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Netflix and Amazon Are Struggling To Win Over the World's Second-Largest Internet Market

/. - 8 July 2018 - 12:45am
An anonymous reader shares a report: As Netflix and Amazon search for new users abroad, they are increasingly looking to India as a big market. Once crippled by poor internet infrastructure and low household income, the world's second-largest internet market has exhibited tremendous potential in the recent years. It's proving, however, to be a tough nut to crack for the American streaming leaders. Leading the pack in the nation is Hotstar. Owned by Star India, which is controlled by Twenty-First Century Fox, Hotstar had about 70 percent of the on-demand local streaming services market earlier this year, according to estimates by research firm Jana. The three-and-a-half-year-old service has 150 million monthly active users, CEO Ajit Mohan told CNBC in an interview. Netflix, by contrast, has fewer than one million subscribers in the country, according to industry estimates. Once considered a luxury, an increasingly growing number of Indians are giving online streaming services a try. Companies have taken notice: More than 35 streaming services have launched or expanded their businesses in India in the last three and a half years, with many more planning to enter Bollywood soon. [...] Analysts say sporting events and local content are proving crucial in bringing new users to video platforms and then keeping them online, two areas where international giants are struggling. Hotstar, which offers much of its content to users at no charge (instead relying on ads to make revenue), charges $3 for its premium offering. In contrast, Netflix charges Indians about $8 a month. Sports streaming in particular is helping local firms gain new users, the report said. Slashdot readers will remember Hotstar, which entered the US and Canada markets, setting a new global concurrent record in late April, and now it turns out SonyLiv is getting more concurrent viewers to the FIFA World Cup in India than Fox Sports is generating on its digital platform in the US.

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Are the Wealthy Plotting To Leave Us Behind?

/. - 7 July 2018 - 11:34pm
"The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind," writes Douglas Rushkoff, describing what he learned from a high-paying speaking gig about the future of technology for "five super-wealthy guys...from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world," -- and what it says about perceptions of technology today. The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down. This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader...? That's when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape. There's nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It's less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity.... It's a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride... The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively. This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities... Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor. The piece -- titled "Survival of the Richest" -- is an interesting read, and ends by suggesting this inspiring counter-philosophy. "Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It's a team sport."

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Critical Bug Last Year Allowed Bypassing Authentication On HPE ILO4 Servers With 29 'A' Characters

/. - 7 July 2018 - 9:34pm
Public exploit code has been published for a severe vulnerability which last year affected Hewlett Packard Integrated Lights-Out 4 (HP iLO 4), a tool for remotely managing the company's servers. HPE "silently released" patches last August, an anonymous reader reports, adding "details only emerged this spring after researchers started presenting their work at security conferences." The vulnerability is an authentication bypass that allows attackers access to HP iLO consoles. Researchers say this access can later be used to extract cleartext passwords, execute malicious code, and even replace iLO firmware. But besides being a remotely exploitable flaw, this vulnerability is also as easy as it gets when it comes to exploitation, requiring a cURL request and 29 letter "A" characters, as below: curl -H "Connection: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" Because of its simplicity and remote exploitation factor, the vulnerability — tracked as CVE-2017-12542 — received a severity score of 9.8 out of 10.

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Is C++ a 'Really Terrible Language'?

/. - 7 July 2018 - 7:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader slack_justyb writes, "Jonathan Blow, an independent video game developer, indicated to gamesindustry.biz that while working on a recent project he stopped and considered how miserable programming can be. After some reflection Blow came to the realization as to why. [C++ is a] 'really terrible, terrible language.'" The main flaw with C++, in Blow's opinion, is that it's a fiendishly complex and layered ecosystem that has becoming increasingly convoluted in its effort to solve different problems; the more layers, the higher the stack, the more wobbly it becomes, and the harder it is to understand. "Blow is the developer of two games so far -- Braid and The Witness -- and developed a new programming language known as Jai in hopes to help C++ game developers become more productive." With Jai, Blow hopes to achieve three things: improve the quality of life for the programmer because "we shouldn't be miserable like many of us are"; simplify the systems; and increase expressive power by allowing programmers to build a large amount of functionality with a small amount of code. Long-time Slashdot reader xx_chris calls C++ "the triumph of syntax over clarity," while in the interview Blow calls C++ 'a weird mess.' But the original submission ends with these questions. "Is Blow correct? Has C++ become a horrific mess that we should ultimately relegate to the bins of COBOL and Pascal? Are there redeeming qualities of C++ that justify the tangle it has become? "And is Jai a solution or just yet another programming language?"

