Google

Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo On Gender Differences (bloomberg.com) 1416

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Alphabet Inc.'s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company's diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley. James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes." Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo "violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." But he didn't say if the company was taking action against the employee. A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai's memo. Damore's 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand. After the controversy swelled, Danielle Brown, Google's new vice president for diversity, integrity and governance, sent a statement to staff condemning Damore's views and reaffirmed the company's stance on diversity. In internal discussion boards, multiple employees said they supported firing the author, and some said they would not choose to work with him, according to postings viewed by Bloomberg News.
Social Networks

First Evidence That Social Bots Play a Major Role In Spreading Fake News (technologyreview.com) 144

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Indiana University in Bloomington provide an answer for how social bots play a major role in spreading fake news. MIT Technology Review reports: "At issue is the publication of news that is false or misleading. So widespread has this become that a number of independent fact-checking organizations have emerged to establish the veracity of online information. These include snopes.com, politifact.com, and factcheck.org. These sites list 122 websites that routinely publish fake news. These fake news sites include infowars.com, breitbart.com, politicususa.com, and theonion.com. 'We did not exclude satire because many fake-news sources label their content as satirical, making the distinction problematic,' say researcher Chengcheng Shao and co. Shao and co then monitored some 400,000 claims made by these websites and studied the way they spread through Twitter. They did this by collecting some 14 million Twitter posts that mentioned these claims. At the same time, the team monitored some 15,000 stories written by fact-checking organizations and over a million Twitter posts that mention them. Next, Shao and co looked at the Twitter accounts that spread this news, collecting up to 200 of each account's most recent tweets. In this way, the team could study the tweeting behavior and work out whether the accounts were most likely run by humans or by bots. Having made a judgment on the ownership of each account, the team finally looked at the way humans and bots spread fake news and fact-checked news.

'Accounts that actively spread misinformation are significantly more likely to be bots,' say Shao and co. 'Social bots play a key role in the spread of fake news.' Shad and co say bots play a particularly significant role in the spread of fake news soon after it is published. What's more, these bots are programmed to direct their tweets at influential users. 'Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users,' say Shao and co."

AMD

Preview of AMD Ryzen Threadripper Shows Chip Handily Out-Pacing Intel Core i9 (hothardware.com) 180

MojoKid writes: AMD is still days away from the formal launch of their Ryzen Threadripper family of 12 and 16-core processors but OEM system builder Dell and its Alienware gaming PC division had an inside track on first silicon in the channel. The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition sports a 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X processor that boosts to 4GHz with a base clock of 3.4GHz and an all-core boost at 3.6GHz. From a price standpoint, the 16-core Threadripper chip goes head-to-head with Intel's 10-core Core i9-7900X at a $999 MSRP. In early benchmark runs of the Alienware system, AMD's Ryzen Threadripper is showing as much as a 37% percent performance advantage over the Intel Core i9 Skylake-X chip, in highly threaded general compute workload benchmarks like Cinebench and Blender. In gaming, Threadripper is showing roughly performance parity with the Core i9 chip in some tests, but trailing by as much as 20% in lower resolution 1080p gaming, as is characteristic for many Ryzen CPUs currently, in certain games. Regardless, when you consider the general performance upside with Ryzen Threadripper versus Intel's current fastest desktop chip, along with its more aggressive per-core pricing (12-core Threadripper at $799), AMD's new flagship enthusiast/performance workstation desktop chips are lining up pretty well versus Intel's.
Transportation

Tesla Seeks $1.5 Billion Junk Bonds Issue To Fund Model 3 Production (reuters.com) 159

As Tesla seeks fresh sources of cash to increase production of its new Model 3 sedan, the company announced on Monday that it would raise about $1.5 billion through its first-ever high-yield junk bond offering. "The debt offering marks Tesla's debut in the junk-bond market and the company will start road-shows on Monday, IFR reported, citing lead bankers on the deal," reports Reuters. From the report: Tesla has been riding high on investor expectations that its Model 3 will be a mass-market hit, with shareholders pushing its market value above that of General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co, the top two U.S. automakers that produce millions of cars each annually. But Tesla has yet to make an annual profit and its stock is a favorite among short-sellers, who continue to bet Tesla will fall short of its shareholders' high hopes. So far, Tesla has been raising money to pay its bills with a combination of equity offerings and convertible bonds, which eventually convert into shares. In March, the company raised $1.4 billion through a convertible debt offering. Following the announcement, Standard & Poor's assigned a "B-1" rating for the bond issue -- deep into junk credit territory. S&P also maintained its "B-" long-term corporate credit rating on Tesla. "We could lower our ratings on Tesla is execution issues related to the Model 3 launch later this year or the ongoing expansion of its Models S and X production lead to significant cost overruns," S&P said in a statement on the bonds. Meanwhile, Moody's assigned a junk "B3" rating to the bond issue and said the company's rating outlook was stable.
AMD

