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Businesses

Disney IT Workers Allege Conspiracy In Layoffs, File Lawsuits (computerworld.com) 243

dcblogs writes with the latest in the laid off Disney IT worker saga. According to ComputerWorld: "Disney IT workers laid off a year ago this month are now accusing the company and the outsourcing firms it hired of engaging in a 'conspiracy to displace U.S. workers.' The allegations are part of two lawsuits filed in federal court in Florida on Monday. Between 200 and 300 Disney IT workers were laid off in January 2015. Some of the workers had to train their foreign replacements — workers on H-1B visas — as a condition of severance. The lawsuits represent what may be a new approach in the attack on the use of H-1B workers to replace U.S. workers. They allege violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), claiming that the nature of the employment of the H-1B workers was misrepresented, and that Disney and the contractors knew the ultimate intent was to replace U.S. workers with lower paid H-1B workers."
Transportation

San Francisco's Yellow Cab Files For Bankruptcy (cnn.com) 113

Applehu Akbar writes: Yellow Cab Cooperative, the largest taxi company in San Francisco, has filed Chapter 11. While competition from those newfangled ride-sharing services is a natural target for blame, a more proximate cause is Yellow Cab losing an $8 million accident liability suit by a passenger who is now paralyzed. Apparently the Yellow Cab drivers are...registered as independent contractors. So much for the medallion cab argument that they offer superior liability coverage.
Facebook

Facebook Building World's 'Most Advanced' Data Center In Irish Village (thestack.com) 60

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced it is building a new data center in Clonee, Ireland, a small village close to Dublin. The facility, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims will be one of the "most advanced and energy efficient data centers in the world," will be the social network's second outside of the U.S., and its sixth globally. The new center will be located just a 30-minute drive from Facebook's international headquarters in the country's capital. It is expected to cost €200 million and employ around 2,000 people during the construction phase. The company hopes to open the facility in early 2018.
Businesses

Uber's Short-lived Helicopter Service In Utah Grounded (ksl.com) 81

New submitter captaindomon writes: It may come as no surprise that the Uber helicopter flights which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival were apparently illegal and quickly grounded. "Thanks to the support and partnership we have with Sundance and Park City Municipal Corporation, we were able to come to an agreement," said Summit County spokeswoman Katie Mullaly. "We are glad to have this issue resolved, not only for the safety of all those involved, but also for the wildlife of the area, affected residents and environmental concerns."
Businesses

Apple To Launch First European Development Center (thestack.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced plans to launch its first iOS app development center in Europe. The location will be in Naples, Italy, with the center aiming to teach youngsters how to code. The announcement was made 21 January and explained how the center would provide students (children and young adults) the practical skills and training required for developing iOS apps for "the world's most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem". The center will support teachers and provide a specialized curriculum that will prepare the youths to be a part of Apple's developer community.
Businesses

A.I. Startups Building Bots For Businesses (xconomy.com) 25

gthuang88 writes: Virtual digital assistants are gaining popularity with the rise of Siri, Google Now, and Facebook's M service. Now startups are using related artificial intelligence techniques to solve business problems. Talla is building an interactive bot on Slack and HipChat for handling workflows in recruiting and human resources. The software uses natural language processing, word vectors, and some deep learning. Other startups, such as Gamalon, DataRobot, and Sentenai, are focused on probabilistic programming, data science, and machine learning for the Internet of things. Working with private data sets and business apps could help these startups avoid competing with the big players, at least for now.
Businesses

Docker Moves Beyond Containers With Unikernel Systems Purchase (thenewstack.io) 69

joabj writes: Earlier today, Docker announced that it had purchased the Cambridge, U.K.-based Unikernel Systems, makers of the OCaml-based MirageOS, a unikernel or "virtual library-based operating system." Unikernels go beyond containers in stripping virtualization down to the bare essentials in that they only include the specific OS functionality that the application actually needs. Their design builds on decades of research into modular OS design. Although unikernels can be complex to deploy for developers, Docker aims to make the process as standardized as possible, for easier deployment.
Spam

E-Mail Spam Goes Artisanal (bloomberg.com) 68

An anonymous reader writes: Spam filters have come a long way over the past two decades — but spammers have, too. Though email providers are better than ever at blocking spam, it's still big business, with a lot of money to be made. Security researchers are seeing a new trend in spam: less volume, and better targeting. The article mentions "snowshoe" attacks, which occupy the middle ground between massive spam campaigns and tiny phishing attacks. "Craig Williams, a senior manager at Talos, said the amount of snowshoe spam has more than doubled in the past two years and now accounts for more than 15 percent of all junk messages distributed globally." Security researchers have been pushing for a unified registry to help deal with these mid-range spammers, but it's hard to get a significant portion of providers on the same page, particularly when many are fond of running their own solutions.
Advertising

Adblock Plus Blocked From Attending Online Ad Industry's Big Annual Conference (arstechnica.co.uk) 442