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All-time Heat Records Are Being Set All Over the World

/. - 7 July 2018 - 6:34pm
As the U.K. begins a two-week heat wave, one pedestrian apparently found his leg sinking into tarmac, which had melted, requiring a call to emergency rescue services. "All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week," reports the Washington Post, in an article titled "Red-Hot Planet," which they've updated throughout the week with new all-time heat records. From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week.... The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports the heat is to blame for at least 54 deaths in southern Quebec, mostly in and near Montreal, which endured record high temperatures. In Northern Siberia, along the coast of the Arctic Ocean -- where weather observations are scarce -- model analyses showed temperatures soaring 40 degrees above normal on July 5, to over 90 degrees... On Thursday, Africa likely witnessed its hottest temperature ever reliably measured. Ouargla, Algeria soared to 124.3 degrees (51.3 Celsius). If verified, it would surpass Africa's previous highest reliable temperature measurement of 123.3 degrees (50.7 Celsius) set July 13, 1961, in Morocco. No single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming. But collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world. Nasdaq Inc. even warned customers that high humidity in New Jersey was slowing the radio transmissions needed for high-speed trading, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader narcoossee. And Southern California has also experienced record-setting temperatures "well above 110 degrees across the region," sparking brush fires that burned homes in two counties. Last July several U.S. cities experienced their hottest month ever, including Reno, Salt Lake City, and Miami. And Death Valley, California maintained an average temperature of 107.4 degrees for an entire month, the hottest month ever recorded on earth. "The temperature didn't fall below 89 degrees at any point in the month of July at Death Valley," reports the Washington Post, adding "On three nights, the 'low' temperature was 102-103 degrees." And last month the Middle East city Quriyat (in Oman) endured more than two full days in which the temperature never dropped below 108.7 degrees.

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Reddit Promises Post Sponsors a 'Walled Garden' of Conversation

/. - 7 July 2018 - 5:40pm
"Reddit has been actively luring advertisers as it attempts to take advantage of its vast audience to build its business," reports CNBC, adding that Reddit "has indicated it wants to increase advertising across the site, including more display and mobile ads and sponsored opportunities." An anonymous reader quotes their report: The 13-year-old company is now trying to expand and is making an aggressive push to get advertisers on board... [R]epresentatives from a half-dozen ad agencies told CNBC they've been pitched by Reddit within the past year about the company's plans to help brands target users. CNBC also obtained a 28-page presentation that Reddit has been sharing with advertisers... Reddit is taking proactive steps to help clients protect their brands. In addition to its system of volunteer moderators and upvoting as a way to police content, three agencies that spoke with CNBC about Reddit said the company has discussed investing in technology like natural language bots to find questionable posts and hiring more people to monitor the threads. Reddit's ad deck has a section dedicated to "brand safety," where it explains how it places advertiser content in "white-listed" categories that are safe and has a team that watches over it. "Our dedicated account team constantly monitors Your Reddit Ad to ensure engagement is relevant and positive -- creating a 'walled garden' of conversation you can moderate or ban as needed," the slide says. The artilce points out that Reddit is the third most-trafficked site in the U.S., but has far less ad revenue than other tech giants. Google: $95 billion in 2018Facebook: $40 billionAmazon: $2 billion (from advertising) in the last three monthsTwitter: $655 million in the first three months of 2018Reddit: Over $100 million projected for 2018

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Why Warren Buffett Is Poorer Than Mark Zuckerberg

/. - 7 July 2018 - 4:34pm
Facebook's soaring stock price isn't the only reason 34-year-old Mark Zuckerberg is now richer than 87-year-old Warren Buffett. An anonymous reader quotes Inc: There's another, more important reason that Zuckerberg is now worth more: Buffett has been doing a great job of giving his money away, something that he, Zuckerberg, Gates, and most of the world's most well-known billionaires have pledged to do. Buffett has given Berkshire Hathaway stock now worth more than $50 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation alone. When it comes to giving, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have a lot of catching up to do. They appear to have devoted well under $10 billion so far to philanthropy... On the other hand, Zuckerberg, is more than 50 years younger than Buffett, so they likely have a lot more time in which to do their giving. Three years ago the couple pledged to give away 99% of their net worth within their lifetimes.