AMD Confirms Linux 'Performance Marginality Problem' On Ryzen (phoronix.com) 120

An anonymous reader writes: Ryzen customers experiencing segmentation faults under Linux when firing off many compilation processes have now had their problem officially acknowledged by AMD. The company describes it as a "performance marginality problem" affecting some Ryzen customers and only on Linux. AMD confirmed Threadripper and Epyc processors are unaffected; they will be dealing with the issue on a customer-by-customer basis, and their future consumer products will see better Linux testing/validation. Ryzen customers believed to be affected by the problem can contact AMD Customer Care. Michael Larabel writes via Phoronix: "With the Ryzen segmentation faults on Linux they are found to occur with many, parallel compilation workloads in particular -- certainly not the workloads most Linux users will be firing off on a frequent basis unless intentionally running scripts like ryzen-test/kill-ryzen. As I've previously written, my Ryzen Linux boxes have been working out great except in cases of intentional torture testing with these heavy parallel compilation tasks. [AMD's] analysis has also found that these Ryzen segmentation faults aren't isolated to a particular motherboard vendor or the like, contrary to rumors/noise online due to the complexity of the problem."
Operating Systems

Android 8.0's 'Streaming OS Updates' Will Work Even If Your Phone Is Full (arstechnica.com) 40

Regardless of whether or not your phone is full of pictures, or videos, or apps, you will still be able to download and install an OS update with Android 8.0. According to the latest source.android.com documentation, Google has cooked up a scheme to make sure that an "insufficient space" error will never stop an update again. Ars Technica reports: Where the heck can Google store the update if your phone is full, though? If you remember in Android 7.0, Google introduced a new feature called "Seamless Updates." This setup introduced a dual system partition scheme -- a "System A" and "System B" partition. The idea is that, when it comes time to install an update, you can normally use your phone on the online "System A" partition while an update is being applied to the offline "System B" partition in the background. Rather than the many minutes of downtime that would normally occur from an update, all that was needed to apply the update was a quick reboot. At that point, the device would just switch from partition A to the newly updated partition B. When you get that "out of space" error message during an update, you're only "out of space" on the user storage partition, which is just being used as a temporary download spot before the update is applied to the system partition. Starting with Android 8.0, the A/B system partition setup is being upgraded with a "streaming updates" feature. Update data will arrive from the Internet directly to the offline system partition, written block by block, in a ready-to-boot state. Instead of needing ~1GB of free space, Google will be bypassing user storage almost entirely, needing only ~100KB worth of free space for some metadata. Ars Technica goes on to note that the feature will be backported to Google Play Services, and will be enabled on "Android 7.0 and later" devices with a dual system partition setup.
Transportation

Pilotless Planes Could Save Airlines $35 Billion Per Year, But Passengers Aren't Willing To Fly In Them Yet (fortune.com) 313

An anonymous reader shares a report from Fortune: Autopilot is hardly a rarity in the world of commercial air travel. But when it comes to a fully automated flight, most people say "hard pass," at least for now. The pilotless plane could save airlines as much as $35 billion per year, according to a new survey from UBS, reducing the cost of highly skilled employees ($31 billion), related training ($3 billion), and fuel ($1 billion). The deployment of autonomous technology could result in significant fare cuts, an estimated one-tenth of the total in the U.S. And yet 54% of passengers refuse to board a remote-controlled plane, according to the survey of 8,000 air passengers. That sentiment will change over time, the investment bank notes. By the middle of the century, the majority may be willing. But UBS said passengers won't do it today, even if ticket prices were lower -- a big hurdle to airlines, which the bank estimates could see profits double by using the technology. Much like the automotive industry, most passengers don't realize that there are quite a few autonomous systems already in place on today's aircraft -- including those that land the plane.
Businesses

