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EU To Stop Changing the Clocks in October 2019

/. - 17 September 2018 - 6:00pm
European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc last week announced that the EU will stop the twice-yearly changing of clocks across the continent in October 2019. From a report: The practice, which was used as a means to conserve energy during the World Wars as well as the oil crises of the 1970s, became law across the bloc in 1996. All EU countries are required to move forward by an hour on the last Sunday of March and back by an hour on the final Sunday in October. Bulc said EU member states would have until April 2019 to decide whether they would permanently remain on summer or winter time. [...] "In order to maintain a harmonised approach we are encouraging consultations at national levels to ensure a coordinated approach of all member states," Bulc said. The decision to tackle the issue was prompted after the Commission launched an online survey. Some 4.6 million Europeans answered the survey -- three million of those respondents were from Germany -- with 80 percent of them voting to scrap the practice .

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IBM is Being Sued For Age Discrimination After Firing Thousands

/. - 17 September 2018 - 5:20pm
A lawyer known for battling tech giants over the treatment of workers has set her sights on International Business Machines Corp. Bloomberg reports: Shannon Liss-Riordan on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of three former IBM employees who say the tech giant discriminated against them based on their age when it fired them. Liss-Riordan, a partner at Lichten & Liss-Riordan in Boston, has represented workers against Amazon, Uber and Google and has styled her firm as the premier champion for employees left behind by powerful tech companies. "Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce," the former employees claim in the suit, which draws heavily on a ProPublica report published in March that said the company has fired more than 20,000 employees older than 40 in the last six years. The lawsuit comes as IBM faces questions about its firing practices. In exhaustive detail, the ProPublica report made the case that IBM systematically broke age-discrimination rules. Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has consolidated complaints against IBM into a single, targeted investigation, according to a person familiar with it. Further reading: IBM Fired Me Because I'm Not a Millennial, Alleges Axed Cloud Sales Star in Age Discrim Court Row, and IBM is Telling Remote Workers To Get Back in the Office Or Leave.

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It Only Took 37 Seconds For Two Bitcoin 'Celebs' To Start Fighting on a Cruise Ship

/. - 17 September 2018 - 4:40pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: The cruise ship wasn't big enough for the both of them. On September 10, somewhere in the Mediterranean, two well-known rivals -- Jimmy Song, a venture partner at Blockchain Capital LLC and Roger Keith Ver, an early investor in bitcoin-related startups and Bitcoin Cash evangelist -- in the cryptocurrency space stood awkwardly poolside. A crowd, sporting a mix of cryptocurrency-themed t-shirts and bikinis, lounged nearby on the ship's upper deck. One man, sweatpants sloshing in the water, steadied a tripod. The Bitcoin versus Bitcoin Cash debate was about to begin. It only took 37 seconds to spiral out of control. It was perhaps to be expected that the debate wouldn't go smoothly, but just how quickly it went off the rails surprised even those in attendance. Song, cowboy hat atop his head and microphone in hand, attempted to introduce the format of the event -- a "Lincoln-Douglas style debate" -- but was soon interrupted by Ver. Shouts of "no Roger" emanated from the crowd, as Ver told the audience to "calm down." It quickly spun out from there, with Song repeatedly telling Ver to "sit down" as Ver angled for the microphone. "Do you want to debate me or not," Song demanded. "OK then sit down," he repeated as he stood behind the podium. Bickering over whether or not Ver would get a one-minute introduction before the official start of the debate continued on, with Song addressing the crowd and Ver shouting at the top of his lungs. They heatedly yelled over each other as the crowd jeered. Three minutes had passed, and things were not going well. And then someone handed Ver a mic. You better believe Song wasn't having that, and so he stormed offstage saying he was "refusing to do the debate." Finally with the stage all to himself, Ver attempted to speak but was immediately shouted down by an angry, shirtless man yelling from the pool. And that's all just the first five minutes. The video is over 40 minutes long.

