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  1. Uber's terms of service prohibit its drivers from joining class action lawsuits, Gizmodo writes, adding that over 12,000 drivers have now "found a way to weaponize the ridesharing platform's restrictive contract in what's possibly the funniest labor strategy of the year." An anonymous reader summarizes their report: Uber's contract requires that all driver lawsuits be arbitrated (instead of argued in open court), but "While arbitrating parties are responsible for paying for their own attorneys, the terms state that 'in all cases where required by law, [Uber] will pay the Arbitrator's and arbitration fees'... A group of 12,501 drivers opted to take Uber at its word, individually bringing their cases up for arbitration, overwhelming the infrastructure...." (Gizmodo calls it Uber's arbitration policy "coming back to bite it in the ass.") A petition in California's Northern District Court points out that Uber now is apparently overwhelmed. "Of those 12,501 demands, in only 296 has Uber paid the initiating filing fees necessary for an arbitration to commence [...] only 47 have appointed arbitrators, and [...] in only six instances has Uber paid the retainer fee of the arbitrator to allow the arbitration to move forward." The drivers' lawyers are now complaining that Uber's delinquincies "make clear it does not actually support arbitration; rather, it supports avoiding any method of dispute resolution, no matter the venue... At this point, it is fair to ask whether Uber's previous statements to the 9th Circuit about its desire to facilitate arbitration with its drivers were nothing more than empty promises to avoid litigating a class action."
  2. Microsoft's Visual Basic .NET now ranks above JavaScript, PHP, SQL on TIOBE's index of programming language popularity, which ZDNet notes is "the highest it's ever been since [TIIOBE] started tracking the Microsoft language in 2001." Tiobe analysts said it was "very surprising" that Visual Basic .Net is now the fifth most popular language, only behind C++, Python, C, and Java. It's even ahead of JavaScript, which currently lies in seventh place, down from sixth a year ago. C# meanwhile fell from fifth spot a year ago to sixth this month. The language index still reckons Visual Basic .Net will "sooner or later go into decline", but concedes it's popular for dedicated office applications in small and medium enterprises, and is probably still used by many developers because it's easy to learn. TIOBE's methodology "basically...comes down to counting hits for the search query +"<language> programming," TIOBE explains on its web page -- though its results don't always agree with other analysts. InfoWorld points out that on this month's PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which analyzes how often language tutorials are searched for on Google, VB.NET "doesn't even register Visual Basic.Net or Visual Basic among its Top 10 languages" -- and JavaScript comes in third, behind only Python and Java.
  3. Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday December 08, 2018 @01:04PM from the do-you-C-what-I-C? dept.
  4. Cryptocurrency prices "fell sharply on Friday, as another bout of selling took digital currencies to fresh lows," reports MarketWatch, adding that Friday the price of Bitcoin "crashed through support at $3,500, falling more than 10% to a 15-month low at $3,230 on the Kraken exchange." "What a difference a year makes," CNN Business quipped Friday, in an article headlined "Bitcoin's Epic Plunge Continues": In December 2017, bitcoin prices hit a record high of just under $20,000... Bitcoin is at a 15-month low. But prices have really gotten whacked this week, falling nearly 20% in just the past five days alone. Bitcoin isn't the only cryptocurrency getting hit either. Ripple/XRP, ethereum, stellar, litecoin and numerous other cryptocurrencies have plunged in the past week. Little tangible news can explain or justify the current crypto carnage. One possible reason is that a pro-crypto member of the Securities and Exchange Commission warned at a conference this week that she's fighting an uphill battle trying to convince the rest of the SEC to approve more bitcoin exchange traded funds.... Nearly two-thirds of money managers surveyed by asset management firm Natixis still thought that cryptocurrencies were a bubble, the firm reported this week. "In my opinion, bitcoin is dead," wrote the CEO of one wealth management firm with more than $32 billion in assets. It won't go quietly, but the recent precipitous drop may be the beginning of its inevitable and inexorable death spiral. Or there could be a dead cat bounce. Either way, I see bitcoin as a dead man walking. Future generations may read about bitcoin in a finance textbook as a curiosity and wonder what all the fuss was about. There are still some die-hard adherents espousing the virtues of bitcoin, desperate to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Unfortunately for them, the end may not be pretty when it comes. Proponents of bitcoin tend to focus on the impact of the blockchain technology that drives it, and make no mistake, blockchain is the real deal. Blockchain is fundamentally changing the way industries do business, from traditional banking to supply chain management. But just because blockchain technology is creating a new paradigm doesn't mean that bitcoin shares that same distinction.... Most cryptocurrency transactions are purely speculative. There are no real fundamentals to evaluate; bitcoin doesn't produce any products or services, hire any employees or pay any dividends. The only way profits are generated is when the owner is lucky enough to find someone else who will pay more for the thing... The minute bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency appears to have even the slightest chance of disrupting national monetary supply, I expect regulation to be swift and decisive. The SEC has already issued guidance around cryptocurrencies that has created roadblocks to gaining the same legitimacy as traditional marketable securities... If you enjoy the thrill of making bets, I suggest you visit your favorite sports book or table game in Vegas where your odds of success are much higher.
