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IT

More Than Ever, Employees Want a Say in How Their Companies Are Run (qz.com) 26

Two readers share a report: While workers have traditionally looked to unions to address their grievances, a new generation is trusting in the power of petitions to force changes. At the Wall Street Journal, 160 reporters and editors, delivered a letter to their managers protesting the lack of women and minorities running the organization, Business Insider reported yesterday. "Nearly all the people at high levels at the paper deciding what we cover and how are white men," the letter read. IBM employees are circulating an online petition objecting to the tone of CEO Ginni Rometty's letter to US president Donald Trump, and calling on her affirm what they call the company's progressive values. [...] Other employee petitions call for Oracle to oppose US president Donald Trump's second travel ban, and to let men who work at US regional supermarket Publix grow beards. Employee petitions are now so popular there's a website, coworker.org, devoted to hosting them. In some cases, the campaigns work: Starbuck's relaxed its rules about visible tattoos and unnatural hair color for baristas after thousands signed petitions asking for a change. Sometimes, they fail disastrously. Interns at one (unnamed) company described in a blog about being fired en masse after signing a petition asking for a more relaxed dress code.
Science

The Story of the First Human Head Transplant Won't Die (theoutline.com) 28

Stories about the first human head transplant operation, supposedly coming in December 2017, are circulating again. From a report on the Outline: But despite what you might have read or seen, humanity is not much closer to transplanting a human head to a new body than we were last year. Sorry to disappoint anyone looking to get their head transplanted. The story is based on the work of one man: Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero. Canavero started making headlines in 2013 with ambitious claims about the process he designed for a transplant of a human head -- as in, moving a healthy human head from a subject with an unhealthy body to an otherwise-healthy, brain-dead donor body. Canavero's claims have been alternately regarded as sensationalist, spurious, and ethically murky. Since then, the doctor has periodically resurfaced in the news. Once, when he found a willing patient in Valery Spiridonov, a Russian man with spinal muscular atrophy in the form of Werdnig-Hoffmann disease; other times when he published papers, including two proof-of-principle studies last year as well as articles reviewing preliminary work on animals relating to his proposed procedure. Though published in the internet-only journal Surgical Neurology International, an important distinction here is that none of these actually involve a successful full transplant of any kind despite his claim to have successfully transplanted a monkey's head. The papers addressing work with animals are, broadly speaking, about treating spinal cord injuries and issues.
Microsoft

Xbox One's Faster, Simpler Interface is Now Available To Everyone (engadget.com) 12

Microsoft today announced it is releasing a major update to the Xbox One gaming console. The much-awaited update comes with a few new features and improvements such as Beam, the company's livestreaming client that does similar things as Twitch; and a faster and simpler interface. From a report on Engadget: The March update centers around a redesigned interface that's designed for speed above all else. It's quicker to perform more than a few tasks, such as finding a group to join. The revamped Guide should be much quicker, too -- it promises faster access to recent apps, background music controls and game recording. A few tweaks are designed with multitasking in mind, such as a brand new achievement tracker and a Cortana rework that puts the voice assistant into an overlay that won't disrupt what you're doing.
Science

Playing Tetris Can Reduce Onset of PTSD After Trauma, Study Finds (cnn.com) 54

Reader dryriver writes (slightly edited and condensed): CNN, citing a new study, reports that playing Tetris within hours of a traumatic event can reduce the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: After experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident, people are likely to develop anxiety or distress in relation to that event soon after the experience, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But a new study has shown that playing the computer game Tetris within hours of experiencing trauma can prevent those feelings from taking over your mind.
PTSD occurs when intrusive memories linked to fear from a traumatic event become consolidated in a person's mind by them visualizing the event in a loop until it becomes locked in their brain. Competing with the visualization, such as with a game like Tetris, can block that consolidation form happening. "An intrusive memory is a visual memory of a traumatic event," said Emily Holmes, Professor of Psychology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, whose team led the study. "Tetris also requires imagination and vision. Your brain can't do two things at once, so this interrupts," she added.

