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Transportation

How Amazon's Drone Deliveries Will Work (yahoo.com) 177

An anonymous reader writes: In a new interview, Amazon has revealed details of the drone delivery program they're building out. VP Paul Misener said, "Prime Air is a future delivery service that will get packages to customers within 30 minutes of them ordering it online at Amazon.com. The goals we've set for ourselves are: The range has to be over 10 miles. These things will weigh about 55 pounds each, but they'll be able to deliver parcels that weigh up to five pounds. It turns out that the vast majority of the things we sell at Amazon weigh less than five pounds." They haven't set pricing yet, but deliveries will follow the same protocols that trucks do now — if you're not home, it'll be left on your doorstep or in your yard. The company is developing different kinds of drones to service different climates. They also expect the regulatory issues to dissipate once they can demonstrate how safe the drones are. Amazon anticipates the vast majority of drone flying to be done between altitudes of 200ft and 400ft.
Communications

The Speakularity, Where Everything You Say Is Transcribed and Searchable 74

An anonymous reader sends an article from Nautilus about the possible future of speech recognition software. Today, hundreds of millions of people are walking around with devices that can not only record sound, but also do a decent job of turning spoken word into searchable text. The article makes the case that the recording and transcription of normal conversation will become commonplace, sooner or later. Not only would this potentially make a lot more interesting discussion available beyond earshot, but it could also facilitate information retrieval on a personal level.

The article makes an analogy with email — right now, if you communicated with somebody through email a decade ago, you don't have to remember the specifics — as long as you didn't delete it or switch email providers, you can just search and look at exactly what was said. Of course, the power of such technology comes with trade-offs — not only would we be worried about the obvious privacy issues, but many people may feel restricted by always "performing" for the microphones. Some researchers also worry that if we have technology to remember for us, we'll put much less effort into remembering things ourselves.
Advertising

Microsoft Research Paper Considers Serving Web-ads From Localhost 231

An anonymous reader writes: A paper from Microsoft researchers (PDF) posits the possibility of 'pushing' web ads to a user's own computer and serving them into pre-arranged containers on web pages, with the EFF or ACLU serving as privacy mediators between the user and the advertisers who want to engage them. However the framework — dubbed 'Privad' — would need to get installed on the user's system by the same familiar means which the likes of Superfish use. The report admits that Privad would probably need to be disseminated "through adware-style software bundling, shopping discounts, toolbars or other incentives."
Firefox

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users 531

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."
Twitter

Tweets To Appear In Google Search Results 91

mpicpp writes with news that Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon.
The Almighty Buck

Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour 1094

HughPickens.com writes: Jennifer Medina reports at the NY Times that the council of the nation's second-largest city voted by a 14-1 margin to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Los Angeles and its almost 4 million residents represent one of the biggest victories yet for those pushing wage increases across the country. Proponents hope it will start to reverse the earning gap in the city, where the top 7% of households earn more than the bottom 67%.

Detractors point out the direct cost increase to businesses, which could total as much as a billion dollars per year. If a business can't handle the increased cost, the employees this measure was designed to help will lose their jobs when it folds. An editorial from the LA Times says it's vital for other cities nearby to increase their minimum wage, too, else businesses will gradually migrate to cheaper locations. They add, "While the minimum wage hike will certainly help the lowest-wage workers in the city, it should not be seen as the centerpiece of a meaningful jobs creation strategy. The fact is that far too many jobs in the city are low-wage jobs — some 37% of workers currently earn less than $13.25 an hour, according to the mayor's estimates — and even after the proposed increase, they would still be living on the edge of poverty."
Windows

