Technology News

Supreme Court Upholds Workplace Arbitration Contracts Barring Class Actions

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 12:05
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that companies can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to prohibit workers from banding together to take legal action over workplace issues. From a report: The vote was 5 to 4, with the court's more conservative justices in the majority. The court's decision could affect some 25 million employment contracts. Writing for the majority, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said the court's conclusion was dictated by a federal law favoring arbitration and the court's precedents. If workers were allowed to band together to press their claims, he wrote, "the virtues Congress originally saw in arbitration, its speed and simplicity and inexpensiveness, would be shorn away and arbitration would wind up looking like the litigation it was meant to displace." Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, a sign of profound disagreement. In her written dissent, she called the majority opinion "egregiously wrong." In her oral statement, she said the upshot of the decision "will be huge under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well being of vulnerable workers."

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Ossic bails on $3.2 million Kickstarter and Indiegogo '3D headset' project [u]

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 11:32


A maker of unreleased 3D-sensing headphones, Ossic, is shutting down and leaving thousands of Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers in the lurch.
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China Launches Satellite To Explore Dark Side of Moon

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 11:25
China launched a relay satellite early on Monday designed to establish a communication link between earth and a planned lunar probe that will explore the dark side of the moon, the official Xinhua news agency said. From a report: Citing the China National Space Administration, Xinhua said the satellite was launched at 5:28 a.m. (2128 GMT Sunday) on a Long March-4C rocket from the Xichang launch center in the southwest of the country. "The launch is a key step for China to realize its goal of being the first country to send a probe to soft-land on and rove the far side of the moon," Xinhua quoted Zhang Lihua, manager of the relay satellite project, as saying.

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New iPhone X Animoji Karaoke ad features South Korean group Hyukoh

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 11:12


Apple has released another advertisement using the Animoji Karaoke concept to market the iPhone X, publishing the new 'Taxi Driver' video on its South Korean YouTube channel featuring three of the characters singing along to 'Citizen Kane' by the group Hyukoh.
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President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama sign programming deal with Netflix

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 10:48


President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have signed a deal to produce films and series for Netflix, apparently denying Apple the opportunity.
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Google Sued For 'Clandestine Tracking' of 4.4 Million UK iPhone Users' Browsing Data

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 10:45
Google is being sued in the high court for as much as $4.3 billion for the alleged "clandestine tracking and collation" of personal information from 4.4 million iPhone users in the UK. From a report: The collective action is being led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd over claims Google bypassed the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser on iPhones between August 2011 and February 2012 in order to divide people into categories for advertisers. At the opening of an expected two-day hearing in London on Monday, lawyers for Lloyd's campaign group Google You Owe Us told the court information collected by Google included race, physical and mental heath, political leanings, sexuality, social class, financial, shopping habits and location data. Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Lloyd, said information was then "aggregated" and users were put into groups such as "football lovers" or "current affairs enthusiasts" for the targeting of advertising. Tomlinson said the data was gathered through "clandestine tracking and collation" of browsing on the iPhone, known as the "Safari Workaround" -- an activity he said was exposed by a PhD researcher in 2012. Tomlinson said Google has already paid $39.5m to settle claims in the US relating to the practice. Google was fined $22.5m for the practice by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012 and forced to pay $17m to 37 US states.

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Netflix's DVD Rental Business Is Still Profitable

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 10:05
Netflix might be focusing on its streaming business, but the produce that made its name is still alive -- and apparently well. From a report: The company's DVD.com DVD rental business has 3 million subscribers and generated a whopping $56 million in profit on just $99 million in revenue during the first quarter, CNBC is reporting. That staggering profit margin aside, Netflix's business has a wide selection of 100,000 DVDs, which easily overshadows the 5,600 streaming titles available on Netflix, according to the report. DVD.com's profitability might surprise some who moved on long ago from disc-based entertainment in the living room to streaming. Indeed, Netflix itself seemed to have moved on in 2011 when it split the DVD division from its now-core streaming operation. And whenever Netflix discusses its business, the company focuses on streaming and its place in the original content market rather than DVDs.