Can Elon Musk Be Weaned Off Government Support? (thehill.com) 270

mi shares an opinion piece written by Jenny Beth Martin via The Hill: A study published in 2015 by The Los Angeles Times revealed that just three of Musk's ventures -- SolarCity Corp. (which manufactured and installed solar energy systems before its 2016 merger with Tesla Motors Inc.), Tesla Motors Inc. (which manufactures electric vehicles), and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX (which builds rocket ships) -- had received $4.9 billion in government subsidies to that point in time. By now, Musk's various ventures have sucked well over $5 billion from government coffers. Worse: in order to induce car buyers to spend their money on electric vehicles, the federal government offers a $7,500 rebate on the purchase price. Some states enhance that rebate with rebates of their own. In California, for instance, purchasers of electric vehicles get a state-funded rebate of $2,500 more.

Slashdot reader mi asks: "Why are you and I subsidizing Elon Musk's products and when will his businesses be able to compete on their own?"

Youtube

YouTube Adds Mobile Chat, Because Google Doesn't Have Enough Messaging Apps (venturebeat.com) 25

Krystalo writes: YouTube today rolled out the ability to share videos with contacts directly in its mobile app for Android and iOS. Users can chat about shared videos using text, react with emoji, like messages with a heart, reply with other videos, and invite more friends to the conversation (up to a maximum of 30 people per group message). YouTube first started testing letting groups of users share and talk about videos in May 2016. The company then pushed the feature to Canada in January 2017 as a test, since Canadians share more videos online than any other nation. After some tweaks, the Google-owned company is now pushing it out to all its Android and iOS users. "We've been improving the feature since our experiments began last year," a YouTube spokesperson told VentureBeat. "For example, we've made changes to the chat visual; and we've made the video stick to the top of the chat when scrolling down, to allow replying and chatting while watching a video; and we'll continue making improvements." With the new update, YouTube has become yet another Google messaging app, on top of Android Messages, Allo, Duo, Hangouts Chat, and Hangouts Meet.
Google

Google Grapples With Fallout After Employee Slams Diversity Efforts (npr.org) 546

An anonymous reader shares a report from NPR: In a 3,300-word document that has been shared across Google's internal networks, an engineer at the company wrote that "biological causes" are part of the reason women aren't represented equally in its tech departments and leadership. The document also cited "men's higher drive for status." The engineer's criticism of Google's attempts to improve gender and racial diversity has prompted two Google executives to rebut the lengthy post, which accused the company of creating an "ideological echo chamber" and practicing discrimination. Wide sharing of the document has highlighted struggles with gender equality and the wage gap in the tech industry and particularly at Google, which was sued by the federal government earlier this year for refusing to share compensation amounts and other data.

But in contrast, the document's author -- whose identity hasn't been publicly released but who claims to work at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters -- accused Google of having "a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence." Not enough has been done, the engineer said, to encourage a diversity of viewpoints and ideologies at Google. The author also faulted the company for offering mentoring and other opportunities to its employees based on gender or race. The engineer began the document by stating, "I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don't endorse using stereotypes." The message ended with a similar sentiment -- but with the added notion, "Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the [company's] training suggests."
In addition to the responses made from Google's VP of Diversity, Integrity and Governance, Danielle Brown, former engineer Yonatan Zunger, and Google VP of Engineering Ari Balogh, senior developer Sarah Mei wrote: "This guy almost certainly thinks of himself as a 'computer scientist,' but he does exactly what you're not supposed to do as a scientist. He draws a conclusion favorable to his ego, and then works backwards from there, constructing an argument to justify it. [...] This google dude literally works at the company that made it _trivially easy_ to locate relevant social science research."
Network

Data Cap Analysis Found Almost 200 ISPs Imposing Data Limits in the US (arstechnica.com) 41

