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+ - From Amazon Security Engineer to Homeless 2

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: I will be homeless and without any resources in one week. Any advice is welcome. Seattle/King County shelters are overcrowded and public housing hasn't accepted applications for months.

I started working at Amazon Nov 2013 as an E-Commerce Platform Security Engineer. I was an unusual applicant with special considerations — I have persistent chronic pain from a cancer that has been surgically treated but took years to be diagnosed. I was assured before being hired that I could get pain management and still work for Amazon.

A mere four months into working before management started to arrange special meetings for me. I wasn't performing "on the right trajectory" for an Amazon employee. I mentioned the Fentanyl transdermal patches as a source of brain fog, but my boss, perhaps being a security guy and suspicious of everything, actually had the audacity to imply I was wearing some sort of labeled tape placebo, and he recommended if this is what's holding me back, I get off the stuff ASAP. Two months of withdrawal later, and my job performance was even worse, despite ice packs and daily physical therapy. At this point I developed a crippling sense of fear pervasive in everything I did, personal or professional, and persistent chest pain became the new norm.

In pain every day, my motivation collapsed. I've been living on savings until now. I've applied for Leave of Absence as well as Short/Long term disability, but I have yet to collect any benefits. Despite my established symptomatology of cancer history and chronic pain, the Disability evaluators have insisted on a psychiatric evaluation (which has taken months, services are booked to forever out here). I'm starting to feel like all these psych requests are a way for the Disability evaluators to run me in circles and not pay any compensation.

Where did I go wrong? Should Amazon have accommodated my illness and cut me more slack? Are there companies that are more understanding of chronic illness? I was getting good work done. I can write testable, correct, highly-performant software for an implementation which spans an entire service stack. But of course, so can most of you. I'm clearly a lesser job candidate. Is there a place in the world for me besides Section 8 HUD housing?

+ - How Employers Get Out of Paying Their Workers

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: We love to talk about crime in America and usually the rhetoric is focused on the acts we can see: bank heists, stolen bicycles and cars, alleyway robberies. But Zachary Crockett writes at Pricenomics that wage theft one of the more widespread crimes in our country today — the non-payment of overtime hours, the failure to give workers a final check upon leaving a job, paying a worker less than minimum wage, or, most flagrantly, just flat out not paying a worker at all. Most commonly, wage theft comes in the form of overtime violations. In a 2008 study, the Center for Urban Economic Development surveyed 4,387 workers in low-wage industries and found that some 76% of full-time workers were not paid the legally required overtime rate by their employers and the average worker with a violation had put in 11 hours of overtime—hours that were either underpaid or not paid at all. Nearly a quarter of the workers in the sample came in early and/or stayed late after their shift during the previous work week. Of these workers, 70 percent did not receive any pay at all for the work they performed outside of their regular shift. In total, unfairly withheld wages in these three cities topped $3 billion. Generalizing this for the rest of the U.S.’s low-wage workforce (some 30 million people), researchers estimate that wage theft could be costing Americans upwards of $50 billion per year.

Last year, the Economic Policy Institute made what is, to date, the most ambitious attempt to quantify the extent of reported wage theft in the U.S.and determined that “the total amount of money recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million.” Obviously, the nearly $1 billion collected is only the tip of the wage-theft iceberg, since most victims never sue and never complain to the government. Commissioner Su of California says wage theft has harmed not just low-wage workers. “My agency has found more wages being stolen from workers in California than any time in history,” says Su. “This has spread to multiple industries across many sectors. It’s affected not just minimum-wage workers, but also middle-class workers.”

+ - Neural implants let paralyzed man take a drink->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Erik Sorto was shot in the back 13 years ago and paralyzed from the neck down. Yet recently the father of two lifted a bottle of beer to his lips and gave himself a drink, even though he can’t move his arms or legs.

Mr. Sorto, 34, picked up his drink with a robotic arm controlled by his thoughts. Two silicon chips in his brain read his intentions and channeled them via wires to the prosthetic arm on a nearby table. The team that developed the experimental implant, led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology, reported their work Thursday in the journal Science.

“That was amazing,” Mr. Sorto said. “I was waiting for that for 13 years, to drink a beer by myself.”

Mr. Sorto’s neural implant is the latest in a series of prosthetic devices that promise one day to restore smooth, almost natural movement to those who have lost the use of their limbs through disease or injury, by tapping directly into the signals generated by the brain.

For years, laboratories at Brown University, Duke University and Caltech, among others, have experimented with brain-controlled prosthetics. Those devices include wireless implants able to relay rudimentary mental commands, mind-controlled robotic leg braces, and sensors that add a sense of touch to robotic hands. In 2012, University of Pittsburgh researchers demonstrated a brain implant that allowed a paralyzed woman to feed herself a chocolate bar using a robot arm.

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+ - Rand Paul Begins Filibuster Of PATRIOT ACT Renewal->

Submitted by SonicSpike
SonicSpike writes: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is filibustering the Patriot Act on the Senate floor, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon.

The Republican presidential candidate took control of the floor Wednesday afternoon at 1:18 p.m., simultaneously explaining on Twitter that he is filibustering the renewal of the Patriot Act because of the National Security Agency’s program that collects bulk phone record data of American citizens.

The ongoing filibuster can be watched live here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?3...

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+ - The Myth of Outsourcing's Efficiency

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: Why outsourcing winds up producing cost creep over time

Outsouring over time starts to create its own bureaucracy bloat. It’s the modern corporate version of one of the observations of C. Northcote Parkinson: “Officials make work for each other.” As Clive describes, the first response to the problems resulting from outsourcing is to try to bury them, since outsourcing is a corporate religion and thus cannot be reversed even when the evidence comes in against it. And then when those costs start becoming more visible, the response is to try to manage them, which means more work (more managerial cost!) and/or hiring more outside specialists (another transfer to highly-paid individuals).

