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Activision Blizzard Employees To Walk Out Following Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Slashdot - Wed, 28/07/2021 - 01:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Activison Blizzard employees are staging a walkout on Wednesday, July 28th in response to the company's handling of sexual harassment allegations brought by the state of California. Employees will meet outside Blizzard's main campus in Irvine at 10AM PST. "We believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership," the organizers said in a statement. The news comes after California sued the renowned gaming studio and its publisher, saying women were subjected to constant sexual harassment and discrimination at work. One female employee allegedly died by suicide after having nude photos of her passed around the office. Following the suit, numerous employees took to Twitter to detail additional examples of harassment and discrimination. Former Blizzard president Mike Morhaime also issued a statement saying "I am extremely sorry that I failed you." The company denied the allegations, saying the lawsuit was merely "irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State's best businesses out of California." Employees are putting forward four demands as part of the walkout: end forced arbitration clauses in all employee contracts; implement new hiring and promotion processes to increase representation across the company; publish salary and promotion data "for all employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company"; and allow a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force to hire a third-party organization to audit the executive staff.

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'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli's One-of-a-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album Sold By US Government

Slashdot - Wed, 28/07/2021 - 00:20
H_Fisher writes: Only one copy exists of the Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and it was owned by "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli. Now, NPR reports that this album has been sold by the U.S. government to an unnamed buyer in order to pay Shkreli's civil forfeiture judgment following his conviction for securities fraud. The album, which was originally sold for $2 million, exists only as one physical CD copy. It was seized along with other assets in 2018, and while the sale price and buyer weren't identified, Shkreli's attorney says that his client has now repaid the $7.4 million forfeiture judgement.

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GitHub stuffs $1m in Stanford Law School's pocket to provide free legal advice to DMCA-hit developers

The Register - Wed, 28/07/2021 - 00:03
Fellowship funding comes in the wake of Youtube-DL fiasco

GitHub has pledged $1m to, among other things, provide developers facing copyright takedown claims with free legal advice from a top US university, it announced on Tuesday.…

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Lucasfilm Hires Deepfake YouTuber Who Fixed The Mandalorian

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 23:40
Lucasfilm has hired the YouTuber known as Shamook, whose The Mandalorian deepfake, published in December, has earned nearly 2 million views for improving the VFX used to de-age Mark Hamill. CNET reports: "As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilms a few months ago and haven't had the time to work on any new YouTube content," Shamook wrote in the comment section of a recent video. "Now I've settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They'll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart." Shamook said in the comments that his job title is, "Senior Facial Capture Artist." Lucasfilm confirmed the new hire (via IndieWire). "[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona 'Shamook,'" a Lucasfilm representative said in a statement. "Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it's been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances." Shamook also "fixed" The Irishman too.

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Microsoft made $167m a day in profit, every day, over the past 12 months

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 23:16
Robust cloud, business not enough to overcome concerns about decline in Windows hardware maker revenue

Microsoft's $46.2bn in revenue for its fourth quarter of 2021, and profits rising 47 per cent to $16.5bn, shows the continued strength in its cloud business, investors were told on Tuesday.…

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Google Cloud Offers a Model For Fixing Google's Product-Killing Reputation

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 23:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google's reputation for aggressively killing products and services is hurting the company's brand. Any new product launch from Google is no longer a reason for optimism; instead, the company is met with questions about when the product will be shut down. It's a problem entirely of Google's own making, and it's yet another barrier that discourages customers from investing (either time, money, or data) in the latest Google thing. The wide public skepticism of Google Stadia is a great example of the problem. A Google division with similar issues is Google Cloud Platform, which asks companies and developers to build a product or service powered by Google's cloud infrastructure. Like the rest of Google, Cloud Platform has a reputation for instability, thanks to quickly deprecating APIs, which require any project hosted on Google's platform to be continuously updated to keep up with the latest changes. Google Cloud wants to address this issue, though, with a new "Enterprise API" designation. Enterprise APIs basically get a roadmap that promises stability for certain APIs. Google says, "The burden is on us: Our working principle is that no feature may be removed (or changed in a way that is not backwards compatible) for as long as customers are actively using it. If a deprecation or breaking change is inevitable, then the burden is on us to make the migration as effortless as possible." If Google needs to change an API, customers will now get a minimum of one year's notice, along with tools, documentation, and other materials. Google goes on to say, "To make sure we follow these tenets, any change we introduce to an API is reviewed by a centralized board of product and engineering leads and follows a rigorous product lifecycle evaluation." Despite being one of the world's largest Internet companies and basically defining what modern cloud infrastructure looks like, Google isn't doing very well in the cloud infrastructure market. Analyst firm Canalys puts Google in a distant third, with 7 percent market share, behind Microsoft Azure (19 percent) and market leader Amazon Web Services (32 percent). Rumor has it (according to a report from The Information) that Google Cloud Platform is facing a 2023 deadline to beat AWS and Microsoft, or it will risk losing funding. Ex-Googler Steve Yegge laid out the problems with Google Cloud Platform last year in a post titled "Dear Google Cloud: Your Deprecation Policy is Killing You." Google's announcement seems to hit most of what that post highlights, like a lack of documentation and support, an endless treadmill of API upgrades, and Google Cloud's general disregard for backward compatibility. Yegge argues that successful platforms like Windows, Java, and Android (a group Yegge says is isolated from the larger Google culture) owe much of their success to their commitment to platform stability. AWS is the market leader partly because it's considered a lot more stable than Google Cloud Platform.

