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Stats

Uber Doesn't Decrease Drunk Driving, Finds New Study (washingtonpost.com) 67

"A new study casts doubt on Uber's claim that ride-sharing has reduced drunken driving," reports the Washington Post. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes their report: Researchers at Oxford University and the University of Southern California who examined county-level data in the United States before and after the arrival of Uber and its competitors in those markets found that ride-sharing had no effect on drinking-related or holiday- and weekend-related fatalities. One reason could be that, despite the soaring popularity of Uber and other ride-sharing services, there still may not be enough ride-share drivers available yet to make a dent on drunken driving, the authors said.

They also suggest that the tipsy riders who now call Uber are the ones who formerly would have called a taxi. For others, the odds of getting a DUI are still so low that many would prefer to gamble rather than lay out money for a ride-sharing service. Drunks, after all, are just not rational.

One reason for the low number of Uber drivers may be that the 10-year study only examined data through 2014. While other studies have found a decrease in drunk driving arrests associated with Uber -- for example, in California -- the Post's article suggests that ridesharing drivers may just be a drop in the bucket. "Although approximately 450,000 people now drive for Uber, there are 210 million licensed drivers in the United States -- and an estimated 4.2 million adults who drive impaired, the study says."
Earth

World's Largest Solar Power Plant Planned For Chernobyl Nuclear Wasteland (electrek.co) 126

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Electrek: Chernobyl, the world's most famous and hazardous nuclear meltdown, is being considered for the world's largest solar power plant. Even though nearly 1,600 square miles of land around Chernobyl has radiation levels too high for human health, Ukraine's ecology minister has said in a recent interview that two U.S. investment firms and four Canadian energy companies have expressed interest in Chernobyl's solar potential. Electrek reports: "According to PVTech, the Ukrainian government is pushing for a 6 month construction cycle. Deploying this amount of solar power within such a time frame would involve significant resources being deployed. The proposed 1GW solar plant, if built today, would be the world's largest. There are several plans for 1GW solar plants in development (Egypt, India, UAE, China, etc) -- but none of them have been completed yet. One financial benefit of the site is that transmission lines for Chernobyl's 4GW nuclear reactor are still in place. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has stated they would be interested in participating in the project, 'so long as there are viable investment proposals and all other environmental matters and risks can be addressed to the bank's satisfaction.'"
Power

A Look Inside Tesla's $5 Billion Gigafactory (cnet.com) 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: A joint effort between Tesla and Panasonic, the Gigafactory is a $5 billion project that will create the world's premier battery manufacturing facility. The Gigafactory will not only be physically larger than any other cell-packing plant on the planet, it'll produce more batteries than the entire industry did back in 2013. That's a lot of batteries, enough to meet Tesla's 500,000-per-year manufacturing goals -- and potentially even more. When completed, the factory will cover five million square feet of the desert floor just outside of Reno, Nevada. Right now, the uncompleted but already-operational factory sits on 800,000 square feet. Over the next four years the building will grow and grow again, swelling to its full size while production dials up simultaneously. The roof will be covered in solar panels, with the goal of producing enough electricity to power the entire thing. Tesla is already assembling Powerwall units here, but the first Model 3 battery packs are expected to roll off the line by the middle of next year. From there, Tesla will have to scale quickly to meet the company's Model 3 production goals for 2018. And, once the company does, the cost savings will begin. The "Tesla Gigafactory Tour" video can also be viewed on YouTube via Roadshow.
Businesses

