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Solving Online Events

Fri, 2020-06-05 21:50
Benedict Evans: I suspect part of the answer to this is actually that a lot of physical events will come back in some form as we emerge from lockdown. But this also makes me think that there will be new tools with much more radically new approaches, and some new behaviours and habits. Hence, it's often struck me that networking events are pretty inefficient and random. If you're going to spend an hour or two in a room with 50 or 500 people, then you could take that as a purely social occasion and enjoy yourself. But if your purpose is to have professionally useful conversations, then what proportion of the people in the room can you talk to in an hour and how likely is it that they'll be the right ones? Who's there? I sometimes suggest it would be helpful if we all wore banners, as in the image at the top, so that you could look across the room and see who to talk to. (First Tuesday did something like this in 1999, with different coloured badges.) This might just be that I'm an introvert asking for a machine to manage human connections for me (and I am), but there is also clearly an opportunity to scale the networking that happens around events in ways that don't rely on random chance and alcohol tolerance. A long time ago Twitter took some of that role, and the explosion of online dating also shows how changing the way you think about pools and sample sets changes outcomes. In 2017, 40% of new relationships in the USA started online. Next, before lockdown, you would often have planned to schedule a non-urgent meeting with a partner or client or connection 'when we're in the same city.' That might be at some specific event, but it might also just be for some ad hoc trip -- 'next time I'm in the Bay Area' or 'next time you're in New York.' In January most people would never actually have thought of making a video call, but today every meeting is a video call, so all of those meetings can be a video call too, and can happen this week rather than 'next time I fly to that city' -- or 'at CES/NAB/MIPCOM.' In the last few months video calls have broke through that habit. I wonder what happens if we accelerate all of those meetings in that way. To argue against some of this, James Turrell has said that part of the value of Roden Crater's remoteness is that you have to really care to go there. Getting a plane and a hotel and a ticket, and taking days of time, has some of the same effect for a conference -- it gives a selection filter for people who care. There is value in aggregating people around a professional interest graph, and in doing that in a focused way, perhaps even around a particular time. (There are also, of course, exclusionary effects to this.)

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Categories: Technology

States Are Leaning Toward a Push To Break Up Google's Ad Tech Business

Fri, 2020-06-05 21:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The state attorneys general investigating Google for potential antitrust violations are leaning towards pushing for a breakup of its ad technology business as part of an expected suit, people familiar with the situation told CNBC. Fifty attorneys general have been probing Google's business practices for months, alongside a similar probe being led by the U.S. Department of Justice. Both the states and the DOJ are looking to file a suit against the internet giant as soon as within the next few months, people familiar with the situation told CNBC. The states and the Justice Department have not yet officially decided whether to combine their expected suits, the people said, though they have been collaborating closely. Both have been investigating Google's search, ad technology and android business. The attorneys general investigating Google, which is owned by Alphabet, haven't yet definitively ruled out pushing for alternatives for its ad technology business, like imposing restrictions on how it runs its business, one of the sources said. A suit may also include a push for both that option and breaking up the ad tech business. "Critics have said that Google bundles its ad tools so that rivals can't afford to match its offerings and that its operation of search results, YouTube, Gmail and other services to hinder ad competition," reports CNBC. "They also say that Google owns all sides of the 'auction exchange' through which ads are sold and bought, giving it an unfair advantage." Google's two main deals that provided it the crucial foothold into advertising technology, DoubleClick in 2007 and AdMob in 2009, were years ago. Because of this, it may be difficult for Google to push for a break up of the business.

