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Google

Engineers On Google's Self-Driving Car Project Were Paid So Much That They Quit (theverge.com) 95

According to a new report from Bloomberg, most of the money Google spent on it self-driving car project, now spun off into a new entity called Waymo, has gone to engineers and other staff. While it has helped retain a lot of influential and dedicated workers in the short run, it has resulted in many staffers leaving the company in the long run due to the immense financial security. The Verge reports: Bloomberg says that early staffers "had an unusual compensation system" that multiplied staffers salaries and bonuses based on the performance of the self-driving project. The payments accumulated as milestones were reached, even though Waymo remains years away from generating revenue. One staffer eventually "had a multiplier of 16 applied to bonuses and equity amassed over four years." The huge amounts of compensation worked -- for a while. But eventually, it gave many staffers such financial security that they were willing to leave the cuddly confines of Google. Two staffers that Bloomberg spoke to called it "F-you money," and the accumulated cash allowed them to depart Google for other firms, including Chris Urmson who co-founded a startup with ex-Tesla employee Sterling Anderson, and others who founded a self-driving truck company called Otto which was purchased by Uber last year, and another who founded Argo AI which received a $1 billion investment from Ford last week.
Youtube

YouTube's $1 Billion Royalties Are Not Enough, Says Music Industry (bbc.com) 220

YouTube said Tuesday that it has paid the music industry over one billion dollars in advertising revenue in the past 12 months. The music industry thinks that sum is not enough. From a report on BBC: "Google has issued more unexplained numbers on what it claims YouTube pays the music industry," said a spokesperson for the global music body, the IFPI. "The announcement gives little reason to celebrate, however. With 800 million music users worldwide, YouTube is generating revenues of just over $1 per user for the entire year. "This pales in comparison to the revenue generated by other services, ranging from Apple to Deezer to Spotify. For example, in 2015 Spotify alone paid record labels some $2bn, equivalent to an estimated $18 per user." In his blog post, Mr Kyncl conceded that the current model was not perfect, arguing: "There is a lot of work that must be done by YouTube and the industry as a whole. "But we are excited to see the momentum," he added.
Movies

Netflix Now Only Has 31 Movies From IMDB's Top 250 List (streamingobserver.com) 181

According to Streaming Observer News, the quality and quantity of Netflix's movie library has declined over the last two years when cross-referenced with IMDB's Top 250 movies list. From the report: Well, it's a pretty common fact at this point that Netflix's library is shrinking. Of course, what Netflix needs to do as it shrinks its licensed movie library is make sure that movies it does have are good ones. But according to our analysis, it's going backwards, unfortunately. A while back we noticed a post from this Reddit member who, two years ago, cross-referenced the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) top 250 movies list with Netflix's movie library to find out how many of the top movies Netflix carried. When u/clayton_frisbie posted his list on Reddit, Netflix had 49 of the Top 250 movies on the IMDB list. That's just under 20 percent, which isn't terrible. But we wondered how that number has held up over the last two years in the face of a quickly shrinking library. So we reran the analysis. How many of the top 250 movies does Netflix now have? As of September 2016, that number has dropped to 31, or about 12 percent. [You can view the list via Streaming Observer News.]
Government

FCC Official Asks Agency To Investigate Ban On Journalists' Wi-Fi Personal Hotspots At Debate (arstechnica.com) 176

Yesterday, it was reported that journalists attending the presidential debate at Hofstra University were banned from using personal hotspots and were told they had to pay $200 to access the event's Wi-Fi. The journalists were reportedly offered the option to either turn off their personal hotspots or leave the debate. Cyrus Farivar via Ars Technica is now reporting that "one of the members of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, has asked the agency to investigate the Monday evening ban." Ars Technica reports: Earlier, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted, saying that something was "not right" with what Hofstra did. She cited an August 2015 order from the FCC, forcing a company called SmartCity to no longer engage in Wi-Fi blocking and to pay $750,000. Ars has since updated their report with a statement from Karla Schuster, a spokeswoman for Hofstra University: The Commission on Presidential Debates sets the criteria for services and requires that a completely separate network from the University's network be built to support the media and journalists. This is necessary due to the volume of Wi-Fi activity and the need to avoid interference. The Rate Card fee of $200 for Wi-Fi access is to help defray the costs and the charge for the service does not cover the cost of the buildout. For Wi-Fi to perform optimally the system must be tuned with each access point and antenna. When other Wi-Fi access points are placed within the environment the result is poorer service for all. To avoid unauthorized access points that could interfere, anyone who has a device that emits RF frequency must register the device. Whenever a RF-emitting device was located, the technician notified the individual to visit the RF desk located in the Hall. The CPD RF engineer would determine if the device could broadcast without interference.
Businesses

