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Google

Google Tests A Software That Judges Hollywood's Portrayal of Women 312

Slashdot reader theodp writes: Aside from it being hosted in a town without a movie theater, the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival was also unusual in that it required all entrants to submit "film scripts and downloadable versions of the film" for judgment by "the team at Google and USC", apparently part of a larger Google-funded research project with USC Engineering "to develop a computer science tool that could quickly and efficiently assess how women are represented in films"...

Fest reports noted that representatives of Google and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy appeared in a "Reel vs. Real Diversity" panel presentation at the fest, where the importance of diversity and science to President Obama were discussed, and the lack of qualified people to fill 500,000 U.S. tech jobs was blamed in part on how STEM careers have been presented in film and television... In a 2015 report on a Google-sponsored USC Viterbi School of Engineering MacGyver-themed event to promote women in engineering, USC reported that President Obama was kept briefed on efforts to challenge media's stereotypical portrayals of women. As for its own track record, Google recently updated its Diversity page, boasting that "21% of new hires in 2015 were women in tech, compared to 19% of our current population"....

Comment No good-guys here (Score 3, Interesting) 463

Really, nobody comes out of this one looking particularly well.

No Man's Sky is a mediocre, so-so-ish game. If it had been a $25 indie title that slipped out quietly, it would probably have had a pretty decent reception. But it was hyped, by a developer who appears to want to be the second coming of late-career Peter Molyneux, to be a game that was both fundamentally different to and better than the game that was actually released.

But the people asking for refunds after putting a serious amount of time into the game are also kinda jerks. Digital-purchase refunds have come on a long way in the last couple of years. Weirdly, we have EA to thank for this, as they were the first major party to take the plunge on it, via Origin (hey, credit where it's due). But refund policies set sensible limits. If you've put double-digit hours into a game before deciding you want a refund, you are probably doing something wrong. What's more, the gap between expectations and reality with No Man's Sky was widely known within 24 hours of release. If you got stung because you pre-ordered... then for the love of all that is holy, stop pre-ordering.

And a special de-merit here for much of the gaming media. Quite a few outlets have put more time into defending Hello Games, because gamers are angry with them (boo! hiss! angry gamers! they must all be sexists!) than they have taking them to task for some seriously deceptive marketing.

I did buy it myself. A week or so after launch (so I knew full well what it was like), I managed to get a fairly cheap PC code via cdkeys.com. At the greatly discounted price I paid, the game is more or less worth the money. I put 12 hours or so into it before I got bored and moved on. Mods might add some value to it in time. But I don't feel the need for a refund.

Microsoft

Apple, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft Sign White House Pledge For Equal Pay (fortune.com) 294

In honor of Women's Equality Day, an anonymous reader shares with us a festive report from Fortune: More than two months after the White House first announced its Equal Pay Pledge for the private sector, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and other major industry players have signed on. By taking the pledge, which was first introduced at the United State of Women Summit in June of this year, companies promise to help close the national gender pay gap, conduct annual, company-wide pay analyses, and review hiring and promotion practices. The new signees were announced in a White House statement on Friday -- which also happens to be Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Apple, which announced earlier this year that it has no pay gap, released a statement promising to dig even deeper into compensation. "We're now analyzing the salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all our employees worldwide. If a gap exists, we'll address it," the company said in a statement. Twenty-nine companies signed the pledge on Friday, bringing the total number of signatories to 57. The pledge is part of a $50-million, White House-led initiative to expand opportunities for and improve the lives of women and girls. The consortium members issued a statement via Whitehouse.gov's press release: "The Employers for Pay Equity consortium is comprised of companies that understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, including ensuring that all individuals are compensated equitably for equal work and experience and have an equal opportunity to contribute and advance in the workplace. We are committed to collaborating to eliminate the national pay and leadership gaps for women and ethic minorities. Toward that end, we have come together to share best practices in compensation, hiring, promotion, and career development as well as develop strategies to support other companies' efforts in this regard. By doing so, we believe we can have a positive effect on our workforces that, in turn, makes our companies stronger and delivers positive economic impact." The consortium members include: Accenture, Airbnb, BCG, Care.com, CEB, Cisco, Deloitte, Dow, Expedia, EY, Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Jet.com, L'Oreal USA, Mercer, PepsiCo, Pinterest, Rebecca Minkoff, Salesforce, Spotify, Staples, Stella McCartney, and Visa.
Communications

Twitter Is Working On Anti-Harassment Keyword Filtering Tool, Says Report (bloomberg.com) 200

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made it a top priority for company to limit hateful conduct. In late December 2015, for example, the company changed its rules to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time. A new report says Twitter is working to further curb the rise of hateful conduct as it is "working on a keyword-based tool that will let people filter the posts they see, giving users a more effective way to block out harassing and offensive tweets." Bloomberg reports: "The San Francisco-based company has been discussing how to implement the tool for about a year as it seeks to stem abuse on the site, said the people [familiar with the matter], who asked not to be identified because the initiative isn't public. By using keywords, users could block swear words or racial slurs, for example, to screen out offenders. The filtering tool could eventually become a moderator for any kind of content, the people said. For example, users could block a hashtag about an event they don't care to read about."

Comment Yes, for now... (Score 4, Interesting) 382

I have a BD-RE drive in my home desktop. It doesn't get much use, to be honest, but I'm not quite ready to make the jump away from having an optical drive just yet.

I've got a bunch of old backups still on optical discs; everything from CD-Rs to Blu-Rays. Admittedly, this is only low priority "nice to have" stuff. Anything it would actually hurt me if I lost (which is only a couple of hundred megs of data when I get right down to it) is backed up by other, more reliable methods.

I do still have a handful of games on disc that I never bought . Some of these I'm clearly never going to play again and could easily throw out, but there are a couple, such as Warcraft 3, that I'd still like the option to play from time to time.