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Ajit Pai Calls California's Net Neutrality Rules 'Illegal'

/. - 17 September 2018 - 4:00pm
On Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called California's net neutrality bill "illegal," saying it "poses a risk to the rest of the country." The bill recently passed California's state Assembly and now awaits the signature of Governor Jerry Brown. In response to Pai's speech, Scott Wiener, California's Senator who authored the bill, said they are "necessary and legal because Chairman Pai abdicated his responsibility to ensure an open internet." "Unlike Pai's FCC, California isn't run by the big telecom and cable companies," Wiener also said. "Pai can take whatever potshots at California he wants. The reality is that California is the world's innovation capital, and unlike the crony capitalism promoted by the Trump administration, California understands exactly what it takes to foster an open innovation economy with a level playing field." Ars Technica reports: Pai targeted the California rules in a speech at the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Pai derided what he called "nanny-state California legislators," and said: "The broader problem is that California's micromanagement poses a risk to the rest of the country. After all, broadband is an interstate service; Internet traffic doesn't recognize state lines. It follows that only the federal government can set regulatory policy in this area. For if individual states like California regulate the Internet, this will directly impact citizens in other states. Among other reasons, this is why efforts like California's are illegal. In fact, just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed the well-established law that state regulation of information services is preempted by federal law. Last December, the FCC made clear that broadband is just such an information service."

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Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi Is Pushing Ads In Its Settings App, Users Say

/. - 17 September 2018 - 3:22pm
Several Xiaomi smartphone users are reporting that they are seeing ads in the Settings app of MIUI, a fork of the Android operating system that the Chinese phone maker ships on most of its smartphones. According to some users, ads started to appear at various locations -- including the lock screen -- on MIUI earlier this year. In a thread on Reddit over the weekend, a user noted that an ad has started to appear in the Settings app as well. The post, which has gleaned over 5,000 upvotes, sees plenty of users corroborate the claim. Xiaomi, known for selling inexpensive but high-quality smartphones, is the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the world. Its handsets are immensely popular in emerging markets such as India, where it has been the largest smartphone maker for the last four quarters. In June this year, a senior executive at the company, the name of which means little rice, stated plans to enter the US market next year.

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Altaba To Settle Lawsuits Relating To Yahoo Data Breach For $47 Million

/. - 17 September 2018 - 2:42pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Altaba, the holding company of what Verizon left behind after its acquisition of Yahoo, said it has settled three ongoing legal cases relating to Yahoo's previously disclosed data breaches. In a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the former web giant turned investment company said it has agreed to end litigation for $47 million, which the company said will "mark a significant milestone" in cleaning up its remaining liabilities. The deal is subject to court approval, which attorneys for both sides asked the court to approve the deal within 45 days, according to a filing submitted Friday. One of the data breaches occurred in mid-2013, where data on all of the company's three billion users was stolen. The other breach occurred a year later and resulted in 500 million accounts being stolen, including email addresses and passwords.

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Scientists Followed a Leatherback Turtle Through Hurricane Florence -- Here's What They Saw

/. - 17 September 2018 - 2:03pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: At 10:00 p.m. on May 5, a team of people quietly approached a leatherback lying in the sand on the Florida beach. Working quickly while the female sea turtle laid her eggs, they drilled two small holes in the back of her shell. Through the holes they threaded zip ties, affixing a small transmitter with epoxy on the back for added security. Over the next few months, members of the non-profit, Florida Leatherbacks, Inc, watched as Isla the sea turtle visited the beach a few more time to lay new clutches of fragile eggs in the sand, before starting her late summer migration north along the East Coast. "We're monitoring where she is right now, and it just happens to be in the middle of a hurricane," Kelly Martin says. Isla is now off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to the north of where Hurricane Florence made landfall late last week. For a while it seemed like she would get caught in the massive storm as it slid past the coast. She wound up north of the worst of it, but still experienced rough seas over the weekend. Even before the hurricane hit, she surfaced in an area where waves reached 14 feet high. "Turtles are air breathers, so they need to come to the surface periodically to breathe, but I suspect many dive below the surface to weather the storms," Kate Mansfield, director of the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Central Florida, says in an email. "I have tracked turtles through some storms in the past and never saw any sort of movement that suggested they were trying to get away from the storm (or that the storms shifted their paths). The turtles I tracked were larger juveniles -- at that size they can dive 100s of meters deep."