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Elon Musk Sniped at Apple Twice on Earnings Call

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 22:24
Tesla CEO Elon Musk sniped at Silicon Valley neighbor Apple twice during a conference call to discuss Tesla earnings on Monday. From a report: Although the companies don't compete directly today, Apple is reportedly building an electric self-driving vehicle under a project code-named Titan, and has attracted a number of engineers and executives away from Tesla. When asked about Tesla's supply chain, Musk said that there's a misperception that Tesla uses a lot of cobalt, a key material in the production of lithium-ion cells used in both smartphones and electric cars. "Apple uses I think almost 100% cobalt in their batteries and cell phones and laptops, but Tesla uses no cobalt in the iron-phosphate packs, and almost none in the nickel-based chemistries," Musk said. "On a weighted-average basis we might use 2% cobalt compared to say, Apple's 100% cobalt. Anyway, so it's just really not a factor." [...] Later in the call, Musk made a crack about Apple's so-called "walled garden," which is named because Apple strictly controls what software can be installed on the iPhone through its App Store. Apple's walled garden is facing scrutiny from lawmakers and other companies, including in an antitrust trial that took place earlier this year after it was sued by Epic Games over App Store fees and policies. "I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy," Musk said in response to a question about letting competitors use its charger network. "It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors which is used by some companies." Musk then faked a cough and said, "Apple."

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Misconfigured Azure Blob at Raven Hengelsport exposed records of 246,000 anglers – and took months to tackle, claim infosec researchers

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 21:49
18GB of Dutch fishing supplier's data left in unsecured server

Dutch fishing supply specialist Raven Hengelsport left details of around 246,000 customers visible to anyone on a misconfigured Microsoft Azure cloud server for months.…

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Former eBay Supervisor Sentenced To 18 Months in Prison For Cyberstalking Case Targeting Natick Couple

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 21:42
A former security supervisor at eBay received an 18-month federal prison sentence Tuesday for his role in a bizarre campaign of cyberstalking aimed at a Natick couple that ran an online newsletter often critical of the e-commerce giant, authorities said. The Boston Globe: The ex-supervisor, Philip Cooke, 56, of San Jose, Cali., had pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston in October 2020 to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness, legal filings show. On Tuesday, prosecutors said, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, as well as three years of supervised release including a 12-month period of home detention. He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service, according to the US attorney's office. Cooke was one of seven former eBay employees charged in connection with the stalking, which authorities said targeted Ina and David Steiner, a Natick couple who recently filed a federal lawsuit against the company and other parties linked to the harrassment. Rosemary Scapicchio, a prominent Boston attorney representing the couple in their civil suit, said via phone after Monday's hearing that her clients "were relieved" that Cooke received time behind bars, calling it "the first step in their pursuit of accountability" for all those involved. "There needs to be corporate accountability" as well, Scapicchio said.

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CDC: Vaccinated People in COVID Hotspots Should Resume Wearing Masks

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 21:01
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances. From a report: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. -- either by choice or who are ineligible -- remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection. Community leaders in areas with high transmission rates should encourage vaccination and masking, the agency says. In another reversal, the CDC also recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools this incoming school year, regardless of vaccination status. Los Angeles County, New Orleans, Savannah and Chicago are among the major metropolitan areas that reinstated mask mandates amid a rise in cases.