An anonymous reader shares a report: BroadbandNow, a broadband provider search site that gets referral fees from some ISPs, has more than 2,500 home internet providers in its database. BroadbandNow's team looked through the ISPs' websites to generate a list of those with data caps. The data cap information was "pulled directly from ISP websites," BroadbandNow Director of Content Jameson Zimmer told Ars. BroadbandNow, which is operated by a company called Microbrand Media, plans to keep tracking the data caps over time in order to examine trends, he said. The listed caps range from 3GB to 3TB per month. That 3GB cap seemed like it couldn't be accurate, so we called the ISP, a small phone company called NTCNet in Newport, New York. A person answering the phone confirmed that the company lists 3GB as its cap, but said it is not enforced and that customers' usage isn't monitored. The cap is essentially a placeholder in case the ISP needs to enforce data limits in the future. [...] BroadbandNow excluded mobile providers from its list of ISPs with data caps, since caps are nearly universal among cellular companies. The list of 196 providers with caps includes 89 offering fixed wireless service, 45 fiber ISPs, 35 DSL ISPs, 63 cable ISPs, and two satellite providers. Some offer Internet service using more than one technology. Some of the providers are tiny, with territories covering just 100 or a few hundred people.
Transportation

London is Using Optical Illusions To Make Cars Slow Down (fastcompany.com) 174

An anonymous reader shares a report: London has an interesting idea to curb speeding -- magic. The British capital has painted optical illusions on its streets as part of a pilot program to get drivers to slow down, podcast 99% Invisible notes. The idea is both pretty simple and pretty clever: use a little sleight of hand to paint the streets to look like they have speed bumps on them, but don't use finite city resources to actually build speed bumps into the road. The 18-month pilot program was launched in September of last year, according to the BBC, and the city is still determining whether the black-and-white stencils are as effective as actual bumps to deter drivers from exceeding 20mph (as if traffic in London ever goes faster than 20 mph).
Transportation

The No-GPS Road Trip (popularmechanics.com) 276

Ezra Dyer, a reporter at Popular Mechanics, decided to ditch the GPS system he has on his car and the mapping service on his phone to see how hard it could be to go to North Carolina from his home, Louisville, Kentucky. He shares his experience: I begin downtown, by the river. It seems that if I get on 32 East, I can find Route 150 toward Tennessee. It takes about one block for my plan to fall apart. The street I'm on dead-ends and forces me onto a seemingly parallel road that soon wanders off at an angle. I discover that there's the fancy, Kentucky Derby side of Louisville, but also the Thorobred Lounge gentleman's club side. Somehow, I blunder onto Interstate 264, a ring road, where the exit numbers indicate that I'm at least ten miles from where I thought I was. And yet, it works out. See, this is the way you used to do it. You keep driving. I exit for Route 32 and settle in for a long drive east. I aim to make it to Knoxville by dinner without having any real idea of whether that's possible. It doesn't help that my atlas crams all of Kentucky onto two pages, printed with fonts evidently developed by those calligraphers who can write the Magna Carta on a piece of capellini. So I stop at a gas station to buy a local map. There are none to be found, so I pull into the next gas station. Then a third. In my mind's eye, there are metal racks at every gas station, over near the door, stocked with maps. Well, those don't exist anymore. I don't know when they disappeared, but they're gone. "Try Walmart," says one cashier, as if I could find it. About an hour in, I'm in traffic-clogged strip-mall hell, stoplights to the horizon. The upside is that I have no concept of time. Instead of compulsively checking a screen to anguish over my plight, I drive. I'm curiously peaceful. I can't do anything about the traffic, so I exist in it, placid. And eventually it gives way, the stoplights dissipating into lush Kentucky countryside. The Defender is happy to amble along at 55 mph, so amble I do, down to Route 150 toward the Tennessee border. Read the full story here.
Debian

OpenSSL Support In Debian Unstable Drops TLS 1.0/1.1 Support (debian.org) 76

An anonymous reader writes: Debian Linux "sid" is deprecating TLS 1.0 Encryption. A new version of OpenSSL has been uploaded to Debian Linux unstable. This version disables the TLS 1.0 and 1.1 protocol. This currently leaves TLS 1.2 as the only supported SSL/TLS protocol version. This will likely break certain things that for whatever reason still don't support TLS 1.2. I strongly suggest that if it's not supported that you add support for it, or get the other side to add support for it. OpenSSL made a release 5 years ago that supported TLS 1.2. The current support of the server side seems to be around 90%. I hope that by the time Buster releases the support for TLS 1.2 will be high enough that I don't need to enable them again. This move caused some concern among Debian users and sysadmins. If you are running Debian Unstable on server tons of stuff is going to broken cryptographically. Not to mention legacy hardware and firmware that still uses TLS 1.0. On the client side (i.e. your users), you need to use the latest version of a browser such as Chrome/Chromium and Firefox. The Older version of Android (e.g. Android v5.x and earlier) do not support TLS 1.2. You need to use minimum iOS 5 for TLS 1.2 support. Same goes with SMTP/mail servers, desktop email clients, FTP clients and more. All of them using old outdated crypto.