Games

One in Five Mobile Phones Shipped Abroad Are Phoney (theregister.co.uk) 29

Nearly one-fifth of mobile phones and one-quarter of video game consoles shipped abroad are fake, according to a report by the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Register adds: The Trade in Counterfeit ICT Goods report, published ahead of the 2017 OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum this month, identified a growing trend in fake goods. Smartphone batteries, chargers, memory cards, magnetic stripe cards, solid state drives and music players are also increasingly falling prey to counterfeiters. On average, 6.5 per cent of global trade in ICT goods is in counterfeit products, according to analysis of 2013 customs data, that is up from 2.5 per cent of overall traded goods found to be fake in a 2016 report. China is the primary source of fake ICT goods, and US manufacturers are the worst affected by lost revenue and erosion of brand value, the report said. Almost 43 per cent of seized fake ICT goods infringe the IP rights of US firms, followed by 25 per cent for Finnish firms and 12 per cent for Japanese firms.
Privacy

Activist Starts a Campaign To Buy and Publish Browsing Histories of Politicians Who Passed Anti-Privacy Law (searchinternethistory.com) 223

On Tuesday, Congress sent proposed legislation to President Trump that wipes away landmark online privacy protections. In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed Internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. Now call it a poetic justice, online privacy activist Adam McElhaney has launched an initiative called Search Internet History, with an objective of raising funds to buy browsing history of each politician and official who voted in favor of S.J.Res 34. On the site, he has also put up a poll asking people whose internet history they would like to see first.

Update: The campaign, which was seeking $10,000, has already raised over $55,000.
Communications

Yes, You've Still Got Mail (recode.net) 98

Veteran technology columnist Walt Mossberg, writes: Like radio, email isn't dying, it's just changing. Over the past decade or so it's become much more like postal mail. It's not the place you expect to find a greeting from a friend or even a timely update from a professional colleague. Instead, it's a mix of junk mail you hate and discard, plus bills and missives from businesses you also hate but can't discard. [...] Still, despite all signs to the contrary -- and many predictions -- email is not dead. In fact, some analyses suggest that it's growing. Few people can afford to be without it. It hasn't expired; it has morphed. There are lots of reasons email persists, even as faster and simpler forms of communication proliferate and your personal communications likely have mostly migrated elsewhere. But one big one is that new types of media channels rarely totally kill off old ones, even though everyone predicts they will. The old ones just adapt and change. Back in the day, television was supposed to kill off radio, but radio gradually saved itself by dropping the programming TV did better (like dramas and variety shows) and starting to focus on playing hit songs and hosting political and sports talk shows. I think something similar is going on with email. Once the king of digital discourse, email has surely been dethroned by an army of alternatives: Vast and numerous messaging services; photo- and video-oriented sharing on social networks or the photo apps of Apple and Google; business tools like Slack. I get the latest pictures of my granddaughter through iCloud photo sharing. I get the latest discussions of how we plan to cover stories on The Verge or Recode through Slack. My editor and I collaboratively edit my stories inside Google Docs. Ten years ago, all those things would have been done via email. Back then, when a reader wanted to tell me I was an idiot (or worse) for something I wrote, I got an email. Now, they tell me on Twitter.
United Kingdom

'No Turning Back' on Brexit as Article 50 Triggered (bbc.com) 388

An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: Britain's departure from the European Union is "an historic moment from which there can be no turning back," Theresa May has told MPs. The prime minister said it was a "unique opportunity" to "shape a brighter future" for the UK. She was speaking after Britain's EU ambassador formally triggered the two year countdown to the UK's exit by handing over a letter in Brussels. It follows June's referendum which resulted in a vote to leave the EU. In a statement in the Commons, the prime minister said: "Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people and it acts too on the clear and convincing position of this House." She added: "The Article 50 process is now under way and in accordance with the wishes of the British people the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union."
Android

Samsung Launches Galaxy S8 Smartphone (cnbc.com) 87

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled the Galaxy S8, its latest flagship smartphone boasting a new voice assistant and larger display as the technology titan looks to steal a march on Apple and regain ground after the embarrassing Note 7 saga. The phone comes in two models with different screen sizes -- the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8 Plus. From a report: Some of the key features of the device include a so-called "infinity display", giving the device a bezel-less curved edge and a 12 megapixel back camera. [...] Samsung also revealed Bixby, a smart voice assistant to rival Apple's Siri. It will be able to answer questions you ask, but Samsung highlighted how it's different. One use case involved taking a picture of a monument and Bixby being able to tell you information about this as well as recommendations of restaurants nearby. The display has a resolution of 2960 x 1440. The Galaxy S8 (both variants) comes powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core SoC (in international markets, Exynos octa-core). Other features include 12MP rear camera, 8MP front-facing camera, 3,000 mAh battery (3,500 mAh battery on Plus model), USB-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water and dust resistance capability, support for wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.0, and support for LTE Cat 16. It runs Android 7.0. Prices are yet to be announced.
Android

What Killed Adobe Flash? (daringfireball.net) 185

An employee, who claims to have worked on the development of Flash, writes: Apparently, the world settled on the "One True Cause" for why Flash "died". Take for example this blogpost by John Gruber about FedEx... it ends with this consideration on Steve Jobs' "Thoughts on Flash": "If it had been an angry rant, it would have been easily dismissed without needing to be factually refuted -- "That's just Jobs being a prick again." The fact that it wasn't angry, and because it was all true, made it impossible to refute."