I will (very occasionally) watch a DVD or Blu-Ray movie on my PC rather than TV. This is particularly true in the summer months; my living room, where the TV lives, can get brutally hot, while my study, where the desktop lives, is cool and shady.

In addition to the above, while boot-from-USB is a lot more reliable than it used to be, I've still had more issues with it than boot-from-optical-disc. So I still like to have an optical drive for those occasions when I need to boot from external media.

Science

Bill Nye Explains That the Flooding In Louisiana Is the Result of Climate Change (qz.com) 446

Reader mspohr writes: Our favorite science guy has an interview (and video) in Quartz where he explains how Louisiana flooding is due to climate change:
"As the ocean gets warmer, which it is getting, it expands," Nye explained. "Molecules spread apart, and then as the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates, and so it's very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects."
The article also notes that a National Academy of Sciences issued a report with the same findings: "Scientists from around the world have concurred with Nye that this is exactly what the effects of climate change look like, and that disasters like the Louisiana floods are going to happen more and more. According to a National Academy of Sciences report published earlier this year, extreme flooding can be traced directly to human-induced global warming. As the atmosphere warms, it retains more moisture, leading to bouts of sustained, heavy precipitation that can cause floods."

Comment Re:Disgaea? (Score 2) 125

The general trend is accelerating. Small and medium sized Japanese developers are increasingly seeing Steam as a core part of their strategy (and the bigger ones that have held out are starting to crumble on the issue). Nippon Ichi and Compile Heart increasingly release PC ports of their games a month or two after the console version (and the gap is shrinking). Sega are busily porting their back-catalogue to PC.

I think the driver is that these companies are increasingly struggling to sell to a global audience via traditional physical disk channels. They tend to work on the basis of a relatively small but highly loyal customer base, which is fine so far as it goes, but doesn't help in a world of escalating development and distribution costs. For a while, they went for an increasingly Japan-only strategy (and fewer of their games came out in the West), but that's not going to be viable in the long term, with Japan's stagnant economy and birth-rates.

Steam is a relatively cheap and easy way for them to get access to a global market. The cynic in me also suspects that Valve's (much) lower certification requirements compared to MS/Sony/Nintendo and the PC community's general willingness to fix shoddy ports might help, as it cuts down on QA costs.

Power

New Mexico Nuclear Accident Ranks Among the Costliest In US History (latimes.com) 320

mdsolar quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations. The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department's credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste. But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. The Feb. 14, 2014, accident is also complicating cleanup programs at about a dozen current and former nuclear weapons sites across the U.S. Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for the dump are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere, state officials said in interviews. "The direct cost of the cleanup is now $640 million, based on a contract modification made last month with Nuclear Waste Partnership that increased the cost from $1.3 billion to nearly $2 billion," reports Los Angeles Times. "The cost-plus contract leaves open the possibility of even higher costs as repairs continue. And it does not include the complete replacement of the contaminated ventilation system or any future costs of operating the mine longer than originally planned."
Bitcoin

'SingularDTV' Will Use Ethereum For DRM On A Sci-Fi TV Show (rocknerd.co.uk) 78

It's "an epic sci-fi adventure about the human race's journey into a theoretical technological Singularity." Or is it an "entertainment industry boondoggle...part DRM snake oil marketing, part pseudo-Bitcoin scam and part sincere Singularitarian weirdness?" Long-term Slashdot reader David Gerard writes: SingularDTV is an exciting new blockchain-based entertainment industry startup. Their plan is to adapt the DRM that made $121.54 for Imogen Heap, make their own completely pre-mined altcoin and use that to somehow sell two million views of a sci-fi TV show about the Singularity. Using CODE, which is explicitly modeled on The DAO ... which spectacularly imploded days after its launch. There's a white paper [PDF], but here's an analysis of why these schemes are a terrible idea for musicians.
'Singular' will be a one-hour adventure/drama "that explores the impact technology will have on the future of our planet and how it will shape the evolution of our human race," set in the years 2021 to 2045, "as an unprecedented technological revolution sweeps over the world..."
Twitter

Twitter Announces New Blocking and Filtering Features (wired.co.uk) 118

Twitter just began rolling out "new ways to control your experience," promising the two new features "will give you more control over what you see and who you interact with on Twitter." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Wired UK: First up, notification settings will allow those using Twitter on the web or on desktop to limit the notifications they receive for @ mentions, RTs, and other interactions to just be from people they follow. The feature can be turned on through the notifications tab. Twitter is also expanding its quality filter -- also accessible through notifications. "When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior," the company's product manager Emil Leong said in a blog post.

In December 2015, the company changed its rules to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time, while back in February last year, Twitter's then-CEO Dick Costolo admitted the network needed to improve how it handled trolls and abuse. In a leaked memo he said: "I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing."

Meanwhile, the Twitter account of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales was hacked on Saturday.
Earth

Every Month This Year Has Been the Hottest In Recorded History (vice.com) 412

Slashdot reader iONiUM quotes an article from Vice that calls attention to the fact that record-setting temperatures in July are just part of the story: On Wednesday, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that July was the hottest month ever recorded on our planet, since modern record-keeping began in 1880. NASA has reached the same conclusion. July smashed all previous records... "We should be absolutely concerned," [NOAA climatologist] Sanchez-Lugo said. "We need to look at ways to adapt and mitigate. If we don't, temperatures will continue to increase"...

But the truth is that record-breaking temperatures, month after month, year after year, are starting to look less like an exception, more like the norm.

In fact, CityLab reports that the earth has now experienced 14 consecutive months of unprecedented hotness. Although July stands out, Vice notes that "each consecutive month in 2016 has broken its own previous record (May was the hottest May, April the hottest April, etc.)..."

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