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HomeKit Insider #002: How to troubleshoot Bluetooth accessories with HomeScan

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:44


Nailing down issues with HomeKit gear can be very difficult without the right tools. AppleInsider tales a look at a way to troubleshoot problems with Bluetooth accessories.
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Coupon: 15% off select tech at eBay

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:25


Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, eBay is knocking 15% off a variety of tech products from popular sellers. From Apple MacBooks and iPads to iPhones and Beats, there are plenty of electronics eligible for the bonus coupon with prices starting under $130.
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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Wants Justice Department To Scrutinize Big Tech

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:25
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday joined the growing chorus of government officials concerned about tech monopolies. From a report: When asked if Google is a monopoly, Mnuchin said, "These are issues that the Justice Department needs to look at seriously -- not for any one company -- but obviously as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy, I think that you have to look at the power they have," Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Box." Mnuchin acknowledged that antitrust matters don't fall under his jurisdiction, but said someone ought to be looking. His comments come on the heels of a "60 Minutes" segment on Google's unparalleled market share in online search. The Sunday night spot included an interview with Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder of Yelp, which he said "would have no shot" if it were being built today.

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Sony Is Done Working For Peanuts in the Hardware Business, New CEO To Detail Shift Away From Gadgets

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 08:54
Kenichiro Yoshida, who took over as chief executive officer in April, is set to unveil a three-year plan on Tuesday that embraces Sony's growing reliance on income from gaming subscriptions and entertainment. From a report: The transition is already happening: even though the company sold fewer hardware products such as televisions, digital cameras, smartphones and PlayStation consoles in the year through March, it was able to post record operating profit. It's a tectonic shift for a company built on manufacturing prowess. Sony popularized transistor radios, gave the world portable music with the Walkman and its TVs were considered top-of-the-line for decades. With the rise of Chinese manufacturing, making and selling gadgets has become a business with razor-thin profit margins. Investors have applauded the transformation that's been under way since Kazuo Hirai took over as CEO in 2012, with the shares climbing more than five-fold amid a turnaround.

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Apple dips one spot to #4 in 2018 Fortune 500 rankings, leads in profits

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 08:51


Even with continued growth, Apple has slipped to fourth place in this year's Fortune 500 chart, which ranks the biggest U.S.-based corporations in terms of revenue.
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Advocacy Groups Call for the FTC To Break Up Facebook

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 08:10
An anonymous reader shares a report: Several advocacy groups have banded together for a campaign that calls upon the US Federal Trade Commission to intervene and break up Facebook into smaller companies -- and more specifically to split off the Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp services from the mother company. The campaign, named Freedom from Facebook, was set into motion today by eight groups -- Demand Progress, Citizens Against Monopoly, Content Creators Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace, MoveOn, Mpower Change, Open Markets Institute, and SumOfUs, respectively. Through a dedicated website, the eight advocacy groups are urging users to file a petition with the FTC on the grounds that Facebook has become a monopoly. The campaign's motto is "It's time to make Facebook safe for democracy." "Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed a scary amount of power," the campaign's website reads. "Facebook unilaterally decides the news that billions of people around the world see every day."

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AOC debuts MacBook-compatible 15.6-inch USB-C monitor

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 07:58


Display maker AOC is rolling out a new 15.6-inch portable USB-C monitor, allowing MacBook and MacBook Pro owners to provide power and the video signal to the display through a single cable.
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UK iPhone privacy lawsuit seeks up to $4.29B from Google

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 06:56


A U.K. lawsuit against Google for bypassing iPhone Web tracking safeguards now includes 4.4 million people listed as plaintiffs, and is aiming for up to 3.2 billion pounds ($4.29 billion) in damages.
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CallKit iPhone apps pulled from Chinese App Store amid new government crackdown

Apple Insider - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 06:24


Apple is starting to remove apps from the App Store in China that integrate with CallKit, in response to moves by the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to enforce cybersecurity regulations.
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MoviePass' Days Look Limited

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 06:00
Kyle Stock writes via Bloomberg: Eight months after slashing its price and expanding membership past 2 million users, MoviePass is now at risk of going bust. The parent company, Helios & Matheson Analytics, which now owns 92 percent of MoviePass, said last week that it had just $15.5 million in cash at the end of April and $27.9 million on deposit with merchant processors. MoviePass has been burning through $21.7 million per month. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing last month revealed that the company's auditor has "substantial doubt" about its ability to stay solvent. Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc., warns that MoviePass may not survive the summertime run of blockbusters. On Tuesday, Helios reported the performance of MoviePass for the three months ending on March 31. The company lost $107 million, earning just over $1 million from marketing deals and $47 million from subscriptions. Helios shares have fallen to decade lows of less than $1 after peaking at $32.90 in October, alongside the MoviePass hype.