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Becomes World's Third Richest Person (bbc.com) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Strong earnings from Amazon and a boost to the company's stock have made its founder, Jeff Bezos, the world's third richest person, according to Forbes. Mr Bezos owns 18% of Amazon's shares, which rose 2% in trading on Thursday. Forbes estimated his fortune to be $65.3 billion (49.5 billion British Pound). Amazon's revenue beat analysts' expectations, climbing 31% from last year to $30.4 billion in the second quarter. Profit for the e-commerce giant was $857 million, compared with $92 million in 2015. According to Forbes estimates, Mr Bezos's fortune is only surpassed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, worth $78 billion (59 billion British Pound), and the $73.1 billion (55 billion British Pound) fortune of Zara founder Amancio Ortega. Amazon had developed a reputation for announcing little or no profit each quarter, but appeared to hit a turning point last year and has seen improving earnings since. Amazon shares have spiked 50% since February. BBC's report includes some bullet points about Bezos. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964. He studied at Princeton University and worked on Wall Street. In 1994, he launched Amazon as an online book retailer. A lifelong Star Trek fan, Bezos launched Blue Origin spaceflight and aerospace firm in 2000, and more than a decade later, he purchased The Washington Post newspaper in 2013.
Robotics

US Military Using $600K 'Drone Buggies' To Patrol Camps In Africa (cnbc.com) 59

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. military is using an unmanned robotic vehicle to patrol around its camps in the Horn of Africa. The remote controlled vehicle is the result of a 30-year plan after military chiefs approved the concept of a robotic security system in 1985. Now the Mobile Detection Assessment and Response System, known as MDARS, are carrying out patrols in the east African country of Djibouti, under the control of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The area is known as home to a number of hostile militant groups including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab. An operator sits in a remote location away from the vehicle watching the terrain via a camera link which is fixed to the chassis. U.S. military software engineer Joshua Kordanai said in a video presentation that the vehicle drives itself, freeing the remote operator to monitor video. "The vehicle has an intruder detection payload, consisting of radar, a night vision camera, a PTZ [pan-tilt-zoom] camera and two-way audio, so the system will be able to detect motion," he added. One report prices the cost of an earlier version of the military 'drone buggy' at $600,000 each.
Businesses

Amazon Reaches New High Of 268,900 Employees -- Skyrocketing 47% In Just One Year (geekwire.com) 44

Amazon remains one of the biggest attractors of talent worldwide. During its quarterly earnings, the company said it hired 23,700 employees in the second quarter -- making the total employee headcount at the company 268,900. GeekWire reports: Amazon's headcount has grown by a staggering amount over the last few years. Its employment numbers increased close to 10 percent in the last three months and 47 percent over a year ago, when its employee count stood at a paltry-by-comparison 183,100 people. That's an increase of 85,800 employees in one year -- more than the entire city of Bellingham, Wash.Related: The New York Times report on work challenges at Amazon.
United States

FBI Probes Hacking of Democratic Congressional Group (reuters.com) 157

From a Reuters report: The FBI is investigating a cyber attack against another U.S. Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee , four people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The previously unreported incident at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and its potential ties to Russian hackers are likely to heighten accusations, so far unproven, that Moscow is trying to meddle in the U.S. presidential election campaign to help Republican nominee Donald Trump. The Kremlin denied involvement in the DCCC cyber-attack. Hacking of the party's emails caused discord among Democrats at the party's convention in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate. The newly disclosed breach at the DCCC may have been intended to gather information about donors, rather than to steal money, the sources said on Thursday.
The Almighty Buck

Dark Patterns Across the Web Are Designed To Trick You 126

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Harry Brignell has posted a 30-minute video documenting dark patterns, deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces (not exclusive to the internet) that trick users into setting up recurring payments, purchasing items added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through pre-checked forms on Facebook games for example. Basically, they're tactics used by online services to get users to do things they wouldn't normally do. Yael Grauer has written an in-depth report on Ars Technica about dark patterns, where he discusses Brignull's work with UX designers and business executives: "Klein [Principal at Users Known and author of UX for Lean Startups] believes many of the worst dark patterns are pushed by businesses, not by designers. 'It's often pro-business at the expense of the users, and the designers often see themselves as the defender or advocate of the user,' she explained. And although Brignull has never been explicitly asked to design dark patterns himself, he said he has been in situations where using them would be an easy solution -- like when a client or boss says they really need a large list of people who have opted in to marketing e-mails. 'The first and easiest trick to have an opt-in is to have a pre-ticked checkbox, but then you can just get rid of that entirely and hide it in the terms of conditions and say that by registering you're going to be opted in to our e-mails,' Brignull said. 'Then you have a 100-percent sign-up rate and you've exceeded your goals. I kind of understand why people do it. If you're only thinking about the numbers and you're just trying to juice the stats, then it's not surprising in the slightest.' 'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'" Brignull's website has a number of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.
The Courts

