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Amazon Makes Employees Delete TikTok From Phones, Citing Security Risk

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 12:22
Amazon has asked its employees to delete the Chinese-owned video app TikTok from their cellphones, citing "security risks," according to a company email sent on Friday. From a report: In the email, which was obtained by The New York Times, Amazon officials said that employees must delete the app from any devices that "access Amazon email." Employees had to remove the app by Friday to remain able to obtain mobile access to their Amazon email, the note said. Amazon workers are still allowed to view TikTok from their laptop browser, the company added. Amazon and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment. TikTok, which has been popular with young audiences in the United States, is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance. It has been under scrutiny in Washington for security reasons because of its ownership. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, said on Monday that the Trump administration was considering blocking some Chinese apps, which he has called a threat to national security.

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A Moment of Clarity Regarding the Raison d'Etre for the App Store

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:44
John Gruber, writing at DaringFireball: Feel free to file Google's release this week of an update to their iPad Gmail app with support for split-screen multitasking under "better late than never," but this is so late it borders on the absurd. It's like the difference between showing up fashionably late and showing up a week after the party. Split-screen multitasking was introduced for the iPad back in 2015 with iOS 9. Five years to add support for a foundational element of the iPad user experience. And an email client is near the top of the list of the type of apps where someone would want to use split-screen. Five years. Google makes a lot of software with terrible user experiences for users who have poor taste. Their iOS software, in particular, has for the most part never suggested that it was designed by people who like -- or even use -- iOS. It's the blind leading the blind. But yet the Gmail app is currently the number one free app in the Productivity category in the App Store. On the surface, it's tempting to blow this off. To each their own. Whatever floats their boat. Who cares if millions of iPad users are satisfied using an email client that is a poor iPad app, so long as actual good iPad email clients are available to those who do care? But what about those stuck using the Gmail app not because they want to, but because they have to? Who can help them but Apple? I worry that it's not tenable in the long run to expect Apple to continue striving to create well-crafted -- let alone insanely great -- software when so many of its users not only settle for, but perhaps even prefer, software that is, to put it kindly, garbage. There have always been popular Mac and iPhone apps that are objectively terrible apps -- where by "popular" I mean much-used, not much-loved. But what made Apple users Apple users is that they complained vociferously if they had to use a terrible app. Word 6 was a sack of dog shit Microsoft dropped off and set aflame on Mac users' porch, but we all knew it was a flaming bag of dog shit, and even those of us who didn't even use Word were angry about it because it was an insult. I worry that this sort of "Who cares, it's better than nothing" attitude has seeped into Apple itself, and explains how we wound up with barely modified iPad apps shipping as system apps on the Mac. But more than anything I worry that this exemplifies where Apple has lost its way with the App Store. What exactly is the point of running a strict approval process for apps if not, first and foremost, to ensure that they're good apps? An iPad email app that doesn't support split-screen multitasking for five years is, by definition, not a good app. I'd like to see all the vim, vigor, and vigilance Apple applies to making sure no app on the App Store is making a dime without Apple getting three cents applied instead to making sure there aren't any scams or ripoffs, and that popular apps support good-citizen-of-the-platform features within a reasonable amount of time after those features are introduced in the OS. I don't know exactly how long "reasonable" is, but five fucking years for split-screen support ain't it.

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Apple Reaches New Stage in Development of AR Devices

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:04
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted key parts of Apple's business, but it hasn't derailed the company's plans to build what could be its next important technology platform -- augmented reality devices. From a report: The Information has learned that Apple is working with Taiwan's Foxconn Technology, Apple's largest contract manufacturer and the one responsible for building most iPhones, to develop semitransparent lenses for its AR devices. As of two months ago, the lenses -- considered one of the most essential elements of the head-worn devices -- had passed the prototype stage and entered trial production [the link may be paywalled; alternative source], a person familiar with the matter said. A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment. The lenses are at least one to two years away from mass production, and the same is likely true of the AR product they ultimately end up in, the person said. The product must still go through a lengthy process of ramping up production to the point where Apple can reliably manufacture millions of them. AR glasses and headsets allow people who wear them to view digital imagery overlaid on and intermingled with their physical surroundings. The technology could give people a new way to view everything from map directions to videoconference calls, and allow them to play games with characters and objects that hide around the corners of real buildings.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tools for language access during COVID-19Tools for language access during COVID-19User Experience Researcher, Google Research

GoogleBlog - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:00

Translation services make it easier to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language, whether you’re traveling abroad or living in a new country. But in the context of a global pandemic, government and health officials urgently need to deliver vital information to their communities, and every member of the community needs access to information in a language they understand. In the U.S. alone, that means reaching 51 million migrants in at least 350 languages, with information ranging from how to keep people and their families safe, to financial, employment or food resources.

