a second copy to somebody like Iron Mountain. Unfortunately for the big tech companies, the number of tape manufacturers has shrunk over the past three years from six to just two -- Sony and Fujifilm -- and each seems to think that's still one too many. The Japanese companies have said the tape business is a mere rounding error as far as they're concerned, but each has spent millions of dollars arguing before the U.S. International Trade Commission to try to ban the other from importing tapes to America. [...] The tech industry worries that if Sony or Fujifilm knocks the other out of the U.S., the winner will hike prices, meaning higher costs for the big cloud providers; for old-line storage makers, including IBM, HPE, and Quantum; and, ultimately, for all those companies' customers. [...] Although Sony and Fujifilm have each assured the trade commission that they could fill the gap if their rival's products were shut out of the U.S., the need for storage continues to grow well beyond old conceptions. Construction is slated to begin as soon as next year on the Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope with thousands of antennas in South Africa and Australia meant to detect signals emitted more than 13 billion years ago. It's been estimated the project could generate an exabyte (1 billion gigabytes) of raw data every day, the equivalent of 300 times the material in the U.S. Library of Congress and a huge storage headache all by itself.

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Chinese City 'Plans To Launch Artificial Moon To Replace Streetlights'

21 hours ago
The south-western Chinese city of Chengdu is planning to launch an illumination satellite in 2020 that is "designed to complement the moon at night," though it would be eight times as bright. "The 'dusk-like glow' of the satellite would be able to light an area with a diameter of 10-80km, while the precise illumination range could be controlled within tens of meters -- enabling it to replace streetlights," reports The Guardian. From the report: The vision was shared by Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of the private space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (Casc), at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event held in Chengdu last week. Wu reportedly said testing had begun on the satellite years ago and the technology had now evolved enough to allow for launch in 2020. It is not clear whether the plan has the backing of the city of Chengdu or the Chinese government, though Casc is the main contractor for the Chinese space program. The People's Daily was quick to reassure those concerned about the fake moon's impact on night-time wildlife. It cited Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, who "explained that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals' routines."

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Essential Products, Startup From Android Creator Andy Rubin, Lays Off 30 Percent of Staff

21 hours 40 minutes ago
Essential Products, a startup founded in 2015 by Android creator Andy Rubin, was started to create a smartphone with high-end design features that wasn't associated with a particular operating-system maker. Unfortunately, reaching that goal has been harder than anticipated as the company has laid off about 30 percent of its staff. Fortune reports: Cuts were particularly deep in hardware and marketing. The company's website indicates it has about 120 employees. A company spokesperson didn't confirm the extent of layoffs, but said that the decision was difficult for the firm to make and, "We are confident that our sharpened product focus will help us deliver a truly game changing consumer product." The firm was Rubin's first startup after leaving Google in 2014, which had acquired his co-founded firm, Android, in 2005. Essential's first phone came out in August 2017, a few weeks later than initially promised. It received mixed reviews, with most critics citing its lower quality and missing features relative to competing smartphones, such as a lack of waterproofing and poor resiliency to damage. The company dropped the price from an initial $699 within weeks to $499, and offered it on Black Monday in November 2017 for $399.

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