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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements...For Warehouse Workers

Submitted by Rick Zeman
Rick Zeman (15628) writes "Amazon, perhaps historically only second to NewEgg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, not only has treated their warehouse workers to appalling working condtions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Excerpt from the agreement:
During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee’s own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)...."

+ - Pixar Releases Free Version of RenderMan

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "A year ago the animation studio Pixar promised its RenderMan animation and rendering suite to eventually become free for non-commercial use. This was originally scheduled to happen in the SIGGRAPH 2014 computer graphics conference, but things got delayed. Nevertheless, today Pixar is releasing the free version into wild. Free non-commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. This version is fully featured, without a watermark or any kind of artificial limits. Featuring Pixar's new RIS technology, RenderMan delivers extremely fast global illumination and interactive shading and lighting for artists. The software is available for Mac, Linux and Windows. In conjunction with the release, Pixar has also launched a new RenderMan Community site where users can exchange knowledge and resources, showcase their own work, share assets such as shaders and scripts, and learn about RenderMan from tutorials."

+ - Bring On The Boring Robots->

Submitted by malachiorion
malachiorion (1205130) writes "After a successful 6-month pilot, Savioke's "butler bots" are heading to hotels around the country. These are not sexy, scary, or even technically impressive machines. But they were useful enough, over the course of their 2000 or so deliveries, to warrant a redesign, and a larger deployment starting in April. Savioke's CEO had some interesting things to say about the pilot, including the fact that some 95 percent of guests gave the robot a 5-star review, and only the drunks seemed to take issue with it. Plus, as you might expect, everyone seemed to want to take a damn selfie with it. But as small as the stakes might appear, highly specialized bots like this one, which can only do one thing (in this case, bring up to 10 pounds of stuff from the lobby to someone's door) are a better glimpse of our future than any talk of hyper-competent humanoids or similarly versatile machines. This is my post for Popular Science about why the rise of the boring robot is good news for robotics."
Link to Original Source

+ - Why Not Utopia? Mark Bittman on basic income and increasing automation->

Submitted by Paul Fernhout
Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Mark Bittman wrote an op-ed in the New York Times suggesting a basic income as a solution to increasing automation leading to job loss. He concludes: "We have achieved a level of social equality barely imagined by progressives 50 years ago, but economic equality has gotten much worse. No one knows what the world will look like in 50 years, but if we resign ourselves to dystopia — in which capital has full control, as it nearly does now — we'll surely have one. Let's resolve to build something better. In the long run we know that we'll make the transition from capitalism to some less destructive and hopefully more just system. Why not begin that transition now? If there is going to be a global market that will further enrich capitalists, there must be guarantees that the rest of the population can at least afford housing and food. And things can be even better than that: We'll have the robots work for us.""
Link to Original Source

+ - Facebook user to test how fb suicide prevention tool act, lands in mental asylum->

Submitted by abhishekmdb
abhishekmdb (4015829) writes "Shane Tusch faked his suicide in an attempt to test the authenticity of Facebook suicide prevention tool and got detained for 72 hours

Facebook has rolled out a set of tools to keep a check on its users who are having suicidal tendencies and prevent these users from suicidal attempts. In case some user is having suicidal thoughts and mentions that in the Facebook posts and if a friend of that user reports it to Facebook then a third party will immediately review the post and Facebook would lock the suicidal user’s account and the user will be made to read Facebook’s suicide prevention materials."

Link to Original Source

+ - Police fight to keep use of Stingrays secret

Submitted by v3rgEz
v3rgEz (125380) writes "The New York Times looks at how local police are fighting to keep their use of cell phone surveillance secret, including signing NDAs with Stingray manufacturer Harris Corp and claiming the documents have been lost. It's part of a broader trend of local agencies adopting the tactics of covert intelligence groups as they seek to adopt new technology in the digital era."

+ - The Church of TED

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Megan Hustad writes in the NYT that while it’s not exactly fair to say that the TED conference series and web video function like an organized church, understanding the parallel structures is useful for conversations about faith, how susceptible we humans remain to the cadences of missionary zeal, and how the TED style with its promise of progress, is as manipulative as the orthodoxies it is intended to upset. According to Hustad, a great TED talk is reminiscent of a tent revival sermon, a gathering of the curious and the hungry. "A persistent human problem is introduced, one that, as the speaker gently explains, has deeper roots and wider implications than most listeners are prepared to admit," says Hustad. "Once everyone has been confronted with this evidence of entropy, contemplated life’s fragility and the elusiveness of inner peace, a decision is called for: Will you remain complacent, or change?" TED talks routinely present problems of huge scale and scope — we imprison too many people; the rain forest is dying; look at all this garbage; we’re unhappy; we have Big Data and aren’t sure what to do with it — then wrap up tidily and tinily. Do this. Stop doing that. Buy an app that will help you do this other thing. "I never imagined that the Baptists I knew in my youth would come to seem mellow, almost slackers by comparison," concludes Hustad. "Of course they promoted Jesus as a once-and-done, plug-and-play solver of problems — another questionable approach.""