To better understand the challenges in addressing these translation needs, we conducted a research study, and interviewed health and government officials responsible for disseminating critical information. We assessed the current shortcomings in providing this information in the relevant languages, and how translation tools could help mitigate them.

The struggle for language access 

When organizations—from health departments to government agencies—update information on a website, it needs to be quickly accessible in a wide variety of languages. We learned that these organizations are struggling to keep up with the high volume of rapidly-changing content and lack the resources to translate this content into the needed languages. 


Officials, who are already spread thin, can barely keep up with the many updates surrounding COVID-19—from the evolving scientific understanding, to daily policy amendments, to new resources for the public. Nearly all new information is coming in as PDFs several times a day, and many officials report not being able to offer professional translation for all needed languages. This is where machine translation can serve as a useful tool.  

How machine translation can help

Machine translation is an automated way to translate text or speech from one language to another. It can take volumes of data and provide translations into a large number of supported languages. Although not intended to fully replace human translators, it can provide value when immediate translations are needed for a wide variety of languages.

If you're looking to translate content on the web, you have several options.


Use your browser

Many popular browsers offer translation capabilities, which are either built in (e.g. Chrome) or require installing an add-on or extension (e.g. Microsoft Edge or Firefox). To translate web content in Chrome, all you have to do is go to a webpage in another language, then click “Translate” at the top.

Use a website translation widget

If you are a webmaster of a government, non-profit, and/or non-commercial website (e.g. academic institutions), you may be eligible to sign up for the Google Translate Website Translator widget. This tool translates web page content into 100+ different languages. To find out more, please visit the webmasters blog.


Upload PDFs and documents

Google Translate supports translating many different document formats (.doc, .docx, .odf, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .ps, .rtf, .txt, .xls, .xlsx). By simply uploading the document, you can get a translated version in the language that you choose.


Millions of people need translations of resources at this time. Google’s researchers, designers and product developers are listening. We are continuously looking for ways to improve our products and come to people’s aid as we navigate the pandemic. 

To better understand the challenges in addressing translation needs, we conducted a research study, and interviewed health and government officials responsible for disseminating critical information.
Categories: Technology

Should We Be Drinking Less?

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 10:21
Can a daily drink or two lead to better health? For many years, the federal government's influential dietary guidelines implied as much, saying there was evidence that moderate drinking could lower the risk of heart disease and reduce mortality. But now a committee of scientists that is helping to update the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is taking a harder stance on alcohol. From a report: The committee said in a recent conference call that it plans to recommend that men and women who drink limit themselves to a single serving of wine, beer or liquor per day. Do not drink because you think it will make you healthier, the committee says: It won't. And it maintains that drinking less is generally better for health than drinking more. That message is a departure from previous guidelines, which since 1980 have defined "moderate" drinking as up to two drinks a day for men and one for women. Government agencies have also long defined a standard drink as 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol), amounts often exceeded in Americans' typical "drink." Between 1990 and 2010, many editions of the guidelines, which are updated every five years, discouraged heavy drinking and warned pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions not to drink. But they also noted that moderate drinking was linked to fewer heart attacks and lower mortality. The 2010 guidelines mentioned that moderate drinking may even "help to keep cognitive function intact with age." The new recommendation would be a victory for experts who have long questioned the health halo around moderate drinking. They say that studies showing it can protect health are deeply flawed, and that any potential cardiovascular benefits would be outweighed by the fact that alcohol is a leading preventable cause of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, even one drink a day increases the risk of breast, esophageal and oral cancer. The new advice is not yet final. The advisory panel is expected to include it in a report that it will release publicly in mid-July and submit to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. Those two agencies are scheduled to publish the official dietary guidelines later this year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Asia IT Giant's CEO Warns Trump's Visa Curbs Will Cost US