An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has been uninvited to the upcoming IAB Leadership Summit and is having its registration fee refunded. The company was informed of the cancellation in an email with little explanation. A company blog post reads in part: "Unfortunately, the top brass at the US IAB don't want us coming to their Leadership Summit next week in Palm Desert, California. We attended last year, and we signed up again for their 2016 meeting including paying the hefty entrance fee. We were fully confirmed and they even listed us on their website as a participant. Then this week we got one of those sudden emails that land in your inbox innocently, then floor you with something weird, unbelievable or ridiculous when you click on them. This one came from an unfamiliar IAB address, and it informed us that our registration for the summit was canceled and our fee refunded."
Youtube

Pakistan Lifts 3-Year Ban On YouTube, Allows Local Version (go.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: Pakistan has allowed access to a localized version of the video sharing website YouTube on company assurances that country-specific filters would be added to remove objectionable content. ABC reports: " Pakistan banned YouTube under a court order in September 2012 for carrying a controversial made-in-America movie trailer that sparked deadly protests across the Muslim world. The movie 'Innocence of Muslims' was considered blasphemous and derogatory to Islam for its portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. Some of the most intense protests erupted in Pakistan, where the role of Islam in society is sacrosanct and anti-American sentiment runs high. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority spokesman Khurram Mehran says all the instructions were given and the website was accessible across the country on Monday."
Businesses

Before I Can Fix This Tractor, We Have To Fix Copyright Law (slate.com) 279

Gr8Apes writes: How many people does it take to fix a tractor? When the repair involves a tractor's computer, it actually takes an army of copyright lawyers, dozens of representatives from U.S. government agencies, an official hearing, hundreds of pages of legal briefs, and nearly a year of waiting. Waiting for the Copyright Office to make a decision about whether people like me can repair, modify, or hack their own stuff. why do people need to ask permission to fix a tractor in the first place? It's required under the anti-circumvention section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Even unlocking your cellphone required an act of Congress to make it legal.
Transportation

Opel Dealers Accused of Modyfing the Software of Polluting Cars (deredactie.be) 147

An anonymous reader writes: Belgian public broadcasting station VRT has discovered that GM Opel dealerships in Belgium seem to be updating engine management code when Zafira cars equipped with the 1.6 litre CDTI diesel engine are brought in for service. After the software change, the nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions drop sharply, at the cost of reduced power output. Bern University of Applied Sciences and environmental lobby club DUH previously found this model to pass European emissions standards only when the rear wheels are not rotating. When the rear wheels are made to spin along, NOx emissions increase to several times the limit set by European regulations. General Motors denied using defeat devices as well as the update program that seems to be taking place. However, an anonymous mechanic at an Opel dealership states that GM started pushing updates shortly after the Dieselgate scandal broke.
Businesses

Apple Releases 2015 EEO-1 Diversity Data Over Weekend (qz.com) 112

theodp writes: Just days after it came under fire for dismissing a call for diversity as "unduly burdensome and not necessary," Apple quietly released its 2015 EEO-1 diversity report (dated 10/6/2015, reflects the 8/1 payroll). Like other tech companies' diversity disclosures, Apple's EEO-1 raw numbers can't really be reconciled to the percentages based on undisclosed raw numbers that grace the infographic-heavy diversity progress narrative CEO Tim Cook spoke to last August. As to why they keep two sets of diversity books, Apple explains, "The EEO-1 has not kept pace with changes in industry or the American workforce over the past half century. We believe the information we report elsewhere on this site is a far more accurate reflection of our progress toward diversity." Taking this stance allows Apple CEO Tim Cook to boast that "in the United States, we hired more than 2,200 Black employees — a 50 percent increase over last year," while ignoring Apple's EEO-1 report, which indicates that Black employees showed a year-over-year net increase of only 1,475 employees and accounted for only 1.9% of the 4,333 YOY net increase in "Professionals" at Apple (White employees accounted for 50.6%, Asian for 42.1%). If you want to check the math, Apple's EEO-1 data (typed in from the content-copy-not-allowed 2015 and 2014 PDFs) and additional charts can be found in this Tableau workbook.
Businesses

Whatsapp Will Become Free, Companies Can Pay To Reach Users (nytimes.com) 92

speedplane writes: The popular messaging service Whatsapp will soon become free (they previously charged $0.99 per year after the first). The troubling news is that to compensate for the lost revenue, companies will now be able to pay to contact users directly. "[Whatsapp founder] Mr. Koum said that his team was still experimenting with how such services could work, and that many companies were already using the messaging service, particularly in developing countries, to connect with mobile-savvy customers." If this smells like advertising, Whatsapp vehemently disagrees. A portion of their statement reads: "...people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no."
Ubuntu

AT&T Chooses Ubuntu Linux Instead of Microsoft Windows (betanews.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: one of the largest cellular providers is the venerable AT&T. While it sells many Linux-powered Android devices, it is now embracing the open source kernel in a new way. You see, the company has partnered with Canonical to utilize Ubuntu for cloud, network, and enterprise applications. That's right, AT&T did not choose Microsoft's Windows when exploring options. Canonical will provide continued engineering support too.

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