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Apple Releases iOS 12 With Faster Performance, Memoji, Siri Shortcuts, Screen Time, Revamped Maps App, ARKit 2.0, and More

/. - 17 September 2018 - 1:20pm
Apple on Monday released iOS 12, the latest operating system designed for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. iOS 12 is available on all devices that are able to run iOS 11, which includes the iPhone 5s (released 2013) and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later, and the 6th-generation iPod touch. From a report: iOS 12 is a major update that brings several new features and upgrades to Apple's iOS devices, along with some significant performance improvements. Apps open more speedily than before, the keyboard pops up faster, and the Camera launches much quicker. Apple has also introduced optimizations for when the system is under load, making iOS devices faster when you need performance most. [...] Siri is smarter than ever in iOS 12 with a new Shortcuts feature designed to let you create multi-step customized automations using first and third-party apps that can be activated with Siri voice commands. Shortcuts can be created through the Shortcuts app, which Apple is releasing alongside iOS 12. ArsTechnica reports that older iOS devices -- iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Mini 2 -- are noticeably faster at launching apps and several other functions, after they have been upgraded to iOS 12.

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The Latest Course Catalog Trend? Blockchain 101

/. - 17 September 2018 - 12:45pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: On a clear, warm night earlier this year, several dozen University of California, Berkeley students folded themselves into gray chairs for a three-hour class on how to think like blockchain entrepreneurs. The evening's challenge, presented by Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett, was to brainstorm how blockchain technology might be used to alleviate the city's growing homeless problem. "We have at least 1,400 homeless people in our city, and that includes many right here at UC Berkeley," Bartlett told the class. "So how can we use blockchain to fund a new prosperity? That's a challenge I'd like you to take on." The course, taught by visiting professor and former venture capitalist Po Chi Wu, is among a growing number of classes and research initiatives on blockchain technology emerging at universities. Blockchain -- a method for creating and maintaining a global ledger of transactions that doesn't require a third-party middleman such as a bank, government or corporation -- is best known for its role in powering the virtual currency bitcoin. Applications for the technology are springing up in sectors including retail, humanitarian aid, real estate and finance. Although some analysts believe blockchain won't gain widespread adoption for another five or 10 years, companies like IBM, Facebook and Google are investing heavily in the technology -- and universities are taking note. New York University, Georgetown and Stanford are among the institutions that offer blockchain technology courses to get students thinking about its potential uses and to better prepare them for the workforce. Job postings requiring blockchain skills ballooned by 200 percent in the first five months of this year, compared with the same period a year earlier, though they remain less than 1 percent of software development jobs, according to the research firm Burning Glass Technologies. Universities including MIT, Cornell, and Columbia are launching labs and research centers to explore the technology and its policy implications and seed the development of rigorous curricula on the topic.

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Is Tech Billionaires' Educational Philanthropy a Bug Or a Feature?