Impossible to refute. There's no doubt that this was the beginning of the end for Flash, right? Except that this is utterly wrong. I worked on Flash, and I worked on the thing that actually killed Flash. It is my strong belief, based on what I observed, that Steve Jobs' letter had little impact in the final decision -- it was really Adobe who decided to "kill" Flash. Yes, Flash was a bad rap for Adobe, and Steve's letter didn't help. But ultimately, what was probably decisive was the fact that developing Flash cost Adobe a ton of money.
John Gruber, responding to the blogpost: To be clear, I don't think Jobs's letter killed Flash. But I don't think Adobe did either. Eventually Adobe accepted Flash's demise. What killed Flash was Apple's decision not to support it on iOS, combined with iOS's immense popularity and the lucrative demographics of iOS users. If Jobs had never published "Thoughts on Flash", Flash would still be dead. The letter explained the decision, but the decision that mattered was never to support it on iOS in the first place. It's possible that Flash would have died even if Apple had decided to allow it on iOS. Android tried that, and the results were abysmal. Web page scrolling stuttered, and video playback through Flash Player halved battery life compared to non-Flash playback.
Microsoft

Slashdot Asks: Windows 10 Creators Update Goes Live On April 11, Will You Upgrade? 174

Microsoft said today it will start rolling out Windows 10 Creators Update, the latest major update to its current desktop operating system, starting April 11. The company says Windows 10 Creators Update brings with it a range of new features. Some of the chief ones are:

1. Visual previews of tabs in Microsoft Edge.
2. Edge now has built-in support for ebooks.
3. Microsoft Paint now lets people create models in 3D.
4. Picture-in-Picture mode for videos. Essentially you can now have a small window with video playing on it placed on top of any other application.
5. Night Light: A baked in feature in Windows that will allow you to change the color and tone of display so that it doesn't pain your eyes to look at the screen at night.
6. Dynamic Lock: The feature first requires you to pair your phone or tablet with the computer. Once done, it will automatically log you out everytime you're away from desk (or technically speaking, the device is out of the computer's proximity).
7. Native support for surround sound.
8. Ability to scribble and make notes on Microsoft's Maps app.
9. Game mode: It "ensures" your computer is always maximizing its resources for an optimal gaming experience.
10. Built-in support for mixed reality handsets.

Over the past two years, we have seen numerous instances where Microsoft has been pushing Windows 10 update to customers who have Windows 7 or 8 running on their machines. There are still hundreds of millions of customers who're yet to upgrade from Windows 7, arguing that they either prefer how Windows 7 looks and functions, or (in some cases, and) why fix something when nothing is broken. That said, would you consider upgrading your system to Windows 10 Creators Update?
Oracle

Oracle Hires Global Specialists To Explore Feasibility of Buying Accenture 52

Paul Kunert writes in an exclusive report via The Register: Oracle has hired global specialists to explore the feasibility of buying multi-billion dollar consultancy Accenture, sources have told us. The database giant has engaged a team of consultants to conduct due diligence to "explore the synergies that could be created if they [Oracle] bought Accenture lock stock and barrel," one source claimed. On top of the financial considerations, the consultants are evaluating the pros and cons including the potential impact on Oracle's wider channel. "While these things have a habit of fizzling out there are some fairly serious players around the table," a contact added. Another claimed the process was at an early stage. "If buying Accenture was a 100 meter race, Oracle is at the 10 to 15 meter stage now." [T]his buy would be an immensely bold, complicated and pricey move: NYSE-listed Accenture has a market cap of $77.5 billion, and shareholders will expect a premium offer. A deal would dwarf Oracle's $10 billion buy of PeopleSoft, its $7.4 billion deal for Sun Microsystems, and more recently, the $9.3 billion splashed on Netsuite. In buying Accenture, Oracle would be taking a leaf out of the mid-noughties handbook - when HP fatefully bought EDS and IBM acquired PWC to carve out a brighter future.
Australia