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Instacart Makes Changes To Tip Policy Following Shopper Complaints

Fri, 2020-06-05 21:10
Instacart announced today that it is changing its tip policy to protect its growing shopper network from tip-baiting. Tip-baiting, a grotesque tactic, is when customers bait shoppers with a big tip and then reduce the tip to zero after they receive their groceries. It emerged as Instacart's demand skyrocketed due to the pandemic and people being unable to go to the grocery store. From a report: Instacart continues to say that tip-baiting is rare and that less than 0.5% of orders have tips removed after delivery. It says tip totals have doubled for shoppers since the COVID-19 pandemic began. However, the policy change shows progress on how the company treats its shopper network, who have been essential as shelter-in-place orders keep people and the immunocompromised from going to grocery stores. Instacart is now requiring customers who remove tips after delivery to leave feedback, and claims it will deactivate any customer who consistently removes tips. The company also said that it is reducing the tip-adjustment window (the time period for how long a customer can change the tip) from three days to 24 hours. The smaller window, ideally, would limit the amount of time that a shopper needs to wait for a final tip. Along with the tip changes, Instacart is updating its Instant cashout feature, first launched in 2019. Shoppers will now be able to cash out tips 24 hours after they complete a delivery for more immediate access to money. The company is also waiving all cashout fees for shoppers using Visa cards until the end of July 2020. Instant Cashout is also expanding to Canada.

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Under Pressure, UK Government Releases NHS COVID Data Deals With Big Tech

Fri, 2020-06-05 20:33
From a report: Hours before facing court proceedings from openDemocracy over its massive NHS COVID-19 data deal with private tech firms, the UK government has caved to pressure and released all the contracts governing its deals with Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and controversial AI firms Faculty and Palantir. The contracts, released to openDemocracy and tech justice firm Foxglove today, reveal details of what has been described as an 'unprecedented' transfer of personal health information of millions of NHS users to these private tech firms. Significantly, the contracts reveal that the Dominic Cummings-linked firm Faculty is being paid more than $1.3m to provide AI services for the NHS. The documents also show that terms of that deal were changed after initial demands for transparency were made by Foxglove under the Freedom of Information Act. The contracts show that companies involved in the NHS datastore project, including Faculty and Palantir, were originally granted intellectual property rights (including the creation of databases), and were allowed to train their models and profit off their unprecedented access to NHS data.

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Matthew Green on Zoom Not Offering End-To-End Encryption To Free Users

Fri, 2020-06-05 19:42
Earlier this week video conferencing service Zoom said it will not offer its forthcoming, complete version of end-to-end encryption to its free users so that it can work better with law enforcement to curb abuse on the platform. Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, looks at the broader implication of this move: Obviously I don't think you should have to pay for E2E encryption. The thing that's really concerning me is that there's a strong push from the US and other governments to block the deployment of new E2E encryption. You can see this in William Barr's "open letter to Facebook." But this is part of an older trend. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies can't get Congress to ban E2E, so they're using all the non-legislative tools they have to try to stop it. And, it turns out, this works. Not against the big entrenched providers who have already deployed E2E. But against the new upstarts who want to use crypto to solve trust problems. And the Federal government has an enormous amount of power. Power over tools like Section 230. Power to create headaches for people. But even without Congressional assistance, the executive branch has vast power to make procurement and certification decisions. So if you're a firm that wants to deploy E2E to your customers, even if there's a pressing need, you face the specter of going to war with an immensely powerful government that has very strong negative feelings about broad access to encryption. And this is a huge problem. Because some companies have infrastructure all over the world. Some companies carry incredibly valuable and sensitive corporate data (even at their "free" tiers) and there are people who want that data. Encryption is an amazing tool to protect it. The amazing thing about this particular moment is that, thanks to a combination of the pandemic forcing us all online, more people than ever are directly exposed by this. "Communications security" isn't something that only activists and eggheads care about. Now for companies that are exposed to this corrupt dynamic, there's an instinct to try to bargain. Split the baby in half. Deploy E2E encryption, but only maybe a little of it. E2E for some users, like paying customers and businesses, but not for everyone. And there's some logic to this position. The worst crimes, like distribution of child abuse media, happen in the free accounts. So restricting E2E to paid accounts seems like an elegant compromise, a way to avoid getting stepped on by a dragon. But I personally think this is a mistake. Negotiating with a dragon never ends well. And throwing free-tier users into the dragon's mouth feels even worse. But the real takeaway, and why I hope maybe this issue will matter to you, is that if the Federal government is able to intimidate one company into compromising your security. Then what's going to happen to the next company? And the next? Once the precedent is set that E2E encryption is too "dangerous" to hand to the masses, the genie is out of the bottle. And once corporate America accepts that private communications are too politically risky to deploy, it's going to be hard to put it back. Anyway, this might be an interesting academic debate if we were in normal times. But we're not. Anyone who looks at the state of our government and law enforcement systems -- and feels safe with them reading all our messages -- is living in a very different world than I am.