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Giant Tesla Battery Project Now Proposed For Silicon Valley

/. - 7 July 2018 - 3:34pm
Digital Trends reports: Tesla's largest-ever Powerpack installation may be coming to Northern California. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) applied to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval for a utility-owned 182.5 MW energy storage farm using Tesla Powerpacks at the company's energy storage site in Moss Landing... The Tesla project, however, would have an expansion capacity of 1.1 GW. The storage projects' purpose is to help keep electrical power levels even for PG&E customers. The storage facilities would feed power to the grid when consumption exceeds normal levels and during blackouts or other service interruptions. Tesla's giant battery in Australia has already reduced grid service costs by 90%. And speaking of power sources, long-time Slasdot reader judgecorp writes: A disused Stanley Black & Decker factory in New Britain, Hartford County.CT, will get a 20MW micro-grid powered by fuel cells, according to the first phase of a plan unveiled by the State Governor. It's a big deal because it will be the largest indoor micro-grid in the world, and will help provide a reliable power source for a data center in the old factory. Along with the other phases of the project, Governor Dannel Malloy hopes the deal will provide 3,000 jobs and lots of tax revenue.

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Controversial Police Facial Recognition Test Fails to Recognize Anyone in London

/. - 7 July 2018 - 2:34pm
Police officers have just begun testing facial recognition software in London. Slashdot reader Bruce66423 reports: After all the concern about the [first] trial, it appears to have been a bust. "Police have admitted that no one was arrested during a trial of controversial facial recognition technology, which sparked privacy and human rights concerns," reports the Independent. On the other hand, this may lead us to get to get complacent about the threat that is out there. Detective Superintendent Bernie Galopin, the force's lead for facial recognition technology, pointed out that "All alerts against the watchlist will be deleted after 30 days and faces in the database that did not generate an alert were deleted immediately." But an advocacy and policy officer from the National Council for Civil Liberties complains that pedestrians were never informed what was happening -- except for one man who was apparently stopped erroneously after a "false positive" match (which the officers failed to first confirm on their own). "Opponents argue that the software currently being used by British police forces is 'staggeringly inaccurate' and has a chilling effect on society," reports the Independent, "while supporters see it as a powerful public protection tool with the ability to help track terrorists, wanted criminals and vulnerable people.... "The use of facial recognition is more prevalent in the U.S., where it was used to track down an alleged mass shooter following a massacre at a newspaper's office last week."

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Police 'Facial Recognition' Test Fails to Recognize Anyone in London

/. - 7 July 2018 - 2:34pm
Police officers have just begun testing facial recognition software in London. Slashdot reader Bruce66423 reports: After all the concern about the [first] trial, it appears to have been a bust. "Police have admitted that no one was arrested during a trial of controversial facial recognition technology, which sparked privacy and human rights concerns," reports the Independent. On the other hand, this may lead us to get to get complacent about the threat that is out there. Detective Superintendent Bernie Galopin, the force's lead for facial recognition technology, pointed out that "All alerts against the watchlist will be deleted after 30 days and faces in the database that did not generate an alert were deleted immediately." But an advocacy and policy officer from the National Council for Civil Liberties complains that pedestrians were never informed what was happening -- except for one man who was apparently stopped erroneously after a "false positive" match (which the officers failed to first confirm on their own). "Opponents argue that the software currently being used by British police forces is 'staggeringly inaccurate' and has a chilling effect on society," reports the Independent, "while supporters see it as a powerful public protection tool with the ability to help track terrorists, wanted criminals and vulnerable people.... "The use of facial recognition is more prevalent in the U.S., where it was used to track down an alleged mass shooter following a massacre at a newspaper's office last week."