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 09:45
The chief executive officer of Asia's largest IT services firm warned that a U.S. freeze on thousands of employment visas will only raise costs for American corporations like Wall Street banks, auto manufacturers and drugmakers. From a report: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CEO Rajesh Gopinathan told Bloomberg News the move has put massive stress on a huge swath of Indian-born engineers that have lived in the U.S. for years and helped support American clients, who will ultimately be the ones hurt most. His remarks were among the strongest public rebukes from India's $181 billion IT industry since U.S. President Donald Trump's June decree to halt approvals for a range of visas until the end of the year -- including those for intra-company transfers. TCS and peers like Infosys have relied for years on the ability to send talent to work alongside their customers overseas, which include some of the largest electronics manufacturers and global retailers. Investors worry that the inability to do so will hurt their competitiveness in the largest international market. "The ignorance around this ruling should be addressed," Gopinathan said via video conference on Friday. "Playing with the status of people who've moved away from families and committed to spending five-six years in a foreign country without immigrant status to deliver value to customers, is a short-term gimmick," the executive said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Chicago Police Department Arrest API Shutdown is Its Own Kind of 'Cover Up'

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 09:08
Asraa Mustufa and David Eads, reporting for Chicago Reporter: With Chicago reeling this week from a bloody July 4 weekend that saw more than 80 shootings claim the lives of at least 17 people, including young children, police Superintendent David Brown doubled down on his approach to stemming the violence at a press conference Monday. "We must keep violent offenders in jail longer," Brown said, arguing that arrestees are getting released too quickly and that the electronic monitoring program is "clearly not working" and needs to be revamped. Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed on the need to keep violent offenders locked up in order to reduce crime. Brown had deployed an additional 1,200 officers on the streets ahead of the holiday weekend to break up "drug corners," in a strategy not unlike that of police chiefs before him. His plan was criticized by civil rights advocates and criminologists, WBEZ reported. "Our endgame is arrests for the precursors to violence," Brown said. "But when we clear the corner, we're pleading with the court systems: Keep them in jail through the weekend." Brown's remarks raise many questions. How did officers carry out this policing strategy? Did they make arrests for violent crimes or other charges? How long were arrestees in police custody? Do these defendants quickly bond out or remain detained? Do these kinds of arrests really keep violent offenders off the street and effectively prevent more violence? Queries like these are key to digging into Brown's claims and gauging how effective CPD's tactics are. But it's now substantially more difficult to check CPD's claims and details about arrests. That's because the department recently shut down its arrest API used by journalists and researchers. A data API, or application programming interface, provides access to structured information in a way machines can read, akin to the difference between getting data in a spreadsheet file versus copying it by hand into a spreadsheet. CPD's API provided access to comprehensive and timely data about arrests going back to 2014 in ways that can be processed and analyzed by software engineers and reporters. The Chicago Reporter used the API last month to analyze police tactics during local mass protests following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. CPD had released figures stating that the majority of arrests made on the weekend of May 29 were for criminal conduct related to looting, not protesting. But by using CPD's own data from the arrest API, we found the opposite to be true: the majority of civil unrest-related arrests made that weekend had been for offenses related to protesting. [...] Within a day of our publishing this analysis, CPD removed access to the API for all users.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Worldwide PC Shipments Grew Due To Work-From-Home Arrangements

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The PC industry bounced back in the second quarter of 2020 after its weakest quarter in years mostly due to shelter-in-place orders prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. According to both Gartner and IDC, PC shipments grew year-over-year in the second quarter -- the former says shipments totaled 64.8 million units (a 2.8 percent increase from Q2 2019), while IDC says global shipments reached 72.3 million units, which is 11.2 percent higher compared to the same period last year. Both organizations attribute the growth to PC production ramping up after supply chains were disrupted in the first quarter and to strong demand, now that more people need computers to work or study from home. "After the PC supply chain was severely disrupted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the growth this quarter was due to distributors and retail channels restocking their supplies back to near-normal levels," Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa said. The mobile PC or laptop segment did very well, in particular, due to people's remote learning and working needs. However, both organizations are skeptical that the demand would continue beyond 2020. Gartner and IDC also noted that traditional PC shipments exceeded expectations in the U.S. and in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. "HP and Lenovo topped the list of PC vendors worldwide, with Dell coming in third for both IDC and Gartner," adds Engadget.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Giant Clams Manipulate Light To Assist Their Symbiotic Partner