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Apple Launches Open Source Project to Let Password Management Apps Create Strong Passwords

Fri, 2020-06-05 19:12
Apple today informed developers that it has launched a new open source project that's designed to let those who develop password management apps create strong passwords compatible with popular websites. From a report: The new Password Manager Resources open source project allows password management apps to integrate website-specific requirements used by the iCloud Keychain password manager to generate strong, unique passwords. "Many password managers generate strong, unique passwords for people, so that they aren't tempted to create their own passwords by hand, which leads to easily guessed and reused passwords. Every time a password manager generates a password that isn't actually compatible with a website, a person not only has a bad experience, but a reason to be tempted to create their own password. Compiling password rule quirks helps fewer people run into issues like these while also documenting that a service's password policy is too restrictive for people using password managers, which may incentivize the services to change," the company said.

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Reddit Co-founder Ohanian Resigns From Board, Urges Company To Replace Him With a Black Candidate

Fri, 2020-06-05 18:37
Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian on Friday announced his resignation from the company's board, saying he was stepping down and urging the company to replace him with a black candidate. From a report: "I'm writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: "What did you do?'" Ohanian wrote in a blog post. Ohanian, who is married to professional tennis player Serena Williams, also committed to using future gains from his Reddit stock to serve the black community and focus on curbing racial hate. To start, Ohanian said he would donate $1 million to former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp. "I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop," Ohanian said.

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How Apple Decides Which Products Are 'Vintage' and 'Obsolete'

Fri, 2020-06-05 17:50
Maddie Stone, writing for OneZero: For the past eight years, I've been working mainly on a late 2012 iMac. I'm no Luddite, but the computer has held up well over the years, and I've never felt the need to replace it. Recently, though, my iMac developed its first serious tic: The fan has started to power on loudly every time the computer goes to sleep. While the computer is long past warranty, I decided to call up Apple to see if the company could offer any help. When I did, I learned my iMac is considered "vintage" and was told Apple won't touch it. [...] According to Apple, "vintage" devices are those that the company discontinued selling more than five and less than seven years ago. Once Apple hasn't sold a product for seven years, it's considered "obsolete," meaning the company won't offer any repair services. But vintage products exist in a liminal space: Despite what I learned when I called Apple Support, Apple Stores as well as AASPs (Apple Authorized Service Provide) can, in theory, repair them for you "subject to availability of inventory, or as required by law," according to Apple. In practice, people in the repair community told me Apple isn't particularly interested in fixing vintage tech. "The AASPs I've spoken to in the past have told me they don't bother with customers looking to repair older devices," said Rob Link, a right-to-repair advocate who owns a company that sells repair parts for older devices including iPhones, iPods, and iPads. In the past, Link said, he would call up AASPs to see if they had older parts to sell "but I would stop when no one did." "If you're taking in a vintage piece of equipment [to an AASP], outside of them still having something sitting on the shelf from years before, you're not going to be able to get service," said Adrian Avery-Johnson, the owner of Bridgetown Electronics Repair, an independent repair shop located in Portland, Oregon.