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Scam-baiting YouTube channel Tech Support Scams taken offline by tech support scam

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 20:44
'It was pretty convincing until the very end,' says host Jim Browning

The Tech Support Scams YouTube channel has been erased from existence in a blaze of irony as host and creator Jim Browning fell victim to a tech support scam that convinced him to secure his account – by deleting it.…

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Harvard Professor Begins New Search For Alien Spaceships in Our Skies

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 20:21
Harvard's controversial astronomer Avi Loeb is leading a new initiative, dubbed the Galileo Project, to check Earth's skies and the rest of the solar system for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. From a report: The longtime astronomy professor, who became well-known for his belief that interstellar object Oumuamua was likely an alien probe, announced the details of his plan via a virtual press conference Monday. Officially, the initiative is described as "a transparent scientific project to advance a systematic experimental search for cross-validated evidence of potential astro-archaeological artifacts or active technical equipment made by putative existing or extinct extraterrestrial technological civilizations (ETCs)." Translation: The plan is to use a variety of telescopes to look for alien spaceships, probes or other debris left behind by intelligent beings who weren't born on Earth. "What we see in our sky is not something that politicians or military personnel should interpret because they were not trained as scientists," Loeb told reporters. "It's for the science community to figure out... based on non-governmental data that we will assemble as scientists." The first phase of the project involves setting up a network of dozens of relatively small telescopes around the globe that will attempt to capture new images of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP, the newly favored and more inclusive acronym designed to replace "UFOs").

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Facebook tries to save face by recalling itch-inducing Oculus Quest 2 VR headset foam

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 20:05
Reports of skin problems and a recall in Australia move social ad biz to action

Before Facebook can "bring the metaverse to life," it will first have to deal with customers dismantling their Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets for repairs because their faces have been irritated.…

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50 Years Ago, NASA Put a Car on the Moon

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 19:41
The lunar rovers of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 parked American automotive culture on the lunar surface, and expanded the scientific range of the missions' astronaut explorers. From a report: Dave Scott was not about to pass by an interesting rock without stopping. It was July 31, 1971, and he and Jim Irwin, his fellow Apollo 15 astronaut, were the first people to drive on the moon. After a 6-hour inaugural jaunt in the new lunar rover, the two were heading back to their lander, the Falcon, when Mr. Scott made an unscheduled pit stop. West of a crater called Rhysling, Mr. Scott scrambled out of the rover and quickly picked up a black lava rock, full of holes formed by escaping gas. Mr. Scott and Mr. Irwin had been trained in geology and knew the specimen, a vesicular rock, would be valuable to scientists on Earth. They also knew that if they asked for permission to stop and get it, clock-watching mission managers would say no. So Mr. Scott made up a story that they stopped the rover because he was fidgeting with his seatbelt. The sample was discovered when the astronauts returned to Earth, Mr. Scott described what he'd done, and "Seatbelt Rock" became one of the most prized geologic finds from Apollo 15. Like many lunar samples returned to Earth by the final Apollo missions, Seatbelt Rock never would have been collected if the astronauts had not brought a car with them. Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 are the NASA lunar missions that tend to be remembered most vividly. But at the 50th anniversary of Apollo 15, which launched on July 26, 1971, some space enthusiasts, historians and authors are giving the lunar rover its due as one of the most enduring symbols of the American moon exploration program. Foldable, durable, battery-powered and built by Boeing and General Motors, the vehicle is seen by some as making the last three missions into the crowning achievement of the Apollo era. "Every mission in the crewed space program, dating back to Alan Shepard's first flight, had been laying the groundwork for the last three Apollo missions," said Earl Swift, author of a new book about the lunar rover, "Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings. You see NASA take all of that collected wisdom, gleaned over the previous decade in space, and apply it," Mr. Swift said. "It's a much more swashbuckling kind of science."

