News

- EditorDavid
Disney's Streaming Services Now Have More Subscriptions Than Netflix

"Netflix now has a million fewer subscriptions than rival Disney..." reports the Independent. "But it does not necessarily mean that Netflix has fewer subscribers. If a person is subscribed to two of Disney's offerings, that will count as two subscriptions, and the company does not divulge how many individuals are signed up to its services." (Digital Trends notes that "Following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney also controls Hulu," as well as the streaming sports site ESPN+.) If you just want a straight Netflix-to-Disney+ comparison, the Independent reports Netflix with 220.67 million total subscribers, while IndieWire reported that at the end of June, Disney+ had 152.1 million subscribers. (Disney's chief executive says between March and June, Disney+ added 14.4 million subscribers, according to the Independent.) IndieWire goes on to say that ESPN+ reported 22.8 million subcribers earlier this year, while Hulu had reported 46.2 million subscribers, so, "combined the subscriptions for the individual services making up the Disney Bundle just surpassed Netflix's overall paid global subscriber count." Here, we'll point out that Hulu is still the only one of the Bundle that makes money. However, its operating income declined in Q3, while losses at both Disney+ and ESPN+ increased.… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Confronting an Ancient Indian Hierarchy, Apple and IBM Ban Discrimation By Caste

"Apple, the world's biggest listed company, updated its general employee conduct policy about two years ago to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of caste," reports Reuters, "which it added alongside existing categories such as race, religion, gender, age and ancestry. Apple has more than 165,000 full-time employees, the article points out, and "The inclusion of the new category, which hasn't been previously reported, goes beyond U.S. discrimination laws, which do not explicitly ban casteism." The update came after the tech sector — which counts India as its top source of skilled foreign workers — received a wake-up call in June 2020 when California's employment regulator sued Cisco Systems on behalf of a low-caste engineer who accused two higher-caste bosses of blocking his career.... Since the suit was filed, several activist and employee groups have begun seeking updated U.S. discrimination legislation — and have also called on tech companies to change their own policies to help fill the void and deter casteism.... Elsewhere in tech, IBM told Reuters that it added caste, which was already in India-specific policies, to its global discrimination rules after the Cisco lawsuit was filed, though it declined to give a specific date or a rationale.… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Canada Plans Massive Wind-Powered Plant Producing Hydrogen for Germany

The leaders of Canada and Germany will sign a multibillion-dollar green energy agreement this month "that could prove pivotal to Canada's nascent hydrogen industry," reports CTV News: The German government on Friday issued a statement confirming the agreement will be signed August 23 in Stephenville, where a Newfoundland-based company plans to build a zero-emission plant that will use wind energy to produce hydrogen and amonia for export. If approved, the project would be the first of its kind in Canada. Germany is keen to find new sources of energy because Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to a surge in natural gas prices.... Meanwhile, the company behind the Newfoundland project, World Energy GH2, has said the first phase of the proposal calls for building up 164 onshore wind turbines to power a hydrogen production facility at the deep-sea port at Stephenville. Long-term plans call for tripling the size of the project.... "The development of large-scale green hydrogen production facilities is just starting, providing (Newfoundland and Labrador) and Canada with the opportunity and advantages of being a first mover in the green energy sector," the proposal says.... The company says construction of its first wind farm is slated for late next… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Researchers:  It's 'Unlikely' There's Water- or Ice-Saturated Layers Below InSight Mars Lander

Did Mars ever support life? One clue might be quantifying just how much ice (and other minerals) are lurking just below the planet's surface, a team of researchers argued this month. "If life exists on Mars, that is where it would be," they said in a news release this week. "There is no liquid water on the surface," but in a contrary scenario, "subsurface life would be protected from radiation." Locating ice and minerals has another benefit too, they write in the journal Geophysical Research Letters: to "prepare for human exploration." And fortunately, there's a tool on the InSight lander (which touched down in 2018) that can help estimate the velocity of seismic waves inside the geological crust of Mars — velocities which change depending on which rock types are present, and which materials are filling pores within rocks (which could be ice, water, gas, or other mineral cements). That's the good news. But after running computer models of applied rock physics thousands and thousands of times, the researchers believe it's unlikely that there's any layers saturated with water (or ice) in the top 300 meters (1,000 feet) of the crust of Mars. "Model results confirm that the upper 300… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Rust 1.63 Released, Adding Scoped Threads

This week the Rust team announced the release of Rust 1.63. One noteable update? Adding scoped threads to the standard library: Rust code could launch new threads with std::thread::spawn since 1.0, but this function bounds its closure with 'static. Roughly, this means that threads currently must have ownership of any arguments passed into their closure; you can't pass borrowed data into a thread. In cases where the threads are expected to exit by the end of the function (by being join()'d), this isn't strictly necessary and can require workarounds like placing the data in an Arc. Now, with 1.63.0, the standard library is adding scoped threads, which allow spawning a thread borrowing from the local stack frame. The std::thread::scope API provides the necessary guarantee that any spawned threads will have exited prior to itself returning, which allows for safely borrowing data. The official Rust RFC book says "The main drawback is that scoped threads make the standard library a little bit bigger," but calls it "a very common and useful utility...great for learning, testing, and exploratory programming. "Every person learning Rust will at some point encounter interaction of borrowing and threads. There's a very important lesson to be taught that… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Thieves Stole $23 Million in One of the Largest YouTube Royalties Scams Ever