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Slack Removed a Blog Post Showing How Police Use its Tech

Fri, 2020-06-05 17:10
Slack recently deleted one of the company's own blog posts that explained how a local police department used the chat platform to share intelligence. From a report: The move came after some Black Slack employees flagged the blog post years ago, one employee suggested on Twitter. Slack removed the post in the past few days in the wake of widespread protests about police brutality after a white police officer killed unarmed Black man George Floyd. "These days, the Hartford Police Department's intelligence sharing is primarily coordinated over Slack with more than 450 investigators and officers from all over the state, "the blog post read, referring to Hartford, Connecticut, according to archived and cached versions viewed by Motherboard. The post explained how the police department used Slack to post updates in a #department-wide channel, and use other channels such as #narcotics, #crimes, and #BOLO (be on the lookout). Sometimes the officers used Slack to track specific crimes, such as ATM robberies, the post added. The Slack team hosted over 450 members across 75 agencies and states, according to the post.

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Uber's Self-driving AI Predicts the Trajectories of Pedestrians, Vehicles, and Cyclists

Fri, 2020-06-05 16:41
In a preprint paper, Uber researchers describe MultiNet, a system that detects and predicts the motions of obstacles from autonomous vehicle lidar data. From a report: They say that unlike existing models, MultiNet reasons about the uncertainty of the behavior and movement of cars, pedestrians, and cyclists using a model that infers detections and predictions and then refines those to generate potential trajectories. Anticipating the future states of obstacles is a challenging task, but it's key to preventing accidents on the road. Within the context of a self-driving vehicle, a perception system has to capture a range of trajectories other actors might take rather than a single likely trajectory. For example, an opposing vehicle approaching an intersection might continue driving straight or turn in front of an autonomous vehicle; in order to ensure safety, the self-driving vehicle needs to reason about these possibilities and adjust its behavior accordingly. MultiNet takes as input lidar sensor data and high-definition maps of streets and jointly learns obstacle trajectories and trajectory uncertainties. For vehicles (but not pedestrians or cyclists), it then refines these by discarding the first-stage trajectory predictions and taking the inferred center of objects and objects' headings before normalizing them and feeding them through an algorithm to make final future trajectory and uncertainty predictions. To test MultiNet's performance, the researchers trained the system for a day on ATG4D, a data set containing sensor readings from 5,500 scenarios collected by Uber's autonomous vehicles across cities in North America using a roof-mounted lidar sensor. They report that MultiNet outperformed several baselines by a significant margin on all three obstacle types (vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists) in terms of prediction accuracies. Concretely, modeling uncertainty led to improvements of 9% to 13%, and it allowed for reasoning about the inherent noise of future traffic movement.

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Putin Declares State of Emergency After Massive Fuel Leak Pollutes River in the Arctic Circle

Fri, 2020-06-05 16:24
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency in the city of Norilsk after a massive oil spill in the Arctic region. An estimated 20,000 tons of fuel from a power plant spilled onto a road, and a large part made its way into an river on May 29. From a report: A "considerable amount" of the oil seeped into the Ambarnaya River in Siberia, Putin said Wednesday during an official meeting about response to the fuel leak. The President appeared shocked to learn that local authorities were first flagged to the incident by social media -- two days after it happened and criticized the region's governor Alexander Uss during the televised meeting, Reuters reported. "What -- are we to learn about emergency situations from social networks? Are you alright healthwise over there?" Putin said. The leak was caused by "accidental damage to a diesel fuel storage tank" at a plant operated by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel and a cleanup effort is underway. The company, which is a major producer of palladium, high-grade metal nickel, platinum and copper, said it would "do its maximum" to resolve the issue Tuesday on Twitter.

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Razer is Enabling Gamers To Donate Masks To Frontline Workers by Gaming

Fri, 2020-06-05 15:35
Razer has launched a new initiative that lets gamers donate to COVID-19 initiatives just by playing games. Now when a gamer running its Razer Cortex software earns the company's Razer Silver currency they can pledge it towards the purchase of masks for frontline healthcare workers. From a report: Razer Silver is virtual currency gamers earn when they run the Cortex game optimization software and play eligible games. Silver can normally be exchanged for hardware, gift cards, or games. It's basically a loyalty program that encourages gamers to use Cortex and earn discounted or free Razer hardware. Cortex is available on both PC and Android and supports major titles including World of Warcraft and Borderlands.