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Tech biz must tell us about more security breaches, says UK.gov as it ponders lowering report thresholds

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 19:15
Breach reporting law might have effect on overseas operators too

The British government wants to make Amazon, Google, and other digital service providers report cybersecurity breaches to the Information Commissioner, according to newly published plans.…

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Facebook Creates New Unit To Build a 'Metaverse'

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 19:08
Facebook has announced it is forming a new Metaverse product group to advance its efforts to build a 3D social space using virtual and augmented reality tech. From a report: In an interview with journalist Casey Newton, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he sees the metaverse -- a term widely used in both tech and science fiction to describe broadly shared, open virtual environments -- as "the successor to the mobile internet." Zuckerberg also said it was "not something that any one company is going to build." Facebook's new Metaverse product group will report to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of virtual and augmented reality, who announced the new organization in a Facebook post. Facebook's Oculus and Portal products have been first steps toward the new vision, Bosworth wrote, "but to achieve our full vision of the Metaverse, we also need to build the connective tissue between these spaces -- so you can remove the limitations of physics and move between them with the same ease as moving from one room in your home to the next."

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Power Regulations Cut Off Select Dell PCs from Certain US States

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 18:41
Dell is no longer shipping certain PCs to a handful of U.S. states that have tightened their rules and regulations around computer power consumption. From a report: The headline and "what you need to know" box already summarize this, meaning you're 99% caught up on the current situation, but there are a few specific details to go over in the event you live in Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, or Colorado. As reported by The Register, Dell is no longer shipping the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming Desktop to select states in the U.S. If you attempt to place an order and ship the machines to any of the blacklisted zones, your order will be canceled. In a statement to The Register, Dell clarified the situation. "[...] This was driven by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 implementation that defined a mandatory energy efficiency standard for PCs -- including desktops, AIOs and mobile gaming systems. This was put into effect on July 1, 2021. Select configurations of the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 were the only impacted systems across Dell and Alienware."

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Cassandra 4.0 finally out of the gates after being delayed for last-minute bug swat

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 18:30
Speed and stability top list of NoSQL database's features, Netflix dev says

After an Apple engineer called an 11th-hour halt to the release, Cassandra 4.0 has finally launched flaunting newfound stability, speed and consistency, according to the open-source project's users and contributors.…

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A Grandfather Died in 'Swatting' Over His Twitter Handle, Officials Say

Slashdot - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 17:52
Mark Herring had a fatal heart attack after the police swarmed his house after a fake emergency call. A Tennessee man was sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the episode. From a report: Mark Herring was at home in Bethpage, Tenn., one night in April 2020 when the police swarmed his house. Someone with a British accent had called emergency services in Sumner County and reported having shot a woman in the back of the head at Mr. Herring's address. The caller had threatened to set off pipe bombs at the front and back doors if officers came, according to federal court records. When the police arrived, they drew their guns and told Mr. Herring, a 60-year-old computer programmer and grandfather of six, to come out and keep his hands visible. As he walked out, he lost his balance and fell. He was pronounced dead that same night at a nearby hospital. The cause of death was a heart attack, according to court records. Mr. Herring had been a victim of "swatting," the act of reporting a fake crime in order to provoke a heavily armed response from the police. The caller was a minor living in the United Kingdom, according to federal prosecutors. But the caller knew Mr. Herring's address because Shane Sonderman, 20, of Lauderdale County, Tenn., had posted the information online, prosecutors said. On Wednesday, Mr. Sonderman was sentenced to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. "The defendant was part of a chain of events," federal prosecutors said in court documents. The police "arrived prepared to take on a life and death situation," prosecutors said. "Mr. Herring died of a heart attack at gunpoint." Mr. Sonderman's lawyer, Bryan R. Huffman, said he had argued for a lesser sentence but believed five years "was fair in light of Shane's culpability." "Mr. Sonderman has expressed his remorse on multiple occasions. He has expressed his regret regarding Mr. Herring's death," Mr. Huffman said in an email on Saturday. "Mr. Sonderman's family had also expressed their remorse. There are many families affected by Shane's actions, including his own family." Mr. Herring was targeted because he refused to sell his Twitter handle, @Tennessee, according to his family and prosecutors. Smart, blunt and plain-spoken, Mr. Herring had loved computers since he was a teenager and joined Twitter in March 2007, less than a year after it started, his family said. He knew people wanted his handle, which he chose because of his love for the state, where he had been born and raised, and had rebuffed offers of $3,000 to $4,000 to sell it, his daughter Corinna Fitch, 37, said in an interview.

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Remember when Microsoft devs got so excited about Windows 8 features, Twitter thought it was under attack?

The Register - Tue, 27/07/2021 - 17:45
Microblogging site turned off its website for Build 2011 attendees

Microsoft veteran Raymond Chen has reminded us of the time when Twitter misdetected the overexcited developer emissions from the 2011 Build conference as a denial-of-service attack and hit the mute button.…

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