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Floating Between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres May Have More Water Than Earth

/. - 7 July 2018 - 1:34pm
This week NASA's Dawn space probe swooped within 22 miles of the surface of Ceres, the dwarf planet that's the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA's JPL reports: In more than three years of orbiting Ceres, Dawn's lowest altitude before this month was 240 miles (385 kilometers), so the data from this current orbit bring the dwarf planet into much sharper focus... "[T]he results are better than we had ever hoped," said Dawn's chief engineer and project manager, Marc Rayman, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Dawn is like a master artist, adding rich details to the otherworldly beauty in its intimate portrait of Ceres." EarthSky reports NASA captured an up-close glimpse of those tantalizing bright spots on Ceres: The spots, evaporate deposits composed of sodium carbonate, are thought to be left over from when water came up to the surface from deeper below and then evaporated in the extremely tenuous and sporadic water vapor "atmosphere." That water could be either from a shallow sub-surface reservoir or from a deeper reservoir of salty brines percolating upward through fractures. The deposits in Occator Crater are the largest and brightest of these deposits. As with many discoveries in planetary science, they were completely unexpected, and show that Ceres is not just an inert ball of rock and ice. Slashdot reader thegameiam adds: Ceres may have more fresh water than exists on Earth. Perhaps this would make colonization of the asteroid belt more of a possibility?

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The GNOME Foundation Is Hiring

/. - 7 July 2018 - 12:34pm
"The GNOME Foundation is pleased to be able to offer paid employment to exceptional people who have the drive to help us complete our mission," reads a new announcement. Gnome.org explains: Today, July 6th 2018, the GNOME Foundation has announced a number of positions it is recruiting for to help drive the GNOME project and Free Software on the desktop. As previously announced, this has been made possible thanks to a generous grant that the Foundation has received, enabling us to accelerate this expansion. "These positions are key to ensuring that the Foundation remains sustainable and that we are able to support the community in key areas," said Neil McGovern, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation. The Foundation is currently recruiting for four posts: Development Coordinator. This will ensure that we receive sufficient funds to continue our work delivering free software. Program Coordinator. The Program Coordinator will free up time from those involved in organizational, administrative and logistical problems. Devops/Sysadmin. The systems and services we run need proper maintenance and care. As Flathub [An app store and build service for Linux] continues to grow, more support is needed to achieve this. GTK+ core developer. GTK+ is core to our entire platform. Investing in development and maintenance of this toolkit will benefit the whole GNU/Linux ecosystem. "The Foundation is keen to hear from any person who is interested in applying for one of these posts."

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Open Offices Make You Less Open

/. - 7 July 2018 - 11:34am
Why do companies deploy open office layouts? A major justification is the idea that removing spatial boundaries between colleagues will generate increased collaboration and smarter collective intelligence. Cal Newport: As I learned in a fascinating new study, published earlier this week in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, there was good reason to believe that this might be true. As the study's authors, Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban, note" [T]he notion that propinquity, or proximity, predicts social interaction -- driving the formation of social ties and therefore information exchange and collaboration -- is one of the most robust findings in sociology." But when researchers turned their attention to the specific impact of open offices on interaction, the results were mixed. Perhaps troubled by this inconsistency, Bernstein and Turban decided to get to the bottom of this issue. Prior studies of open offices had relied on imprecise measures such as self-reported activity logs to quantify interactions before and after a shift to an open office plan. Bernstein and Turban tried something more accurate: they had subjects wear devices around their neck that directly measured every face-to-face encounter. They also used email and IM server logs to determine exactly how much the volume of electronic interactions changed. Here's a summary of what they found: Contrary to what's predicted by the sociological literature, the 52 participants studied spent 72% less time interacting face-to-face after the shift to an open office layout. To make these numbers concrete: In the 15 days before the office redesign, participants accumulated an average of around 5.8 hours of face-to-face interaction per person per day. After the switch to the open layout, the same participants dropped to around 1.7 hours of face-to-face interaction per day. At the same time, the shift to an open office significantly increased digital communication. After the redesign, participants sent 56% more emails (and were cc'd 41% more times), and the number of IM messages sent increased by 67%.