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France, Germany Back European Cloud Computing 'Moonshot'

Fri, 2020-06-05 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: France and Germany threw their weight on Thursday behind plans to create a cloud computing ecosystem that seeks to reduce Europe's dependence on Silicon Valley giants Amazon, Microsoft and Google. The project, dubbed Gaia-X, will establish common standards for storing and processing data on servers that are sited locally and comply with the European Union's strict laws on data privacy. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, speaking in Berlin, described Gaia-X as a "moonshot" that would help reassert Europe's technological sovereignty, and invited other countries and companies to join. "We are not China, we are not the United States, we are European countries with our own values and with our own economic interest that we want to defend," his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire said in Paris in a joint video news conference. In an initial step, 22 French and German companies will set up a non-profit foundation to run Gaia-X, which is not conceived as a direct rival to the "hyperscale" U.S. cloud providers but would instead referee a common set of European rules. "Building a European-based alternative is possible only if we play collectively," said Michel Paulin, CEO of independent French cloud service provider OVHcloud. One important concept underpinning Gaia-X is "reversibility," a principle that would allow users to easily switch providers. First services are due to be offered in 2021.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Causes 42% Drop In ER Visits Nationwide, CDC Says

Fri, 2020-06-05 11:00
schwit1 shares a report from UPI: Visits to hospital U.S. emergency rooms have dropped by more than 40 percent so far in 2020, compared to the same period last year, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC researchers compared total visits so far this year to the same five-month period in 2019. The number of ER visits declined from a mean of roughly 2.1 million per week between March 31, 2019, and April 27, 2019, to a mean of 1.22 million per week during the "early pandemic" period of March 29 to April 25 of this year, according to the CDC. ER visits declined for every age group, with the largest proportional declines in children 10 years old and younger at 72 percent and children 11 to 14 years old at 71 percent, the agency said. Researchers found the largest declines in ER visits occurred in the New England states at 49 percent, as well as in the mid-Atlantic region at 48 percent. That region includes New York and New Jersey, which has been the epicenter of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. ER visits related to abdominal pain and other digestive problems fell by more than 66,000 per week from year to year, while those among patients reporting musculoskeletal pain -- excluding low-back pain -- dropped by more than 52,000 per week, according to the CDC report. Visits for "sprains and strains" declined by nearly 34,000 per week, and those related to "superficial injuries" fell by nearly 31,000 per week, the researchers said. Conversely, ER visits for "exposure, encounters, screening or contact with infectious disease" increased by nearly 19,000 per week from 2019 to 2020, the analysis found. Specifically, some 18,000 ER visits occurred per week across the country for COVID-19 symptoms through the end of May, the researchers said. The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether the decline in ER visits could be attributed to "actual reductions in injuries or illness [due] to changing activity patterns during the pandemic" lockdown, or if Americans simply delayed or declined emergency care.

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The Galaxy's Brightest Explosions Go Nuclear With an Unexpected Trigger

Fri, 2020-06-05 08:00
sciencehabit writes: Type Ia supernovae, a bright and long-lasting brand of stellar explosion, play a vital role in cosmic chemical manufacturing, forging in their fireballs most of the iron and other metals that pervade the universe. The explosions also serve as "standard candles," assumed to shine with a predictable brightness. Their brightness as seen from Earth provides a cosmic yardstick, used among other things to discover "dark energy," the unknown force that is accelerating the expansion of the universe. Astronomers have long thought that the blasts come from white dwarfs, burnt out stars once like our Sun, reignited after stealing material from a companion red giant. But evidence is mounting that other mechanisms may be causing white dwarfs to explode, making their standard candle status a puzzle.