World's Largest Dinosaur Footprints Discovered In Western Australia (theguardian.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The largest known dinosaur footprints have been discovered in Western Australia, including 1.7 meter prints left by gigantic herbivores. Until now, the biggest known dinosaur footprint was a 106cm track discovered in the Mongolian desert and reported last year. At the new site, along the Kimberley shoreline in a remote region of Western Australia, paleontologists discovered a rich collection of dinosaur footprints in the sandstone rock, many of which are only visible at low tide. The prints, belonging to about 21 different types of dinosaur, are also thought to be the most diverse collection of prints in the world. Steve Salisbury, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Queensland told ABC News: "We've got several tracks up in that area that are about 1.7 meters long. So most people would be able to fit inside tracks that big, and they indicate animals that are probably around 5.3 to 5.5 meters at the hip, which is enormous." "It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia's dinosaur fauna during the first half of the early Cretaceous period," he said. The findings were reported in the Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. The largest tracks belonged to sauropods, huge Diplodocus-like herbivores with long necks and tails. The scientists also discovered tracks from about four different types of ornithopod dinosaurs (two-legged herbivores) and six types of armored dinosaurs, including Stegosaurs, which had not previously been seen in Australia. At the time the prints were left, 130m years ago, the area was a large river delta and dinosaurs would have traversed wet sandy areas between surrounding forests.
NASA

NASA Launches Massive Digital Library For Space Video, Photos and Audio (space.com) 47

earlytime quotes a report from Space.com: NASA on Tuesday (March 28) unveiled a new online library that assembles the agency's amazing space photos, videos and audio files into a single searchable library. The NASA Image and Video Library, as the agency calls it, can be found at http://images.nasa.gov/ and consolidates space imagery from 60 different collections into one location. The new database allows users to embed NASA imagery in websites, includes image metadata like date, description and keywords, and offers multiple resolution sizes, NASA officials said. According to the NASA statement, other features include: Automatic scaling to suite the interface for mobile phones and tablets; EXIF/camera data that includes exposure, lens used and other information (when available from the original image); Easy public access to high resolution files; Downloadable caption files for all videos. The new NASA archive is not meant to be a complete archive of all of the space agency imagery. But it does aim to showcase what the space agency has to offer.
Biotech

Scientists Turn Mammalian Cells Into Complex Biocomputers (sciencemag.org) 34

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Computer hardware is getting a softer side. A research team has come up with a way of genetically engineering the DNA of mammalian cells to carry out complex computations, in effect turning the cells into biocomputers. The group hasn't put those modified cells to work in useful ways yet, but down the road researchers hope the new programming techniques will help improve everything from cancer therapy to on-demand tissues that can replace worn-out body parts. To upgrade their DNA "switches," Wong and his colleagues steered clear of transcription factors and instead switched human kidney cell genes on and off using scissor-like enzymes that selectively cut out snippets of DNA. These enzymes, known as DNA recombinases, recognize two target stretches of DNA, each between 30 to 50 or more base pairs long. When a recombinase finds its target DNA stretches, it cuts out any DNA in between, and stitches the severed ends of the double helix back together. To design genetic circuits, Wong and his colleagues use the conventional cellular machinery that reads out a cell's DNA, transcribes its genes into RNA, and then translates the RNA into proteins. This normal gene-to-protein operation is initiated by another DNA snippet, a promoter, that sits just upstream of a gene. When a promoter is activated, a molecule called RNA polymerase gets to work, marching down the DNA strand and producing an RNA until it reaches another DNA snippet -- a termination sequence -- that tells it to stop. To make one of their simplest circuits, Wong's team inserted four extra snippets of DNA after a promoter. The main one produced green fluorescent protein (GFP), which lights up cells when it is produced. But in front of it was a termination sequence, flanked by two snippets that signaled the DNA recombinase. Wong and his team then inserted another gene in the same cell that made a modified recombinase, activated only when bound to a specific drug; without it, the recombinase wouldn't cut the DNA. When the promoter upstream of the GFP gene was activated, the RNA polymerase ran headfirst into the termination sequence, stopped reading the DNA, and didn't produce the fluorescent protein. But when the drug was added, the recombinase switched on and spliced out the termination sequence that was preventing the RNA polymerase from initiating production of GFP. Voila, the cell lit up. The approach Wong and his colleagues used worked so well that they were able to build 113 different circuits, with a 96.5% success rate. The study has been published in the journal Nature.
Businesses

Bay Area Tech Executives Indicted For H-1B Visa Fraud (mercurynews.com) 240

New submitter s.petry quotes a report from The Mercury News: Two Bay Area tech executives are accused of filing false visa documents through a staffing agency in a scheme to illegally bring a pool of foreign tech workers into the United States. An indictment from a federal grand jury unsealed on Friday accuses Jayavel Murugan, Dynasoft Synergy's chief executive officer, and a 40-year-old Santa Clara man, Syed Nawaz, of fraudulently submitting H-1B applications in an effort to illegally obtain visas, according to Brian Stretch, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. The men are charged with 26 counts of visa fraud, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, use of false documents, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to prosecutors. Each charge can carry penalties of between two and 20 years in prison. Prosecutors say the men used fraudulent documents to bring workers into the U.S. and create a pool of H-1B workers to hire out to tech companies. The indictment charges that from 2010 to 2016, Dynasoft petitioned to place workers at Stanford University, Cisco and Brocade, but the employers had no intention of receiving the foreign workers named on the applications. Nawaz submitted fake "end-client letters" to the government, falsely claiming the workers were on-site and performing jobs, according to the indictment.