UK Judge Calls For An Online Court Without Lawyers To Cut Costs 96

mi writes from a report via The Times: A senior judge has called for the establishment of an online court (Warning: source may be paywalled) that does not have lawyers and can deal with claims of up to 25,000 British Pound (around $32,850). The proposal is the centerpiece of a package of reforms to the civil justice system, drawn up by Lord Justice Briggs, a Court of Appeal judge. Just how exactly will this court ensure no one is, in fact, a trained professional on the internet, where no one knows who you really are, is not explained. We discussed the idea last year. Apparently, it is still alive. The judge's report says this computer court would provide "effective access to justice without having to incur the disproportionate cost of using lawyers." The Law Gazette reported earlier in June that Briggs has mused about a three-stage process -- triage, conciliation and final judgement -- in which there might be some lawyer involvement.
Bitcoin

North Korea Is Blackmailing Top South Korean Online Retailer For $2.66 Million (softpedia.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: South Korea says that North Korea is behind a data breach that occurred last May, where hackers stole details about 10 million user accounts from Interpark.com, one of the country's biggest shopping portals. The hackers later tried to extort Interpark management by requesting for 3 billion won ($2.66 million / 2.39 million euros), otherwise they were going to release the data on the internet. [The hackers wanted the money transferred to their accounts as Bitcoin.] Authorities say they tracked the source of the hack to an IP in North Korea, previously used in other attacks on South Korean infrastructure. "Besides the evidence related to the IP addresses and the techniques used in the attacks, investigators also said that the emails Interpark management received, written in the Korean language, contained words and vocabulary expressions that are only used in the North," reports Softpedia.
Businesses

Microsoft To Lay Off Another 2,850 People In the Next 12 Months (businessinsider.com) 160

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Business Insider: Microsoft is planning to lay off 2,850 more employees in the next 12 months or so, according to Microsoft's full 10-K report it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part of the document reads: "In addition to the elimination of 1,850 positions that were announced in May 2016, approximately 2,850 roles globally will be reduced during the year as an extension of the earlier plan, and these actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017." Business Insider reports: "The first 1,850 layoffs mentioned here were mainly from Microsoft's struggling smartphone business, including 1,350 employees in Finland working at what was once Nokia world headquarters. These layoffs also included people in Microsoft's salesforce, which was recently reorganized and saw the departure of COO Kevin Turner. In total, Microsoft laid off 7,400 employees in its last fiscal year, which ended on June 30th, 2016. The new layoffs are a continuation of the same plan, and include the sales group as well as others. About 900 people affected by the new layoffs were already informed during the sales reorganization, according to a person familiar with Microsoft's plans."
Businesses

Samsung Beat Apple In Smartphone Shipments, Profit Surges To 2-Year High (thehindu.com) 116

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier reports speculated this to be true, but now it's official: Samsung has beat Apple in smartphone shipments to lift the company to its most profitable quarter in over two years. The Hindu reports: "Riding on the strong sales of its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones, Samsung Electronics on Thursday declared 8.14 trillion won ($7billion) year on-year operating profit -- 18 percent in the second quarter results. Touted as bad news for Apple that saw a 15 percent decline in iPhone sales in its second quarter results announced this week, Samsung saw substantial earnings improvement led by sales of its flagship products such as Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. A streamlined mid-to low-end smartphone lineup also contributed to improved profitability for the company. According to Samsung, it shipped about 90 million handsets in the April-June period with smartphones making up more than 80 per cent of the total, the Korea Herald reported. Samsung's second-quarter smartphone shipments are estimated at about 72 million units, almost doubling Apple's iPhone shipments of 40.4 million units during the same period."
Government