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Instagram Just Threw Users of Its Embedding API Under the Bus

Fri, 2020-06-05 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Instagram does not provide users of its embedding API a copyright license to display embedded images on other websites, the company said in a Thursday email to Ars Technica. The announcement could come as an unwelcome surprise to users who believed that embedding images, rather than hosting them directly, provides insulation against copyright claims. "While our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API," a Facebook company spokesperson told Ars in a Thursday email. "Our platform policies require third parties to have the necessary rights from applicable rights holders. This includes ensuring they have a license to share this content, if a license is required by law." In plain English, before you embed someone's Instagram post on your website, you may need to ask the poster for a separate license to the images in the post. If you don't, you could be subject to a copyright lawsuit. Professional photographers are likely to cheer the decision, since it will strengthen their hand in negotiations with publishers. But it could also significantly change the culture of the Web. Until now, people have generally felt free to embed Instagram posts on their own sites without worrying about copyright concerns. That might be about to change. Instagram's announcement follows a recent court ruling where photographer Elliot McGucken sued Newsweek for copyright infringement for embedding his post on their site without permission. "Newsweek countered that it didn't need McGucken's permission because it could get rights indirectly via Instagram," reports Ars Technica. "Instagram's terms of service require anyone uploading photos to provide a copyright license to Instagram -- including the right to sublicense the same rights to other users. Newsweek argued that that license extends to users of Instagram's embedding technology, like Newsweek." "But in a surprise ruling (PDF) on Monday, Judge Katherine Failla refused to dismiss McGucken's lawsuit at a preliminary stage," the report adds. "She held that there wasn't enough evidence in the record to decide whether Instagram's terms of service provided a copyright license for embedded photos." The report goes on to note that courts have previously "ruled against plaintiffs in embedding cases based on the 'server test,' which holds that liability goes to whomever runs the server that actually delivers infringing content to the user -- in this case, Instagram." It adds: "Instagram's decision to throw users of its embedding API under the bus makes the server test crucial for cases like this."

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COVID-19 Crippled Movie Theaters and That Could Force Streamers To Be More Transparent About Viewership Data

Fri, 2020-06-05 03:05
Sarah Whitten writes via CNBC: The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the entertainment industry. With movie theaters shuttered, studios have been forced to either delay their film releases or turn to on-demand and streaming options to present their content to audiences. While cinemas are preparing to reopen this month, eagerly awaiting new films in July, it's still unclear if there is enough demand to keep these businesses profitable. [...] Industry members worry that if films begin to shift towards on-demand and streaming that all of the metrics that were used to gauge success could disappear. It's easy to figure out if a film is successful because studios give out all of the necessary information. You know the production budget, can ascertain that the marketing budget was about half of the production budget and then you see the box office receipts. If the box office numbers are larger than the production and marketing budgets, then the movie was a success. If that number is smaller, it was a flop. There's even data about how many screens a film was shown on in a given weekend and the average that film made per screen. These metrics not only help studios determine the profitability of a movie, but can also aid in its marketing. [...] In the world of streaming, and even on-demand and home video, that level of transparency is not present. There are very few sources that track the home entertainment market and even fewer companies that share their data on the subject. Of course, the model for subscriptions services is very different from that of theatrical releases. Consumers pay up front a flat fee for a month's worth of content on a service like Netflix or Disney+, whereas theaters charge per view. So, it's difficult to assign a monetary amount to a movie released on a streaming service. The strongest measure of success for streaming services is total number of subscribers. This figure can be used to persuade content makers to work with one platform instead of another because of the potential reach they could have with an audience. It's not a guarantee that all of those subscribers will watch the content, but they will be exposed to it. [...] [However] it's very difficult to determine if someone signed up for a service just to watch one program. The report notes that Netflix counts a "view" as someone who chose to watch a program for at least two minutes, which is "pretty useless," according to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. "Who cares how many people watched a particular movie (other than them and the press)? It doesn't translate to revenue unless the movie is the reason to join the streaming service." "Netflix gauges the success of shows by calculating how many viewers it was getting compared with the cost of the show," reports CNBC. "Without viewership data from any of Netflix's shows, it's difficult to determine how big of an audience a show on the platform needs to achieve in order to be considered viable by the company."