  5. Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday December 08, 2018 @02:04PM from the buy-high-sell-low dept.
  6. "Strange waves rippled across earth and only one person spotted them," reported Forbes, noting that the seismologist then "quickly put out an alert to see if other systems detected the same unusual wave." "Seismographs picked up the waves as they traveled as far as New Zealand, Chile, Hawaii and Canada. In total, the waves were detected as far as 11,000 miles from their origin, ringing for 20 minutes or more minutes as they passed... As these waves rippled across the globe there were surprisingly no reports of anyone feeling the rumbling." The Weather Channel now reports that "There was no earthquake large enough to have started these low-frequency signals. Scientists believed a magma shift caused the rumblings," citing a recent interview with Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at the University of Southampton. The Guardian reports: Hicks believes magma may suddenly have drained from a volcanic chamber about 10 miles under the seafloor near Mayotte, setting off the deep rumble that spread around the world. While strong enough to be picked up by sensitive seismometers, the vibrations would have been minuscule: far smaller than a millimetre. "It's something that you wouldn't perceive," he said. Pierre Briole, a geoscientist at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, has reached a similar conclusion. He believes that a third of a cubic mile of magma may have drained from a volcanic chamber under the seafloor, unleashing deep vibrations when its roof collapsed. Much of the seismic sleuthing played out on social media with professional and amateur scientists working together. "Overall, [it has been] a fascinating demonstration of open science on Twitter and engagement between scientists and citizen seismologists," said Hicks.
  7. "A Google software engineer has been found dead inside the company's Chelsea headquarters," reports the New York Post: A janitor found 22-year-old Scott Krulcik unconscious at his work terminal on the sixth floor of the building on Eighth Avenue near West 16th Street around 9 p.m. on Friday, police sources said. EMS workers tried to perform CPR but to no avail. Krulcik was pronounced dead at the scene. "Krulcik's Linkedin page says he began working at Google in August," reports long-time Slashdot reader McGruber, adding that "Police sources say that his body did not show any signs of trauma, nor did he have a history of medical conditions or substance abuse problems."
  8. In 2018 the most-downloaded iPhone app was YouTube, reports USA Today, while Amazon's best-selling item was their Fire TV Stick for streaming video. "Sense a trend? We love to stream video." If you're thinking of quitting your day job this year and looking to strike it big in the world of online video, maybe this will inspire you. The No. 1 earner on YouTube this year is.....7-year-old Ryan from Ryan Toys Review. For all those unboxing videos and playing with toys -- and his own new line of toys at Walmart -- he and his family will pull in a cool $22 million, according to Forbes. Ryan launched the channel in 2015 -- when he was four -- and now has 17.3 million followers. One viral video of the 7-year-old even racked up 1.6 billion views, though apparently Ryan actually has fewer subscribers than several of the game streamers among YouTube's top-ten earners.
  9. Marvel's last Avengers movie ended with a cliff-hanger -- leading hundreds of millions of fans to watch the trailer for the franchise's next film, Variety reports: The "Avengers: Endgame" trailer was viewed 289 million times in its first 24 hours, after it was released around 5 a.m. PT Friday, according to Marvel Studios. That blasted past the previous record of 230 million views, set a little over a year ago by the studio's "Avengers: Infinity War." Behind that was Disney's "The Lion King" teaser, which racked up 224.6 million views.... The trailer also set a record for Twitter conversation for a movie trailer in the first 24 hours -- with 549,000 mentions -- soaring past previous record holder "Avengers: Infinity War" (389,000) and "Black Panther" (349,000). Mashable also reports on some clever tie-in marketing for another Marvel-related film: Typing "AvengersEndgame.com" into your address bar will take you to the official Fox Movies web portal for Once Upon a Deadpool, the family-friendly Deadpool 2 re-cut that uses the same "reading stories to a sick kid in bed" framing device as The Princess Bride (right down to Fred Savage!). There's still some question as to whether or not this is an intentional marketing ploy, however. It's definitely something you could see coming out of the Deadpool playbook.
  10. Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday December 08, 2018 @06:04PM from the after-Anchorhead dept.
  11. Democrat Senator Mark Warner "says Google is profiting off advertising fraud and has no interest in addressing it," reports ZDNet -- and he's laying part of the blame on America's trade commissioners. Warner is just as mad about the FTC as he is about Google, claiming the FTC has failed to take action against the Mountain View-based company for more than two years since he and New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer first wrote the agency about Google's ad fraud problem. "The FTC's failure to act has had the effect of allowing Google to structure its own market," said Sen. Warner in a letter sent to the FTC... "While the company controls each link in the supply chain and therefore maintains the power to monitor activity in the digital advertising market from start to finish, it has continued to be caught flat-footed in identifying and addressing digital ad fraud." Sen. Warner also called out Google for proving unwilling to address misuse of its advertising platform for the "rampant proliferation of online disinformation" -- referring to how various foreign entities have used Google ads to push political agendas, both in the US and other countries of the world. "As long as Google stands to profit from the sale of additional advertisements, the financial incentive for it to voluntarily root out and address fraud remains minimal," Sen. Warner added.