+ - Jason Scott of textfiles.com Wants Your AOL & Shovelware CDs-> 1

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes: You've probably got a spindle in your close tor a drawer full of CD-ROM media mailed to you or delivered with some hardware that you put away "just in case" and now (ten years later) the case for actually using them is laughable. Well, a certain mentally ill individual named Jason Scott has a fever and the only cure is more AOL CDs. But his sickness doesn't stop there, "I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we’re talking. I want it all. The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It’s over. The time when we’re going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there’s going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution in the history books, now. And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up. I’m looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike." Who knows? His madness may end up being appreciated by younger generations!
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+ - Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Jennifer Medina reports at the NYT that the the city council of nation’s second-largest city voted by a 14-1 margin to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, in what is perhaps the most significant victory so far in the national push to raise the minimum wage. Several other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland, Calif., have already approved increases, and dozens more are considering doing the same. In 2014, a number of Republican-leaning states like Alaska and South Dakota also raised their state-level minimum wage by referendum. The impact is likely to be particularly strong in Los Angeles, where, according to some estimates, more than 40 percent of the city’s work force earns less than $15 an hour. “The proposal will bring wages up in a way we haven’t seen since the 1960s," says Michael Reich. "There’s a sense spreading that this is the new norm, especially in areas that have high costs of housing.”

It's important to remember that the minimum wage hike comes at a significant direct cost to business — well over a $1 billion a year, according to the mayor's analysis — and it would be foolish to pretend that it won't lead to some job losses and business closures. Critics say the increase will turn the city into a “wage island,” pushing businesses away into nearby places where they can pay employees less. “They are asking businesses to foot the bill on a social experiment that they would never do on their own employees,” says Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a trade group that represents companies and other organizations in Southern California. “A lot of businesses aren’t going to make it. It’s great that this is an increase for some employees, but the sad truth is that a lot of employees are going to lose their jobs.”

Comment: Re: America's War On Drugs is a Failure (Score 1) 110

by hackwrench (#49727457) Attached to: Silk Road's Leader Paid a Doctor To Help Keep Customers Safe
Most of what I've heard is keeping them away from people who don't teach their kids gun safety and then the kid gets to the gun and accidentally shoots someone, and keeping guns out of suicidal people's hands. Also a criminal is more likely to shoot someone who is attempting to draw on them.

+ - A Wind Turbine without Blades

Submitted by rtoz
rtoz writes: Vortex Bladeless is a Spanish tech start-up. It wants to completely change the way we get energy from the wind. Think wind stick instead of a massive tower with blades that capture blowing winds.

The Vortex is a new kind of Wind Turbine being developed without any blades.
The conical shape harnesses the oscillating motion caused by the wind and converts that to kinetic energy.

When wind hits a structure and flows over its surfaces the flow changes and generates a cyclical pattern of vortices at the tail end of the flow. This is known as the vortex shedding effect which creates something known as vorticity and that is what Vortex Bladeless uses to generate energy.

Vorticity has long been considered the enemy of architects and engineers, who actively try to design their way around these whirlpools of wind.

Where designers see danger, Vortex Bladeless’s founders sees opportunity. The team started Vortex Bladeless in 2010 as a way to turn this vibrating energy into something productive.

This is not your usual wind turbine. It consists of a fixed mast, a power generator that has no moving parts which come into contact with each other and a semi-rigid fiberglass cylinder. The power generator is a system of magnetic coupling devices which means there are no gears needing lubrication and an overall system needing less maintenance.

The Vortex team says there are some clear advantages to their model It’s less expensive to manufacture, totally silent, and safer for birds since there are no blades to fly into.

According to conservative estimates: Vortex saves 53% in manufacturing costs and 51% in operating costs compared to conventional wind turbines.

Vortex is much smaller than traditional wind turbines, allowing you to use your space more efficiently.

Initially, the co-founders were looking at large generating devices. That remains a longer-term goal but a much shorter range goal is a device of 4kW Vortex that would be about 13 meters tall. The company sees this generator being used in conjunction with solar generation for homes that are either off the grid or want to be off the grid.

This spanish company has already raised $1 million from private capital and government funding in Spain.

In February of this year, Vortex Bladeless relocated to Boston. There it is working with Harvard University, SunEdison, and is working with venture capitalists for its next round of Series A funding. Due to public interest in investing in the company, they will launch a crowdfunding campaign on June 1.

+ - Banks Conspire 2

Submitted by Jim Sadler
Jim Sadler writes: I'll keep it short. Why do banks, charge cards and others have such lousy password software? My bank allows twenty letters or numbers but not all combinations of letters and numbers. Then on top of that one can not use symbols or ASCI symbols in ones password. Needless to say pass phrases are also banned. For example "JackandJillwentupthehilltofetch1394pounds of worms." would be very hard to crack and very easy to recall.
              I can't imagine why such passwords would be so hard to handle for financial institutions and they have everything in the world to lose from sloppy security. So just why, considering that these institutions complain of mega money being lost, do they not have a better password system? Do they somehow gain when money goes missing?

+ - World Health Organization wants more neutral (and blander) disease names->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit writes: The World Health Organization (WHO) mostly works to reduce the physical toll of disease. But last week it turned to another kind of harm: the insult and stigma inflicted by diseases named for people, places, and animals. Among the existing monikers that its new guidelines “for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases” would discourage: Ebola, swine flu, Rift valley Fever, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and monkey pox. Instead, WHO says researchers, health officials, and journalists should use more neutral, generic terms, such as severe respiratory disease or novel neurologic syndrome.
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