+ - Monday's Keep Us Up At Night

Submitted by randomErr
randomErr (172078) writes "Tune Hotels Group completed a study that we're like Wowbagger from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in that we can't deal well with Sunday afternoons and nights. People in general have a sleep deficit because of the anxieties about starting the working week. Jason Ellis, Professor of Sleep Science at Northumbria University is quotes as saying "Sunday-somnia" is something I see a lot and it's important that people deal with the issues surrounding their sleep deprivation so that it doesn't have a knock on effect on sleep later in the week.'"

+ - Google Taking Over New TLDs->

Submitted by bobo the hobo
bobo the hobo (302407) writes "In the corner of the internet where people care about DNS, there is a bit of an uproar at Google's application for over a hundred new top-level domains, including .dev, .lol, .app, .blog, .cloud and .search. Their application includes statements such as:
By contrast, our application for the .blog TLD describes a new way of automatically linking new second level domains to blogs on our Blogger platform – this approach eliminates the need for any technical configuration on the part of the user and thus makes the domain name more user friendly.

And also limiting usage of .dev to Google only:
Second-level domain names within the proposed gTLD are intended for registration and use by Google only, and domain names under the new gTLD will not be available to the general public for purchase, sale, or registration. As such, Charleston Road Registry intends to apply for an exemption to the ICANN Registry Operator Code of Conduct as Google is intended to be the sole registrar and registrant."

Link to Original Source

+ - Dish Network violated Do-Not-Call 57 million times->

Submitted by lightbox32
lightbox32 (1903946) writes "Dish Network has been found guilty of violating the Do Not Call list on 57 million separate occasions. They were also found liable for abandoning or causing telemarketers to abandon nearly 50 million “outbound telephone calls, in violation of the abandoned-call provision of the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule."
Link to Original Source

+ - Investigation IDs Crew of 6 Behind Hack of Sony, Including Former Employee->

Submitted by chicksdaddy
chicksdaddy (814965) writes "Alternative theories of who is responsible for the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment have come fast and furious (http://it.slashdot.org/story/14/12/24/1757224/did-north-korea-really-attack-sony)in recent weeks- especially since the FBI pointed a finger at the government of North Korea last week. (http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/12/18/0249222/us-links-north-korea-to-sony-hacking) But Norse Security is taking the debate up a notch: saying that they have conclusive evidence pointing to group of disgruntled former employees as the source of the attack and data theft.

The Security Ledger quotes Norse Vice President Kurt Stammberger saying that Norse has identified a group of six individuals — in the U.S., Canada, Singapore and Thailand — that it believes carried out the attack, including at least one 10 year employee of SPE who worked in a technical capacity before being laid off in May.(https://securityledger.com/2014/12/new-clues-in-sony-hack-point-to-insiders-away-from-dprk/)

Rather than starting from the premise that the Sony hack was a state sponsored attack, Norse researchers worked their investigation like any other criminal matter: starting by looking for individuals with the "means and motive" to do the attack. HR files leaked in the hack provided the motive part: a massive restructuring in Spring, 2014, in which many longtime SPE employees were laid off.

After researching the online footprint of a list of all the individuals who were fired and had the means to be able to access sensitive data on Sony's network, Norse said it identified a handful who expressed anger in social media posts following their firing. They included one former employee — a 10 year SPE veteran who he described as having a “very technical background.” Researchers from the company followed that individual online, noting participation in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) forums where they observed communications with other individuals affiliated with underground hacking and hacktivist groups in Europe and Asia.

According to Stammberger, the Norse investigation was eventually able to connect an individual directly involved in conversations with the Sony employee with a server on which the earliest known version of the malware used in the attack was compiled, in July, 2014.

While Stammberger admits that some clues in the investigation seemed to point to attackers in one of the Koreas, he says those paths all turned into dead ends, and that Norse investigators found no convincing evidence of North Korean involvement in the incident.

According to Stammberger, the company is briefing the FBI on its investigation on Monday. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that room!"

Link to Original Source

+ - Whales survive only after huge sharks died out->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Millions of years ago there were sharks as big as WW2 submarines. According to researchers from University of Zuric those gigantic sharks, or Megalodon, died out some 2.8 million years ago

The mega-shark was no lightweight. At 110 tonnes, it was about 30 times as heavy as a Great White and is thought to have had the most powerful bite of any animal in the Earth's history. With those humongous size sharks, whales don't get any fighting chance

It was such a ravenous predator, that its extinction may have allowed whales — today's heftiest seagoing fatties — to grow to the sizes we see nowadays. “When we calculated the time of Megalodon’s extinction, we noticed that the modern function and gigantic sizes of filter feeder whales became established around that time. Future research will investigate if Megalodon’s extinction played a part in the evolution of these new classes of whales,” said Catalina Pimiento of the University of Florida"

Link to Original Source

+ - Julian Assange: Google has the US government in its pocket->

Submitted by DW100
DW100 (2227906) writes "In an extract from a forthcoming book, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hit out at Google, claiming it has a very cosy relationship with some of the top power brokers in US politics. "Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. Schmidt's tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive mega-corporation," he writes."
Link to Original Source

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