/. - 17 September 2018 - 12:10pm
Long-time reader theodp writes: Some education watchers have adopted a wait-and-see response to Jeff Bezos' two-pronged $2B pledge to aid the homeless and to establish preschools for low-income children (Mark Zuckerberg's The Primary School interestingly prefers 'em even younger, noting "we admit students at or before birth"). Not so Audrey Watters, who presents her misgivings in a blog post, titled, "It's Like Amazon, But for Preschool" (tl;dr: read her URL), wondering what a chain of preschools that "use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon" might look like, considering Amazon's own labor practices. She asks, "Are private preschool chains really the path we want to pursue, particularly if we believe that access to excellent early childhood education is so incredibly crucial? Can the gig economy and the algorithm ever provide high quality preschool? For all the flaws in the public school system, it's important to remember: there is no accountability in billionaires' educational philanthropy." Sharing Watters' concerns is author Anand Giridharadas, who argues in his new book Winners Take All that the wealthy pursue social change without uprooting the systems that produce inequality. Bezos has a "a stark opportunity to be a traitor to his class, to actually think about giving in ways that transform the system atop which he stands," Giridharadas said. "It is great to be a winner who gives back. It is even better to be a winner who thinks about how winners can take less."

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CloudFlare's IPFS Gateway Makes it Easy To Create Distributed Web Sites

/. - 17 September 2018 - 11:25am
CloudFlare has introduced a new gateway that allows you to easily access content stored on IPFS, or the InterPlanetary File System, through a web browser and without having to install a client. From a report: With this announcement, CloudFlare also explains how you can use their gateway to create static web sites that are served entirely over IPFS. This allows users to create web sites containing information that cannot be censored by governments, companies, or other organizations. [...] With CloudFlare's IPFS Gateway, it is very easy to access files stored in IPFS using any web browser. To open a file stored on IPFS you would simply connect to the web address https://cloudflare-ipfs.com/ipfs/[hash] URL, where hash is the hash of the file stored on IPFS.

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Machines Are Going To Perform More Tasks Than Humans By 2025

/. - 17 September 2018 - 10:48am
In less than a decade, most workplace tasks will be done by machines rather than humans, according to the World Economic Forum's latest AI job forecast. From a report: Machines will overtake humans in terms of performing more tasks at the workplace by 2025 -- but there could still be 58 million net new jobs created in the next five years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said in a report on Monday. Developments in automation technologies and artificial intelligence could see 75 million jobs displaced, according to the WEF report "The Future of Jobs 2018." However, another 133 million new roles may emerge as companies shake up their division of labor between humans and machines, translating to 58 million net new jobs being created by 2022, it said. At the same time, there would be "significant shifts" in the quality, location and format of new roles, according to the WEF report, which suggested that full-time, permanent employment may potentially fall. Some companies could choose to use temporary workers, freelancers and specialist contractors, while others may automate many of the tasks. New skill sets for employees will be needed as labor between machines and humans continue to evolve, the report pointed out.

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China's OnePlus is Going To Start Making TVs

/. - 17 September 2018 - 9:15am
Chinese electronics company OnePlus, known for making inexpensive but high-end smartphones, is entering a new line of business: making TVs. From a report: Best known for its phones, China's OnePlus also has a small catalog of really good accessories like wireless earphones and surprisingly awesome backpacks, though nothing as complex or expensive as a television set. In announcing the news on the OnePlus online forums, company chief Pete Lau describes it as "the first step in building a connected human experience." [...] OnePlus has decided to make its entry point into this market the TV itself, which has always been at the center of home entertainment, though often with the help of other connected devices. Reading Lau's teaser announcement, the OnePlus TV -- which so far only has a project name, no timeline or specs have been revealed -- will serve as the connectivity hub for OnePlus' future vision of the smart home.

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Microsoft Windows U-turn Removes Warning About Installing Chrome, Firefox

/. - 17 September 2018 - 8:00am
Earlier last week, several users with a new Windows 10 build reported that they were seeing a warning when they attempted to install Chrome or Firefox browser. It turns out, Microsoft has listened to the complaints and is reversing course. CNET reports: A new "fast-ring" test version of Windows, Insider Preview Build 17760, no longer interrupts the installation of rival browsers, a CNET test shows. Earlier this week, an earlier test version of Windows would warn people who tried to install the Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Vivaldi web browsers, "You already have Microsoft Edge -- the safer, faster browser for Windows 10." The dialog box presented two options: "Open Microsoft Edge" -- the default -- and "Install anyway." The feature raised some hackles and brought back memories of Microsoft's strong-arm tactics promoting its old Internet Explorer browser in the first browser wars two decades ago. But Microsoft isn't alone in such tactics: Google promotes its Chrome browser as faster and safer to people who visit its own websites with other browsers.