Windows 10's Biometric Security Layer Introduced 138

jones_supa writes: One of the major concepts of Windows 10 are new security ideas, and though Microsoft has touched on this topic before, it's only now giving us a more comprehensive look in the form of "Windows Hello." This is an authentication system that uses a variety of biometric signatures and combines hardware and software to allow for seamless and secure user recognition and sign-in. According to Microsoft, the ideal scenario here would be for you to simply look at or touch a new device running Windows 10 and to be immediately signed in. The software analyzes input from such hardware as fingerprint scanners and infrared sensors to make sure that you are you and not some impostor, and then signs you in without requiring you to enter a password. But the point of Windows Hello isn't only convenience, as the company's blog post notes, but also security. We've heard time and time again how insecure passwords are, and Microsoft is aiming to offer a widely-deployed replacement while still delivering enterprise grade security and privacy.
Privacy

Hertz Puts Cameras In Its Rental Cars, Says It Has No Plans To Use Them 188

schwit1 writes Hertz has added a camera to many of its newer cars that uses the "NeverLost" navigational device. So why is Hertz creeping out customers with cameras it's not using? "Hertz added the camera as a feature of the NeverLost 6 in the event it was decided, in the future, to activate live agent connectivity to customers by video. In that plan the customer would have needed to turn on the camera by pushing a button (while stationary)," Hertz spokesperson Evelin Imperatrice explained. "The camera feature has not been launched, cannot be operated and we have no current plans to do so."
The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Trademarks "Windows 365" 191

jones_supa writes The talks about a subscription-based Windows have begun again. With Windows 10 those ideas did not materialize in the way that many had speculated. Even though Microsoft has not fully detailed its Windows 10 pricing strategy, it is not believed that Microsoft is targeting an annual subscription charge for Windows at this time. However, it turns out that Microsoft has recently filed for a trademark for Windows 365, which adds a bit of fuel to the subscription based version of Windows. As of right now, Microsoft has only claimed this branding right, but as for what they will do with it, only time will tell. Deep inside the company, the idea is clearly still bubbling there.
Cellphones

Hotel Chain Plans Phone-Based Check-in and Room Access 120

GTRacer writes: Forbes reports that Hilton Worldwide, international hotel operator, is rolling out smartphone-based guest tools allowing self-service check-in, access to a virtual floorplan to select a room, and (in 2015) actual door access once checked in. The author states the drive for this technology is the growing influence of the swelling ranks of Millennials, who "[...] have a very strong inclination toward automated and self-service customer service." The security risks seem obvious, though.
Mozilla

Mozilla Working On a New Website Comment System 142

sfcrazy writes Mozilla is working on developing a content and commenting platform in collaboration with The New York Times and The Washington Post. The platform aims to be the next-generation commenting and content creation platform which will give more control to readers. Mozilla says in a blog post, “The community platform will allow news organizations to connect with audiences beyond the comments section, deepening opportunities for engagement. Through the platform, readers will be able to submit pictures, links and other media; track discussions, and manage their contributions and online identities. Publishers will then be able to collect and use this content for other forms of storytelling and spark ongoing discussions by providing readers with targeted content and notifications.” The project is being funded by Knights Foundation.
United States

New Federal Database Will Track Americans' Credit Ratings, Other Financial Info 294

schwit1 (797399) writes "As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy. The FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions. FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress."
Advertising

Google Testing Banner Ads On Select Search Results 185

cagraham writes "Google promised in 2005 to never "ever" put banner ads on their search results, but that appears to be changing. The company confirmed to SearchEngineLand that it is running a "small experiment" involving large-scale banners on searches for Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Crate&Barrel, among others. The ads are being shown in less than 5% of searches, and only in the US, for now. Interestingly enough, the Google exec who wrote the no banner ads promise was Marissa Mayer, now CEO of Yahoo."
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Wiring Home Furniture? 235

b1tbkt writes "So it seems that furniture manufacturers have not yet acknowledged the realities of modern life. Kitchen tables could benefit greatly from built-in concealable receptacles. Even more obvious is the need for electrical wiring in couches and coffee tables. I realize that there are safety (fire) concerns but as it stands most families that I know already have power cords for laptops, tables and phones draped over, under and through their couches at any given point. If someone wanted to wire their furniture with AC or some type of standardized LV DC system, what are some dangers to watch for and what, if any, specialized hardware exists for the purpose?"

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