Slashdot.org - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 05:00
Special cells in giant clams shift the wavelength of light to protect them from UV radiation and increase the photosynthetic activity of their symbionts, shows research from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology -- originally intended as a photonics investigation. Phys.Org reports: Like corals, giant clams are important players in reef ecosystems and live in symbiosis with photosynthetic Symbiodiniaceae algae. The clams also have special cells, known as iridocytes, that can manipulate light via layers of nanoreflectors within each cell. Earlier work has shown that these iridocytes scatter and reflect light to increase the photosynthetic efficiency of the Symbiodiniaceae algae. Now, a team of researchers at the Red Sea Research Center and the Photonics Laboratory have discovered another way that iridocytes help the symbiont to photosynthesize. The researchers studied the morphology and optical characteristics of iridocytes in the giant clam Tridacna maxima and found that they absorb UV radiation and re-emit it as longer wavelength, photosynthetically useful light. Ram Chandra Subedi, one of the study's authors, explains that the iridocytes contain alternating layers of high-refractive index guanine crystal and lower refractive index cytoplasm. Compressing and relaxing these layers enables the cell to tune its effect on light. As a result, "the guanine palettes not only reflect harmful UV radiation but also absorb it, and emit light at higher wavelengths which are safe and useful for photosynthesis," he explains. This increases the amount of photosynthetically active radiation available to the algal symbiont and also helps protect both the clams and algae from UV radiation. This photoprotective effect enables giant calms to live in very shallow tropical waters where there is enough light for photosynthesis, but also potentially harmful UV radiation levels. The report adds that this research may help explain the mantle colors of giant clams. "The idea is that the vibrant colors of giant clams are not due to optical differences in the tissue, but rather differences in the distribution or abundance of symbionts relative to iridocytes in each individual," reports Phys.Org. The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New predictive capabilities in Google AnalyticsNew predictive capabilities in Google Analytics

GoogleBlog - Fri, 07/10/2020 - 04:00

Google Analytics helps you measure the actions people take across your app and website. By applying Google’s machine learning models, Analytics can analyze your data and predict future actions people may take. Today we are introducing two new predictive metrics to App + Web properties. The first is Purchase Probability, which predicts the likelihood that users who have visited your app or site will purchase in the next seven days. And the second, Churn Probability, predicts how likely it is that recently active users will not visit your app or site in the next seven days. You can use these metrics to help drive growth for your business by reaching the people most likely to purchase and retaining the people who might not return to your app or site via Google Ads.

Reach predictive audiences in Google Ads

Analytics will now suggest new predictive audiences that you can create in the Audience Builder. For example, using Purchase Probability, we will suggest the audience “Likely 7-day purchasers” which includes users who are most likely to purchase in the next seven days. Or using Churn Probability, we will suggest the audience “Likely 7-day churning users” which includes active users who are not likely to visit your site or app in the next seven days.

In the Audience Builder, you can select from a set of suggested predictive audiences.

In the past, if you wanted to reach people most likely to purchase, you’d probably build an audience of people who had added products to their shopping carts but didn’t purchase. However, with this approach you might miss reaching people who never selected an item but are likely to purchase in the future. Predictive audiences automatically determine which customer actions on your app or site might lead to a purchase—helping you find more people who are likely to convert at scale.

Imagine you run a home improvement store and are trying to drive more digital sales this month. Analytics will now suggest an audience that includes everyone who is likely to purchase in the next seven days—on either your app or your site—and then you can reach them with a personalized message using Google Ads.

Or let’s say you’re an online publisher and want to maintain your average number of daily users. You can build an audience of users who are likely to not visit your app or site in the next seven days and then create a Google Ads campaign to encourage them to read one of your popular articles.

Analyze customer activity with predictive metrics

In addition to building audiences, you can also use predictive metrics to analyze your data with the Analysis module. For example, you can use the User Lifetime technique to identify which marketing campaign helped you acquire users with the highest Purchase Probability. With that information you may decide to reallocate more of your marketing budget towards that high potential campaign.

View the Purchase Probability of users from various marketing campaigns.

You will soon be able to use predictive metrics in the App + Web properties beta to build audiences and help you determine how to optimize your marketing budget. In the coming weeks these metrics will become available in properties that have purchase events implemented or are automatically measuring in-app purchases once certain thresholds are met.

If you haven't yet created an App + Web property, you can get started here. We recommend continuing to  use your existing Analytics properties alongside an App + Web property.

Introducing predictive capabilities in the App + Web property in Google Analytics. Use predictive metrics to build audiences you can later reach in Google Ads or to do further analysis in the Analysis module.
Categories: Technology
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