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Submission + - Companies Finding It Harder To Conceal H1-B Abuses (nytimes.com)

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: In America, it's common practice to make severance pay for laid-off workers contingent on signing a "nondisparagement clause" that prohibits workers from ever speaking ill of their former employers. But as more and more layoffs are precipitated by illegal practices like hiring H1B visa-holders and forcing existing workers to train them as a condition of severance bonuses, workers are growing bolder and refusing to sign gag-clauses — or breaking them and daring their former employers to sue. Marco Peña was among about 150 technology workers who were laid off in April by Abbott Laboratories, but he decided not to sign the agreement that was given to all departing employees, which included a nondisparagement clause. Mr. Peña said his choice cost him at least $10,000 in severance pay. “I just didn’t feel right about signing,” Mr. Peña said. “The clauses were pretty blanket. I felt like they were eroding my rights," he revealed in an expose by the New York Times.

Submission + - Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History (cnn.com) 17

An anonymous reader writes: From CNN:

"Fifty people were killed inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and other officials said Sunday morning, just hours after a shooter opened fire in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. At least 53 more people were injured, Mina said. Police have shot and killed the gunman, he told reporters.

The shooter is not from the Orlando area, Mina said. He has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando, two law enforcement officials tell CNN.
Orlando authorities said they consider the violence an act of domestic terror. The FBI is involved. While investigators are exploring all angles, they "have suggestions the individual has leanings towards (Islamic terrorism), but right now we can't say definitely," said Ron Hopper, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Orlando bureau."

Submission + - The Rise of Mostly-Autonomous Systems and Employment of the Future

HughPickens.com writes: Yoav Hollander has an interesting post at The Foretellix Blog about the rise of mostly-autonomous systems (MOAS), systems which are normally autonomous, but still have “operators standing by” for the infrequent-but-crucial moments when they are needed. According to Hollander, the main reason we will have mostly autonomous systems in the future is that it is much, much, much easier to automate (and verify) 97% of the required behavior than it is to automate 100%. Full autonomy is perhaps possible, but is really hard and some claim completely autonomous systems will never be achieved, percisely because of these rare-but-hard-to-handle cases. Even if it can be achieved eventually, economics and common-sense dictate that we’ll first go through this mostly-autonomous stage. Some examples of mostly-autonomous systems already in use or development include airline pilots, automated answering services, chatbots, autonomous vehicles, and military robots. For example, Everybody and their brother are now creating chatbots based on machine learning (ML), which help in scheduling, pizza ordering and so on. "In the past two years, companies offering do-anything concierges (Magic, Facebook’s M, GoButler); shopping assistants (Operator, Mezi); and e-mail schedulers (X.ai, Clara) have sprung up. The goal for most of these businesses is to require as few humans as possible. People are expensive. They don’t scale. They need health insurance. But for now, the companies are largely powered by people, clicking behind the curtain and making it look like magic."

What are the implications for MOAS on future employment? According to Hollander, there will be new occupations but they will not compensate for all the jobs lost to automation and one of the main new jobs will be “operators of mostly-autonomous systems." As a concrete example, consider the future Assistive-Robots-R-Us corporation (motto: “Making the elderly and the disabled independent again”). They rent their robots for a weekly fee, and their sales guy swears on a stack of bibles that by golly, when an emergency occurs and a remote operator needs to take control, an operator will absolutely be there in A-R-R-U’s headquarters, ready and able to assist. In fact, this is why A-R-R-U is so popular: people trust it, A-R-R-U's MOAS operators will be smart problem solvers: This is probably not going to be a low-paid, simple job – all the simple stuff will be automated away. "The typical MOAS operator will be a smart, interdisciplinary problem solver – she gets all the odd situations, and is measured on customer satisfaction and avoidance of bad outcomes."

Submission + - Are Major Domains In Genuine Decline Or Going To Walled Gardens?

An anonymous reader writes: A look at the last 12 months of traffic performance shows a number of the internet's most popular domains taking a drastic fall in traffic. Sites including Wired, Forbes, The Wall St Journal, Buzzfeed and Time seems to be in freefall. But is the truth that meaningful publicly available statistics about a venture's reach are actually in decline, as sites exit traditional net-metrics for the walled gardens of bespoke apps and the hard-to-quantify reach created by direct content on social networks?

Submission + - NASA funding ICE concept to explore the oceans on Enceladus (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: While NASA is firmly fixed on Mars as one of the places in the solar system where life might be discovered, the space agency is already looking at some of the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn as alternate venues of alien life. Europa, orbiting Jupiter, and Enceladus, orbiting Saturn, have ice crusts surrounding oceans, warmed by tidal forces from their home planets, that might harbor life. NASA has already manifested a mission to Europa to take place in the early 2020s. Motherboard noted that a project being funded by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NAIC) is developing a way to penetrate the ice crust to access the warm water ocean of Enceladus.