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Tesla Model 3 Was California's Best Selling Car Through First Quarter

Fri, 2020-06-05 02:25
Through the first quarter of this year, the Tesla Model 3 was California's best selling vehicle. CNET reports: Data from the California New Car Dealers Association released last week shows the Model 3 sold 18,856 units through March 31 of this year. The figure is greater than any rival car, and even trumps mass-market cars and crossovers. The car to come closest was the Honda Civic with 18,001 units sold in the same time period. The Toyota Camry (17,871 units), RAV4 (17,261) and Corolla (15,575) round out the top five cars through Q1 in California. The CNCDA categorizes the Model 3 in the "near luxury" category, which has it compete with cars like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In its respective segment, the electric car blew rivals away. The 3 Series sits in second place with 3,437 units sold to the Model 3's 18,856. The Lexus ES (2,703 units), C-Class (2,199) and Audi A4 (1,099 units) fill in the final results, and it's clear, Californians dig their Teslas.

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Slack Partners With Amazon To Take On Microsoft Teams

Fri, 2020-06-05 01:45
Slack is partnering with Amazon in a multi-year agreement that means all Amazon employees will start to use Slack. The Verge reports: The deal comes just as Slack faces increased competition from Microsoft Teams, and it will also see Slack migrate its voice and video calling features over to Amazon's Chime platform alongside a broader adoption of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon's roll out of Slack to all of its employees is a big part of the deal, thanks to an enterprise-wide agreement. It's not immediately clear how many of Amazon's 840,000 employees will be using Slack, though. Up until today, Slack's biggest customer has been IBM, which is rolling out Slack to its 350,000 employees. While Slack has long used AWS to power parts of its chat app, it's now committing to using Amazon's cloud services as its preferred partner for storage, compute, database, security, analytics, machine learning, and future collaboration features. The deal means it's unlikely we'll see Slack turn to Microsoft's Azure cloud services or Google Cloud to power parts of its service in the foreseeable future. [...] Slack and Amazon are also promising better product integration and interoperability for features like AWS Chatbot, a service that pushes out Slack channel alerts for AWS instances. In the coming months, Slack and AWS will improve its Amazon AppFlow integration to support bi-directional transfer of data between AWS services and Slack channels.

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Small ISP Cancels Data Caps Permanently After Reviewing Pandemic Usage

Fri, 2020-06-05 01:02
An anonymous reader writes: Antietam Broadband, which serves Washington County in Maryland, announced Friday that it "has permanently removed broadband data usage caps for all customers," retroactive to mid-March when the company first temporarily suspended data-cap overage fees. The decision to permanently drop the cap was made partly because of "learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic as more people worked and learned remotely," Antietam explained. "During this period customers moved into broadband packages that more accurately reflected their broadband needs." Like most other ISPs, Antietam charges different prices based on speed tiers as measured in bits per second, with Antietam's advertised download speeds ranging up to 1Gbps. "These are uncertain times. We felt a need to give customers as much certainty over their bill as possible," Antietam President Brian Lynch said in the press release. "Eliminating data usage caps means that customers will know the exact amount of their broadband bill every month." U.S. residents have been using more Internet data at home since mid-March, when the pandemic caused the closure of offices and schools. "Since the pandemic began, we have seen as much increase in broadband usage as we generally would see over the course of a year," Lynch said. Antietam said it has responded to the growing usage "by adding backhaul, server capacity and local nodes." "Antietam imposed its data cap in 2015, charging a $10 overage fee for each additional block of 50GB," the report adds. "The monthly data caps ranged from 500GB to 1.5TB per month, except for a gigabit fiber plan that already included unlimited data."

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