Slashdot reader s.petry adds: "While not the only problem with the H-1B Visa program, this is a start at investigating and hopefully correcting problems."

Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Lies Programmers Tell Themselves? 495

snydeq writes: "Confidence in our power over machines also makes us guilty of hoping to bend reality to our code," writes Peter Wayner, in a discussion of nine lies programmers tell themselves about their code. "Of course, many problems stem from assumptions we programmers make that simply aren't correct. They're usually sort of true some of the time, but that's not the same as being true all of the time. As Mark Twain supposedly said, 'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'" The nine lies Wayner mentions in his discussion include: "Questions have one answer," "Null is acceptable," "Human relationships can be codified," "'Unicode' stands for universal communication," "Numbers are accurate," "Human language is consistent," "Time is consistent," "Files are consistent," and "We're in control." Can you think of any other lies programmers tell themselves?
Android

The Galaxy S8 Will Be Samsung's Biggest Test Ever (theverge.com) 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: You know what's coming tomorrow, you've known and waited for it for months now. Samsung's 2017 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, will be officially announced, and one of the most critical periods in the company's history will begin. The phone Samsung launches on Wednesday will carry greater expectations and have to prove a lot more than usual. Even as the world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung's mobile credibility was deeply shaken by the Galaxy Note 7 snafu, so it now needs to reassert its reliability while also rebooting its technological advantage. Vlad Savov provides a "rundown of the biggest challenges facing Samsung" in his report. While Samsung will need to nail the design and camera performance, as well as many other things, the most critical area will be the battery, given how the Note 7 was recalled due to battery issues. Even though that incident took place half a year ago, we are still faced with the consequences. Samsung is still trying to figure out what to do with the "recalled units" and people are still making bad jokes about "explosive Samsung news." If the Galaxy S8 is to have any battery issues whatsoever, the result could be catastrophic for the company. Though, Samsung is well aware of this and has likely packed "the most robust and durable batteries we've ever seen in a smartphone" inside the Galaxy S8 devices.
Google

Google Launches New Website To Showcase Its Open Source Projects and Processes (betanews.com) 34

BrianFagioli writes: Google is an essential member of the open source community. The search giant contributes some really great projects, offering code to be used many -- it claims more than 2,000 such contributions! Heck, the company even hosts the annual Summer of Code program, where it pairs students with open source projects teams. In other words, Google is helping to get young folks excited about open source. Today, Google announced that it is launching an all-new website to focus on open source. It is not a general open source site, but a destination to learn more about the search-giant's relationship with it. "Today, we're launching opensource.google.com, a new website for Google Open Source that ties together all of our initiatives with information on how we use, release, and support open source. This new site showcases the breadth and depth of our love for open source. It will contain the expected things: our programs, organizations we support, and a comprehensive list of open source projects we've released. But it also contains something unexpected: a look under the hood at how we 'do' open source," says Will Norris, Open Source Programs Office, Google.
Businesses

DJI Proposes New Electronic 'License Plate' For Drones (digitaltrends.com) 98

linuxwrangler writes: Chinese drone maker DJI proposed that drones be required to transmit a unique identifier to assist law enforcement to identify operators where necessary. Anyone with an appropriate receiver could receive the ID number, but the database linking the ID with the registered owner would only be available to government agencies. DJI likens this to a license plate on a car and offers it as a solution to a congressional mandate that the FAA develop methods to remotely identify drone operators. "The best solution is usually the simplest," DJI wrote in a white paper on the topic, which can be downloaded at this link. "The focus of the primary method for remote identification should be on a way for anyone concerned about a drone flight in close proximity to report an identifier number to the authorities, who would then have the tools to investigate the complaint without infringing on operator privacy. [...] No other technology is subject to mandatory industry-wide tracking and recording of its use, and we strongly urge against making UAS the first such technology. The case for such an Orwellian model has not been made. A networked system provides more information than needed, to people who don't require it, and exposes confidential business information in the process."

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