Walmart Is Cutting 7,000 Jobs Due To Automation (yahoo.com) 256

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: The clairvoyant folks over at the World Economic Forum warned of a "Fourth Industrial Revolution" involving the rise of the machine in the workforce, and the latest company to lend credence to that claim is none other than Walmart, which is planning on cutting 7,000 jobs on account of automation. But the Walmart decision may be a bit more alarming for those in the workforce. As the Wall Street Journal reports (Warning: may be paywalled), the most concerning aspect of America's largest private employer might be that the eliminated positions are largely in the accounting and invoicing sectors of the company. These jobs are typically held by some of the longest tenured employees, who also happen to take home higher hourly wages. Now, those coveted positions are being automated. The Journal reports that beginning in 2017, much of this work will be addressed by "a central office or new money-counting 'cash recycler' machines in stores." Earlier this year, the company tested this change across some 500 locations. "We've seen many make smooth transitions during the pilot," said Deisha Barnett, a Walmart spokeswoman.
Businesses

Apple CEO Tim Cook on EU Apple Tax Case: 'Total Political Crap' (arstechnica.com) 410

Earlier this week, Apple was ordered to pay a record sum of 13 billion euros plus interest after the EU said Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone make's tax bill. At the time, Tim Cook found the accusations "baseless." In a new interview, he had more things to say:A war of words has erupted between Europe's competition chief and Apple CEO Tim Cook after Ireland was ordered to reclaim $14.5 billion in back taxes from the company. Cook, in an interview with the Irish Independent, labelled Brussels' competition chief Margrethe Vestager's decision as "total political crap." He claimed Ireland was being "picked on" and that he hoped to see the Irish government launch an appeal against the ruling. Vestager refuted that claim when quizzed by reporters on Thursday. "This is a decision based on the facts of the case. The figures that we used in our decision are the figures that we got from Apple themselves," she said. "There are very, very few figures in the public domain. More transparency would be a good thing, for example, a country by country reporting. If it was up to me, the non-confidential version of the decision would have been published yesterday, because that is another way of enabling everyone to see what we have decided and on what basis we have made this decision. Right now the ball is in the hands of Apple and Ireland."
Television

Star Trek CBS Series To Be Streamed Internationally On Netflix (variety.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix has announced that it has secured a deal to stream every episode of the new Star Trek TV series within 24 hours of its original network broadcast. However, neither the U.S. nor Canadian subscribers are included in the deal, which otherwise covers every territory that Netflix operates in worldwide. Stateside viewers will be able to stream the new show via CBS's own All Access digital subscription video-on-demand and live streaming service, with Canadian streaming provisions yet to be announced. The deal represents a potential major step forward in the company's determination to bypass regional licensing, and at one stroke eliminates the typical years of delay that occur when a U.S. program seeks foreign audiences.
Transportation

Uber Hires Hackers Who Remotely Killed a Jeep 31

An anonymous reader writes: The past several weeks have been rife with major vulnerabilities in modern cars, but none were so dramatic as when Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek tampered with the systems on a moving Jeep Cherokee. Now, Miller and Valasek have left their jobs to join a research laboratory for Uber. It's the same lab that became home for a number of autonomous vehicle experts poached from Carnegie Mellon University. From the article: "As Uber plunges more deeply into developing or adapting self-driving cars, Miller and Valasek could help the company make that technology more secure. Uber envisions autonomous cars that could someday replace its hundreds of thousands of contract drivers. The San Francisco company has gone to top-tier universities and research centers to build up this capability."
Social Networks

Social Media Is a New Vector For Mass Psychogenic Illness 373

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "There is an interesting read at the Atlantic where Laura Dimon writes that mass psychogenic illness, historically known as "mass hysteria"—is making a comeback and it appears that social media is a new vector for its spread. Mass hysteria such as the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693, the most widely recognized episode of mass hysteria in history, which ultimately saw the hanging deaths of 20 women, spreads through sight and sound, and historically, one person would have to be in the same room as somebody exhibiting symptoms to be at risk of 'catching' the illness. 'Not anymore,' says Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist who has studied over 600 cases of mass hysteria dating back to 1566, noting that social media — 'extensions of our eyes and ears' — speeds and extends the reach of mass hysteria. 'Epidemic hysterias that in earlier periods were self-limited in geography now have free and wide access to the globe in seconds,' says Bartholomew. 'It's a belief, that's the power here, and the technology just amplifies the belief, and helps it spread more readily.' In a recent case, nearly 20 students at a Western New York Junior-Senior High school began experiencing involuntary jerks and tics. Some believe that the Le Roy outbreak was a direct result of videos posted to YouTube by Lori Brownell, a girl with severe tics in Corinth, New York, 250 miles east of Le Roy. The story took off quickly, not just on the local and national news but on Facebook and autism blogs and sites devoted to mental health and environmental issues. Bartholomew warns that there is 'potential for a far greater or global episode, unless we quickly understand how social media is, for the first time, acting as the primary vector or agent of spread for conversion disorder.'"
Data Storage