Stiglitz Calls Apple's Profit Reporting In Ireland 'a Fraud' (bloomberg.com) 181

Jeanna Smialek, and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg: Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said U.S. tax law that allows Apple to hold a large amount of cash abroad is "obviously deficient" and called the company's attribution of significant earnings to a comparatively small overseas unit a "fraud." "Our current tax system encourages companies to keep their money abroad, opens up a vast loophole through what is called the transfer-pricing system that allows them not only to keep their money abroad but, effectively, to escape taxation," Stiglitz, who advises Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, said. Stiglitz was speaking in response to a question about whether policy makers like Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, could develop a plan to encourage companies like Apple to bring their accumulated foreign earnings back to the U.S. About $215 billion of Apple's total $232 billion in cash is held outside of the country, third-quarter earnings results showed this week.
Businesses

Tesla and Autopilot Supplier Mobileye Split Up After Fatal Crash (usatoday.com) 127

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Tesla and Mobileye, one of the top suppliers to its Autopilot partial self-driving system, are parting ways in the wake of the May accident that killed an owner of one of its electric Model S sedans. Mobileye is considered a leader in developing the equipment that will be needed for fully self-driving cars. The Israeli tech company will continue to support and maintain current Tesla products, including upgrades that should help the Autopilot system with crash avoidance and to better allow the car to steer itself, said Chairman Amnon Shashua in releasing the company's second-quarter earnings Tuesday. Shashua said moving cars to higher levels of self-driving capability "is a paradigm shift both in terms of function complexity and the need to ensure an extremely high level of safety." He added there is "much at stake" in terms of Mobileye's reputation, and that it is best to end the relationship with Tesla by the end of the year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, meeting with reporters at the company's new battery Gigafactory outside Reno, indicated that Tesla can go forward without Mobileye. "Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. There's nothing unexpected here from our standpoint," Musk said. "We're committed to autonomy. They'll go their way, and we'll go ours."
Medicine

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Funding Leads To New Genetic Findings (yahoo.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers are crediting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a fundraiser for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that went viral in 2014, for funding a new study that has possibly identified a common gene that contributes to the nervous system disease. Yahoo reports via Good Morning America: "In a study published in The Nature Genetics Journal, researchers from various institutions, including the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University Medical Center Utrecht, identified the gene NEK1 as a common gene that could have an impact on who develops the disease. Variants of the gene appear to lead to increased risk of developing ALS, according to preliminary findings. Researchers in 11 countries studied 1,000 families in which a family member developed ALS and conducted a genome-wide search for any signs that a gene could be leading to increased ALS risk. After identifying the NEK1 gene, they also analyzed 13,000 individuals who had developed ALS despite no family history and found they had variants in that same gene, again linking that gene with increased ALS risk. Starting in the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge led to 17 million videos made and $220 million raised, according to the ALS Association -- $115 million of which went to the association."
The Almighty Buck

Amazon Debuts a Dedicated Shop For Kickstarter Products (techcrunch.com) 18

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Today, Amazon announced it's teaming up with Kickstarter to offer those successful Kickstarter products a way to reach more customers through a dedicated section on Amazon's website. Via www.amazon.com/launchpad/kickstarter, the online retailer is now featuring a group of over 300 Kickstarter products across a variety of categories, like electronics, books, home and kitchen, movies and tv, and more. The products can also be browsed by theme, like STEM products, "Always be Learning," "Exquisite Objects," "Inventing the Future," and "Public Benefit," for example. The new Kickstarter section is actually an expansion on Amazon's Launchpad platform, launched a year ago. In July 2015, the retailer debuted a dedicated portal that offered both marketing and sales for hardware and physical goods from younger tech companies. Today, Amazon says it has now worked with over 100 VCs, accelerators and crowdfunders and has helped more than 1,000 launch products across the U.S., the U.K., China, Germany, and France. All startups who participate in Launchpad receive custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon's global fulfillment network, the retailer notes.
Businesses