This move will also affect for Android 4.3 users or stock MS-Windows 7/IE users (which has TLS 1.2 switched off in Internet Options.) Not to mention all the mail servers out there running outdated crypto.

Intel

Intel Releases Final Core i9 Specs and Release Dates -- And Threadripper Is Faster (Sometimes) (pcworld.com) 91

On Monday, Intel took the wraps of final details of its Core i9 microprocessors. From a report: Remember that Intel's Core X-series family (also called the Core i9) was announced with several key omissions: namely the clock speeds of the 12-core Core i9-7920X and above, as well as the thermal design power, or TDP. On Monday, Intel filled those in. The 12-core Core i9-7920X launches Aug. 28 while the 14-, 16-, and 18-core Core i9 chips ship on Sept. 25. Perhaps most important, though, is that we now know how fast Intel's Core i9s will run. When Intel inadvertently revealed that its 12-core Core i9-7920X was 2.9-GHz -- slower than the comparable AMD Threadripper -- a subset of the internet had a small freakout. We now know that that will be true for the remaining Core i9s as well, but with a big caveat. Here are the remaining speeds and feeds for the high-end Core i9 chips:
Core i9-7980XE (18 cores, 36 threads): 2.6GHz; Boost, 4.2GHz to 4.4 GHz.
Core i9-7960X (16 cores, 32 threads): 2.8GHz; Boost, 4.2GHz to 4.4 GHz.
Core i9-7940X 14 cores, 28 threads: 3.1GHz; Boost: 4.3GHz to 4.4GHz.
Core i9-7920X (12 cores, 24 threads): 2.9-GHz; Boost: 4.3-GHz to 4.4GHz.

Note that the boost speeds refer to both Intel's Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and 3.0. [...] Essentially, both Intel and AMD can claim the title of fastest processor. Threadripper's base clock speeds are faster, but Intel's boost speeds climb higher than Threadripper can. It's also important to note that while Threadripper consumes 180 watts, even the fastest Core i9 chips Intel has announced have a lower TDP of 165 watts.

Businesses

Netflix's First Takeover: a Comics Firm (bbc.com) 37

Netflix announced today that it is acquiring Mark Millar, a well-known name in the world of comics. As part of the deal, the on-demand streaming company said, it will be creating original movies and TV shows from the content. It's Netflix's first acquisition. From a report: Millarworld, founded by Mark Millar from Coatbridge, includes his portfolio of characters and stories such as Kick-Ass, Kingsman, and Old Man Logan. Mr Millar said he was still "blinking" over the news. He said it was only the third time a comic book purchase on this scale had ever happened, with Warner Bros buying DC Comics in 1968, and Disney buying Marvel in 2009. Mr Millar, who lives in Glasgow, started Millarworld as a creator-owned comic-book company nearly 15 years ago. He runs the company with his wife Lucy Millar. It is the first ever company acquisition in Netflix's history. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Mr Millar said: "I'm so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans. Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn't have a better home."
Cloud

Cisco Meraki Loses Customer Data in Engineering Gaffe (cloudpro.co.uk) 63

Cisco has admitted to losing customer data during a configuration change its enginners applied to its Meraki cloud managed IT service. From a report: Specific data uploaded to Cisco Meraki before 11:20 am PT last Thursday was deleted after engineers created an erroneous policy in a configuration change to its US object storage service, Cisco admitted on Friday. The company did say that the issue has been fixed, and while the error will not affect network operations in most cases, it admitted the faulty policy "but will be an inconvenience as some of your data may have been lost." Cisco hasn't said how many of its 140,000+ Meraki customers have been affected. The deleted data includes custom floor plans, logos, enterprise apps and voicemail greetings found on users' dashboard, systems manager and phones. The engineering team was working over the weekend to find out whether the data can be recovered and potentially build tools so that customers can find out what data has been lost.
Businesses