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Google Remotely Changed the Settings on a Bunch of Phones Running Android 9 Pie

/. - 17 September 2018 - 6:35am
Last week, a mix of people who own Google Pixel phones and other devices running Android 9 Pie noticed that the software's Battery Saver feature had been switched on -- seemingly all by itself. And oddly, this was happening when the phones were near a full charge, not when the battery was low. From a report: Initially it was assumed that this was some kind of minor bug in the latest version of Android, which was only released a few weeks ago. Some users thought they might've just enabled Battery Saver without realizing. But it was actually Google at fault. The company posted a message on Reddit last night acknowledging "an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended." So Google had remotely -- and accidentally -- changed a phone setting for a bunch of real-world customers. Several staffers at The Verge experienced the issue. "We have now rolled battery saver settings back to default. Please configure to your liking," the Pixel team wrote on Reddit before apologizing for the error.

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Nvidia Researchers Generate Synthetic Brain MRI Images For AI Research

/. - 17 September 2018 - 12:01am
AI holds a great deal of promise for medical professionals who want to get the most out of medical imaging. However, when it comes to studying brain tumors, there's an inherent problem with the data: abnormal brain images are, by definition, uncommon. New research from Nvidia aims to solve that. From a report: A group of researchers from Nvidia, the Mayo Clinic, and the MGH & BWH Center for Clinical Data Science this weekend are presenting a paper on their work using generative adversarial networks (GANs) to create synthetic brain MRI images. GANs are effectively two AI systems that are pitted against each other -- one that creates synthetic results within a category, and one that identifies the fake results. Working against each other, they both improve. GANs could help expand the data sets that doctors and researchers have to work with, especially when it comes to particularly rare brain diseases.

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Linus Torvalds Reflects On How He's Been Hostile To Linux Community Members Over the Years, Issues Apology, and Announces He Will Be Taking Some Time Off

/. - 16 September 2018 - 8:23pm
On Sunday, Linus Torvalds spoke about the confusion he had regarding Maintainer's Summit, but more importantly, how this incident gave him a chance to realize "that I really had been ignoring some fairly deep-seated feelings in the community." In an email to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, Torvalds apologized for hurting people with his behavior over the years, and possibly driving some people "away from kernel development entirely." On that end, said Torvalds, "I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people's emotions and respond appropriately." He wrote: [...] It's one thing when you can ignore these issues. Usually it's just something I didn't want to deal with. This is my reality. I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn't come as a big surprise to anybody. Least of all me. The fact that I then misread people and don't realize (for years) how badly I've judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good. This week people in our community confronted me about my lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry. The above is basically a long-winded way to get to the somewhat painful personal admission that hey, I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely.I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people's emotions and respond appropriately. Put another way: When asked at conferences, I occasionally talk about how the pain-points in kernel development have generally not been about the _technical_ issues, but about the inflection points where development flow and behavior changed. These pain points have been about managing the flow of patches, and often been associated with big tooling changes - moving from making releases with "patches and tar-balls" (and the _very_ painful discussions about how "Linus doesn't scale" back 15+ years ago) to using BitKeeper, and then to having to write git in order to get past the point of that no longer working for us. We haven't had that kind of pain-point in about a decade. But this week felt like that kind of pain point to me. To tie this all back to the actual 4.19-rc4 release (no, really, this_is_ related!) I actually think that 4.19 is looking fairly good, things have gotten to the "calm" period of the release cycle, and I've talked to Greg to ask him if he'd mind finishing up 4.19 for me, so that I can take a break, and try to at least fix my own behavior. This is not some kind of "I'm burnt out, I need to just go away" break. I'm not feeling like I don't want to continue maintaining Linux. Quite the reverse. I very much *do* want to continue to do this project that I've been working on for almost three decades. This is more like the time I got out of kernel development for a while because I needed to write a little tool called "git". I need to take a break to get help on how to behave differently and fix some issues in my tooling and workflow. And yes, some of it might be "just" tooling. Maybe I can get an email filter in place so at when I send email with curse-words, they just won't go out. Because hey, I'm a big believer in tools, and at least _some_ problems going forward might be improved with simple automation. [...]