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'Why I Use the IBM Model M Keyboard That's Older Than I Am'

/. - 7 July 2018 - 10:34am
Slashdot reader yeokm1 recently installed Linux on a 1993 PC. But in a new blog post he lists every keyboard he's owned over the last 12 years -- to explain why he's now typing on a 5.3-pound Model M keyboard from 1987 that's older than he is, "with its legendary buckling-spring switch." It'll probably last me the decades to the day that keyboards should become obsolete... It is sad that with all the advancements in computing, the one piece of equipment that we use the most to interact with our computers has regressed technologically in the name of costs. We don't usually expect to be using 30-year-old hardware on a daily productive basis but the IBM Model M keyboard is that exception. Today, I don't really care about fancy features like great aesthetics, RGB backlights, media keys and extra USB ports. I just need something that gives me great tactile feedback, be durable, enable me to easily swap keys to fit my Programmer Dvorak layout. The Model M fits my needs perfectly. "Really can use this as a weapon," the blog post jokes. There's even a video "to show clicky sound difference" between two different versions of the Model M -- and in true geek fashion, he even removes the casing screws to see whether the inside had rivets or bolts. The original submission drew a tip from long-time Slashdot reader Spazmania based on his own experiences with the Model M. "The thing I most like? There are little plastic caps on the keys. When they get dirty I can pop them off and run them through the dishwasher." Any other Slashdot readers want to share their own experiences with Model M keyboards?

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Google AdSense Banned a Random Webpage About a 32-Year-Old Bill Because It Was About Sexual Abuse

/. - 7 July 2018 - 9:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Earlier this week, an algorithm made an absurd choice. Google AdSense, Google's advertising program that makes up the bulk of the tech giant's advertising revenue, decided that a web page about a decades-old bill about sexual abuse was "adult content," and wasn't allowed to display ads anymore. The page, which is at least six years old and contains strictly legislative information about a bill called the "Child Sexual Abuse and Pornography Act of 1986" on free legislative research and tracking website GovTrack.us, tripped the AdSense algorithm that decides what pages are allowed to run ads. This single, very dry page being flagged as "adult content" is most likely a minor fluke in the AdSense algorithm, but it's a perfect example of how a tiny tweak in the way a platform uses automation to enforce policies can send a ripple through seemingly-unrelated parts of the internet. The page was flagged by Adsense as "policy non-compliant" on Monday, with Google citing the page's "violations" in a summary of the AdSense adult content policy. Here's what Google told GovTrack: "As stated in our program policies, we may not show Google ads on pages with content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse. This includes, but is not limited to: pornographic images, videos, or games; sexually gratifying text, images, audio, or video; pages that provide links for or drive traffic to content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse." The GovTrack page contains none of these, yet the page still can't run AdSense.

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Twitter Suspended 70 Million Accounts In Past Two Months, Says Report

/. - 7 July 2018 - 6:00am
According to The Washington Post, Twitter has suspended 70 million accounts in the past two months as part of a crackdown on malicious activity on its platform. "The rate of suspensions for May and June is reportedly twice the company's October 2017 suspension rate," reports The Verge. From the report: In a blog post last month, Twitter said it had been working to improve its safety policies, and that its "systems identified and challenged more than 9.9 million potentially spammy or automated accounts per week." The Post reports that the change in enforcement could cause a decline in users for the company's second quarter, although a Twitter executive told the publication that many of the accounts rarely tweeted, and would therefore not dramatically impact the company's active user count. A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge that the company noted in its first-quarter shareholder letter this year that âoeongoing information quality effortsâ had negatively impacted monthly users, and that the efforts could continue to impact user numbers in the future.

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Kenya To Use Alphabet's Balloons For Rural Internet

/. - 7 July 2018 - 3:00am
Kenya will reportedly use Alphabet's system of internet balloons to connect its rural population to the web. The balloons, known as Project Loon, were developed by Alphabet's X, the company's innovation lab. It was recently used by U.S. telecom operators to provide connectivity to people in Puerto Rico after a hurricane last year. Reuters reports: Joe Mucheru, the information, communication and technology minister, told Reuters on Wednesday that project representatives were holding talks with local telecom operators on the deployment of the technology. "The Loon team are still working out contracts and hopefully once that is done, we can be able to see almost every part of the country covered," he said. With more than 45 million people, Kenya's major cities and towns are covered by operator networks, but vast swathes of rural Kenya are not covered. "Loon is another technology that is being introduced that the licensed operators hopefully can be able to use," Mucheru said, adding it would help the government meet its goal of reaching everyone. "Connectivity is critical. If you are not online, you are left out."