Comcast Excited To Have Lost 4,000 TV Subscribers This Spring (consumerist.com) 68

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Consumerist: Comcast has released their second quarter results and they are happy to announce that they lost 4,000 TV subscribers in the last three months. Why are they so happy to announce such a loss? Because, compared to the same time last year where they lost 69,000 TV subscribers, the loss this year is much better for them. Comcast said in a statement to investors that "video customers net losses improved to 4,000, the best second quarter result in over 10 years." That Consumerist reports: "That means that for the most than a decade, the best Comcast can do in April to June of every year is to lose only 4,000 TV subscribers. At this time last year, Comcast reported 22.3 million TV subscribers, and at the same time this year, they report roughly 22.3 million TV subscribers. The major driver of increased subscriptions comes, as you'd guess, from broadband. Comcast reports an increase of 220,000 broadband customers in the second quarter which, in the overall growth of the company, entirely offsets a lost of 4,000 TV viewers."
Television

Subscribers Pay 61 Cents Per Hour of Cable, But Only 20 Cents Per Hour of Netflix (allflicks.net) 174

An anonymous reader writes from a math-heavy report via AllFlicks: The folks at AllFlicks decided to crunch some numbers to determine just how much more expensive cable is than Netflix. They answered the question: how much does Netflix cost per hour of content viewed, and how does that compare with cable's figures? AllFlicks reports: "We know from Netflix's own numbers that Netflix's more than 75 million users stream 125 million hours of content every day. So that's (roughly) 100 minutes per user, per day. Using the price of Netflix's most popular plan ($9.99) and a 30-day month, we can say that the average user is paying about 0.33 cents per minute of content, or 20 cents an hour. Not bad! But what about cable? Well, Nielsen tells us that the average American adult cable subscriber watches 2,260 minutes of TV per week (including timeshifted TV). That's equivalent to 5.38 hours per day, or 161.43 hours per 30-day month. Thanks to Leichtman Research, we know that the average American pays $99.10 per month for cable TV. That means that subscribers are paying a whopping 61.4 cents per hour to watch cable TV -- more than three times as much as users pay per hour of Netflix!"
Bitcoin

EU Plans To Create Database of Bitcoin Users With Identities and Wallet Addresses (softpedia.com) 130

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: "The European Commission is proposing the creation of a database that will hold information on users of virtual currencies," reports Softpedia. "The database will record data on the user's real world identity, along with all associated wallet addresses." The database will be made available to financial investigation agencies in order to track down users behind suspicious operations. The creation of this database is part of a regulatory push that the EU got rolling after the Paris November 2015 terror attacks, and which it officially put forward in February 2016, and later approved at the start of July 2016. Legally, this is an attempt to reform the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). The current draft is available here. The current AMLD draft reads: "The report shall be accompanied, if necessary, by appropriate proposals, including, where appropriate, with respect to virtual currencies, empowerments to set-up and maintain a central database registering users' identities and wallet addresses accessible to FIUs, as well as self-declaration forms for the use of virtual currency users."
Businesses

Highest-Paid CEOs Run Worst-Performing Companies, Research Finds (independent.co.uk) 176

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Independent: According to a study carried out by corporate research firm MSCI, CEO's that get paid the most run some of the worst-performing companies. It found that every $100 invested in companies with the highest-paid CEOs would have grown to $265 over 10 years. However, the same amount invested in the companies with the lowest-paid CEOs would have grown to $367 over 10 years. The report, titled "Are CEOs paid for performance? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Equity Incentives," looked at the salaries of 800 CEOs at 429 large and medium-sized U.S. companies between 2005 and 2014 and compared it with the total shareholder return of the companies. Senior corporate governance research at MSCI, Ric Marshall, said in a statement: "The highest paid had the worse performance by a significant margin. It just argues for the equity portion of CEO pay to be more conservative."

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