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Vulnerability in WebKit Crashes and Restarts iPhones and iPads

/. - 16 September 2018 - 7:10pm
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for ZDNet: A security researcher has discovered a vulnerability in the WebKit rendering engine used by Safari that crashes and restarts the iOS devices -- iPhones and iPads. The vulnerability can be exploited by loading an HTML page that uses specially crafted CSS code. The CSS code isn't very complex and tries to apply a CSS effect known as backdrop-filter to a series of nested page segments (DIVs). Backdrop-filter is a relative new CSS property and works by blurring or color shifting to the area behind an element. This is a heavy processing task, and some software engineers and web developers have speculated that the rendering of this effect takes a toll on iOS' graphics processing library, eventually leading to a crash of the mobile OS altogether.

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Fans Are Spoofing Spotify With 'Fake Plays', And That's A Problem For Music Charts

/. - 16 September 2018 - 6:15pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Billboard charts have long been the gold standard by which musicians measure their success, but as recent tantrums by the likes of Nicki Minaj have highlighted, the rising influence of streaming services is upending that model -- and giving die-hard fans a way to manipulate the data. A recent release by the Korean pop group BTS prompted its superfandom, millions strong across the globe, to do just that by launching a sophisticated campaign to make sure the boy band reached No. 1. The strategy employed by the so-called BTS Army went largely like this: Fans in the US created accounts on music streaming services to play BTS's music and distributed the account logins to fans in other countries via Twitter, email, or the instant messaging platform Slack. The recipients then streamed BTS's music continuously, often on multiple devices and sometimes with a virtual private network (VPN), which can fake, or "spoof," locations by rerouting a user's traffic through several different servers across the world. Some fans will even organize donation drives so other fans can pay for premium streaming accounts. "Superfans of pop acts have long been doing this sort of thing," said Mark Mulligan, managing director of the digital media analysis company MIDIA Research. "But if a superfan has decided to listen nonstop to a track, is that fake? If so, how many times do they have to listen to a track continuously before it is deemed 'fake'?" One BTS fan group claimed it distributed more than 1,000 Spotify logins, all to make it appear as though more people in the US were streaming BTS's music and nudge their album Love Yourself: Tear up the Spotify chart, which in turn factors into Billboard's metrics.

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American Eating Habits Are Changing Faster than Fast Food Can Keep Up

/. - 16 September 2018 - 5:24pm
Home cooking would be making a comeback if it ever really went away. From a report: Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals, the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating. Eighty-two percent of American meals are prepared at home -- more than were cooked 10 years ago, according to researcher NPD Group. The latest peak in restaurant-going was in 2000, when the average American dined out 216 times a year. That figure fell to 185 for the year ended in February, NPD said. Don't be fooled by reports of rising U.S. restaurant sales at big chains like McDonald's. Increases have been driven by price hikes, not more customers. Traffic for the industry was down 1.1 percent in July, the 29th straight month of declines, according to MillerPulse data. "It's counterintuitive because you see a lot of things in the press about restaurant sales increasing," said David Portalatin, a food-industry adviser at NPD. "America does still cook at home." The shift is weighing on the fast-food industry. Eateries already are struggling with higher labor and rent costs that they're passing along to customers, which in turn makes home cooking more economical. McDonald's, Jack in the Box, Shake Shack and Wendy's have all raised prices in the past year.

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