Amazon Owns a Whole Collection of Secret Brands (qz.com) 110

Mike Murphy, writing for Quartz: After decades of selling products -- and knowing exactly what people are buying, and when they are buying it -- Amazon has started cutting out the middle-man by selling self-produced items. Through its AmazonBasics house brand, it sells all sorts of small items, from iPhone chargers, to batteries, power strips -- even foam rollers, backpacks and washcloths. It's the sort of stuff that you might not be too brand loyal over -- who really minds whether it's a Duracell or a Panasonic battery? Amazon sees that a product is selling well, and may decide to work with manufacturers to make the product itself -- it's a tactic that is already worrying vendors, and can't bode well for partnerships in the long run. But those are the obvious instances. Now, Amazon is selling products across a wide array of categories, using a host of brands that do not exist outside the confines of amazon.com and do not make it clear that they are Amazon-made products. Trawling through over 800 trademarks that Amazon has either been awarded or applied for through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Quartz identified 19 brands that are owned by Amazon and sell products or have product pages on amazon.com: Arabella, for lingerie products; Beauty Bar for cosmetics; Denali for tools; Franklin & Freeman for men's shoes; Happy Belly for fresh food; James & Erin for women's clothing; Lark & Ro for women's clothing; Mae for underwear; Mama Bear for baby products; Myhabit for consumer goods; North Eleven for women's clothing; NuPro for tech accessories; Pike Street for linen; Pinzon (by Amazon) for linen; Scout + Ro for kid's clothing; Single Cow Burger for frozen food; Small Parts for spare parts; Smart is Beautiful for clothing; and Strathwood for furniture.
Businesses

China Built the World's Largest Telescope, But Has No One To Run It (arstechnica.com) 122

An anonymous reader shares a report: China has built a staggeringly large instrument in the remote southern, mountainous region of the country called the Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST. The telescope measures nearly twice as large as the closest comparable facility in the world, the US-operated Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. According to the South China Morning Post, the country is looking for a foreigner to run the observatory because no Chinese astronomer has the experience of running a facility of such size and complexity. The Chinese Academy of Sciences began advertising the position in western journals and job postings in May, but so far there have been no qualified applicants. One reason is that the requirements are fairly strict: The candidate must have at least 20 years of previous experience in the field, and he or she must have taken a leading role in large-scale radio telescope project with extensive managerial experience. The candidate must also hold a professorship, or equally senior position, in a world-class research institute or university. Nick Suntzeff, an astronomer at Texas A&M University who helped lead the discovery of dark energy and is involved with construction of the optical Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile, said there are probably about 40 or so astronomers in the world who would qualify for such a job. Compared to other astronomy disciplines, radio astronomy is a relatively small field. "I am sure they will find someone," he said. "But most astronomers in the United States do not like to work abroad. It was hard to get people to apply to work in La Serena, something I could never understand, considering how beautiful it is and how nice the Chilean people are." Among the western community of astronomers there are also questions about the scientific purpose of the FAST telescope. As part of a recent National Science Foundation review of its facilities, US officials placed the similar Arecibo radio telescope near the bottom of its priorities list.
Australia

Buggy Software Made Us Miss Money Laundering Scam, Says Australian Bank (theregister.co.uk) 57

An anonymous reader shares a report: Australia's Commonwealth Bank has blamed a software update for a money laundering scam that saw criminals send over AU$70m (US$55m) offshore after depositing cash into automatic teller machines. News of the Bank's involvement in the laundering scam broke last week, when Australia's financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC announced that it had found over 53,500 occasions on which the Bank failed to submit reports on transactions over $10,000. All transactions of that value are reportable in Australia, as part of efforts to crimp the black economy, crime and funding of terrorism. The news was not a good look for the Bank (CBA), because most of the cash was deposited into accounts established with fake drivers licences. Worse still is that each failure of this type can attract a fine of AU$18m, leaving CBA open to a sanction that would kill it off. Today the bank has explained the reason for its failure: "a coding error" that saw the ATMs fail to create reports of $10,000+ transactions. The error was introduced in a May 2012 update designed to address other matters, but not repaired until September 2015.
Facebook

Inside the World of Silicon Valley's 'Coasters' -- the Millionaire Engineers Who Get Paid Gobs of Money and Barely Work (businessinsider.com) 226