Submission + - Top 10 Web Hacking Techniques Of 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Now in its tenth year, the Top 10 List of Web Hacking Techniques takes a step back from the implications of an attack to understand how they happen. The list is chosen by the security research community, coordinated by WhiteHat Security. SSL/TLS remains one of the key targets for emerging hacking techniques.
Security

Submission + - Major Facebook Security Hole Discovered 2

adeelarshad82 writes: A major security hole in Facebook has been discovered. Ironically, the source of this vulnerability is Facebook's own much-vaunted security "improvements." A video shows how you can view pending friend requests and chat history for any of your friends. Facebook Chat is down at the moment (coincidence? probably not). Unfortunately this isn't the only security hole in Facebook, another one was recently discovered which lets you retrieve the full name and Facebook URL for any account holder, given nothing but the Facebook ID number.
Education

Submission + - More Professors Ban Laptops in the Lecture Hall 1

Pickens writes: "The Washington Post reports that professors have banned laptops from their classrooms at George Washington University, American University, the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia, among many others compelling students to take notes the way their parents did: on paper. "This is like putting on every student's desk, when you walk into class, five different magazines, several television shows, some shopping opportunities and a phone, and saying, 'Look, if your mind wanders, feel free to pick any of these up and go with it,' " says David Cole at Georgetown Law who was among the first professors in the Washington region to ban laptops for most of his students. A generation ago, academia embraced the laptop as the most welcome classroom innovation since the ballpoint pen but during the past decade, it has evolved into a powerful distraction as wireless Internet connections tempt students away from note-typing to e-mail, blogs, YouTube videos, sports scores, even online gaming — all the diversions of a home computer beamed into the classroom to compete with the professor for the student's attention. Even when used as glorified typewriters, laptops can turn students into witless stenographers, typing a lecture verbatim without listening or understanding. "The breaking point for me was when I asked a student to comment on an issue, and he said, 'Wait a minute, I want to open my computer,' " says David Goldfrank, a Georgetown history professor. "And I told him, 'I don't want to know what's in your computer. I want to know what's in your head.' " Not all students agree with the ban. "The fact that some students misuse technology is no reason to ban it," writes Leslie Gehring in the student newspaper at the University of Denver. "After all, how many professors ban pens and notebooks after noticing students doodling in the margins?""
Businesses

Submission + - US Gamers Spend $3.8 Billion on MMOs Yearly (gamesindustry.com)

eldavojohn writes: A new report from Games Industry indicates that gamers in the United States paid $3.8 billion last year with an analysis of five European countries bringing the total close to $4.5 billion USD for the whole study. In America, the report estimated that boxed content or client download payment amounted to a measly four hundred million while the subscriptions came to $2.38 billion. Hopefully that will fund some developer budgets for bigger and better MMOs yet to come. Surely MMOs are shaping up to be a juicy industry and market for games aimed to satisfy people of all walks of life.
Idle

Submission + - SPAM: Barbie gets a new job as an IT engineer

ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes: Well, well. Look who's become a nerd? Toy maker Mattel has given Barbie, an iconic fashion doll since 1959, a new career, this time as a computer engineer. For the first time, the company took an online vote, asking people to select the Barbie doll's 125th career by choosing between architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor or surgeon. And voters chose the high-tech job.
Link to Original Source
Government

Submission + - France on the verge of Internet censorship (computerworlduk.com)

superapecommando writes: French lawmakers voted Tuesday to approve a draft law to filter Internet traffic, a measure the government says is intended to catch child pornographers. The bill will now go on for a second and final reading.
Critics of the catch-all "Bill on direction and planning for the performance of domestic security" say that filtering won't stop the spread of child pornography, but could allow the government to censor other materials.

Programming

Submission + - Programmers Just Don't Learn To Handle Their Ego (techsociotech.com)

Linux Ate My Dog! writes: For better or for worse, the web has transitioned from a system made by software engineers joined by a neglected user interface pro tinkering with page layouts, to one where teams of coders, Interaction Designers, and Graphic Designers work together to create rich interactive experiences. I have transitioned with it, from the software cubicles to the Digital Agency, and working with Graphic Designers I noticed something interesting: they handle critiques of their design much better than programmers do of their code, and I think it is because of what they go through during their training. During crunch time nobody cares what code looks like internally, just that it passes acceptance tests, so we get very ego-invested in how save the world from missing our deadline. While there are strategies to handle ego-investment, and pair-programming does force us to review the internals of code and architecture more these days, is there actual planned systematic review of your code? How do you handle criticism and praise for your lines?
Security

Submission + - Google and NSA teaming up (washingtonpost.com) 1

i_frame writes: The Washington Post reports that "Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google — and its users — from future attack."
Censorship

Submission + - Google Refuses to Remove Offensive Image (pcpro.co.uk)

eldavojohn writes: A ridiculously tasteless image of the First Lady of the United States is the first result when one searches for images of her on the popular search engine Google. The image depicts her face morphed into a chimpanzee. Above that (where you'd normally see a Google Ad) is a link to a prepared statement indicating results can be offensive and they will not de-index the image.

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