SSD Prices Fall Dramatically In 2012 But Increase In Q4 77

crookedvulture writes "Solid-state drives became much more affordable in 2012. The median price for 240-256GB models fell by about 44% over the course of the year and now sits around 83 cents per gigabyte. Lower-capacity drives also got cheaper, albeit by smaller margins that kept median prices from dipping below the $1/GB threshold. Surprisingly, most drives actually got more expensive over the fourth quarter, despite Black Friday and other holiday sales. This upswing was driven largely by OCZ's decision to back off its strategy of aggressively discounting drives to gain market share, allowing its rivals to raise prices, as well. Although some new models arrived with next-generation 19- and 20-nm NAND that should be cheaper to produce, those drives didn't debut at lower prices. We may have to wait a while before SSD makers pass the savings along to consumers."
Businesses

Amazon Payment Adds "No Class Action" Language To Terms of Service 147

wbr1 writes "I just received an email from Amazon Payments, the Amazon competitor to PayPal, stating among other things, that they were changing and simplifying their policies. It should be no surprise then, that similar to what PayPal and many others have already done, they have added language removing the right to class action lawsuits. See specifically section 11.3 (edited for brevity): '1.3 Disputes. Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your visit to the Site or Seller Central or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through the Site or Seller Central (including without limitation the Service) will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement... ... You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated, or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You and we also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.' This is becoming more and more common, and while the end user normally doesn't make out well in a class-action suit, large settlements do provide a punishment and deterrent to corporations that abuse their power. The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"
Operating Systems

Kaspersky To Build Secure OS For SCADA Systems 165

Trailrunner7 writes "Attacks against SCADA and industrial-control systems have become a major concern for private companies as well as government agencies, with executives and officials worried about the potential effects of a major compromise. Security experts in some circles have been warning about the possible ramifications of such an attack for some time now, and researchers have found scores of vulnerabilities in SCADA and ICS systems in the last couple of years. Now, engineers at Kaspersky Lab have begun work on new operating system designed to be a secure-by-design environment for the operation of SCADA and ICS systems. 'Well, re-designing ICS applications is not really an option. Again, too long, too pricey and no guarantees it will fit the process without any surprises. At the same time, the crux of the problem can be solved in a different way. OK, here is a vulnerable ICS but it does its job pretty well in controlling the process. We can leave the ICS as is but instead run it in a special environment developed with security in mind! Yes, I'm talking about a highly-tailored secure operating system dedicated to critical infrastructure,' Eugene Kaspersky said in an interview."
The Internet

Why American Internet Service Is Slow and Expensive 351

An anonymous reader writes "Reporter David Cay Johnston was interviewed recently for his new book, which touches on why America's Internet access is slow, expensive, and retarding economic growth. The main reason? Regulatory capture. It seems the telecommunication companies have rewritten the regulatory rules in their favor. In regards to the fees that were meant to build a fast Internet, Johnston speculates those fees went to build out cellular networks. 'The companies essentially have a business model that is antithetical to economic growth,' he says. 'Profits go up if they can provide slow Internet at super high prices.'"
Piracy

New Judge Assigned To Tenenbaum Case Upholds $675k Verdict 312

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In SONY v Tenenbaum, the new District Judge assigned to the case has disagreed with the previous judge, and instead of reducing the $22,500 per file award to $2250 per file, has instead upheld the jury's verdict. The jury initially found defendant Joel Tenenbaum to have 'willfully' infringed the RIAA copyrights by downloading 30 mp3 files which would normally retail for 99 cents each, and awarded the plaintiff record companies $675,000 in 'statutory damages.' Tenenbaum moved to set the verdict aside on both common law remittitur grounds and constitutional due process grounds. Judge Gertner — the District Judge at the time — felt that remittitur would be a futility, and on constitutional grounds reduced the verdict to $2250 per file. The RIAA appealed. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals remanded on the ground that Judge Gertner ought to have decided the question on remittitur grounds and reached the constitutional question prematurely. By the time the case arrived back in District Court, Judge Gertner had retired, and a new judge — Judge Rya Zobel — had been assigned. Judge Zobel denied the remittitur motion. And then Judge Zobel denied the constitutional motion, leaving the larger verdict in place. I think it is reasonable to expect Tenenbaum to appeal this time around."
AT&T

AT&T Defends Controversial FaceTime Policy Following Widespread Backlash 220

zacharye writes "AT&T is wasting no time hitting back at critics of its decision to limit the use of popular video chat app FaceTime over its cellular network to users who sign up for its shared data plans. In a post on the company's official public policy blog on Wednesday, AT&T chief privacy officer Bob Quinn sneered at criticisms that restricting FaceTime over cellular to shared data plans violates the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality rules for wireless networks."

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