Business Insider has explored what it calls the "least-secret secret" in the Valley -- "resters and vesters," or "coasters" referring to engineers who get paid big bucks without doing too much work, waiting for their stock to vest. From the report: Engineers can wind up in "rest and vest" jobs in a variety of ways. Manny Medina, the CEO of fast-growing Seattle startup Outreach, has been on all sides of it. He briefly was a coaster himself, and says he saw how Microsoft used it to great effect when he worked for the software giant. He has also tried to lure some "rest and vest" engineers to come work for him at his startup. Medina said he experienced the high-pay, no-work situation early in his career when he was a software engineer in grad school. He finished his project months early, and warned his company he would be leaving after graduation. They kept him on for the remaining months to train others on his software but didn't want him to start a new coding project. His job during those months involved hanging out at the office writing a little documentation and being available to answer questions, he recalls. "My days began at that point at 11 and I took long lunches," he laughs. "They didn't want you to build anything else, because anything you built would be maintained by someone else. But you have to stand by while they bring people up to speed." Years later, he landed at Microsoft and says he saw how Microsoft used high-paying jobs strategically, both within its engineering ranks and with its R&D unit, Microsoft Research. [...] "You keep engineering talent but also you prevent a competitor from having it and that's very valuable," he said. "It's a defensive measure." Another person confirmed the tactic, telling us, "That's Microsoft Research's whole model." At other companies it's less about defense and more about becoming indispensable. For instance, Facebook has a fairly hush bonus program called "discretionary equity" or "DE," said a former Facebook engineer who received it. "DE" is when the company hands an engineer a massive, extra chunk of restricted stock units, worth tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a thank you for a job well done. It also helps keep the person from jumping ship because DE vests over time. These are bonus grants that are signed by top execs, sometimes even CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself. "At Facebook the 'OGs' [Original Gangsters] we know got DE," this former Facebook engineer said. OGs refer to engineers who worked at the company before the IPO. "Their Facebook stock quadruples and they don't leave. They are really good engineers, really indispensable. And then they start to pull 9-5 days," this person said.
Space

SpaceX Releases Animation of Planned Falcon Heavy Launch (gizmodo.com.au) 108

intellitech writes: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently shared a new (and, really freaking cool) animation demonstrating how the company plans to launch the maiden flight of their Falcon Heavy system later this year, which will be the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V used for the moon landings during the Apollo-era. According to Elon Musk's Instragram post, "FH is twice the thrust of the next largest rocket currently flying and ~2/3 thrust of the Saturn V moon rocket." He also reiterates that there's a "lot that can go wrong in the November launch."

Direct link to the YouTube video.

Music

Why Steve Jobs Loved the IPod Shuffle (wired.com) 214

"Right after the keynote in which Steve Jobs introduced the iPod Shuffle, I went backstage with one question in mind: What makes an iPod an iPod?" remembers Steven Levy. mirandakatz writes Apple recently announced that it's officially discontinuing the iPod -- sad news for anyone who'd prefer to not have to lug around an entire phone to listen to music. At Backchannel, Steven Levy offers a requiem... The Shuffle, he writes, was unique in that it was an iPod stripped down to a single basic function -- and, as Steve Jobs told Levy in 2005, it made the perfect [cheap] gift for inculcating young kids in the ways of Apple.

"I will go buy them one of these for 100 bucks apiece," he told Levy, referring to why the Shuffle was an especially appropriate gift for his daughters, six and nine at the time. "They'll probably lose them in 60 days. But they'll get into it this way."

Jobs called the Shuffle "every bit an iPod -- just a different iPod," saying that the definition was simply "a great digital music player." (Though later he'd say that creating a radically smaller Nano was still "a huge bet.") Levy remembers the Shuffle as "one of the company's most fun products ever...stripped down to the one feature I adored," writing that he loved how "algorithmic serendipity" approximated a genius deejay (or "the 'Hand of God' chess move that Deep Blue used to confuse Garry Kasparov into thinking the computer had trespassed into realms formerly limited to brilliant humans.")

I bought my first mp3 player in 2000 -- an Archos Jukebox 6000 which weighed three quarters of a pound. Anyone else have fond memories they want to share about the iPod, the Nano, the Shuffle, your old Newton -- or your own first mp3 player?

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