"Need an easy way to make $23 million?" asks Mashable. "Have you ever considered just claiming music others uploaded to YouTube as your own and collecting the royalties? That's basically all two Phoenix men did to swindle Latin music artists like Daddy Yankee and Julio Iglesias out of millions of dollars in royalties, as detailed in a new piece from Billboard last week. According to Kristin Robinson of Billboard, Jose "Chenel" Medina Teran and Webster Batista set up a media company called MediaMuv and claimed to own the rights to various Latin music songs and compositions. In total, MediaMuv claimed to own more than 50,000 copyrights since 2017, when Teran and Batista began their scheme. In order for MediaMuv to claim these copyrights and collect royalties through YouTube's Content ID system, the fraudulent company needed to partner with AdRev, a third-party company that has access to YouTube's CMS and Content ID tools and helps artists manage their digital copyrights. MediaMuv created a few fake documents and provided AdRev with this paperwork in order to prove ownership over the music it claimed. From there, AdRev not only helped MediaMuv collect royalties for those copyrights but also provided Terana and Batista with… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Right To Repair Battle Heats Up With Rooting of John Deere Equipment

Long-time Slashdot reader drinkypoo writes: John Deere, current and historic American producer of farming equipment, has long been maligned for their DRM-based lockdowns of said equipment which can make it impossible for farmers to perform their own service. Now a new security bypass has been discovered for some of their equipment, which has revealed that it is in general based on outdated versions of Linux and Windows CE. Carried out by Sick Codes, the complete attack involves attaching hardware to the PCB inside a touchscreen controller, and ultimately produces a root terminal. In the bargain and as a result, the question is being raised about JD's GPL compliance. Sick Codes isn't sure how John Deere can eliminate this vulnerability (beyond overhauling designs to add full disk encryption to future models). But Wired also notes that "At the same time, though, vulnerabilities like the ones that Sick Codes found help farmers do what they need to do with their own equipment." Although the first thing Sick Codes did was get the tractor running a farm-themed version of Doom. Read more of this story at Slashdot. [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Apple Finds Its Next Big Business: Showing Ads on Your iPhone

"Apple is set to expand ads to new areas of your iPhone and iPad in search of its next big revenue driver," reports Bloomberg. The Verge writes that Apple "could eventually bring ads to more of the apps that come pre-installed on your iPhone and other Apple devices, including Maps, Books, and Podcasts." According to a report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple has internally tested search ads in Maps, which could display recommendations when you search for restaurants, stores, or other nearby businesses. Apple already implements a similar advertising model on the App Store, as developers can pay to have their app promoted on a search page for a particular query, like "puzzle games" or "photo editor." As noted by Gurman, ads on Maps could work in the same way, with businesses paying to appear at the top of search results when users enter certain search terms. Gurman believes that Apple could introduce ads to its native Podcasts and Books apps as well. [Gurman describes this as "likely".] This could potentially allow publishers to place ads in areas within each app, or pay to get their content placed higher in search results. Just like Maps, Podcasts and Books are currently… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
The Organized Labor Movement Has a New Ally: Venture Capitalists

Union-organizing startup "Unit of Work" received a $1.4-million pre-seed investment led by the venture capital arm of billionaire Mike Bloomberg, reports the Los Angeles Times. The startup's outside investors "have made fortunes backing technologies such as artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies and video games. One is among California's foremost critics of public-sector labor unions." But the head of the startup's lead investment firm says that "whenever a community has a want that's going unfilled, there's an opportunity for companies." [T]hese people used to multibillion-dollar sales and IPOs see a big opportunity in the atomized, restive condition of America's workforce and the possibility of transforming it through a new era of unionization. "We only invest in areas where we think we can get a return," said Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta, the venture arm of billionaire Mike Bloomberg's media empire. Unit's business model works like this: The startup's organizers provide free consulting to groups of workers organizing unions within their own workplaces — helping them build support to win elections, advising them on strategy in contract-bargaining sessions, guiding them through paperwork filings and around legal obstacles. Once a contract is in place, members of the new union can decide to pay Unit… [Read More...]

- EditorDavid
Is Germany Ready To Lean Back Into Nuclear Power?

The German news magazine Der Spiegel spoke to a 54-year-old who had always been in favor of the company's plan to phase out nuclear power by the end of 2022. Until now — with fears about Russia curtailing supplies of natural gas. And he's not the only one: A poll commissioned by DER SPIEGEL has revealed some rather shocking numbers. According to the survey carried out by the online polling firm Civey, only 22 percent of those surveyed are in favor of shutting down the three nuclear plants that are still in operation in Germany...as planned at the end of the year. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed are in favor of continuing to operate the plants until the summer of 2023, a variant that is being discussed in the political sphere as a "stretch operation" — in other words, continuing to keep them online for a few months, but without the acquisition of new fuel rods. Even among Green Party supporters, a narrow majority favors this approach.... The answers suggest that the attitude of Germans toward nuclear power has changed significantly. Sixty-seven percent are in favor of continuing to operate the nuclear plants for the next five years, with only… [Read More...]