  12. An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Elon Musk wants electric vehicles to be successful -- even if Tesla goes under trying. In an interview for CBS' "60 Minutes," the Tesla CEO and Silicon Valley billionaire was asked about competition from General Motors (GM), which announced last month it's laying off thousands of workers as the century-old company shifts focus to self-driving and electric vehicles. Musk appeared unconcerned. "If somebody comes and makes a better electric car than Tesla, and it's so much better than ours that we can't sell our cars and we go bankrupt, I still think that's a good thing for the world," Musk told Leslie Stahl during the interview.... "The whole point of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles and sustainable transport," he said. "We're trying to help the environment, we think it's the most serious problem that humanity faces...." In his 60 Minutes interview, Musk also floated the possibility that Tesla may expand its footprint in the United States. He said Tesla "would be interested" in taking over some of the factory space GM said it will abandon during its restructuring. The article also cites estimates from Navigant Research that Teslas now account for 20% of all fully-electric vehicles on the road today.
  13. "Democrats are expected to use their upcoming control of the House to push for strong net neutrality rules," reports NBC News: "The FCC's repeal sparked an unprecedented political backlash, and we've channeled that internet outrage into real political power," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights-focused non-profit organization. "As we head into 2019, net neutrality supporters in the House of Representatives will be in a much stronger position to engage in FCC oversight...." Gigi Sohn, a former lawyer at the FCC who is now a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, said she expects Democrats to use their new power to push for the restoration of strong net neutrality rules -- and for the topic to be on the lips of presidential hopefuls. "I have no doubt that bills to restore the 2015 rules will be introduced in both the Senate and the House relatively early on," Sohn said.... Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner who has been a vocal supporter of net neutrality, noted that it has become a national issue -- and one that has broad approval from Americans. She pointed to a University of Maryland study that found 83 percent of people surveyed were against the FCC's move to undo the rules around net neutrality... Ernesto Falcon, legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation...said he is "extraordinarily confident" that proponents of net neutrality will win. "It really just boils down to how one side of the polling is in this space," Falcon said.
  14. Long-time Slashdot reader mspohr shares a Guardian article which argues that Apple Store employees "are underpaid, overhyped and characters in a well-managed fiction story" who "use emotional guile to sell products": When customers run into trouble with their products, geniuses are encouraged to sympathize, but only by apologizing that customers feel bad, lest they implicate Apple's products as the source of the trouble. In this gas-lit performance of a "problem free" brand philosophy, many words are actually verboten for staff. Do not use words like crash, hang, bug, or problem, employees are told. Instead say does not respond, stops responding, condition, issue, or situation. Avoid saying incompatible; instead use does not work with. Staff have reported the absurdist dialogues that can result, like when they are not allowed to tell customers that they cannot help even in the most hopeless cases, leading customers into circular conversations with employees able neither to help nor to refuse to do so.... n a move so ridiculous it's almost certain to be a hit, the Genius Bar has been rebranded the "Genius Grove". Windows are opened to blur the distinction between inside and outside, and the stores are promoted as quasi-public spaces. "We actually don't call them stores any more," the new head of retail at Apple, former Burberry executive Angela Ahrendts (2017 salary: $24,216,072), recently told the press. "We call them town squares." The article argues that since there launch in 2001, Apple Stores "have raked in more money -- in total and per square foot -- than any other retailer on the planet, transforming Apple into the world's richest company in the process." But it also complains that Apple's wealth "flows from the privatization of publicly funded research, mixed with the ability to command the low-wage labor of our Chinese peers, sold by empathetic retailers forbidden from saying 'crash'."
  15. "Half of tech employees think their work culture is toxic," reports one Texas news site, citing a new survey by Blind: Blind, an anonymous work talk app, asked more than 12,000 tech staffers to respond to the statement: "I consider my current workplace a healthy working environment." Slightly more than half, 52 percent, said the survey statement was "false," versus nearly 48 percent who responded with "true." Intel was named the tech company with the least healthy work environment, by 48.5 percent of its employees, followed by Amazon at 46.5 percent, and eBay at 44.5 percent. Employees who consider their workplaces healthier work at LinkedIn, where 17.3 percent responded true, followed by Google, at 23.7 percent, and Uber, at 29.7 percent. It depends on how you define "unhealthy," of course -- but it'd be interesting to hear how Slashdot's readers respond to the same question. So leave your own thoughts and reactions in the comments. Is your work environment unhealthy?