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New Toronto Declaration Calls On Algorithms To Respect Human Rights

Slashdot - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 02:00
A coalition of human rights and technology groups released a new declaration on machine learning standards, calling on both governments and tech companies to ensure that algorithms respect basic principles of equality and non-discrimination. The Verge reports: Called The Toronto Declaration, the document focuses on the obligation to prevent machine learning systems from discriminating, and in some cases violating, existing human rights law. The declaration was announced as part of the RightsCon conference, an annual gathering of digital and human rights groups. "We must keep our focus on how these technologies will affect individual human beings and human rights," the preamble reads. "In a world of machine learning systems, who will bear accountability for harming human rights?" The declaration has already been signed by Amnesty International, Access Now, Human Rights Watch, and the Wikimedia Foundation. More signatories are expected in the weeks to come. Beyond general non-discrimination practices, the declaration focuses on the individual right to remedy when algorithmic discrimination does occur. "This may include, for example, creating clear, independent, and visible processes for redress following adverse individual or societal effects," the declaration suggests, "[and making decisions] subject to accessible and effective appeal and judicial review."

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Scientists Transfer Memory Between Snails

Slashdot - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: UCLA neuroscientists reported Monday that they have transferred a memory from one animal to another via injections of RNA, a startling result that challenges the widely held view of where and how memories are stored in the brain. The finding from the lab of David Glanzman hints at the potential for new RNA-based treatments to one day restore lost memories and, if correct, could shake up the field of memory and learning. The researchers extracted RNA from the nervous systems of snails that had been shocked and injected the material into unshocked snails. RNA's primary role is to serve as a messenger inside cells, carrying protein-making instructions from its cousin DNA. But when this RNA was injected, these naive snails withdrew their siphons for extended periods of time after a soft touch. Control snails that received injections of RNA from snails that had not received shocks did not withdraw their siphons for as long. Glanzman's group went further, showing that Aplysia sensory neurons in Petri dishes were more excitable, as they tend to be after being shocked, if they were exposed to RNA from shocked snails. Exposure to RNA from snails that had never been shocked did not cause the cells to become more excitable. The results, said Glanzman, suggest that memories may be stored within the nucleus of neurons, where RNA is synthesized and can act on DNA to turn genes on and off. He said he thought memory storage involved these epigenetic changes -- changes in the activity of genes and not in the DNA sequences that make up those genes -- that are mediated by RNA. This view challenges the widely held notion that memories are stored by enhancing synaptic connections between neurons. Rather, Glanzman sees synaptic changes that occur during memory formation as flowing from the information that the RNA is carrying. The study has been published in the journal eNeuro.

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Amazon Offers Whole Foods Discounts To Prime Members

Slashdot - Sun, 05/20/2018 - 20:02
Amazon-owned Whole Foods debuted a loyalty program on Wednesday that offers special discounts to Prime members, including 10 percent off hundreds of sale items and rotating weekly specials. "The new loyalty strategy will test whether Amazon's $13.7 billion deal for Whole Foods brings much-feared disruption and an intensified price war to the $800 billion U.S. grocery industry dominated by Walmart and Kroger," reports Reuters. From the report: Those perks are available now in Florida and will roll out to all other stores starting this summer. Amazon previously announced free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores for members of Prime, its subscription club with fast shipping and video streaming. The new perks could make Whole Foods cheaper than conventional grocers for about 8 million of its customers who already subscribe to Amazon Prime, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. Prime members scan an app or input their phone numbers at checkout to receive the discounts.

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