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E-Waste Mining Could Be Big Business

/. - 6 July 2018 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Professor Veena Sahajwalla's mine in Australia produces gold, silver and copper -- and there isn't a pick-axe in sight. Her "urban mine" at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is extracting these materials not from rock, but from electronic gadgets. The Sydney-based expert in materials science reckons her operation will become efficient enough to be making a profit within a couple of years. "Economic modeling shows the cost of around $500,000 Australian dollars for a micro-factory pays off in two to three years, and can generate revenue and create jobs," she says. "That means there are environmental, social and economic benefits." In fact, research indicates that such facilities can actually be far more profitable than traditional mining. According to a study published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, a typical cathode-ray tube TV contains about 450g of copper and 227g of aluminum, as well as around 5.6g of gold. While a gold mine can generate five or six grammes of the metal per tonne of raw material, that figure rises to as much as 350g per tonne when the source is discarded electronics. The figures emerged in a joint study from Beijing's Tsinghua University and Macquarie University, in Sydney, where academics examined data from eight recycling companies in China to work out the cost for extracting these metals from electronic waste.

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Steve Ditko, Co-Creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, Dies at Age 90

/. - 6 July 2018 - 10:10pm
Slashdot reader Dave Knott brings news: Steve Ditko, the legendary comics artist best known for co-creating Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, has died at age 90. No cause of death was announced. Neil Gaiman posted on Twitter, "I know I'm a different person because he was in the world." Entertainment Weekly reports: Ditko's most enduring characters were created during his tenure at Marvel Comics, where he worked alongside editor-in-chief Stan Lee to develop the look of Spider-Man in 1961. Jack Kirby had previously taken a swing at the webslinger, but Lee was unconvinced by that artist's interpretation of the now-iconic character. When Spider-Man -- whose red-and-blue costume, Spidey senses, and web-shooters all came directly from Ditko -- first appeared within the pages of Amazing Fantasy No. 15, the friendly neighborhood superhero proved a surprisingly massive hit for Marvel Comics, paving the way for a solo comic series titled The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko's influence on Spider-Man was tremendous, his often dark sensibilities informing an at-the-time rare superhero whose life was often worsened and trauma-filled as a consequence of his good deeds. The artist additionally helped conceive many of the most memorable members of Spidey's rogues' gallery, including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Vulture, and the Lizard... Two years later, Ditko delivered another Marvel icon by creating Doctor Strange, the mystical Sorcerer Supreme who furthered the comic book empire's reach into more cosmic, even psychedelic realms... As a freelancer, he continued contributing to Marvel and created cult-favorite character Squirrel Girl for them in 1992.

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Valve Shuts Down New Way of Estimating Game Sales On Steam

/. - 6 July 2018 - 9:30pm
A recently discovered hole in Valve's API allowed observers to generate extremely precise and publicly accessible data for the total number of players for thousands of Steam games. While Valve has now closed this inadvertent data leak, Ars can still provide the data it revealed as a historical record of the aggregate popularity of a large portion of the Steam library. From the report: The new data derivation method, as ably explained in a Medium post from The End Is Nigh developer Tyler Glaiel, centers on the percentage of players who have accomplished developer-defined Achievements associated with many games on the service. On the Steam web site, that data appears rounded to two decimal places. In the Steam API, however, the Achievement percentages were, until recently, provided to an extremely precise 16 decimal places. This added precision means that many Achievement percentages can only be factored into specific whole numbers. (This is useful since each game's player count must be a whole number.) With multiple Achievements to check against, it's possible to find a common denominator that works for all the percentages with high reliability. This process allows for extremely accurate reverse engineering of the denominator representing the total player base for an Achievement percentage. As Glaiel points out, for instance, an Achievement earned by 0.012782207690179348 percent of players on his game translates precisely to 8 players out of 62,587 without any rounding necessary (once some vagaries of floating point representation are ironed out). Ars has shared the Achievement-derived player numbers in their report; there's also a handy CSV file. Some of the titles with the most total unique players include Team Fortress 2 (50,191,347 player estimate), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (46,305,966 player estimate), PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (36,604,134 player estimate), Unturned (27,381,399 player estimate), and Left 4 Dead 2 (23,143,723 player estimate).

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